Fulfilling one of my dreams for this trip
After visiting the Salar on our jeep tour, I wanted to live the experience of cycling on it. I have read dozens of websites, seen hundreds of pictures of other cyclists, and I wanted to have the personal experience of cycling in the salt.
The most adventure cyclists would cross the Salar completely, usually from North to South, entering from Copaisa and coming out in Colchani on the East. However, this means a lot of riding in the nothingness and sleeping inside the Salar, which is extremely cold. Instead, and after getting a tip from fellow cyclist Felix in Oruro, we will just cycle to the Salt hotel, about 8 km inside the Salar, which will give us enough experience of cycling on salt, while the owners allow travelers like us to sleep inside.
So this is what we did. We left late, as usual. So late, that the first thing we did was going out for lunch. Afterwards we had an easy and flat ride of 30 km to Colchani, the entrance to the Salar. We had a headwind but it never got too strong, just annoying. Again we saw many vicunas on the way.
In Colchani we had to turn west, and the asphalt ends, switching to a very corrugated dirt track, very uncomfortable to ride, and caused by the heavy trucks extracting salt from the Salar. Once we were at the edge of it, the moment was magic.
It was late in the evening so there was a great evening sun, and most tourists come in the morning, so it was really quiet. We stopped often to take pictures or talk to each other about how great it was. The kids were tired and it was cold to sit in the tag-along so they both sat in the trailer and quickly fell sleep.
The salt hotel was already closed, but the owners live there, so as promised they let us in to mount our tent inside. We would have roommates though, as a Venezuelan-Brazilian traveler couple was there selling their crafts and would spend the night with us.
They were really nice to the kids and we had dinner together. It got cold inside but it was much colder outside so we were happy to be there. I wanted to take some pictures of the amazing sky but unfortunately it was cloudy, enough to see millions of stars but not to get sharp pictures of them.
The next morning we got to enjoy the early sun as the first tourists don’t arrive until at least 11 am.
The other couple got to mount their stall to show their crafts while we got to try the usual funny perspective pictures so typical of the Salar, with mixed results.
After that we cycled back to Uyuni, taking more pictures now with the strong blue midday sun.
We stopped to have lunch in Colchani, the usual broaster chicken with rice and fries. The restaurant owner offered us to keep Thomas as helper in exchange for a free lunch but somehow he was not interested.
Back in Uyuni, we went to the Casa Ciclista Pingüi. Casas ciclistas are apartments or houses that open their doors to cyclists, usually for free, to spend a few nights in there and share a kitchen and experiences. You are expected to contribute with the running costs and with the cleaning, but it is a great way to save money when staying in the big cities. There are unfortunately not that many but the best part is to meet other fellow cyclists.
Our next move after this will be to continue South to Tupiza.
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