One of the most amazing landscapes in the world, the Salar de Uyuni is a vast salt flat on the altiplano of southwest Bolivia. The Salar, or salt flat of Uyuni stretches more than 10,000 square kilometers, making it the largest salt flat in the world.
The dried, white expanse of the Salar de Uyuni is more like a lunar landscape than anything you expect to find on Earth, making the Salar de Uyuni among the most popular destinations in Bolivia.
The Bolivian salt flats are largely devoid of landmarks and the uninterrupted flatness can distort visitors’ sense of perspective. Mountains on the horizon may seem distant at one moment and within arms’ reach the next. During the wet season, the salar floods with a few centimeters of water and becomes a nearly perfect mirror… The sky is reflected on the salar and the horizon disappears into the blue mass.
On the salt flat, there are hotels and lodges constructed entirely of salt bricks, where guests can eat on salt tables and sleep in salt beds.
Popular sights on the salar include a “train cemetery” outside of Uyuni, where the rusting hulks of dozens of 19th-century locomotives lay abandoned in the blowing dust of the altiplano. The trains, which once connected the region to the Pacific Ocean, were left by European mining operations as they fled Bolivia in the face of political instability and dwindling mineral reserves in the early 1900s.
The Salar de Uyuni is studded with “islands” of fossilized coral, remnants of the age thousands of years ago when the salar was the bed of a great lake that covered much of modern day Bolivia and Peru. Visitors can scramble up these steep islands for panoramic views across the Salar, or to pose next to the cacti that grow out of the thin pockets of soil on the islands—the only signs of life for kilometers in any direction.
The salar itself is surrounded by a remote, volcanic wasteland of thermal springs and geysers, colorful lagoons, vast deserts and snowcapped peaks. It is an unbelievable region sure to be unlike anything visitors have ever seen.
Our favorite things to do in Salar de Uyuni:
- Scramble up Isla de Pescado, Fish Island for panoramic views of the salar
- Explore the Siloli and Dali Deserts, remote landscapes dotted with volcanoes
- Spend the night in a salt hotel, constructed 100% of salt bricks
- Climb aboard the rusting hulks of old locomotives at the Train Cemetery
- Marvel at the multicolored lagoons around the salar, include Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde