Our final destination in Bolivia was Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. No matter who we talked to, everyone said this is the best of show in Bolivia.
I was like, “Really, a giant pile of salt, that’s the best???”
Whatever, we were committed to going. We had to see what all the hype was about.
Salar de Uyuni, as seen from space.
Looks like tiny town to me. Just sayin.
The hip thing to do at Salar de Uyuni is to drive out onto the vast white expanse and camp. That’s what the cool kid’s do, so I was determined to do the same.
Stevie actually did research and found out that the nighttime temperatures drop to around zero degrees fahrenheit (-17 celsius). She made no bones about telling me that wasn’t gonna fly with this crew. Apparently babies are temperature sensitive??? Yeah, who knew.
I then stumbled onto Palacio De Sal (Salt Palace), a five star hotel right on the edge of the Salt Flats. To truly appreciate this you have to understand the following…
1) Five star hotels and Bolivia don’t go together in the same sentence.
2) The fact that it is located on the edge of the Salt Flats is amazing, as this location is in the middle of absolute nowhere.
I’m not a big five star resort type of guy, but in situations like this it would seem ludicrous NOT to stay in a pimped out hotel at the premier destination in Bolivia.
When we arrived we were greeted with 2 cocktails, already made and waiting for us at registration. The hotel is absolutely off the hook. The entire complex is built out of salt. (I didn’t just read that in the brochure. I licked the wall. It’s salt. For sure.)
Every detail was top notch. Again, you have to understand how remote this location is to appreciate the quality of this hang. Check out the ceiling of our room, all hand carved salt blocks…
Soleil was loving it right off the bat. I think the down pillows and comforter reminded her of the last super nice place we stayed back at Machu Picchu in Peru. (remember the identical photo here).
This poor kid is going to grow up so confused. One night she is freezing her bum off in a dusty back alley of some little village. The next day, well…. you get the picture.
I think this type of experience is an important contrast for Soleil to have. And frankly, I feel a personal responsibility to teach her how to enjoy the dirtbag lifestyle, as well as how to properly enjoy the high life. That’s just how I roll.
Now pay attention Sol, these are pearls I’m giving you…
“HEY, I ORDERED ROOM SERVICE THREE MINUTES AGO! WHERE IS MY FOOD!”
Incidentally, this was probably the first time we’ve had a phone in our room in 4 years. This hotel was no joke and was worth every damn penny. If you’re going to the Salt Flats, do yourself a favor and splurge a little, at least for one night. You won’t regret it.
Watching the sun sets over the Salar de Uyuni from the roof of the hotel.
Looking back on the hotel from the Salt Flats.
The next morning we were keen to spend the day out on the Salt Flats. As we drove out onto the vast white, the first thing we saw was huge cone piles of salt ready to be loaded on trucks.
They excavate nearly 20 tons of salt here per year. It’s a great business, but the real resource hides underneath. This location contains 50 to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves. If you’re not hip to the importance of lithium, you should know that it’s running the computer you’re reading this on right now. It’s probably the single most important global resource after oil. Get it?
Global corporations have been chomping at the bit to get in here and exploit it. They’ve been held off so far, but who knows for how much longer.
Once they get in here… well, it’s probably game over. Just look what the USA has done to access the lithium in Afghanistan.
By the way, I highly recommend you watch this short 9 minute video. It’s one of my favorite clips for completely summing up our current state of affairs. Seriously, Watch it. Click Here.
Resources people… it’s all about resources and population. What a crazy world we’re living in. What a crazy time. And it’s only a matter of time for Bolivia. NO country is safe if they’re holding that kind of resource wealth. You heard it here first.
Anyway, I digress. Let’s move on.
We wanted to visit a small “dirt island” located out on the Flats. I convinced Stevie that we needed directions and she eagerly jumped out to ask this dude for help.
The guy looked at her like she was crazy and just pointed out into the white vastness. She came back slightly pissed at me, but then we laughed and drove on.
Another big milestone for Soleil as I’m pretty sure she became the first baby to drive across the Salar de Uyuni.
That’s two in two weeks! Remember her driving across Sajama last week – click here
We were told that Isla Incahuasi (or Pescador) in the middle of the Flats was about 40 minutes away. We made it in a record breaking time of just over two hours. What can I say, Sol is a really careful driver.
We set up a procrastination station on the remote side of the island and had a nice picnic lunch. It was really cold out on the Flats, but hiding from the wind behind these rocks and cacti, lounging in the sun, we were actually quite comfortable.
Our next plan was to find a good spot way out on the flats and take a bunch of cool photos. Despite the temperatures hovering around 27 degrees F, I was determined to get these shots.
Kiki didn’t seem too bothered by the cold, but the rest of of were struggling a bit.
The wind chill was brutal and completely killed our photo buzz.
Soleil really wanted nothing to do with this part of the day. I tried to explain it to her as best I could…
“Sol, you’re going to take these pictures on the Salar de Uyuni, and you’re going to enjoy it! Do you hear me young lady? This is supposed to be fun GOD DAMMIT”
She wouldn’t listen to me. It really feels like I’m losing the ear of the ladies in this tribe. I don’t blame Kiki since she is going deaf. But I hope this doesn’t develop into a long term problem with Sol. Stevie has never been obedient. Sol really is my only hope.
Sol eventually fell asleep inside the van, and Stevie and I decided to pop the cork on a bottle of Champagne we had received as a gift from Walter, the owner of Oberland Hotel, in La Paz. It’s the only Champagne made in Bolivia.
We had been saving it for a special occasion and with the failure of our family photo shoot, I figured this was it. May as well catch a real buzz.
After that bottle went down, Stevie got a little liquid courage and decided to brave the cold.
Now, if you know Stevie, then you must know how impressive this was. We’re talking about a girl who wore a Patagonia Sub-Zero Down Parka for an entire year in Los Angeles, where it rarely drops below 65 degrees fahrenheit. And here she is in nothing but a cocktail dress on Salar de Uyuni. That must have been really strong Champagne!
Kiki is still Stevie’s biggest fan.
And then I’m not sure what happened. A bottle of Rum came out. Then, based on the pictures…..
…..I’d say one thing led to another…….
And, we got naked.
So, I guess the moral of the story…
Don’t drink and Salt Flats.