The Salar de Uyuni, Uyuni salt flats, is one of the most popular places to visit in Bolivia. In Uyuni, there are more than 60 companies offering three day tours to see the salt flats, as well as all of the nearby natural wonders. In three days and two nights you can see colourful lagoons, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs. After interviewing several companies and doing some online research, we signed on for the three day trip with Tito Tours. They seemed to have a focus on safety and were very willing to accommodate two vegans and one vegetarian.
Our first day started at 10:30 a.m. We met our driver and got our first look at the 4×4 truck we’d be spending the next three days in. At first, we were disappointed. One of our conditions with the tour company was seat belts for everyone. We’d read about all of the fly by night tour operators who cram too many people in trucks and don’t have seat belts. We knew this was a recipe for disaster and swore we wouldn’t put ourselves at risk. The tour operator told us seat belts wouldn’t be a problem but, in the end, he couldn’t get in contact with the driver with the seat belts. We were livid. The tour operator insisted we would be fine. Eventually, we gave in and compromised on paying half the cost of the tour, a total of 600 Bolivian Bolivianos ($85.51 USD) each, after we returned safely. Despite all of our worries, everything did turn out fine. We had an awesome driver, Miguel, who, unlike many of his colleagues, didn’t have a single sip of alcohol and always put our safety first.
Our second condition for Tito Tours was vegan and vegetarian food options. They didn’t let us down. The meals were far from fancy but were healthy and different each day. On day one, we had lunch on the salt flats. Miguel prepared a pot of quinoa and salad. For dessert, we had watermelon. Not bad for a meal served out of the back of a 4×4.
After visiting a train grave yard, we spent most of our first day touring the salt flats, taking amazing pictures of the reflections and low skylines.
On our way to the hostel, which was entirely made of salt, we stopped for a few minutes to check out a cactus field.
For dinner, we had lasagna and soup. The lasagna was half vegan, half vegetarian. The soup was a traditional Bolivian vegetable soup, full of corn, cabbage, spices and other veggies.
On day two, we woke up very early, around 5:00 a.m. We made our way back towards the salt flats to watch the sunrise. The water on the salt flats made for a beautiful reflection. It was the start of a great day.
We saw several lagoons on day two, each one a different colour. There was also some beautiful wildlife. We saw flamingos and vicunas, a relative of the llama, which looks like a cross between a llama and deer.
Lunch was simple, salad with plain pasta and potato chips. The scenery was the highlight of the day.
We saw quinoa fields, volcanoes, the rock of seven colours and the rock tree.
Dinner on day two was another round of Bolivian vegetable soup, but the vegetables did differ from those used the night before. There was a little mix up with the main course, which was prepared with meat and eggs. Luckily, our resourceful driver put together a plate of veggies and bread for us to make sandwiches.
Day three started early, with us leaving the hostel before 5:30 a.m. We were off to see the geysers, where steam wafts from the ground due to local volcanic activity.
Our second stop was at a natural hot spring, where we sat in 35 degree water and enjoyed the surrounding views.
Once we managed to pull ourselves from the hot springs, breakfast was ready and waiting for us. The vegan option was some puffed grain cereal and toast. Sadly, there was no soy milk.
Most of day three was spent driving back to Uyuni. We drove about seven hours in total. We did stop for lunch, where we had some vegetables and rice.
Tito Tours did a great job with the vegan food but some meals left us wanting a bit more. We anticipated this might happen and, luckily, we packed some snacks. We were happy to find a good selection of vegan treats in Uyuni, including some Gran Cereal cookies by Costa, coconut chocolate bars by Momento and PopQuin chocolate quinoa cereal.
Food is usually the focus of our travels but the beauty of the Uyuni salt flats tour distracted us to the point where we barely cared about what we were eating. More than anything, we were happy to be experiencing the diverse landscapes of Bolivia.