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Old 10-25-2012, 04:27 PM   #8
xs400 OP
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Joined: Mar 2006
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Oddometer: 225
Uyuni and the Salar de Uyuni

Uyuni is a town of about 21,000 people and it is the gateway to the Sala de Uyuni - a vast salt plane in southwest Bolivia. The salt plane is at about 12,000 feet and the salt can be several meters deep in places. The salt plane is flat as far as the eye can see and the Salar de Uyuni covers over 4,000 square miles!

Downtown Uyuni - not much happening here

I don't know if it was pay day or a run on the bank, but there was a line waiting to get in.

Entering the Salar de Uyuni - that shack up ahead, it's made out of salt!

On the Salar de Uyuni

On the Salar, followed by our support vehicle.

We rode about 50 miles across the flat Salar. Our destination was an island in the middle of the Salar. It is called Cactus island by the locals. The major vegetation is these tall cactus and other than 2 imported llamas, I did not see any other animal life. The only water the island gets is trucked in for use by the local park ranger or by the rain that falls in the rainy season. I was there near the end of the dry season and the island was very dry. The island is completely surrounded by the salt plane.

Because the salt is so flat and featureless, there is little perspective for photography and it is easy to make some some unusual photos.

After getting off the Salar, it's very important to get the bikes and vehicles cleaned. The salt is very corrosive. I was specifically told to avoid riding in any areas where there was standing water because the spray from riding through the saturated salt water was really bad for the bikes. Interestingly, there were places where people (guides) had cut holes in the salt to show that the water table was only a few inches below the dried salt. Below the dried salt was saturated saltwater.

There are several vehicle cleaning places in Uyuni, just outside the salt plane. This was our first stop after getting off the Salar.
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