Conquer the World's Largest Salt Flats on the Bolivia Expedition

At a staggering altitude, you find yourself in the vast expanse of the Bolivian altiplano. This is one of Earth’s most extensive high plateaus. By now, you've traversed mountains, Lagunas, and deserts.

But there’s more.

Journeying to the southwest corner of Bolivia, you encounter volcanoes and lakes, until finally, you're overlanding across the Salar de Uyuni. Renowned across South America for its grandeur, it spans over 10,000 square kilometres — the world's largest salt flat. Salar de Uyuni is a testament to ancient prehistoric lakes that have now vanished.

Nomadic Road drew inspiration for Bolivia adventure travel from these very salt flats. Overlanding here is unlike anything you've ever imagined. Hexagonal tiles of salt stretch to the horizon, bordered by bluish mountains. The crunch of salt crystals under your tyres resembles fresh snow. You’re immersed in an otherworldly spectacle, largely devoid of life.

Yet, travellers on this expedition must wait nine whole days for this historic moment. The anticipation builds, and the journey to Salar De Uyuni is just as intriguing. It’s brimming with superlatives and surreal sights.

Bolivia adventure travel will convince you: we're a strange species on an even stranger planet.

Bolivia’s High-altitude Marvels

Perched at 3,656 meters above sea level, Salar de Uyuni is not just the largest, but also one of the highest salt flats in the world. But Bolivia’s towering elevations remain apparent throughout our expedition.

Potosi, one of the world's highest cities, is a key pit-stop. To get here, travellers wind through breathtaking highlands, tracing serpentine roads. Potosi nestles against Cerro Rico — a giant mountain. Its houses resemble Lego bricks against this colossal backdrop. The city’s legacy as home to one of the world's largest silver mines adds to its allure.

On one of the expedition's longest days, the convoy ventures into the rugged expanse of Sajama National Park. Snow-capped Andean peaks punctuate the skyline, offering fleeting glimpses of nature's grandeur. Traditional hamlets and ancient archaeological sites are sprinkled along the way. Yet another superlative awaits at our destination: Sajama, Bolivia's tallest mountain. You'll be dwarfed by its majestic presence.

High altitudes also come with exotic wildlife you wouldn’t encounter back home. Herds of llamas, alpacas, and vicunas dot the way. It's a surreal sight, fit for the pages of magazines and the big screen.

Another noteworthy stop on our journey is La Paz. At 3,650 meters, it's the world's highest capital city. Nestled in a bowl, surrounded by towering plateaus and mountains, it's unlike anywhere else.

The Most Arid and the Most Radiant

Bolivia adventure travel offers a breathtaking array of landscapes. As you depart from the highlands and verdant landscapes, desolate plains stretch before you. For miles on end, you'll encounter nothing, yet witness so much.

One of the destinations is Siloli, renowned as one of the world's driest deserts. Stretching across altitudes of approximately 4,500 meters, the elevation adds to its desolation. Siloli is often described as a realm where the earth merges seamlessly with the sky. Volcanoes fleck the horizon while solitary rock formations accentuate the desert's rugged beauty.

Here, you may feel like a mere speck — a feeling that’s both spectral and strangely thrilling.

Navigating the dirt roads of Bolivia's Siloli Desert presents several challenges. With thin air and steep inclines, the ascent demands skill and determination. Yet, conquering this arid wilderness and liberating your vehicles from its grasp, evokes a frantic thrill. It’s a testament to the untamed allure of high mountain deserts.

As you venture further south from the desert, the scenery transforms. A water body with vivid crimson waters emerges, as if painted. Teeming with flamingos, Laguna Colorada has earned nominations among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World — a fitting honour.

Fueled by abundant plankton, the lake hosts three of the world's six flamingo species. Hundreds of these graceful birds fill the sky and water. It’s a reminder that maybe, you're not all that alone in this vast wilderness.

The Epitome of Cultural Heritage

Bolivia is a country with expansive stretches of emptiness. It's hard to imagine such vast spaces bustling with cultures, peoples, and acclaimed cultural landmarks. Yet Bolivia defies expectations, offering all this and more.

At the start of the Bolivia expedition, we embark on dirt and tarmac roads to reach Sucre. This historic city is famous for its colonial architecture, so well-preserved it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sucre becomes a welcome respite before the rigours of overlanding.

In Western Bolivia, travelers pass by burial sites, ruins, and remnants of a civilization lost to time. These are the vestiges of the Tiwanaku civilization, predating even the Inca. Much remains shrouded in mystery, adding an eerie yet intriguing atmosphere to the expedition.

Bolivia continues its streak of superlatives as South America’s most indigenous country. Over 60% of the population claims indigenous heritage. This rich cultural heritage is evident in the country’s markets, villages, and its cuisine, including llama meat and quinoa.

Adventures Beyond the Largest Salt Flats

Despite its modest size, Bolivia overwhelms travellers with its offerings. Its landscapes leave a lasting impression, constantly evolving, much like life itself. Peering through their Nissan Patrols, travellers feel intimately connected to the terrain rather than distant observers.

With their vehicles’ intelligent 4WD system, adventurers command supreme control across diverse landscapes — from the expansive Salar de Uyuni to snow-capped Andean peaks, vast altiplano plains, rugged deserts, steep valleys, and the untouched Amazon rainforest. The vehicle's adaptability ensures reliability, leaving no room for concern.

Bolivia's appeal to offbeat travellers is undeniable, especially for overlanding enthusiasts. Salar de Uyuni alone spans thousands of kilometres, demanding a reliable vehicle for navigation. And the experience of driving on the world's largest salt flat is a lifetime must.

Salar de Uyuni is truly incomparable. When it rains, the wet salt flats mirror the landscape perfectly. Under sunny skies, salt crystals glimmer and shine against the blue expanse. Some areas are as smooth as silk. Others are adorned with intricate cracks that defy capture even by the camera's lens.

Yet, Bolivia's allure extends far beyond the salt flats. The country's superlatives overwhelm all senses. When it feels too much, simply gaze up at the vast sky.