Salar de Uyuni’s ghost towns of San Antonio de Lipez and San Cristobal de Lipez are drenched in history and intriguing stories. Learn a bit more about these fascinating ghost towns below.
The once bubbling town of 150,000 inhabitants thrived for year through the mining of silver, but now lies dormant and relishing in its stories of the past. Legend has it that a pact with the devil is what caused this town to spiral into the ghost town that exists today. The pact was intended to grant the workers of San Antonio de Lipez wealth through mining but instead caused the death of all the miners as they foolishly failed to fulfill their part of the pact. This was shortly followed by the rest of the inhabitants abandoning the town due to sightings of ghosts and strange occurrences.
A mass destruction of the town some years ago has left hundreds of buildings in ruins. This took place after news spread that many miners would have hidden their silver in the walls of the houses. Studies in the mid-20th century showed that almost half a million tons of low-grade silver ore remain in this mining district.
What’s fascinating about San Cristobal de Lipez is that only 19 years ago, the entire town was moved over 20 kilometers from its original place to a new location. This is because it was discovered that the small village formed by twelve families had settled in a silver mine and was full of jewels.
So began the transfer of the town, including the historical church that is considered to be one of the oldest in the Bolivian Altiplano. In order to maintain the same measurements and appearance as the original, the church was moved stone by stone. Important repairs were also made during the process of moving it, which have given it a greater cultural value today. Those who visit are blown away by the intriguing tale behind this impressive building.
Unfortunately, a visit to the historical towns of San Antonio de Lipez and San Cristobal de Lipez are not included in most Salar de Uyuni tours. However, you may request to visit these high altitude ghost towns when booking your tour. The roads to both towns are very demanding and only suitable for 4×4 vehicles with expert drivers.