Wednesday, May 29th: We spent the day brushing
off the previous days grit and dust, and began making preparations for what to do
next. In the early evening two Aussie motorbikers, Jamie and Martin, showed up on a
pair of KTMs followed later by Kfir from Israel on a Transalp and Mark from Holland on a
Thursday, May 30th: We made an agreement with Uyuni Tours, one of the many
tour companies just outside our hotel. The tour companies run 4 day tours into the Salar
de Uyuni (Salt Lake) and the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa (National
Park) for US$65/pp, and it is the main reason people visit Uyuni. They agreed to carry our
gear and extra fuel in a trailer attached to the Toyota Land Cruiser for US$35, and we
would ride our bikes without any panniers. The US$35 was to cover all expenses (food,
sleeping, and park entrance), we would only need to pay for our fuel and purchase
water/drinks beforehand. In the early evening, Chris from New Mexico showed up on a
DR650, and signed on as well. Liam left earlier to ride through a bit of the salar,
while Annet went on a organized tour with some other Germans.
Friday, May 31st: In typical South American fashion, our 10:30am departure
slipped by nearly an hour, as we needed time to purchase the extra fuel and load up the
truck/trailer. Erin decided that there would be plenty of testosterone with 6 guys on
bikes in the dirt, and opted to ride in the truck and take photos. John, an American
student studying in SA, and 4 Israelis, joined her in the truck.
Engines revving and eager to go play, the bikes raced out of town to the next village,
23kms north, and the entrance to the salar. The salar used to be a huge lake, but over
time the water evaporated and left behind a flat layer of salt, looking much the same as
any snow covered lake in the winter. Just as we entered the salar, we stopped to look at
the hundreds of 2-foot high white mounds, all in neat rows. Workers were using shovels to
scrape off the top 1" layer, making the perfect mounds that would later be loaded
into trucks and transported to a processing plant. I filled an empty film canister with
the rock salt, to use later on.
Our next stop, in the center of the salar was the Salt Hotel similar in theory
to the Ice Hotel in Norway. The hotel is built completely of blocks of salt cut out of the
lake; similar to how Eskimos cut snow to make their igloos, with a tin roof covered
by straw. All the furniture (including beds) are also made of the salt blocks, with the
toilets, lighting, and billiard table being the only things made of contemporary
As the lake stretches for more then 120kms from East to West and 100kms from
North-South, there was plenty of space for us to play. For 2 hours we rode in every
direction imaginable, at speeds as fast as the bikes would go, with no fear of what lay
ahead. It was an incredible feeling to move so swiftly, with no concern of obstacles, on
the great expanse of the lake.
We eventually turned south and after exiting the salar, made our way to the town of San
Juan where we would spend our first night in yet another hotel without heat at
3,700meters/12,100feet and electricity only from 7-9pm.
I wish you could experience what we did today, as it really was something quite