All you need to know about the Uyuni train cemetery in Bolivia

cementerio de trenes en uyuni

This post is also available in: Español

The presence of a railway and even the fact that it was a place of repair for the trains that circulated there, make you think that years ago, this area of Bolivia was the protagonist of the local mining boom.

In this post, we talk about the Uyuni train cemetery, a ghost place where the skeletons of locomotives have become one of the best attractions of the Uyuni Salt Flats excursions.

The Uyuni Railway Station

It was at the end of the 19th century, on November 20, 1890, when a train stopped for the first time in this place. On it was Bolivian President Aniceto Arce, as a celebration of the creation of this country’s first railroad to transport minerals.

railway line uyuni
During the following years, even decades, along this railroad line that crossed incredible places in Bolivia, traveled wagons loaded with minerals such as tin, silver and even gold.

Just 10 kilometers from Uyuni were the Pulacayo silver mines, so the location was perfect. The railroad connected Uyuni with Antofagasta, on the Pacific coast, being this new railroad, a fast and safe transport to load as soon as possible in the port the extracted mineral.

With the War of the Pacific, Bolivia lost its access to the sea. Chile was left with the Department of Atacama, and with this loss, Bolivia had nowhere to continue exporting its mining.

Little by little, the trains that were being sent to the Uyuni station to be repaired, would no longer come back into operation. This was how the history of the Uyuni train cemetery began.

Visit the Uyuni train cemetery in Bolivia

At more than 3000 meters above sea level, this place is literally attached to the small town of Uyuni. As our colleague Ester told us in her experience in the Uyuni Salt Flats, it is an unforgettable visit. This area is full of incredible corners.

Today, this area of the Uyuni train station is completely abandoned. Since it is not an official museum belonging to the Bolivian state, security is minimal. And if you add to this the unconsciousness of young people, the result is paintings and graffiti on the wagons.

Even so, all the rusty iron ladders that were once the means of transport for the mining wealth of area still impress.

There are around 100 train cars, among which you can go inside and recreate how these machines worked centuries ago. In addition, it is the perfect place to posture in RRSS.

Your photos will be the envy of all your friends, because… Who wouldn’t like to be the engineer of a train with more than 100 years of history?

If you want to see it and for now it is impossible for you to make any excursion in Bolivia, you can take a virtual tour of the area. It’s not the same as in person, but it may calm your wanderlust for the time being.

The Uyuni train cemetery as a video game scenario

Such is the enigmatic nature of this place that it has been recreated even in video games.

The entertainment company Ubisoft recreated this place that could well resemble a post-apocalyptic moment, for its game ‘Ghost Recon Wildlands’. Although the theme was inspired by this country, the train cemetery had nothing to do with this post-apocalyptic theme, but by issues of cartels in the area.

people in wagons uyuni train cemetery

Have you ever heard of this emblematic place? Would you like to get on one of its wagons?

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