Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is considered one of the most extreme and remarkable vistas in all of South America. It has taken the title of the worlds largest salt flat and truly is a sight to behold. When visiting Bolivia, to get a true experience of the country’s richness and natural beauty, then you must add the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats to your to do/visit list.
What Is The Salar De Uyuni 🇧🇴
Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flats, covering almost 12,000 sq km. The area covered is larger than over 150 countries in the world. The flats are made of 10 billion tonnes of salt, which were left behind by prehistoric lakes that evaporated long ago. This landscape is ultimately a crust of salt that extends to the horizon, with some polygonal patterns of salt that rise from the ground. You've definitely seen this on your Insta feed!
At some points in the year, when rainfall is high, the lakes nearby overflow a thin layer of water that seeps into the flats creating a stunning reflection on the sky. This beautiful and otherworldly terrain serves as a lucrative extraction site for salt and lithium. Over 25,000 tonnes are extracted annually. The lithium extracted is then sold off to the technology markets. Lithium powers our phones, laptops and electric cars so is a highly important and in demand element.
How To Get There 🚎 🚞 ✈️
There are several ways to get to the salt flats. Whether that’s by train, plane or a bus or, a combination of all three to the town, this is how you can travel to the town of Uyuni. Located at the crux of Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, the duration of your journey varies depending on where and how you choose to travel to Uyuni. It's also a great place to hop into another South American country to continue the adventure.
There are three main tours that also take place, transporting tourists to and from the beautiful terrain that is these salt flats. Take a tour from Uyuni with one of the numerous tour agencies or, start off at the border in San Pedro de Atacama Chile, for a 3 day expedition. For those travelling from Argentina, it is best to take a tour from Tupiza, Bolivia. This is a suggested four day tour with the final day resulting in reaching the desired destination that is the phenomenal salt flats.
When To Go 🌤
There are two distinct seasons that take place at the Salar De Uyuni flats. The first being the rainy season that takes place between the months of December to April is when visitors arrive to witness the Salar’s mirror effect. When visiting in these months, tourists get the chance to snap up some brilliant photographs of the brilliant reflection of the salty water against the blue skies. The nights during these months have bright starry skies that double up on the reflection.
The months of May to November are considered the dry season. Here temperatures are colder, there is a hardened ground and tourists can travel across the white flats to different places that aren’t accessible in the months in which the rainfall is heavy. The white landscape stretches for what seems like forever, still making for beautiful photographs. Months are a lot chillier in this season, with temperatures dropping to below freezing once the sun goes down (around -6°C or -22°F).
June through to August however, is when the flats see the highest number of tourists. As a result of this high period, rates can increase for tours.
Need To Know - Altitude Sickness 🤢
Considering the flats are 12,000 feet above sea level, it is important to remember and consider that when visiting the phenomenal natural beauty, tourists are prone to altitude sickness. If you are unable to properly acclimatise, it is common for travellers to fall ill, with symptoms including; nausea, headaches, and insomnia.