Running between the Pacific and the Andes, the remote Atacama Desert in Bolivia is like no place on earth.
A surreal lunar landscape – rusty rocks offsetting the white salt pan and mountains rising in the distance – is an epic backdrop for one of the most spellbinding, golden pink sunsets one could ever hope to see. And it’s not all dry desert. There are geysers and rocky, white salt flats, volcano-topped horizons, lagoons and traditional villages. Spot flamingoes and other birds who call this peaceful, yet very much alive, part of the world home.
Ranking among the most popular Atacama attractions is the Uyuni Salt Flats. Locally known as Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat spans some 4,000 square miles. It has a layer of salt a few meters thick that covers the entire space and contains over half of the world’s known lithium reserves. There is very little vegetation (giant cacti dominate the flora) or animals (more flamingos feeding on pink algae) here. Unsurprisingly, salt mining is big business in the Uyuni Salt Flats.
San Pedro de Atacama, in the heart of the desert, is the perfect place to drink a pisco sour and take it all in.
Atacama Desert Tours
15 DaysfromUSD 6,579
Guided Group (Excl. Flights)
Discover immense landscapes, ancient history and colonial cities
Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and it showed. Many roads are unpaved. People subsist on a daily budget – don’t work that day, don’t eat. But, although the trip has some challenges – altitude, long, dusty transfers, road blocks and strikes around Santa Cruz, the sites are spectacular and worth a bit of discomfort.
It was a really busy but completely rewarding experience. We got a real flavour of the whole country, with its diverse landscapes, welcoming people and ancient culture. Our guide Julia was superb. Her knowledge of the history, diverse peoples, land and nature really enriched the experience and her care in ensuring we weren’t floored by our time at altitude helped greatly. On some days we were often lucky enough to be the only visitors to some sites which added to the amazing atmosphere. I’d definitely recommend visiting now before it gets too busy in the coming years.
An exhausting trip as so much travel involved but entirely worth it – Julia our guide was exceptional – we all agreed best guide we have ever had and should surely win guide of the year award! Also, we were blessed to have an amazing group so that made the times and experiences should be shared well with fond memories and laughs along the way. The county itself is diverse and massive – lots of bumpy roads and long drives. But, you will be wowed and rewarded with every new destination. It was a real adventure and not a ‘holiday’ as such – came back knackered but so pleased i went – well worth seeing and so glad we had a exceptional guide and great group!