Sun was shining outside and Uyuni was still waking up from its lethargic freezing night as a street market was being set on "the main street" and big empanadas, homemade bread and chocolate were bought for a nice breakfast on the go.
A woman had offered us a very cheap two-day tour of the region and as she seemed very convincing, we agreed in taking it. Our tourist operator name was "Huracan" and it was a trip filled with emotion and riddled with inconveniences (you'll know al about it later).
So after a little walk around the probably most horrible town I've seen in my life, we were presented to the rest of our group, a Peruvian guy who happened to be backpacking around Bolivia, a guy from Venezuela who lived in Buenos Aires and was making his way around to reach his hometown by land and two Argentine girls who were making their way to Cuzco/Machu Picchu overland, people that would become excellent friends during the next two days.
So we departed one hour behind schedule under the strong altiplanic sun, shining through the thin air and burning our skins and eyes forcing us to wear tons of sunblock and sunglasses.
It was a stunning day and our first stop was the Train Cemetery just a few kilometers south of town and a place resembling your best "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" fantasy.
Uyuni used to be a very important railway joint and a booming town when mining was a big source of income in the country (and you could definitely see town had seen better days) so a train depot in the outskirts of town became abandoned and a fair amount of British locomotives, dating from late 1980's and early 1900's rust under the strong sunshine and thin air creating a melancholic and surreal playground while little tornados make their way through the vast desertic land around us.
We took our time to catch a few snaps in between rusty steel and improvised swings while the place was crowding with different group of tourists , definitely a unique place.
Then our Land Cruiser drove up north for a few minutes and a mirage appeared on our left hand side car windows. Uyuni Salt Flat was just around the corner and we could feel a bit of a rush when seeing it for the first time , even though our second stop was Colchani, a little village in the edge of the Salt Flat where locals process salt in an almost handcrafted way for the local consumption, souvenirs and even create salt blocks to build houses and a very cheeky Salt Museum featuring lots of statues made out of salt which were of course heavily photographed.
Finally time to see what the trip was all about as we drove slowly into this endless white mirror, effect created when a thin layer of water, typical of the rainy summer season, sets on the Salt Flat creating an impression of a fused horizon and reflecting the sky as a massive clear mirror.
Uyuni Salt Flat is the largest salt flat in the world with over 10,500 square kilometers, a place truly unique and surreal.
The Salt Hotel a few miles into the Salt Flat was our next stop, a place made entirely out of salt bricks, featuring salt furniture , decoration and where we had lunch amongst a crowd of tourists playing more camera tricks and delighting their eyes with the view. We even had our meal on a table made out of salt, so flavour was completely guaranteed.
As we drove back, we had the chance of sitting on top of the vehicle ( safety wise, it wasn't a good idea, but it was a great experience) getting an excellent last view of the landscape, the endless mirror and a rather interesting thunderstorm developing in the distance.
Back in Uyuni for a few minutes, that turned into a couple of hours, we were told accommodation in Villa Alota (our stop for the night) was fully booked and we were supposed to go there in the morning. This was not as agreed when we booked the tour so after a few minutes of arguing along with other upset tourists, we were given a good to go and we hit the road heading south to the border with Chile, while the sun was setting down the snowy peaks and the winds were getting strong, just reminding us we were in the desertic highlands where temperatures are extreme and so are landscapes.
Time for a rest in the extremely rustic accommodation, featuring steel beds, completely worn out matresses and rustic bathrooms, while we had our simple homemade dinner and some cheap wine. Card games closed the night with a good laugh and the memories of a truly unique and amazing place, hoping the "Luz Mala" (Bad light) wouldn't catch us overnight.