Bike and desvio sign

Alota to Uyuni

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After superb Lagunas route I cannot wait for more of Bolivia. Namely, the famous endless salt flats. But first I need to get there. And I have a few options.

May 20

Today I am deciding whether to go to San Agustin and then join another Pikes' route to the tourist town of Uyuni (technically from there I could go directly north to salar de Uyuni but given my dwindling supplies it is better to restock in a decent sized town). The other option is more direct route through San Cristobal.

In the end the direct option wins -- while the road to San Agustin is more scenic, it is also sandy road through mountains. Meanwhile, the road to San Cristobal is basically a good flat ripio. Finally, given my experiences so far, it could be quite difficult to find avena in San Agustin and I am dangerously low with breakfasts.

Morning view from Alota
Today is going to be mostly altiplano with few distant hills
Maybe I should have gone to San Cristobal. Mountains in that direction look quite nice

Before I head off I first stop by the same "restaurant" than yesterday. A sopaipillas and pasta breakfast isn't bad at all. From there finally start pedalling on the flat road. And from the morning I am welcomed by a north wind. The road surface is surprisingly good and even more surprisingly there is little traffic. I cycle through green altiplano but there are distant hills on both sides of the road.

Warning! Llamas on the road!
Road quality is so far excellent

After a while I am learning why the road is in such good condition -- they are just working on fixing the ripio. Which unfortunately means a few desvios from the main road. These are in a much worse state with enough sand to make it difficult to cycle (but it is still manageable).

Dry season is quite serious here
And the not-so-good road sections start
A bit of salar in the distance

After I climb the only mini-pass of the day (from which are quite decent views), the road descents to a village named "Culpina K". I wonder why would somebody name a village as a suspect in a police drama. In any case, I am finding a restaurant there so my lunch is better than the usual bread with patê.

Top of mini pass
Descent towards Culpina K
I don't know if I count into livestock but cars definitely should watch out for me as well!

From Culpina K I have the last 15 kilometers to San Cristobal. As I manage to get there a bit sooner than expected, I make a decision to continue. The next village is really a village because it is called "village village" (Villa Villa). Unfortunately, there I am learning a hard truth that not every village in Bolivia has a hospedaje. Fortunately, a lady from a nearby shop suggests that I can use a bus waiting room for the night. This works out quite well for me. And even though Villa Villa does not have a hospedaje, the shops are quite well stocked. I find avena there and even bananas which is quite surprising.

May 21

I am forced to quit my morning lazing because a cleaning lady arrives to clean the bus waiting room. So I quickly pack my things and get ready for the final push to Uyuni. This proves to be a not-very-exciting but good road. Basically, all day I am riding a neverending flat road. As I near Uyuni I can sometimes spot bits of salar in the distance and very diffused salts around the road. And even though riding a flat road sounds like an easy job you can bet that in reality it isn't that easy. The road heads north-east which means the usual dose of wind battling (though still better than north-west from which the wind goes).

There are interesting mountains near Villa Villa
Crossing river over a bridge. If I chose Pikes' route I would have to cross this river on a railway bridge.
Bits of salar in the distance
The road is super flat but not that exciting
Uyuni lies somewhere near the mountains in the distance

May 22-23

I am spending the next two days in the town of Uyuni. You can easily feel that this is a really touristy town. There are real restaurants here. Lots of (not-so-cheap) hostals that even have (not-so-good) WiFi. Some more-decently stocked shops (although not by a big margin). And lots of tourists around.

Of course, Uyuni isn't only tourists. It's also lots of local people which I quite like -- unlike the western-style Chile and Argentina, I can finally see a bits of culture as people do not tend to wear jeans and t-shits here.

For some reason this reminds me of a socialism
There are a bit more modern-looking statues as well. I would name it "casting wizard"
Food selling stands are easy to find
I think this graffiti perfectly explains the carrying capacity of traditional Bolivian "backpacks"
Ladies always wear two braids. And sometimes bed blankets instead of skirts.
Another traditional food-selling stand
A clock tower around the main plaza
The streets are surprisingly busy


Loading map...

Download simplified GPX of a route here

Stats by activity:

Activity Distance
Pedal rotations
bike 147 0.3 25
Stats by day:
Date Distance
Avg. temp
(moving, C)
May 20, 2017 70.4 0.27 12.6
May 21, 2017 76.4 0.03 8.6

Elevation data

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(drag over a region to zoom in, right-click reset)

The next table is only for cycling activity.

Grade(%)Ascent (km)Descent(km)
< 2 122.7
< 4 4.5 8.2
< 6 1.1 1.7
< 8 0.4 0.8
< 10 0.2 0.2
≥ 10 0.4 0.0

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