Why Visit the Salar de Uyuni
The Salt Flats in southern Bolivia are quite simply beautiful and unique. The scale and vastness of the white wilderness has to be experienced to be believed; photos cannot capture what it feels like to stand in the middle of the salt with nothing but brilliant white salt as far as the eye can see. In addition to the vast white desert are the incongruous cacti covered islands, Tunupa Volcano and the small town of Colchani where salt is still processed manually.
About the Salar de Uyuni
The Salar de Uyuni is the largest and highest salt flats in the world. An eerie expanse of over 4,600 square miles of white salty desert set at a lofty altitude of 3,653 metres in south-western Bolivia. To experience these desolate salt-encrusted plains is nothing short of mesmerizing. The featureless white landscape is broken up with small islands, the two main ones to visit being Isla Incahuasi and Isla del Pescado. During the dry season all corners of the Salar de Uyuni can be explored. In the wet season (December to March) the area is transformed into a huge reflecting pool and the centre is off limits.
Facts about Salar de Uyuni
- Can be seen from space. In fact, NASA uses it to calibrate its satellites.
- The salt can be up to 10 metres thick
- It was a huge salt water lake with no drainage outlets, over time it dried out leaving a thick crust of minerals and salt. You can still find coral on the islands today.
- Contains 60% of the world’s lithium
- Takes about 2-2.5 hours to drive across
- Small town of Cochani close to the salt hotels, still processes salt manually
Things to do on and around the salt flats
- Walk to the top of Isla Incahuasi and Isla del Pescado for stunning views across the salt flats.
- Visit the small town of Colchani and learn how the salt is processed
- Watch the water bubbling from the Ojos del Salar (eyes of the salt flat) with healing properties due to the high mineral content.
- Stay in one the of the salt hotels built entirely from blocks of salt
- Trek to the top of Tunupa Volcano and look out across the Salar de Uyuni
- Clear nights in the wet season offer incredible photographic opportunities with the night sky reflecting on the water
Beyond the Obvious
Spend the night glamping on the edge of Isla Pescado. An incredible experience with no-one else around, Steppes Travel has access to the only company in Bolivia which has permits to camp here.