Stretching across more than 4,050 square miles of Bolivia’s Altiplano, the Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and one of the most awe-inspiring natural destinations in South America. For three beautiful and exciting days on the Salar, the Kachi Lodge is an ideal home base. Opened in May 2019, the luxury dome camp is both remote enough for a digital detox and proximal enough to topographical and cultural sites that it strikes a perfect balance between relaxation and excitement.
Beyond a fabulous vacation, a trip to Kachi Lodge is environmentally responsible. The high-tech, all-in-one water system provides running hot and cold water and simultaneously recycles it in a closed loop, minimizing consumption in a system that is virtually self sufficient. Kachi Lodge is a low environmental impact structure and in addition to the water treatment unit working in a closed loop, all of the systems are powered by solar energy only.
On your way to Kachi Lodge from the airport in Uyuni, visit the train cemetery on the outskirts of town. Rusted from the salt, these trains are the hauntingly beautiful ghost of a failed 19th century attempt to expand an already impressive South American transportation hub.
When you arrive at Kachi Lodge, settle into the minimalist luxury of one of six bedroom pods, which come equipped with a private bathroom, soft carpet, comfortable bedding, central stove heating, and beds centrally placed for the best views of the Salar, which stretches out on the other side of the dome’s transparent panels.
In the afternoon, venture out to one of the salt extraction sites to see how the commercial side of the Salar operates. On the way, keep your eye out for “Ojos de Sal,” natural pools of water on the Salar which often create large salt crystal formations.
Make sure you’re back at Kachi Lodge in time to trek to the top of nearby Kachi Island for sprawling views of the salar, the lodge, and the Bolivian sunset.
Enjoy dinner infused with local ingredients and local traditions, provided by the award-winning Gustu Restaurant in La Paz.
Spend the morning hiking through a forest of giant cactus to the peak of Incahuasi Island in the center of the Salar.
Incahuasi is a popular destination for visitors to the Salar, but the proximal location of Kachi Lodge, the only hotel on the flats themselves, allows Kachi’s guests to enjoy it before almost anyone else arrives.
After lunch at the lodge, head out to the Tunupa volcano in a 4×4 vehicle for a magical view from 14,763ft altitude. For the adventurous traveler, you can continue hiking towards the volcano’s crater or mountain bike down its side. Return to Kachi Lodge via Coquesa, a peaceful and charming community with impressively preserved colonial constructions, where you can sometimes see the Salar’s flamingos.
Back at the lodge, spend the night stargazing across the clear Altiplano sky, visible through the domes’ clear panels. Expert guides are on hand to educate guests about the constellations and offer insight into Andean cosmology and ancient cultural beliefs about the night sky.
Following a healthy breakfast at the lodge, take a short drive to the nearby community of Jirira, where you’ll have the opportunity to see Salar culture through the llama herding and seasonal quinoa planting, harvesting, or processing routines of local guides. If you’re feeling daring, give the local llama jerky a try.
Drive to the archaeological site of Alcaya, a city ruin thousands of years old with impressively preserved burial sites and stone constructions. You’ll be able to see preserved individuals who died hundreds and thousands of years ago, buried with their possessions so they wouldn’t enter the next life empty handed.
Return to Kachi Lodge for a final look at its surreal, space station-esque presence on the pristine Salar before heading back to Uyuni for your flight home from your magical trip, which only lasted three days but felt like a once in a lifetime experience.