Salar de Uyuni – The Best Of Show

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.

 

-TREE

 

 

 

Comments

  1. What can I say!!!!
    SR.

  2. Lookin good in your business socks brotha!

    That hotel looks pretty baller, I think ill have to swing it for one night

  3. BEST POST TO DATE!

    Nice socks……..

    • PS…….DAAAAMMMMMM Stevie! You are one hot baby mama!

      • Thanks Simko. Based on all the comments, I think I should have worn tube socks. Tough competition!

        • I’m with Simko, Stevie you are eh oh tee!! And every bit as beautiful inside as on the outside and out of clothes no less! I wouldn’t cover up a single inch if I were you! Tree, you lucky tube socked bastard.

          OK, I’ve gone back to this post twice now. Heroin(e) and the salt flats 2x. What does that say? Both of you get 1 point each int he best post category. Bring on the tie braker.

          XoXo.

  4. Nice socks TREE!!

  5. Oh, my gosh-you guys are awesome!

  6. So amazing and inspiring!

  7. Beats our Godzilla photos!

  8. While everyone else is talking about the last picture, I’d like to ask, Is that really a fire extinguisher in the Bolivian hotel room?????

  9. Abuelita (Cyndi) says:

    I saw the sign Tree – it said “No Licking.” Our entire crew here at Universal is in my office right now. Don’t be suprised if you run into a news crew soon. (BTW Kiki’s a good photographer.)

  10. So beautiful–your best post yet–

  11. I think I looked at the last picture a little too long

  12. Madrigal Madri says:

    Muy linda MAMA !!! Pura vida AMIGOS

  13. Pamela Dennis-Bussa says:

    You’ll be so glad you have this for memories

  14. Ajajajjajaa….. K bien….. Me gusta….

  15. You guys are awesome. I think you totally win the salt flats picture contest.

  16. Brenton says:

    You guys are outta control…and I love it. I can’t wait for Sol to find the last photo in her baby book!

  17. Holy shit. Where to begin?
    1. Women are always right (remember here: http://sprinterlife.com/2013/05/help-us-decide-south-or-east.html)
    2. Ah-mazing photos
    3. The socks. Dude…. really? Why ya gotta be such a wuss about a little salt on the feet? Seems your bride had no issue.
    4. What the f&*K do you do if you get a flat or run out of gas out there? I’m guessing no internet connection and the hotel wasn’t a hot spot.
    5. Seriously. Wicked cool.
    6. In all honesty, it’s good to hear you back in your writing. I think Potosi sucked the life out of you, but the Salt Flats breathed new life in to you.
    7. Cheers!

    • Hoop,
      1) ok ok, Women are always right. I concede.
      2) thanks
      3) what, you don’t wear socks?
      4) running out of gas would be bad. We had a full tank and 2 extra gas cans. Believe it or not, that hotel did have internet. They were pulling it down from space. Not cheap.
      5) cool
      6) Potosi had me on the ropes. I love being on the ropes. 🙂
      7) ARE WE GOING TO SEE YOU AT OR OR WHAT? HAS YOUR HUSBAND BEEN TRAINING, CAUSE I’M GONNA GET HIM DRUNK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Liz Tompkins says:

    I loved this post so much for so many reasons. I have to ask how much that hotel is a night in US dollars?
    Thanks for all the great shots of Bolivia- what a cool and amazing place!

  19. Mamatuyas says:

    Absolutely Amazingly Fricking Nomadly-AWESOME!
    Love, Mom

  20. Yes! That is crazy! Those Salt flat pics might go down as uber classic sprinter life. Well done!

  21. Auntie Candy says:

    Okay… when I are having a tough week and all things look pretty dam strange I just need to remember to visit your blog. This just made my day. I love you both….. where was the baby when you two were enjoying “Nature”. By the way… I think the socks are cute – Looks like Stevie doesn’t mind either.
    Love you both,
    Auntie Candy

  22. Auntie Candy says:

    Swear Stevie… Tree got his wine habit from his Mom… Our Papa use to say “When I are” but after a broken garage door, Tata in Europe, and a fiesty classroom full of 24 Somali women tonight I have to plead guilty to having more than one glass of wine when I made my last post.
    Cheers
    Auntie

  23. Arlene Burns says:

    YES! i knew you would love it.. surreal to feel you are on an island with coral and cacti surrounded by snow/salt/white whatever.. ! Now you can officially leave Bolivia, svp..

  24. Daniela Mendez Scheelje says:

    Q divertido!!

  25. Wow! Kiki! Stevie! Xxxxxxx

  26. Liz Ancona says:

    What a fabulous shot!

  27. Vanessa Díaz says:

    q bellas se ven amigaaaaaaaa kiki y tuu

  28. Elbert Farmer says:

    awe is that your doggy from hermosa?

  29. Sarz Feld says:

    dope!!! always wanted to go there

  30. OMG… I am rolling!!! fantastic post. I started laughing at “Stevie was never obedient” and by the naked photos was on the floor…. I will say Stevie, you look amazing post baby, but wow, you two sure are brave!

  31. I just love you guys even more. Livin’ the life!

  32. I just absolutely loved everything about this post. The last pic, just signified the courage you two have had all along. Love it!!!!

    More More More!!!!!!!!!

  33. Audrey Kranz says:

    awesome post. love it!

  34. Carolyn Rose Ward-Schulman says:

    I really enjoyed this whole trip. Felt like I was there, so interesting!

  35. LA Piper says:

    Wow, it’s so vast you can almost see the curvature of the earth. Wait, it looks like you’re on the moon. Come on, be honest, we’re all friends here. Ha ha, lol!

  36. Wonderful shots, beautiful place…adventure, adventure. Sol is so beautiful. Is that an apple she is chewing on…gnawing? Teeth? She always is in such cute outfits. Love the naked pics…STEVIE, do you still do yoga?

  37. Brenda de Klerk says:

    LOVED it!!! hahahaha; rum makes you strong!!! simply delightfull!!! happy travels…..lots of white light!!

  38. Rob Wilson says:

    One of your better posts ever. Great story, terrific photos, superb writing…when I got the note, I almost skipped it (kinda beat from working a manual labor job these days) but something said, “Nah, read this one.” Glad I did. A real treat. I’ve been to Bolivia and had no interest in going back. But this made my heart skip a beat or two because the photo opps would be tremendous. And quite unusual.

    Well done, Sprinter Life!!

    All the best,

    Rob

  39. Anonymous says:

    Tree-

    I read read your post from the salt flats of Bolivia. You are NUTS! Going from a 5-star hotel because it might get a little cold, to full on in-the-nude! You guys crack me up

    matt

  40. Carry-on The best is yet to come. This one ranks high on the off the hook series!!
    Willy

    P.S Drink more rum!

  41. You guys are awesome.

  42. sergio Ballivian says:

    AWESOME!!!!!!
    The Salar de Uyuni is my secret-mind-a-way place. Over 30+ years I have been there countless times, all are unique and special. Seem some of the most amazing sunsets of my life there, especially in the rainy season when the mirror to the sky is on full display! Your post had me laughing until I fainted. The trio do make the overlanding community proud and your spirit is what life should be about. Rock on! I can’t wait to get my 16×20 poster of the two of you in your birthday suits ‘being modest’….

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