Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
Sajama to Uyuni
Cycling from Sajama to Uyuni was our fourth chapter of the trip through Bolivia. The mighty Sajama Mountain was our background for a few days. We crossed two salt flats in this route. They were the closest experience of what it was like to ride bicycles on a planet other than planet earth.. The mighty Sajama Mountain was our background for a few days. From here, we crossed two salt flats. They were the closest experience of what it was like to ride bicycles on a planet other than planet earth.
See you Sajama, hello Salt Flats Uyuni!
Our fourth chapter in this altiplano country was cycling to Salt Flats Uyuni, Bolivia. It took us 11 days with one day off in Julo due to my monthly special. This route only had three small sections of tarred road: outside of the National Park, Sabaya village, and from Cholcani to Uyuni town. The majority was sandy and rippled with corrugated surface across the altiplano – it’s perfectly suited to fat bikes, but not ours. And the rest was salt ground. With these roads, the challenge started!
On the first day, we left Sajama National Park. No one checked on our ticket entrance that we never pay. Once we were out, the road changed into a perfect tarred road. We pumped our low-pressure tires with the mighty Sajama mountain standing proud as our background.
Once our tires were ready, we pedaled our bicycle towards the Chilean border. We heard there is a panoramic-route called Ruta de las vicunas. Although we knew that once we get out of Bolivia – as an Indonesian passport holder, I would need to apply for a another visa to Bolivia, and it will take more cost and time to do it. Since the border isn’t far from the junction to Casa Blanca, we tried our luck, anyway. And, of course, we knew the answer. So, we choose to stay and keep exploring Bolivia for now.
At the end of the day, we had a pinky sky with the iconic peak of Sajama mountain as our camp background.
Sandy roads around the Salt Flats Uyuni
For days we pedal from Sajama National Park to salt flat, Bolivia, we found very few villages. Most seem only sparsely populated or even partly abandoned. It was more llamas wandering the dusty, dull streets than humans. Or perhaps it is because of the roads?
Although we put our tires in the low pressure, we still had to push our bicycles at times. Sometimes, Luís would go back to help me to push mine on this powdered ground.
When we pedaling our bicycle on the usual sandy roads toward Tunapa, we met a French cyclist, Clément Rattier. Since we had the same direction, he became our company for a few days. That night, we were invited to stay in the village meeting hall in the main plaza of Tunapa.
Pedal Salt Flats Uyuni
The excitement of riding our bicycles on the salt ground was speechless. It was the closest experience of what it was like to pedal on a planet other than planet earth.
Coipasa Salt Flat was smaller, yet wetter than Uyuni Salt Flat. We got a suggestion to ride on the left side of the salar to reduce the salt spurting out on our bicycle.
However, these wide-open spaces make us more vulnerable to harsh weather. For instance, when we were in Coipasa Salt Flat, we got chased by a storm and had to camp in the middle of it. Somehow, instead of getting anxious staying in the rage, I was fascinated by it.
On the 8th day, we finally rode into Salt Flats Uyuni section. This place is one of the driest places on earth – stark landscape sees a vibrant blue skyline frame the sparkling white earth below, which is made entirely of salt. Even when Luís tried to sketch Incahuasi island and another one that you can see here – the watercolor dried before he want it.
The sight of this place is absolutely mesmerising and it’s one of the best highlights of our trip in this country. Especially in this particular route, cycling Sajama to Uyuni, Bolivia. Yet, the surreal landscape that Bolivia offers didn’t ends here. Check our journey in Sur Lipez – Southernmost region of Bolivia.
How to use this map: Click the tab in the top left corner of the map to see the points of interest. You can click on the selection folders to hide or show the folders. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the map title, the map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “My Places”, click Maps, and you will see this map in your list.
- Sajama National Park: Even though we left the National Park, Sajama Mountain was our background for a few days.
- Chullpas: an ancient Aymara funerary tower that still had bones and skulls inside.
- Wild life: Llamas and Alpacas
- Salt flats: in this route we crossed two salt flats – Salar de Coipasa and Salar de Uyuni