Hang on, Bolivia is suppposed to be cheap!

Nowhere in any literature had we read anything to fully prepare us for Uyuni.  After a marathon drive from San Pedro, along some surprisingly good roads for the most part, we finally saw the signs telling us we were almost there shortly after it got fully dark.  Every bit of advice tells you not to drive South American roads at night and for good reason, even the best roads can suddenly become pot-holed at a moment’s notice.  Having heard that Bolivia isn’t the safest place on earth though, I was keen to have at least the first night there in the relative safety and comfort of a hostel – not to mention we were both pretty keen on a hot shower.  We couldn’t get the fully glory of the town in the dark, but using the (slightly out of date) Lonely Planet for inspiration we hunted out a few of the hotels/hostels recommended.  It’s safe to say that there is quite a lot of literary licence used to describe these places, a little bit like estate agents’ shorthand you get to read between the lines quite quickly.  After a few enquiries we realised that Uyuni was not going to be the cheap ticket we had been expecting with rooms costing at least as much as in Santiago but without creature comforts like hot showers and central heating – and Bolivia is %$£$**ing cold!  We settled on a room in a hostel which  had a courtyard we could park Steve in safely.  We ended up spending the evening in him, as it was warmer in the van than in our room!  The hot shower was  only hot when at the lowest trickle, but beggars can’t be choosers…

 We decided moving on was a good idea, but wanted to see the salt flats and as maps (and road signs) were thin on the ground elected to take a tour – helpfully the first place we went into had one leaving in  twenty minutes so we jumped in!

We don’t really do guided tours as a rule so found it a bit odd, but our guide was pretty good.  There was definitely a strict agenda though, as we got driven from place to place and  instructed to get out and take pictures now, thank you, before getting piled back in the car and off to the next sight.  Very strange.  The Uyuni Salt Flats were in fairness really quite amazing, and you just can’t resist taking crazy perspective shots.

It's not the head of a pin, but I guess we're not angels either.
It’s not the head of a pin, but I guess we’re not angels either.



We stayed the night in a salt hotel, which is exactly what it says on the tin and made entirely out of salt bricks.  It was actually quite warm, which came as a welcome surprise!

Inside the salt hotel
Very nice,  but I would have liked another 45 minutes in bed.
Very nice, but I would have liked another 45 minutes in bed.

Our guide clearly had experience getting his group moving in the morning, and had told us we should be up at 6:30am in order to catch the sunrise over the salt flats – but it only actually arrived at 7:15, the little tinker!  We did get out first however, so were able to get to the other attractions before everyone else which was most likely the plan. That day took in a couple of lakes high up in the mountains, which definitely would have been a no-go for Steve so we felt the tour was justified – 4×4 was a requirement for sure!  

We got back to Uyuni and made plans to leave, but due to, ahem, a bit of misrouting by me, we wasted some time driving down a terrible road before deciding that all the guidebooks in fact are right and driving in Bolivia at night was a bad idea.  We thought it best to park up on the outskirts of the town, choosing a dark street.  This may have been our mistake. It appears that parking  in the middle of nowhere was a much better option, as at about 3am we were woken up by someone trying all the doors, only leaving when Tom let him know that it was occuppied by thumping on the side. Happy to leave?  I think so.


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