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Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia – backpacker or eco-hotel?

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salar-with reflection-Bolivia

Salt flats of Uyuni, Bolivia

Kat compares the backpacker and eco-hotel Salt Flats of Uyuni tour packages in this week’s blog, from a comfort and community viewpoint.

Revisiting Bolivia recently allowed Kat to reflect on the changes in her and her travel style, too.

 

She writes:

“The Salt Flats of Uyuni are a truly spectacular place. I’ve been lucky enough to have been there twice – and I wouldn’t mind going again! There are so many different corners to see and with landscapes as spectacular, it’s difficult to get bored.

The first time I went to see the Salar de Uyuni was in pre-Andean Trails times.

 

Backpacker Uyuni

As a backpacker I was on a basic tour, in basic accommodation.

 

laguna-blanca-uyuni-bolivia

Laguna Blanca, Uyuni, Bolivia

 

I loved the surroundings as they were different from anything I had seen before. But I admit, the nights were COLD and I found myself under several blankets at night, wishing for morning to come so that I could warm up again!

As a backpacker that was fine. But this time I was after a little more comfort.

Age I guess. It comes to us all.

 

Eco-hotel upgrades

I was delighted to stay at the much more comfortable Tayka hotels. They are in beautiful remote locations, with lovely designs and … yes! HOT water. Oh yes. There was even heating. I had gone up in the traveller’s world.

What I hadn’t realised before, was that not only did this variation of the basic Salt Flats Tour mean you had more comfort at night – it also meant we were following a slightly different route to all the basic tours leaving Uyuni daily. And that was even more wonderful than being warm at night.

The tour includes some hidden gems and looks to steer away from the more crowded places, so that especially during the first two days we often found ourselves alone with nature.

Picnic in the middle of the Salar when everybody else had pulled up to the same spot on Incahuasi Island. A little walk up to a scenic view point with nobody else there to share the views.

Sunset over the salt flats from the salt hotel, located in a small village on the other side of the flats. Just some examples of how to escape the crowds.

 

Community benefits

And it felt good knowing that the hotels were part of a community project.

Currently a percentage of income goes to the local communities involved but already locals are working and are trained at the hotels, to be ready to take the reigns when they pass into the hands of their communities in 6-years time.

A vital source of income in a very isolated part of Bolivia.

 

salar de uyuni-bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

 

The highlights

Well, the Salar itself always impresses – the sheer size of the beautiful white salt flats is unbelievable. Add some volcanoes and mountains as backdrops and you have your perfect holiday photo shot.

But I also love the surrounding altiplanic landscapes that you discover on day two and three of the tour.

Stunning lagoons (oh yes, with flamingos posing for you) and beautiful vast desserts all around.

On day three I challenge you to pick a highlight – I certainly couldn’t.

The stunning Laguna Colorada with its magical  colour changing tricks, or the Chalviri dessert and lagoon with its beautiful mix of white, brown, blue colours? Or maybe the majestic  volcanoes at the border to Chile – Licancabur in particular.

It was almost an overload for my eyes, going from one highlight to the next.

You do spend quite a bit of time in the 4×4, but it’s most certainly worth it.

You cover large distances with changing landscapes and you will return to Uyuni full of new experiences and images, I promise!”

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