Rising above the Salar de Uyuni, Tunupa volcano affords otherworldly views of the shimmering salt flats below.
You might not think that a visit to the vast salt flats of Uyuni would involve a climb of any sort, but a hike (or a drive) up the dormant volcano of Tunupa shouldn’t be missed on any visit here. Rising to over 5,300 metres, Tunupa is a commanding presence on the horizon, its colourful slopes and changing gradients a welcome respite from the seemingly endless, bright white of the salt flats below.
Tunupa rises about 1.8km above the Salar de Uyuni on its northern side. At the base, flamingos saunter in the shimmering heat while up above, the rough slopes rise to a spectacular, multi-coloured, craggy crater. Any geologist will have a field day but if you’re not so well versed in volcanic formations then the panorama will certainly be enough: a crystal white land extends as far as the eye can see.
You don’t have to don walking gear to gain the views. From a small village at the bottom, a 4x4 vehicle will get you up to a viewpoint and a fascinating cave containing several mummies. From there, you can join a hiking trail to the crater if you wish. It’s well worth taking your time over this, not only because the views are so spectacular but also because the altitude takes some getting used to. However, this slightly off-the-beaten-track experience is well worth the extra effort.
Get up close to a dormant volcano and view the fascinating rock formations and changing colours of its ancient lava flows.
Views of Salar de Uyuni
You may be entranced by the volcanic landscape but glance behind you from time to time as the views of the Salar de Uyuni expand. By the time you reach the crater, an infinite, white ocean stretches out beneath you.
Cave of the Mummies
Take a peek inside this ancient cave near the car park before you start your climb, containing the mummified remains of several men, women and children, naturally preserved by the harsh, salty conditions found here.