Salar de Uyuni. The Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia is both the world’s largest and highest salt flat, and also one of the most amazing landscape in the world.
Stretching out over an incredible 12,000 sq km and sitting at a mighty3653m above sea level, the utterly mesmerizing Salar de Uyuni is both the world’s largest and highest salt flat. Situated in southwest Bolivia and forming a part of the country’s vast Altiplano region, this phenomenal natural landscape is truly breathtaking in appearance. Comparable to a seemingly endless white sea when dry and a colossal reflective mirror when wet, the Salar de Uyuni appears to be almost other-worldly and will certainly provide privileged visitors with spectacular photos and treasured memories.
- In addition to holding an estimated 10 billion tons of salt, the Salar de Uyuni is also the world’s largest lithium reserve, a mineral on which numerous technological devices such as mobile phones and laptops depend.
- Thanks to its incredibly-large surface area, the clearness of the skies and its extraordinary flatness, the Salar de Uyuni is used to calibrate the altimeters of Earth observation satellites.
Allegedly dating back about 40,000 years, the Salar de Uyuni salt flat originally formed a part of the giant prehistoric lake, Lago Minchín. Covering the majority of southwest Bolivia, the ancient lake eventually dried up leaving behind Lago Poopó, Lago Uru Uru and two major salt deserts including our own Salar de Uyuni. Extending to great depths of up to 120m according to geological experts, Salar de Uyuni’s present-day salt provides extremely strong foundations for the numerous vehicles which travel across it during the dry season but, what makes it most remarkable is its transformation when the rain arrives in November. Whereas the dry season (April-October) sees the fascinating creation of a never-ending chain of risen polygon salt shapes owing to the cracking of the crystalline surface, the wet season (November-March) produces a natural, water-covered mirror-like expanse which reflects the beautiful skies above. Feeling as if you are walking among white fluffy clouds during the day, through shimmering stars at night and upon a rainbow during the richly-colored sunrises and sunsets, the Salar de Uyuni’s unique reflective surface creates a world in which land and sky appear to be one.
Although the Salar de Uyuni’s main appeal revolves around its staggering landscape rather than its biodiversity, tourists will equally be treated to the remarkable sight of the thousands of flamingos who flock to breed on the Bolivian salt flat every November. Whether observing them standing proudly on the saturated land or watching them flying majestically overhead, tourists cannot help but be captivated by the graceful movements of these pink-colored, regal-looking creatures.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given its magical-looking appearance, the Salar de Uyuni also lies at the heart of an ancient Aymara — the name given to one of Bolivia’s main indigenous groups —legend. Rather that forming naturally, the long-held legend claims that the salt flat came into being following the intervention of Aymara deities. Known by the names of Tunupa, Kusku and Kusina, the three mountains surrounding the salt flat were once giant people and, following the betrayal of Kusku, Tunupa’s husband, who supposedly ran away with Kusina, Tunupa’s copious flow of tears created the almost, incomparably beautiful Salar de Uyuni of modern times. In fact, so revered is Tunupa to some Aymara people that they believe that the salt flat should be named Salar de Tunupa in her honor.