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Home > CLASSIC LIPEZ
Uyuni salt flats - Lipez desert

CLASSIC LIPEZ
Uyuni salt flats - Lipez desert

The marvels of the South Lípez in a 4-day off-road expedition; an exciting, self-supported journey.
This large desert may offer some of the most disconcerting landscapes in South America: the great Uyuni Salt Flats or Salar de Uyuni, the multicolored lagoons, geysers and volcanoes. For wide open space lovers!
Note: This inhospitable region offers only rustic conditions, dust, sparse water points, fresh nights…to the traveler. The marvels of nature must be deserved!

Map

Itinerary

  • Day 1: Villamar - Uyuni - Villamar
  • Day 2: Villamar - Laguna Colorada
  • Day 3: Laguna Colorada - San Juan
  • Day 4: San Juan - Uyuni

TRAVEL BOOK

Day 1: Uyuni - Villamar

We begin today our journey across the Sur Lipez area, elevated region of colorful landscapes and lagoons, rock formations and volcanoes. We will start the day at 09:30 am with the visit of the train cemetery on the outskirts of Uyuni. Here a collection of old rusted train engines remind the glorious mining past of the region. We will then ride south and make different stops on the road to visit villages, in particular the model urbanization of Culpina K. Here the population has decided to waive working in mines and organized to ensure that the whole community can live from the culture of quinoa and from community based tourism. We will have lunch in the village of San Cristobal, where we can visit a beautiful colonial church if we are lucky (it is not always open). We will then cross the region of Rio Grande to reach the village of Villamar (4022 m.a.s.l.) at the end of the afternoon. Distance covered today in our private jeep: 190 km.

Night at Las Piedritas hostel* (basic comfort).
Included : room & breakfast, lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), entrance fees, private transport

Day 2: Villamar - Laguna Colorada

During our second day in the Sur Lipez we will discover the most famous highlights of the region. We start the day with the Laguna Colorada (el. 4278 m.a.s.l.). This immense lake of pinkish water owes its name to the presence in its waters of light sensitive phytoplankton, which also attracts thousands of flamingo part of the year. We will then visit the geysers Sol de Mañana (el. 4850 m.a.s.l.), a volcanic crater with sulphur springs and boiling mud. Next stop: the Polques thermal springs. You are almost 4200 m.a.s.l. but get ready to jump into hot water (86°F/30°C), surrounded by an amazing frozen landscape. We will then jump back into the jeeps and ride along the Laguna Salada and the Dali Desert (el. 4750 m.a.s.l.). Here the strong wind has created surprising rock formations that reminds the work of the Spanish master. Short before midday we will reach the Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verde (el. 4350 m.a.s.l.), at the foot of volcanoes Juriques and Licancabur (el. 5704 and 5960 m.a.s.l.). After having driven around 170 km we are here at the very south of Bolivia, close to the border with Chile. From here we will drive 90 km back to the Laguna Colorada, where we will spend the night.



Night in a basic accommodation.


Included : room & breakfast, lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), entrance fees, private transport

Day 3: Laguna Colorada - San Juan

This morning we head north to the Siloli Desert (el. 4700 m.a.s.l.) and its famous “Stone Tree”. Keep your eyes wide open: it is not unusual to spot some viscachas (Andean rabbits) in this area. We will then ride along the Chilean border on the scenic “Route of the Jewels”, which owes its name to all the lagoons along its way: Honda, Ch’arkota, Hedionda, Cañapa. These lagoons are home to three species of flamingoes. We will stop at the view point of volcano Ollagüe (el. 5868 m.a.s.l.). This volcano is still active and shelters one of the world’s highest open pit copper mines and then cross the small Salar de Chiguana located at the foot of volcano Tomasamil (el. 5900 m.a.s.l.). After a 230 km ride we will reach the village of San Juan (el. 3600 m.a.s.l.), where we will spend the night. This small village is famous for its surprising mummies of the “Lipez Lords” (1200 after J.C) and its interesting small museum.

Night at La Cabaña de Sal hostel* (basic comfort).
Included : room & breakfast, lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), private transport

Day 4: San Juan - Uyuni

Today we leave the Sur Lipez and go for a unique moment: driving across the world’s largest salt flat! After a two hour ride we will reach the famous Salar de Uyuni (el. 3650 m.a.s.l.). We will then ride half an hour on the salt desert (34 km) to reach the Island of Incahuasi. This surprising island lost in the middle of the Salar offers an incredible view over the Salar and the several volcanos that surround it. Of volcanic origin, it is covered with stromatolites and giant cacti (stromatolites are fossilized bacterial colonies, first traces of life on earth). In the afternoon, we continue loosing ourselves on the white desert during an hour and a half more (73 km) until arriving to the city of Uyuni. Just before leaving the Salar, we will stop in the village of Colchani to visit its salt exploitation and salt hotel (closed since 2001).
Included : lunch (no drinks), entrance fees, private transport

Las Piedritas   Villamar

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

This small inn in the village of Villamar is undoubtedly the best place to stay a night or two, enjoy a really fair comfort, good food prepared by the owner all of this for a very affordable price. The rooms are equipped with private bathroom and hot water.

Lodging Don Roman   Laguna Colorada

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast

Accommodation, offering basic comfort, located in the town of Hullajara about 6 km from Laguna Colorada. It offers a beautiful view of the lake in the morning. There is no private rooms only shared.

Hotel La Cabaña de Sal   San Juan

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

The Cabaña de Sal is a nice little hotel built with salt blocks coming from the salt flat lake. The rooms are comfortable with private bathroom and hot water. There is no heating in the rooms.

Option : Accommodation driver

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