We took a night bus to the town of Uyuni to go on a 3-day expedition around Southwestern Bolivia. Julia and I were crammed into a Land Cruiser with 4 guys from Brazil who spoke no English. And our driver/guide spoke no English. The only reason people come to Uyuni is for the tours; there really is nothing to see or do in this little dusty town, but so much to see around it.
Our first stop was the 'Great Train Graveyard'. In the early 19th century, Bolivia was planning on building a large network of trains but technical difficulties and tensions with neighboring countries put those plans on a permanent halt. So they just left the British made trains to rust and corrode out in the elements. The flat and empty landscape made the train remains look extra lonely and eery.
From there, we headed to Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat at 4,086 sq. miles (10,582 sq. km.), sitting at the crest of the Andes at an elevation of 11,995 ft. (3,656 meters). We stopped a few times to walk on the salt... and to taste it to make sure it was really salt. The salt flat is exceptionally rich in lithium, and contains 50-70% of the world's lithium reserves, as well as many other minerals. Just to give you an idea of how large the salt flats are, look up South America on Google Earth and look for a big white area, close to the Pacific Ocean.
In the middle of the salt flats is a little 'island' called Isla Incahuasi. The island is the top of an ancient volcano, which was submerged in a giant prehistoric lake before it became the salt flats. Now the 'island' is host to hundreds of giant cacti, and a welcome site in the middle of the flat white landscape. We had a great time stretching our legs by climbing to the top and getting 360 degree views of the cacti and salt flats below, stretching out in every direction as far as the eye can see.
All photos below were taken with our iPhones.