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- 21 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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Make tracks to Uyuni to take in the otherworldly landscapes of Bolivia's southwest. The town acts as a gateway to the region's extraordinary saline landscape, so it's likely you'll get ready here for a tour of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats, or use it as a resting place after a trip to the beautifully stark surrounding desert. There are awe-inspiring sights to take in around this rustic town, like bubbling geothermal mud pools, hilltops dense with cacti and flamingo-covered lakes.
Choose a Uyuni hostel with a cheerfully decorated bright-yellow exterior or go for a homely space with rustic bare-brick walls. A place with a restaurant serving llama-meat dishes gives you the chance to experience local cuisine. Some Uyuni hostels put on free breakfasts to help you fill up ahead of salt-flat exploration; others have free shuttle services from Joya Andina Airport. You can opt for a private room or pick a place with dorms to make meeting other travellers easier.
Plaza Arce is Uyuni's centre – head here to browse shops and stalls, keeping an eye out for street vendors selling freshly squeezed orange juice to quench your thirst. Around the corner, the Mercado Central is a local area where Bolivians, including the indigenous Aymara people, shop for fruit and veg. Tour operators are scattered across town, but there’s a large concentration on the wide Avenue Ferroviaria.
You'll see Colchani on the Salar de Uyuni tour. It’s a village with a handicraft market and a museum made entirely of salt. Head here to browse items like alpaca-wool accessories and vintage-style maps. The Train Graveyard – a quirky place full of abandoned steamers – is also on the salt-flats trip. To get a sense of the history of the region, you can swing by the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum to see mummies recovered from the local area.
Uyuni has a grid-like structure, so it's easy to navigate around town on foot. If you're coming from La Paz, it's likely you'll arrive early in the morning on an overnight bus at the main bus terminal a couple of blocks away from Plaza Arce. Buses run from the city of Sucre, day and night and take around 8 hours. You can also get to Uyuni by train via the line that runs from Oruro, about midway between La Paz and Uyuni. A taxi transfer from Joya Andina Airport to town takes about 5 minutes.