Uyuni salt flat Bolivia. A desert of salt that is characterized by its desert landscapes, the Dakar Rally Race and the extraction of salt. Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia is the largest salt desert of the world and the largest lithium reserve on the planet. It is located within the Andean mountain, southwestern Bolivia in the state of Potosi. Thousands of years ago, there were two lakes in this place: the Minchin and the Tauca, their waters were evaporated due to the heat of volcanic activity. As a consequence, the landscape presents different characteristics, such as bright white salt, rock formations and islands with cactus. For that reason, this desert is a great place to visit and dazzle with the natural beauty.
Salt extraction of the Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia
Uyuni salt flat has an area of 10,582 km², approximately 11 salt layers and a depth of 120 meters. It contains 10 billion tons of salt, of which 25,000 tonnes are extraction each year. The inhabitants of Colchani, a village that is located close to Uyuni salt flat, work in the extraction of salt.
The process of extraction of salt is manually to preserve the beauty of the place.The process starts by scraping the surface and making small piles to drain the water. Then, trucks take the salt to the warehouses. There, it is heated in ovens to finish the drying process. During heating process, it is mixed with iodine, so that it is suitable for human consumption. It is then packaged manually in bags and sealed with a metal bar. Finally, trucks distribute it throughout the country.
Uyuni salt flat weather
You can visit Uyuni salt flat at any time of the year. Either during dry or rainy season. Everything depends on the experience you want to have, because at every time of the year this place has a special attraction.
Average rainfall in Uyuni salt flat
According to the average rainfall image of the Uyuni salt flat (taken from Saltflatsofbolivia). We can realize that most of the year there are rainy times across this place. However, December to March is the period in which the precipitations are higher. During these months, the terrain is flooded in specific zones of the salt flat. Although you can drive a car, it is difficult due to the instability of terrain. Therefore, you cannot travel a long distance, nor visting the Incahuasi Island in rainy times.
In addition, it is not advisable to travel at night because of the odds of having some mechanical failures in the vehicles. But despite all this, in the rainy season, there are a lot of tourists. Since it has a beautiful and unique visual appeal.
The mirror effect of the salt flat is consequence of the rain water. In this way, the flat reflects the sky, the clouds and the landscape during the day and at night. So, landscape is a mixture among beautiful reflections of sunrises, sunsets and starry nights. You can take some awesome pictures, being difficult to take them in another part of the world. If you want to enjoy the fullness of this wonderful effect you can do it in January and February. These months have the highest rainfall of the whole year.
From April to November, rainfall is lower, especially between May and August; months considered like a dry season. At this time the traffic of the vehicles is easier through the salt flat.
We were in dry season, in the month of June. This month is winter, so there are an absence of rain and water. In addition, wind is strong and the cold is severe. Especially at night, we experimented low temperatures, about-17 º C. We could enjoy with the beauty of the bright salt and their hexagons. The guide told us that hexagons were formed by the movement of the surface and the drying when rain stops.
We could also enjoy taking photos in perspective, it is so fun to do this. You only have to get the objects to be shown in the photos. So,the objects are placed close to the camera and people move away from it at once. In this way, you will see giant objects in front of little people, it’s a great experience. Also, we enjoy the Incahuasi island that can not be accessed in the rainy season.
Before arrival in Uyuni salt flat Bolivia
My experience at this beautiful place began in June 2018. I had the great joy of visiting it with my husband. From La Paz Bolivia we take a direct flight to the Joya Andina Airport in the city of Uyuni. Also, you can go on a bus, the route lasts 12 hours and it is done in the evening. For reasons of time and comfort we decided to go by plane as the flight lasts approximately 50 minutes.
Already in Uyuni town, we went to the railway Avenue. Where most of the agencies sell tours to Uyuni salt flats. There we bought a tour of 3 days and 2 nights; including accommodation, food and transportation.
My 3-day tour of Uyuni salt flat
We started our trip on board Jeep SUV cars, we were placed by groups of 6 people. The tour started from the town of Uyuni at 10:30am. The first stop we did was at the train cemetery. There, you will find the oxidized skeletons of the locomotives that transported salt and other minerals years ago.
Uyuni salt flat Bolivia
Then we went to the salt flat, an immense place, that at first sight does not seem to have end. It has an incredible beauty, tranquility and is quiet, all you hear is the wind breeze. As mentioned above, it has different attractions both in the rainy and dry season. For instance, the mirror effect, the salt hexagons, the photos in perspective and the Incahuasi island.
We continued our tour in the salt flat and stopped at Colchani, a village where people work in the extraction of salt and sell handicrafts. Then, we went to the salt statue of the Dakar Rally Race.
Dakar rally race
The salt statue of the Dakar Rally pays homage to the Dakar Rally Race. This rally takes place in January, it is one of the hardest car races because of mud, rocks, sand and wild vegetation on the route. It involves cars, motorcycles, ATVs and trucks traveling hundreds of kilometers in different countries of South America. Among these: Peru, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. From 2014, the competition includes the Uyuni desert. This desert is the ideal place for this Dakar Rally because of the salt terrain and mountains.
Sal Playa blanca hotel and the island of Banderas
We continue our travel to an old salt hotel called Playa Blanca; Which is now a museum. There, you can observe its structure of salt, as well as some decorations. Next to the hotel you will find an island with a lot of flags from different countries of the world. In this place we got lunch. Then, we went to the Incahuasi Island or the Inca’s house.
Incahuasi island or Inca house
Here you can see a beautiful view of the salt flat, surrounded by huge cactus, like 10 meters high. There is also a restaurant with food and drinks from the Andes. Also, it has a museum, which we decided to not enter to enjoy all the time of the natural beauties of the site. This island cannot be accessed during the rainy season due to the flooding of the terrain.
Lodging on the first night of the tour
On the banks of the salt flat, there are a lot of hotels with a salt structure. We stayed in one of them; it was small and simple, but comfortable. You have to wear cold weather clothes, because during the night the temperature is so low and no heating.
Andean national wild reserve Eduardo Avaroa
In this reserve, you can find volcanoes, lagoons and hot springs. Among the lagoons are: the laguna Verde, Colorada, Salada and Hedionda. Each one of them has a characteristic color for the minerals and seaweeds in the water. Its colors are really dreamy, they seem painted with watercolor, like the landscape that surrounds them.
The whole route is through deserts, with unimaginable landscapes and native fauna. We observe many alpacas and flamingos. The desert is an ideal place to take pictures like a postal card.
The second night, we slept in a small hotel of the national wild reserve.
So early we went to visit the hot springs. It was great and relaxing to feel the heat of the water. There, you have a spectacular view of the desert and the mountains around. Then we saw some gas leaks that occur in the area due to the volcanoes. In the same way, we visited some water wells where many bubbles come out to the surface.
For the return to the town of Uyuni, we made the last stop in the middle of the desert. We arrived to the stone tree, this is a famous rock of the place having a strange shape.
To take into account
- Wear comfortable shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, caps and umbrella.
- Wear cold clothes: coats, jackets, gloves, beanies, scarves. Also enough extra clothes, as clothes get dirty in the activities.
- Take swimsuit to go to the hot springs.
- Take your own snacks
- At Uyuni salt flat, you can find washrooms only at the hotels, the rest of places is difficult to find them.
- The most important thing is to take enough water to hydrate your body, in the middle of the desert have no water or food.
Plan your trip
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