On the top of the “must-see” list for Bolivia is the Salar de Uyuni. This spectacular white desert attracts hundreds of visitors each day, and it wasn’t hard for us to see why. The salar is the largest salt flat in the world, measuring more than 10,500 square kilometers.
Our ideal plan included riding across the salar. It’s a typical route for cyclists to venture across from Uyuni on one side to the small town of Illica on the other. And why not? Perfectly flat, mostly smooth and no traffic make this white dessert appealing for touring cyclists. However, this is only possible about half of the year, as Bolivia’s rainy season leaves a layer of water on a large portion of the salar. We arrived in Uyuni as the rainy season was ending, but not quite late enough. Many portions of the salar were still covered by a thin layer of water… thin enough that you could ride through it, yes, but not without causing damage to the bicycle with the strong salt content of the water.
Our compromise? Take the bikes out on the traditional jeep tour (which most tourists take to see the salar). By doing this, we were able to ride the bikes around for a little while and “experience” the salar. Not quite as cool as actually riding across the thing, but definitely a nice alternative! We had a great time!