Last fall I had the opportunity to visit the world’s largest salt flats, located in the beautiful country of Bolivia. They are known as Salar de Uyuni, and sit at an extreme altitude of 11,984 feet within the southwestern region. The flats are considered one of the most marvelous vistas in South America, and I can definitely see why.
Arriving to this otherworldly place can be a little complicated. Opting to go without a tour wasn’t an option at the time. Instead, we decided to embrace the idea of a more crowded truck, which ultimately allowed me to learn a little bit more about the area and connect with one of the most generous and fun Bolivians I’ve ever met. Our first stop was Colchani which is literally the Salt town, but seems to be struggling with keeping up nowadays. The people that live here depend on the salt as a way of making their living, which they extract and process with the same methods as in the old times. It is common to see the little mountains of salt being processed for consumption, as well as building components- in the form of bricks, etc.
The flats are the result of massive evaporated prehistoric lakes. The region is now a center for salt extraction and processing, with an estimate output of almost 20,000 tons. In addition to the salt, there are large lithium deposits below beneath the surface. These commodities, along with tourism, fuel a big part of Bolivia’s economy.
Stepping off the truck and into the endless expansion of a dry and white horizon was eerie. It seemed to go on forever in every direction. The skewed vantage points, open skies, and shadows made for some interesting shots. As the day progressed and the sun started to set, the landscape became utterly mesmerizing. Not only were there magical colors to behold, but they were mirrored by the earth below. It felt a bit like I was walking through a sunset...totally surreal. While the salts may have seemed like another popular tourist destination, they are completely worthwhile.
We made a stop at the Incahuasi (“The Home of the Inca” in quechua) which is the most famous island in the salt flats. It is located 100 kms away from Uyuni and it’s covered by thousand of millenary cacti that can reach up to 10 mt. in height.
Salar de Uyuni is unlike any place on earth, and will leave you feeling in awe of the incredible planet we call home.
We also stayed at the Hotel de Sal Luna Salada and it was the most gorgeous place I’ve ever stayed in.
Not only for the comfort, but because of the uniqueness of the experience sleeping in the middle of the Salt flats on a room which floors, walls and almost everything is made out of salt