A surreal snow-white desert stretches out in front of you. The bright sunlight is reflected on the infinite surface. Sunglasses and sunscreen therefore come in handy. But don’t be fooled, because it can get quite cold at night in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia.
Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world. A white desert in Bolivia with a wafer-thin, all-reflecting layer of water in the rainy season. Even the most seasoned traveler will have never seen anything like the Salar de Uyuni before.
It is salt. Ten billion tons of salt. Spread over an area of 4633 square miles which is about the size of Hawaii island. A layer of no less than ten meters thick lies in the middle of the area.
The most beautiful is the Salar de Uyuni during the rainy season between December and April. Then there is a wafer-thin layer of water on the stark white surface. The water works like a mirror. The horizon and clouds reflect in this. Everything in the white environment seems to float.
Valhalla for photographers
It is a mecca for (amateur) photographers. The reflection, the uniform background, the elongated shadows, the clear light. Only your own creativity sets limits on your photographic possibilities.
Rocky pieces of land, not covered with salt, tower left and right above the white desert. Like islands in a white sea. Dark oases. Black fata morganas. The rocky pieces of land are covered with huge cacti, some ten meters high and hundreds of years old.
The largest salt flat in the world
The Salar de Uyuni came into existence when the prehistoric Minchín sea began to evaporate more than 40,000 years ago. The saltwater lake did not dry up in its entirety, but broke into two parts.
It formed the current Uru Uru and Poopó lakes. The reclaimed areas formed the Salar de Uyuni and the Salar de Coipasa. The Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world.
At high altitude
The Salar de Uyuni extends over the provinces of Potosí and Oruru, at an altitude of 3,650 meters. It is a desert-like area. The air is dry. At night it can get bitterly cold, with temperatures that sometimes drop to twenty degrees below zero.
What to do in Salar de Uyuni?
- Explore the Uyuni train cemetery where you can find various locomotives, oxidized steam engines and wagons.
- Visit an artisanal salt processing plant and witness traditional salt extraction methods in Colchani village (also called Puerto Seco – Dry Port).
- You can take funny pictures on the Uyuni salt flat. Because there are no objects on the horizon, depth is more difficult to display. It looks like your friend is much smaller, while he is only a few meters away.
- See the amazing giant cactus at Incahuasi Island which is located in the middle of the world’s largest salt flat.
- Sleep in the salt hotel, where everything consists of salt. It is forbidden to sleep in the salt hotel in the middle of the salt flat. But further on is a hotel, where it is possible!
- Eat an Alpaca pizza in Minute Man (hidden behind hotel Toñito). The ingenious combination of spicy herbs with this lama-like meat ensures that your stomach is well fed.
- Help the locals with their herds of alpacas.
How to tour the Uyuni salt flats?
While you can rent a 4×4 car and visit the salt flats by yourself, we recommend that you make your trip through the Uyuni salt flat under the supervision of a guide. Without one, you risk being hopelessly lost, as there are no landmarks and no freshwater sources. During our Journey from Buenos Aires to Lima we will also tour the Salar de Uyuni salt flats, so if you are interested to join please get in touch. Alternatively we can also help you to organize a custom private tour to the Uyuni salt flats as well!