Uyuni's main attraction is the salar - the great salt lake located nearby, and we spent the whole day there.
Uyuni itself is a sort of ghost town (although the center was lively at sunset), and it's the coldest place we have been to so far. the fire at the hotel was most welcome (we did not inquire where the wood came from...)
Before going to the salar, we were brought the the other attraction of the town: a train cemetery. We were told the trains (steam powered) were in use between the 1880s and 1960s, mainly to carry mining products to the ocean, before service was discontinued (I presume because of cheap oil at that time)
(if amateurs want more pictures to discuss this, I have more...)
We then moved towards the salt lake. Initially, it looks like a thin layer of salt, then a thicker crust on top of earth, and then it's just a big white impenetrebable crust:
We saw some brick "manufacturing" (they break the salt crust, and then cut it into bricks - they are quite sensitive to being photographed, so I can't show more) - they use it to build buildings, on the shore of the lake as well as one hotel in the middle of the lake itself (which is no longer a hotel but is functions as a museum or sorts):
We also saw some salt production, which is very simple: they break the surface manually, put the then mushy salt in big piles, and pick these up with trucks:
We drove on the lake surface towards one of the islands in the middle, a key attraction:
It's an island literally covered in cactus, and we were told some of them are more than a thousand years old (and more than 10 meters):
And of course, it's in the middle of the lake, with no other land within 10-20km. It's hard to describe such a lake if you haven't seen it before - absolutely flat like water, but also completely solid and, in this case, blinding white (and covered in erosion-generated hexagons):
We were also lucky to fly right by the salar the next morning when we flew back to La Paz:
(as an aside, the airport at Uyuni is so small that we got into the plane with no security checks whatsoever - you can basically walk to the airstrip from the road; there's one or two flights a day only. You do need to get your luggage back at destination, and go back to square one if you need to transfer to another flight...).
In any case, a spectacular day!