Discover the white snow-like terrain of the Bolivian salt flats, an unparalleled obscure landscape in southern Bolivia.
Pure crystal white salt as far as the eye will see, with the clear bright skies and high altitude blaring sun, you’ll need sunglasses on to take in the ferocious glare of the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. It covers 10,582 sq km on Bolivia’s Altiplano (high plains) in the Potosi and Oruro regions of south-western Bolivia near the crest of the Andes at over 3,500 m above sea level.
The salt flats are a natural phenomenon, which formed millions of years ago from transformations of prehistoric lakes. The salt is actually a crust a few metres deep that covers a subterranean lake, which is rich in lithium. The terrain is mined for both its salt and its lithium. The surface of the plains is arid and forms cracked-earth style patterns in the salt, elsewhere pools of brine radiate an unusual colour palette ranging from aquamarine to rust red due to the unusual mineral content. It’s also a breeding ground for flamingos turning the white landscape pink with their vibrant plumage.
For travellers the terrain is most often explored by varying length jeep safaris, there are salt hotels in the area and you can also hire caravans to traverse the unwaveringly flat surface yourself. Taking photographs in the area is particularly fun as the white-out provides no depth of field. However you choose to explore this most ethereal of worlds taking time to sit in the perfect white sheet laid out before the Andean mountain peaks and appreciate the stillness and serenity it provides is an absolute must.
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