The World's Largest Salt Flat - Salar De Uyuni, Bolvia
Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. Situated at a lofty 3653m above sea level the site covers 12,000 sq km. Some 40,000 years ago the area was part of the giant prehistoric Lake Minchin which once covered most of southwest Bolivia. Today, two modern lakes remain, Poopó and Uru Uru, as well as two major salt deserts, Salar de Coipasa and the huge Salar de Uyuni.
Salar de Uyuni
The landscape here provides tourists with a unique photo opportunity. The expansive stretch of salt has little to interrupt the horizon meaning that travellers can play with the perspective while taking photos. Salar de Uyuni is the perfect place to experiment with photogpraphy.
Salar de Uyuni is the perfect place to experiment with photography
A main tourist attraction in the area is the antique train cemetery located 3 km outside Uyuni. In the past the town served as a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals en route to Pacific Ocean ports. When the mining industry collapsed in the 1940s, partly due to mineral depletion, many of the trains abandoned creating this eerie and fascinating train graveyard.
The Train Graveyard is situated 3km from Uyuni
Bolivia AirStream Campers offer a unique way to experience the Salar de Uyuni’s surreal beauty. These vintage-style Airstream Campers cater for up to two guests, are fully equipped and include a personal chauffeur/guide. By touring Salar de Uyuni by Airstream Camper you will find you have more time to explore the area and salt flats, have more time to cycle across remote areas and visit local communities, star gaze and trek across remote open spaces. Another added bonus is that travellers can park miles away from other tourists, saving the view for themselves.
In November the salt flats are a breeding ground for three species of South American flamingo – Chilean, Andean and James’s.
James’s flamingo in Salar de Uyuni
Isla Pescado, translated as ‘Fish Island’ is an island of life located in the northern part of the salt flat. The cacti which grow on this island can reach a height of 10 metres. The island is said to get its name from the indigenous Aymara ethnic group who were the first settlers in the area. They are said to have chosen the name due to its semi ellipsoidal profile when viewed from the East or West when the salt is flooded, as this creates a silhouette shape of a fish. Cacti grow up through the salt crust, some of the largest of which can be found at Isla Pescado.
The Uyuni salt flats contain 10 billion tons of salt, of which 25,000 tons is extracted each year. You can see hundreds of cone-shaped mounds dotted across the flats, waiting to be shoveled into trucks. The salt is then sold in Bolivia as well as being exported all over the world.
The salt pyramids – the mounds are made to dry out the salt before shifting it