South America, Bolivia
Most travellers to Uyuni are heading to the famous Salar de Uyuni; the largest salt flats in the world, but we recommend that visitors to this area add a little time to their trip to visit a lesser known attraction – the 'Cementerio de Trenes' or Train Cemetery.
Uyuni has long been an important transportation hub for trains in South America as it connects several of the continent’s major cities. There were plans to extend this network in the early 19th century but technical difficulties and tension with other countries led to the project being dropped leaving many trains and other pieces of equipment redundant. Bolivia’s mining industry collapsed in the 1940s and this too led to many trains, which has previously been used to transport minerals from the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean ports, being abandoned.
These trains may have suffered less in other parts of the world but these predominantly metal machines had no chance against the strong salt winds of Uyuni. They are completely corroded, parts are often stolen or vandalised and yet, what could be an eyesore is somehow a surreal, even beautiful sight.
With no fences, security or seemingly any restrictions of any kind it is possible to clamber all over the trains providing fantastic photograph opportunities – just take care not to do yourself any injury in the process!
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