Some may consider the Bolivian Salt Flats one of the greatest wonders of the South American continent. It is located in southwest Bolivia, between the countries of Chile and Argentina, right near the Andes Mountains. Salar de Uyuni stretches more than 4,050 square miles and is the world’s largest salt flat. This remarkable land formation was actually created by prehistoric lakes that evaporated over time, which caused a layer of salt to rise from the ground. This salt crust sometimes becomes covered in water, which is what makes Salar de Uyuni famous for its reflective surface, creating a mirror-like effect.
The reflective surface of Salar de Uyuni can be experienced during its rainy season, which lasts from December to April, but has the negative effect of occasionally causing tour cancellations due to heavy rain. The salt flat’s dry season lasts from May to November, which allows tourists to access certain regions that are not accessible to those who visit during the rainy months. Visitors must keep in mind that due to its high elevation (almost 12,000 feet above sea level), they can often get altitude sickness when visiting the salt flats. Also, when entering Bolivia, keep in mind that it is necessary for tourists to have a tourist visa, as well as a Yellow Fever vaccination.
Salar de Uyuni has also benefited Bolivia’s economy because it contains over 50% of the world’s lithium reserves. This element is used in the batteries of all sorts of electronics, which makes it a modern-day, high commodity item. The salt flats are also used for calibrating many of Earth’s satellites because of its large, flat surface area, as well as its clear skies.
Salar de Uyuni is accessible via Uyuni in Bolivia, which is the most popular place for tourists to start their tour of the salt flats. It is also accessible via San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, however this trip consists in a three-day tour. If you are coming from Argentina, there is also the city of Tupiza in Bolivia from which you can access Salar de Uyuni after a four-day tour. These longer tours include seeing parts of the Altiplano region of Bolivia, which is filled with deserts, volcanoes, hot springs, and lakes.
Because of its reflective surface, the popularity of Salar de Uyuni stems from the amazing photos its visitors leave with. It is the perfect place to get creative, and play with depth and perspective with your camera! Last but not least, it is also a great place to see some wild flamingos!