Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world and one of the most amazing natural attractions of Bolivia. Whether you’re walking on the seemingly endless white, desolate surface of the dry flats, or admiring the simply perfect reflection of the clouds and blue sky above when there’s water – all travellers agree the Salar de Uyuni offers an out-of-this-world experience.
The flats cover an area of over 10,000 km² and to see the best parts, you’ll need to cover quite some ground. While it’s possible to explore this unique piece of land on your own, most visitors opt for organized tours along some of the best sights.
The Salar is part of the Bolivian Altiplano, and its history began when that high plateau emerged as a result of uplift of the Andes. About 30,000 to 42,000 years ago, the area that is now the Salar de Uyuni was a huge, deep lake known as Lake Minchin. As Lake Michin dried up, it left smaller lakes behind, which in turn dried up until two current-day lakes and two salt deserts remained, of which the Salar the Uyuni is the largest one. One of those two lakes, called Poopó, still has a major impact on Salar de Uyuni. As Titicaca, another large current-day lake of the Altiplano, overflows during wet season, it fills up lake Poopó. As Poopó overflows in turn, it floods the salt flats – creating the stunning landscapes of winter, when a thin layer of water creates magical reflections of the sky and anything or anyone on the flats.
The area is biggest lithium reserve of earth – containing some 70% of world’s lithium in form of salt. Yearly, around 25,000 tonnes of salt are mined here, out of estimated 10 billion tonnes.
Thanks to the sedimented salt, the area is perfectly flat – which is often used for various technical purposes (testing of vehicles and the like).
In the middle is Isla del Pescado – a volcanic rock. It provides great views and is a natural reservation.