When we boarded our flight from La Paz to Uyuni with Boliviana Airlines, the first thing Gordon said was “I feel pretty good we’re on a CRJ, a Canadian made plane”. It turned out to be a pretty ironic statement because our aircraft had some issues later in the flight. We could tell we were close to Uyuni because we could see the vast salt flat below us but we just kept circling and circling and circling – this is when I looked at Gordon and said “there’s a problem with the landing gear”. A while later the Captain made his announcement to everyone confirming what we had already suspected. Apparently the landing gear wouldn’t come down electronically. After circling for what seemed like forever, they decided to bring the landing gear down manually but there was no confirmation that it was locked into place. We were informed that we would be making an emergency landing in Cochabamba because it was a bigger center and they could have emergency services waiting for us. The flight attendants asked everyone to move to the rear of the plane and as we circled the Captain dumped the fuel from the aircraft. We could hear the fuel being dumped and to be quite honest this scared the crap out of me. The flight attendants took their seats at the emergency exits and we prepared for landing. There were flashing lights and several people on the tarmac waiting for us and thankfully the Captain landed that plane like a feather, we were on the ground safe and sound! We were rushed off the plane and kept in a secure area in the airport where we were served drinks, food, and debriefed on what had just happened. We then were told that a special aircraft was brought in to take us to Uyuni but if we didn’t want to fly they would arrange hotels for us. All of us chose to continue on to Uyuni, after all that’s why we were all there. We were so impressed with Boliviana Airlines and how they handled the situation that we wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again. The Captain, crew, and emergency personnel were all so wonderful.
We arrived in Uyuni late in the evening with no further incident and after having a beer (who wouldn’t want a drink after a scare like that) we called it a night. The next morning we were up early to see what tours were heading out to the salt flats. There are a bazillion tour companies in Uyuni! We found one to join and we set out for the day.
The first stop was at the ‘Train Graveyard’, we had a lot of fun climbing over the old cars and it made for some interesting photo ops. It looked like EVERY tour made this their first stop, it was a happening place!
Just before entering the salar, we stopped at a market selling all the usual touristy things. Gordon bought himself a hat here.
Finally we entered the vast ‘Salar de Uyuni’. It’s the largest salt flat in the world and it’s a magnificent place!
We had a blast fooling around and taking perspective photos – it’s THE thing to do on the salar!
And here’s my very favourite perspective photo…
We stopped at the Dakar monument (the famous Dakar race passes through the Salar) and enjoyed lunch at the old salt hotel. The hotel and everything inside was made out of salt.
After a great lunch we drove out to Isla Incahuasi, an island in the middle of the salar. It’s actually the top of an ancient volcano which was submerged during the time the area was a prehistoric lake. We did a small trek here and took in the breathtaking scenery. It was a really beautiful spot and the salar looked like a frozen lake!
We were so happy to be in Bolivia during the rainy season so that we could enjoy the mirror effect on the salar. There really are no words to describe the incredible beauty of seeing the sky and literally everything being reflected in the worlds biggest mirror!
The sunset was….wow!
We decided who needs to sleep when you can stargaze in the salar and stay for sunrise? So we were up and out of the hotel at 2:30 am to do just that. Again….wow!
The Salar de Uyuni is one of those special places in the world that just leaves you speechless!
Where we stayed: Hostal Reina Del Salar & Las Tholas Hotel 👍
Written by Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel