Finally, on my way to Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (The Famous Salt Flats) with Chris was always going to fun. Chris was riding his KLR – one which would increasingly cause him issues further down the road to Patagonia.
We were due to set off from La Paz at first light, but the hotel wouldn’t open the gates to let us out until we had paid. Despite my protestations that they already had my card and I had paid for the room, so another 30 minutes later, the manager arrived and I signed their crappy document Chris, and I was on our way.
The night before we met a young adventurer named Dominika Gawliczková who was a writer and on quite the adventure! She had a little Moped Skoda and was traveling south to Patagonia on this tiny little thing, amazing!
Chris Moody and I had met on the Stahlratte and again in La Paz to do the North Yungus Road (Death Road) together, and we would hang for a few days in Uyuni.
After we had got out of La Paz, it was pretty hot and looking for something nice and cold to drink on the side of the road was difficult as it was so sparse.
We stopped in Aroma, Cercado, Oruro, Challapata, Santiago de Huari, Coroma, Chita, and Colchani before arriving in Uyuni after riding for 9 hours and 362 miles (583 kilometers)
Uyuni is a pretty decent tourist type town, but only interesting in the city center. The rest is a dustbowl. There is decent food available, and the local beer is nice.
There are also plenty of tours onto the salt flats!
Uyuni primarily serves as a gateway for tourists visiting the world’s largest salt flats, the nearby Uyuni salt flat. Each year the town receives approximately 60,000 visitors from around the globe. The city also acts as a gateway for commerce and traffic crossing into and out of Bolivia from and to Chile, and there are a customs and immigration post downtown.
Founded in 1890 as a trading post, the town of Uyuni has a population of 10,460 (2012 official estimate). The town has an extensive street-market. It lies at the edge of a vast plain at an elevation of 3,700 m (12,139 ft) above sea level, with a more mountainous country to the east. From Wikipedia
Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni, amid the Andes in southwest Bolivia, is the world’s largest salt flat. It’s the legacy of a prehistoric lake that went dry, leaving behind a desert like, nearly 11,000-sq.-km. The landscape of bright-white salt, rock formations, and cacti-studded islands. It is otherworldly expanse can be observed from central Incahuasi Island. Though wildlife is rare in this unique ecosystem, it harbors many pink flamingos.From Wikipedia
Hotel Palacio de Sal
Upon arrival and after 9 hours of riding throughout the day I was pretty tired. The road into the hotel is horrendous – easily the worst road to a hotel I have ever encountered. Although it was only a few miles, I have never seen a road in such poor condition. Inexcusable considering some high priced hotels on this road. You would think they would band together to make it at least drivable.
I arrived at the hotel and was immediately told that I could not park my bike outside the front. I was tired and explained to them that I needed to unpack my gear first. Not a great first impression!
No one offered to help me with my bags, so I had to tote them in myself one at a time. I then waited about 15 minutes at reception for some tourists to ask a million questions before I was served.
Finally, I got my keys and was shown to my room. I needed a shower, was tired hungry and thirsty.
I went through my routine of charging everything and then tried the Wifi (not working), I was too tired to go to reception to ask at that stage.
Then I jumped in the shower, and the water was freezing, so no hot water. This is becoming a $175 per night nightmare.
After I was showered, I went to reception and asked about the Internet. The response, “we are not responsible, it comes from La Paz! What the $#&@^?
From there, I asked about the hot water situation, “should be on soon” was the reply!
Hotel Palacio de Sal – Uyuni Verdict!
The hotel is gorgeous to look at from 100 meters, the setting amazing, the rooms spacious and comfortable, the service from maids and basic staff wonderful, the service from management? Deplorable!
The inside is really pretty, spacious and well laid out. It really is an excellent piece of architecture.
Another thing! If the hotel is busy, you want to get to breakfast quickly, because everything runs out fast! I just would not recommend it. The car park and surrounds are a quagmire, the buffet breakfast and dinner is sparse, the Internet deplorable and the power and hot water go on and off regularly.