El Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. Plan a trip to this amazing place and enjoy the best time of your life.
El Salar de Uyuni, or Salar de Tunupa, is one of the most attractive sites of Bolivia. Walk on the endless white desolate surface of the dry salt or admire the beautiful reflection of the clouds, every traveler agrees that the place is worth visiting.
The salt flats area covers nearly 10,500 sq km and is 11,995 ft above sea level. Unlike other deserts, which have sand in abundance, this salt flat has white salt overall. Underneath the salt, several large reservoirs of lithium-rich brine are found.
El Salar de Uyuni is amazingly beautiful and unfolds an experience that can’t be forgotten. But before you make a plan to explore this unknown place, keep these points in mind to have a safe journey.
Let us know how this world’s largest salt flat is formed and how to reach this exotic place. You can also explore other places that you can visit in 2019.
El Salar de Uyuni contains over 10 billion tons of salt. Do you know how it was formed? The Altiplano or Andean Plateau here had no drainage outlets, that is, the water from the mountains when collected forms a lake. A thick crust of salt-remains is recognized as the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.
Some legend gives an alternate explanation to this. They say that the mountains (Kusina, Kusku, and Tunupa) were once human beings. Tunupa and Kuksu were married. When Kuksu betrayed his wife, Tunupa’s tears formed the salt flats.
Whatever the story is, the travelers’ story of Salar de Uyuni is worth reading and sharing. You can also see a bizarre island of a giant cactus in the middle of the flats. This place consists of a large plantation of cactus plants that bear delicious fruits.
According to travelers, more than its white expanse, the surreal surroundings of the salt flats are the highlights of the trail. But visiting this exotic place can be challenging as it has nausea-inducing altitude. Before you plan to visit the Salar de Uyuni, read below points for a safer travel experience.
1. The place lies at 3600 meters while some sections of the tours (3-4 day tours) reach 16,400 feet. Keeping this in mind, spend a few days at the highest-altitude destination such as La Paz.
2. Planning in winter can be bitterly cold. In winters, temperatures drop as low as -4F. To avoid freezing, make sure that you carry warm clothes as much as you can.
3. One day tour to the Salt flat is also good to go if you only want to explore that particular location. Leave for Uyuni early morning and spend a few hours traversing the flats, and return to your hotel in the late afternoon.
4. If you want to explore those surreal deserts, technicolor lagoons, hot springs, and bumpy ride, make sure that you plan a tour for 3-4 days.
5. Accommodation here is not expensive. The basic local shelters offer limited electricity and water for usage. Several hotels also have a unique natural theme and offer ecological resorts.
6. You can choose a tour company according to your budget. Some companies offer breakdown–prone jeeps and offer a basic meal, others, offer accommodation, travel, and food.
7. It is recommended to start your journey from Tupiza, where you can find tour operators easily. Also, travelers can experience the highlights blissfully.
8. One thing you can’t miss on your travel to Salar de Uyuni is the famed mirror effect that appears only after heavy rains. It is an incredible phenomenon that lasts only from January to March.
You can reach the place from three places –Bolivia, Chile, and Tupiza. If you are traveling alone, you can take a local bus from Uyuni to Colchani. Get down wherever you want, in this way, you can explore the nearby places too.
Travelers can also book tickets online or could take overnight buses from La Paz with several tourist services. To get to Uyuni, you can take the train or bus from Ororo. It would take 7-8 hours by train or bus.
According to experts, the Salar contains sodium, lithium, magnesium, potassium, and borax. Bolivia only holds over 40% of the world’s known lithium reserves. Lithium is present in the top layers of the halite body lying under the brine; however, the liquid is easy to extract by boring into the crust.
Salar de Uyuni contains around 10 billion tonnes of salt. Out of which, 25,000 tonnes is extracted annually. Every November, Salar de Uyuni is the breeding ground for several species of pink South American flamingo, Andean, and James’s flamingos. You may find other species like an Andean goose, horned coot, and rabbits like viscachas too.
Outside the Uyuni town, you can also find the train graveyard that has a great collection of trains and carriages. The trains were used to transport minerals to the shores of the Pacific Ocean until the 1940s. Unfortunately, when the train collapsed, they were left as it is, and now became a center of attraction.
Before you plan to travel to El Salar de Uyuni, make sure that you have forecasted about the weather conditions. According to experts, the best climate to experience the salt flat is between July and October. But if you want to see the reflective surface, March and April are the best time to book your tickets. As the water evaporates, bee-hive polygons surround the area.
In winter, travelers can expect the temperatures to be as low as -20 degrees C. So make sure that you carry warm clothes in your bag.
If you want to visit the place in the dry season, book your tickets in April. The salt flat during that time looks like a mirror.
Rainy seasons are great for photographers. But you could miss adventurous sports like bike riding in rains.
Around March, you can capture some stunning reflection photographers, and the sunsets are awesome. It is the most beautiful time here and shouldn’t be missed.
If you are not an excellent planner like me, walking into a tour office after arrival is the best option. Several companies in Bolivia offer 2-3 days tour of the flats and surrounding regions. On the way to salt flats, you can also explore rock valleys, deserts, steaming geyser field, wildlife such as vizcachas, flamingos, and lagoons.
If you are opting for a private tour, it is recommended to tell the guide what you are looking for. Take extra time on the salt flats for clicking pictures. Want to take pictures with some unique pose? Tell the guide to take you to the location.
Bring life to your pre-wedding pictures while posing on the salt flats. Whether you want to share your clicks on social network or keep it personal, the pre-wedding pictures are fun and LOVE. Browse adorable pre-wedding poses and try it at the beautiful Salt Flats.
It is recorded that the Salt Flat is ideal for calibrating the distance measurement equipment of satellites as it is large and resembles ice sheets. In the low rains, that is, from April and November, the sky above the salt flat is very clear, and the air remains dry. The variation in the surface elevation over 4,086 sq mi area of Salar is less than 3ft 3in normal to the Earth’s circumference, and there are only a few flat kilometers on Earth.
With the use of modern equipment and technology, it is now proved that the Salar de Uyuni is not perfectly flat. Also, the new dimensions reveal the earlier missed features like hills, bridges, and valleys to be only a few millimeters high. Just as the ocean surface rises over seamounts (a mountain rising from the ocean floor), the flat surface also rises and falls to reflect the density variations.
It is recommended to book the tour company in advance for a better traveling experience. That is because the place is amazingly beautiful and attracts millions of visitors from around the world.
If you book the tour 3-4 weeks in advance, it would be great. The three-day tour would cost around 1000 Bolivianos. The fee to the national park would cost 160 Bolivianos and would cost 2-3 Bolivianos for a shower and using the restroom. Overall, you can travel the place at approx $175.
1. Sunscreen: It is essential to carry sunscreen as UV radiation is very strong.
2. Softshell Jacket: As it has high altitude and sometimes gets cold and windy.
3. Snacks: Keep something for munching as you wouldn’t find any shops near the salt flats.
4. Flashlight: As there may be a power cut in the evening, so keeping a mini flashlight is convenient.
5. Photo props and camera: Keep photo props like a water bottle or a toy to make your photos unique and best of all.
No doubt, the world has several places on earth, which can make you feel unearthly. Bolivia’s attraction is the remarkable site in South America.
If you are wanderlust and searching for a new exotic place to add on your bucket list, then you should add El Salar de Uyuni. Check more amazing things you can add on your list for a lifetime experience.
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