Updated: Jan 12, 2021
El Salar de Uyuni
Blooming cactus! wow.
A picnic out on the salt flats
Jumping for joy.
Located in Bolivia’s southern province of Potosi, the Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flats on earth (10,000 sq km’s / 4000 sq miles). The region is the same size as the BIG island of Hawaii! So I leave the snow of home to find an even whiter environment!
The salt flats are among the most visually dramatic places on earth and it is becoming easier to visit. We were in fact rather spoiled and flew from La Paz to the surreal town of Uyuni. Setting aside delays, the flight is a mere 45 minutes and the views from the air and worth the cost of the flight.
Overland, the trip is between 8-11 hours … but also dramatic.
Rusting trains & economic collapse. But so fun to climb on!
In dusty Uyuni we stayed at the new – and randomly custom – Jardines hotel. I would absolutely recommend this hotel (for one night). Uyuni itself has its train station (where I once arrived at 2am in below freezing weather), a clocktower and the bizarre train cemetery.
The altitude on this plateau is 3660 meters (12,000 ft). The sun burns in the day and the southern stars are crystal clear during the cold nights.
The trains rust slowly in this desert and stand as monuments to the dictatorial mismanagement and corruption of the 1970’s. These were purchased with Gulf oil money, channelled through Swiss banks.
A salt roof … they have to rebuild the hotels after each rainy season.
Moving on from Uyuni, the real highlight is the salt. We stayed in the magnificent Palacio de Sal – the world’s first hotel made of salt.
Out on the salt flats every view is amazing. Sunglasses are an absolute requirement, as is a hat and the strongest sunscreen available.
Local residents process the salt and add iodine for thyroid health. The flats are also home to the largest lithium reserves on earth.
Visitors drive throughout the flats in four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers. The owner-operators are in a constant battle against salt damage, but tourism is bringing good business to the region.
An almost cult-like sunset on the salt flats. Incredible.
From the Salt Flats, the road to Potosi is now paved. The canyons and high plains are spectacular, with no shortage of vicuñas and llamas!
We'd love to plan another trip!