A Walkabout in Bolivia’s Outback

If you are traveling in Bolivia for any length of time, sooner or later you will find yourself boarding a jeep and setting off in search of the Salar de Uyuni. Whether it was a fellow traveler who raved about the four day, three night expedition across Bolivia’s Altiplano (a high plateau formed during the birth of the Andes) or you had been planning on taking the journey to the world’s largest salt flat all along, the trip is one that should definitely not be missed.

Volcanoes, multicolored lakes, flamingos and the infamous salt flats are just some of the most memorable sights to behold.

The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia's salt flats

Bolivia's Altiplano, simply stunning

Flamingos enjoying one of the regions crystal blue lakes

Our adventure to the Bolivia’s salt flats began like most others: our rag-tag crew of travelers, still high from the thrill of racing through the Tupiza’s red canyon on horseback the day before, set off early Saturday morning. The mission was simple: soak up as much of Bolivia’s vast wilderness as possible in just four days.

The start of our adventure - first day and energy levels are at an all time high

Our crew, driver and cook included, for the expedition

A view over Bolivia's Altiplano

No rain, hail or snow was going to slow us down

Devin, Leah, Gillian and Will stand along Laguna Colorado, one of the beautiful lakes turned red from algae

Like most travelers who dream big, we were wildly unprepared for such an undertaking. As it turns out, June is smack-dab in the middle of Bolivia’s winter. Granted the weather isn’t quite as frigid or harsh as a Canadian winter can be, but hail and snow plagued our adventure and tested our driver, Habi’s abilities.

Just over the horizon, one beast of a snow storm

Like most Canadians we are more than used to getting stuck once or twice in a blizzard and so instead of panicking when our little old jeep crunched into a snow drift, we sat cheery faced in the back seats shouting words of encouragement to Habi. It worked. We were back on the old dirt road in no time.

Just a couple of Canadian girls appreciating snow for the first time in five months

Even though our spirits couldn’t be broken with a little snow, our route had to be changed. Despite his best efforts at navigating his way across the Altiplano in a whiteout, Habi feared if we continued the normal route we might get stuck for good. And so we hit reverse and headed to a hot springs where we could soak our cold feet and warm up.

Devin warming up at natural hot springs

After a full day of traveling, exploring, snapping photos and absorbing the sheer beauty of the Bolivian outback, we would rest our weary heads at local hospedajes – remote lodgings for expedition groups along the way to the salt flats.

Wind and snow make even these concrete hospedajes very inviting

Our room: bed, night stand and salt floor. Ironic this was where we had the best sleep for the three nights

Even though the small concrete buildings help protect against the wind, the bitter, crisp coldness of a Bolivian night made it difficult to sleep. Yet, we soldiered on. Thanks to excellent cooking by our trips chef, we rallied our energies and made the most of the chilly circumstances.

Even the llamas were chilly

Chowing down on some delicious food courtesy of Alicia, our cook/mama for the trip

By the time we reached our destination, we were giddy with the infectious energy of seeing natural wonders. The salt flats were everything that they had been cracked up to be – maybe even more. The wind, the hail, the snow and even the lack of sleep were no match for one of the coolest (and flattest) wonders of the world.

Nope, that's not snow - it's salt

The lovebirds at Salar de Uyuni

Devin burning off some energy in the Salt Flats