Uyuni Salt Flats

Uyuni Salt Flats or Salt Lake of Uyuni (Salar de Uyuni) is the world’s largest salt flat

Location

Uyuni Salt Flats or Salt Lake of Uyuni (Salar de Uyuni) is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,582 km² (4,085 sq mi), almost 5 times bigger than Tokyo and 102 times the size the Bonneville Salt Flats (not far from Salt Lake City) in the United States at 104 km² (40 sq mi).

It is located in the Potosí department in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, 3,650 meters high (11,995 feet). The Salar contains between 50% and 70% of the world’s lithium reserves. Also has abundant quantities of halite, the mineral form of sodium chloride (NaCl) and gypsum, sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate.

Environment

This singular island is famous for its gigantic cacti (Echinopsis atacamensis pasacana, Echinopsis tarijensis). These species on average grow one cm a year. At the present time are up to 12 meters high (26.25 feet). These gigantic centennial cacti dominate the 24.62 hectares (61 acres) island. Few shrubs and bushes that are scattered along the plains reveal that the Salar is almost lacking of any wild life and vegetation.

The Incahuasi Island itself is made of coral. A surreal and intriguing feeling of in what way life can actually be present in such conditions, make us envision how this place looked like long time ago. The infinite view of the salt lake from this extraordinary spot is impressive, the beautiful landscape scenes on an endless white horizon; give us the most visually captivating spot of the Salar.

Experience

Besides being a breathtaking sight, the Salar de Uyuni is an exotic framework for the experienced and aficionado photographer. Also often used by tourists to take forced perspective photos. Not to mention unbelievable views of a clear sky bursting with stars at night.

The Salar brings a complete different experience in the wet season. The Poopo Lake overflows into Salar de Uyuni turning it into the world’s largest mirror. When is flooded by 30 cm (10 in) of water a singularity called the “Mirror effect” occurs. The big open sky and ground merge into one, creating dreamy landscapes. It seems likely to reach up and touch the clouds.

The Salt Flats of Uyuni and region are year round good to visit, with some restrictions during the rainy season (December to February) especially when the Salt Flats are flooded because of the rain. This phenomenon also offers a great chance for the photo enthusiasts to enjoy the reflection of the sky over the salty waters.
The most popular season to visit this region is during the dry season from March to November. That means that we can cross the Salt Flats and visit all sightseeing.

To get to Uyuni you have the following options:

  1. By plane from every city in Bolivia with connections through La Paz. Also available flights from Cusco – Peru
  2. By land using bus or private car from La Paz, Potosi and Sucre.
  3. By Train from Oruro and Villazon

From La Paz: 523km (9h trip)
From Potosí: 202km (3h trip)
From Sucre: 352km (6h trip)
From Oruro: 323km (4h trip)

Season Nights Day
December – April (Rainy season) 5°C between 13°C and 20°C
May – August (winter time) -10°C between 5° and 10°C
September – November (Dry season) -3°C between 10° y 15°C
  • Warm clothing: This is a desert but its 3.650 to 5.035 meters above sea level. Nights are cold and it’s very windy. Dress in layers so you don’t sweat or freeze.
  • Sunglasses: the vast Uyuni salt flats act as a mirror reflecting the sun.
  • Sun block and Moisturizer: this is an extremely arid region and your skin will dry out. Bottled water, you can purchase beverages when you arrive, but it’s a long drive.
  • Proper cellphone: if you plan to bring your international cellphone, you should know Bolivia uses a different system than other countries.
  • Cameras, batteries, battery chargers, cellphone charger: electric current converter and if you use a digital camera, extra memory cards. The electricity in Uyuni is 220v.

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