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Visiting the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

8 mins. read

Uyuni Salt Flats, also known as Salar de Uyuni in Spanish, easily qualify as one of the most pristine destinations around the world that have managed to stay untouched. Spread across more than 4089 square miles in southwest Bolivia, the Uyuni Salt Flats are claimed to be the largest salt flats in the world. There are countless things to explore in this vast landscape and distinctive ecosystem. It is a paradise for adventure lovers, backpackers, and nature enthusiasts. If you are keen to discover the beauty of this landscape, you need to make a dedicated trip for it.

Get to Know the History of Uyuni Salt Flat

It is rather fascinating to know about the history of Uyuni Salt Flat. The salt lakes were formed as a sequential transformation of several prehistoric lakes. In current times, it is a salt-covered area that sprawls across more than 10,000 square kilometres. An interesting thing about the Uyuni salt flats is that they hold around 50–70% of the lithium present on Earth. According to researchers, there is a vast lithium reserve in the area that has not yet been tapped. There are ongoing provisions to access the production and extraction of lithium. This is because the normal lithium extraction methods are not a viable option there. The underlined surface of the Uyuni salt flat consists of salt, brine, and lacustrine mud deposits. As you move towards the centre of the salt flat, you can witness gorgeous islands that are formed from the remains of ancient volcanoes that are submerged in Lake Minchin.

Getting There: How to Reach Uyuni Salt Flat

You should know that Uyuni Salt Flat can be accessed from Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, as this region sits at the intersection of these three places in South America. This is why Uyuni Salt Flat is counted among some of the best tourist destinations in South America. The best entry point for Uyuni Salt Flat is from the Bolivian town of Uyuni. It is the starting point for an adventurous tour of the Uyuni Salt Flat. The town is easily accessed via flight from LaPaz, which is the capital city of Bolivia. Another option is to take an overnight bus from LaPaz. The bus ride adds to the adventure as you can see the natural beauty of the road, lined with beautiful trees. The journey is as marvellous as the destination.

Alternatively, you can also access Uyuni Salt Flat from San Pedro de Atacama. Many people plan a trip to this part of South America when they have more days to cover two destinations. You can explore the Salt Flat as well as the Atacama; both of them are equally breathtaking. Besides this, you get to see the local culture in San Pedro, which is a small town in Chile. The option to go biking, sandboarding, and stargazing makes this route a lot more interesting.

Lastly, if you wish to reach Uyuni Salt Flat from Argentina, then choosing Tupiza in Bolivia as the starting point is a great option for you. If you love natural landscapes and formations, then this journey will surely be one of your best travel experiences. The scenery of southwestern Bolivia will amaze you with its exquisiteness. As they say, "Take the scenic route once in a while" and you can do so on this trip! During your tour to Uyuni Salt Flat, you can also explore Tres Cruces viewpoint, the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Park, and Laguna Colorada, which are equally startling places.

Things to Do at Uyuni Salt Flat

There are numerous things to do in this immense salt desert and its surrounding areas. To begin with, volcanoes, natural rock formations, hot springs, and lagoons are present around Uyuni Salt Flat. Here are some of the top tourist attractions around the largest salt flat in the world:

Incahuasi Island

Incahuasi Island

Visiting Incahuasi Island should be one of your top things to do at Uyuni Slat Flat. At a distance of 45 kilometres from the starting point, this place is a magnificent coral island. Standing on this island, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the salt flat and immerse yourself in nature’s gorgeousness. To reach the island, you need to go on an adventurous hike, which makes it even more interesting. The entire island is covered with Trichocereus cacti plants that are around 10 metres tall. Here, you can spend some time clicking pictures, resting a bit, and having a hearty meal at the local restaurant. They serve the famous Ilama stakes, which are to die for!

You must stay till sunset on this island to witness Isla Incahuasi casting long shadows over the salt flat. The entire island glows, which is a sight to behold forever.

Ojos de Salar

Located at a distance of 27 kilometres from the nearest entrance point to Salt Flat, this place is a must-visit for everyone. You can access Ojos Del Salar, which is a small lagoon that comes from the subway river beneath the salt flat. This place will solidify your belief in nature’s unparalleled beauty. If you are fond of swimming, you will definitely take a dip at one of these lagoons. However, only seasoned swimmers should choose to go for the swim, as the water body is quite deep. The lagoon offers unique buoyancy those results in effortless floating on the surface. The water is salt-rich, which explains why the lagoons are part of the largest salt and lithium reserves in the world.

Fish Island

If you wish to explore a rather off-beat place in Uyuni Salt Flat, head towards Fish Island. This island is away from mass tourism. It is located 22 kilometres away from Incahuasi. You will be fascinated to know that during the rainy season, the salt flat floods and forms the shape of a fish, hence the name fish island.

Abandoned Train Cemetery

Another popular site at Uyuni Salt Flat is the train cemetery. The story dates back to the 1890s when this site was a train station with the railway tracks connected to Antofagasta. The trains on this line were used to pull wagons containing tin, gold, and silver. The location is now only known for its ruins. The big plans of building a wide network of trains from this site did not see the light of day because of the technical difficulties and tension across borders. Today, it is an abandoned train cemetery.

The Best Time to Visit Uyuni Salt Flats

The Best Time to Visit Uyuni Salt Flats

The best thing is that you can include a trip to the Uyuni Salt Flats in your South American holiday package. The place has different weather patterns throughout the year. Many people like to make plans to visit the destination during the rainy season, between December and March. You may have heard about the mirror effect at Uyuni Salt Flats. This phenomenon occurs during monsoons when water pools at the top of the salt flat. It is a great time if you want to click some classy pictures of the never-ending horizons.

April to October is the dry season in this part of the world. You can enjoy the panoramic view of the vast salt desert. It is a great time to visit for those who don’t want to go through muddy paths.

Uyuni Salt Flats is a destination that will give you a very unique experience unlike any other touristy place. It is a place for true explorers and nature admirers. You can plan an extended vacation to South America by including this stunning place in your package.

July 19, 2023

Author

Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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