Four days riding from Oruro have brought me to Uyuni and the salt flats.
Day One – Oruro to Poopo
An easy ride today to the small town of Poopo. Yesterday was a relaxing day in Oruro. I found the market streets and bought some items for next few days of quiet roads. This morning no rush to leave as I made my way out of town.
Looking back on outskirts of Oruro. I was surprised at how similar many of the brick building were. Also could see the smog across the city.
I left behind the double lane highway and route today was this single lane road.
After 27km, the road split with left branch to Sucre and right to Potosi as well as the salt flats. It became a little quieter on the road after this.
A bus stop or former shed.
I saw a bicycle sign and even saw some cyclists that looked like recreational cyclists on this next stretch.
Both llama and sheep being herded here along the railroad tracks.
Off to the left was the small town of Poopo.
It had a nice old hotel and next door a swimming pool. Otherwise, I found a restaurant and found some shops though tough to find too much to eat in this town.
From yesterday, a photo of a bus in Oruro.
Day Two – Poopo to Huari
A nice ride today with a chilly morning and pleasant afternoon temperatures. The sun was shining brightly as I packed up in the hotel and rode back through town. The dog above was in town watching as I left.
The road continued as a two lane with occasional bumps and not much traffic. It went through a few small settlements as pictured above, but these didn’t have services.
At 27km, was a slightly larger village of Pazna. There were a few vendors along the road, but not much else.
Ladies selling shoes.
After this open road again. The route was flat and I made good time.
Another church and very small at top of the hill was a shrine.
Occasionally there would be a field like this one where hay had been grown and cut up and placed in small piles.
At 65km was slightly large place of Challapatta. I reach here just past noon.
There were at least two places such as this one where I could have stayed if wanted. It was early enough that I got some snacks and continued further to Huari which was only another 12 kilometers further.
In Challapatta, there road had split into a road to Potosi and my route which continued to Uyuni. Traffic also became less frequent.
Entrance to Huari.
I found this small residencia a block from the main square. It had nice sunny courtyard.
Across the street, I found a place to have lunch. The sign says “almuerzo” and generally there is a fixed menu. Each place will have something slightly different.
Otherwise a nice ride and pleasant afternoon in town.
Day Three – Huari to Rio Mulato
Another nice day cycling on mostly flat terrain. Not sure it froze last night, though starting out my odometer briefly recorded 0.7C (33F). In any case the large barrel of water to throw into the toilet didn’t have ice on it this morning.
Pumped up the tires, packed the bike and set off from Huari. Smooth road today with not much traffic. Looks like the bus frame above had been there a while.
At 18km there was a split in the road. The right road headed southwest to the north of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats. In winter one can ride across the flats this way. In summer this usually isn’t possible because rains turn sections into a salt lake. I took the left road since I figure I don’t need to ride across all the salt flats but instead just visit from the side.
The road after this was just a few years old and smooth.
One of the birds along the way.
The new smooth road bypassed village of Sevarayo, but did have this bus shelter made from plastic bottles.
A lot of wide open spaces on the road today.
A few llamas.
One is prohibited from washings ones car. However, there wasn’t water in the river, so it would likely be difficult in any case.
I have seen a few rivers such as this one with water in them.
By early afternoon I reached Rio Mulato. The town seemed to be mostly along the road and railroad tracks.
I found this hotel, least expensive price so far 20 Bs ($3).
Day Four – Rio Mulato to Uyuani
The hotel seemed temperate, but it turned out to be cold once I left Rio Mulato. My odometer gave -3C (27F) and didn’t get above freezing until 9am. Sunrise is at 7am and I try to get on the road around 8am.
Lots of signs on this road. The first says no hunting and the second warns for animals on the road. Both signs seem to use a similar llama/vicuna image.
Several spots with llama herders today. The protective guard dogs would come running out and barking as they saw me on my bicycle. Fortunately, these particular dogs were well-behaved and came back when the owner called.
At 55km was this town of Chita along the way. I had expected a bit more roadside business to get some lunch, but the road bypassed the town and not clear there was much business to be bypassed.
Somewhat after this I saw the salt flats on the horizon. Access to the flats from this road was via the town of Colchani.
At Colchani was this sign indicating five kilometers to the salt flats. I decided I would do one of two things, either (1) ride via Colchani to the salt flats and stay in a hotel there or (2) visit the salt flats and then cycle to Uyuni and come back to take a tour from there. It depended a bit on what I found for hotels in Colchani.
Also interesting to see all the stickers that had been placed on this sign.
There wasn’t too much in Colchani itself other than this museum. The road itself was washboard and rough to ride, so it was a slow cycle.
On the edge of the salt flats were several hotels such as this one.
This was actual hotel down the road.
Finally reached the salt flats where this memorial stone was found.
I cycled about a kilometer further out into the flats to get some views of the vast expanse.
After that I cycled back and tried one of the salt hotels. It was a fancy place, but some cyclists recently reported staying there on a discount. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any rooms.
Rather than go down the roads for the other different hotels, I decided to ride on to Uyuni and try to come back on a tour.
Saw this truck carved out of salt.
Back to the main road and into Uyuni.
Uyuni is a larger town of ~10,000 with many hotels and otherwise a tourist center. I booked a reasonable hotel for two nights and then found a day trip tour that I’ll take tomorrow to go back to the salt flats and explore, though this time in a vehicle and with a guided tour. Also prior to the tour, will try replacing/patching my rear tire which still has a slow leak, though that leak has been letting air out more quickly.
Nice to get to the salt flats as this was one of the reasons I picked this route via Bolivia. Looking forward to exploring further tomorrow on the tour.