Imagine living at 3,700 m above sea level, in a place where the average annual rainfall is less than 150 mm. Welcome to Uyuni. This extraordinary town was built as a trading outpost in 1890, and as a railway stop for mineral ores being shipped out to the coast. Today, the town is the gateway to the Uyuni Salt Flats - the largest in the world - and also home to a fascinating Train Cemetery, where the locomotives and carriages have not deteriorated, such is the dryness of their environment.
The Atacama Desert resembles Mars: it’s often been used as a film set, and NASA tests many of their instruments here prior to launching them into space. On your first journey here, it certainly seems an otherworldly landscape.
There are small amounts of cacti, succulents, and herbs, and when the rare rainfall does occur, the colourful phenomenon known as the flowering desert occurs. Andean flamingo flock to the coastal areas to eat the algae, and it is possible to spot Humboldt penguin, hummingbird, and sparrow where there is moisture.