Exploring Bolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flats
The Uyuni Salt Flats are based in the forgotten southwest corner of Bolivia not too far from La Paz which is the Bolivian administrative capital. The Salt Flats which are some of the largest and most expansive salt lakes in the world are known locally as the Salar de Uyuni. Unlike any landscape you’ll find throughout the world, the Salt Flats are surrounded by a surreal desert landscape that was the famous artist, Salvador Dali’s inspiration for many of his sculptures and pieces of art.
The Salar was formed by several lakes that existed approximately 30,000 years ago which over time dried up leaving a thick layer of salt build up on the desert floor. These salt flats contain a large amount of lithium, estimated to be around 50% of the world’s total concentration.
Where to go and what to see in Salt Flats:
Grab your friends and head out on the flats where you can take fun and wacky disproportionate and perspective-distorted photos on the white surface of the salt flats with active volcanoes and desert mountains on the background.
The Chiguana desert on the south side of Uyuni salt flat, surrounded by active volcanoes such as Ollague (5,840m) is a spectacular sight! Continue along a rocky road – Pasito Tuntun – to the beautiful Andean lagoons inhabited by 3 species of Andean flamingos. Marvel at three lagoons on the way: Laguna Honda, Chiarcota where you’ll see a wider variety of birds and altiplanic fauna and Cañapa where you’ll see the first pink flamingos.
The Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve with the Desert of Siloli at 4,550m (the highest and driest desert in the world) and take a photo next to the ‘Stone tree’, a lava rock formation. You can then stop at the overlook point by the Red Lagoon to see more pink flamingos in their natural habitat and admire this intense red-colored lake.
The Dali Desert where Salvador Dali found his inspiration from boulders sprinkled in the middle of the desert.
Inca Wasi (Fish Island) which is located in the middle of the salt flat, with beautiful cactus and rock formations made of petrified coral where you can take a hike to the top of the island to see giant cactus and rock formations made of petrified coral.
Uyuni’s ‘train graveyard’ to see the first locomotives in Bolivia. Then visit the small settlement of Colchani (salt miners workshops next to the salt flats) where you can see handicrafts made of salt and textile art made of llama and alpaca.
Los Ojos de Agua Salada (‘salt water eyes’) is a hotel made completely of salt which is currently a museum.
The Sol de Mañana Geyser, at 5,000m and walk next to fumaroles and steaming craters filled with boiling pots of mud at 150-200 Cº. Continue to the open air hot springs and take a bath in 35 Cº water.