Salar De Uyuni Travel Tips
Standing on the vast nothingness of Salar de Uyuni is a realm that is simultaneously confusing and peaceful. Often dubbed “heaven on earth,” the moist salt flat mirrors the swirling white clouds and the skies, interrupted only by hues of blue. There are no boundaries or edges, just white shimmering flat crystal. Definitely, this is a destination a traveler must visit even once in his lifetime. Enigmatic and pure, Salar de Uyuni is truly a rare sight to behold. If you are eyeing on a trip to this majestic salt flat, be sure to check out the following guide.
Salar de Uyuni in a Nutshell
Salar de Uyuni is the biggest concentration of salt in the world and is located in Potosi City in Bolivia. The salt pans are found at an elevation of over 10,000 feet and stretch a span of 6,500 miles. Seventy percent of the world’s lithium needs is being supplied by the Salar de Uyuni.
Best time to Visit
The best time to see this outstanding South American wonder is between the months of May and November. This season is slightly dryer, and the lack of rain is highly beneficial for those looking forward to an expedition to the world-famous salt flat, especially considering that the rain in this area results in several transportation limitations.
Getting around Potosi is fairly easy. You can rent a car, ride a bicycle, or even walk around. Potosi city and the nearby villages are small and easy to navigate. To reach the outstanding salt flat, all you need to do is grab one of the many buses heading there in the morning. There are many options concerning buses. You could even join a tour if you enjoy exploring with a group and having someone guide you to the best features of the site.
The most important holiday of the year in the area is Uyuni’s Anniversary, taking place on the 11th of July. While Salar de Uyuni is a natural landmark, it is also relevant in cultural activities. A great example is Oruro Carnival taking place during early March. In fact, the event is considered as a World Cultural Heritage event.
What to Do
Salar de Uyuni, or Uyuni Salt Flat, offers to its visitors a number of fun activities to engage in– things that are sure to leave lasting memories and photos that you can boast to friends and loved ones. Here are some things that can be done over the Salar.
1) Have a picnic
The perfect place to have a picnic by Salar de Uyuni is “Laguna Hedionda” where you’ll find massive flocks of flamingos enjoying the lagoon. There are outdoor picnic shelters where you can relax and take your meal.
2) Explore a Salt Village
Near the salt flat, you will encounter the village of Colchani. The entire village is sustained by the abundance of salt, from processing to manufacturing salt souvenirs. Colchani has its own Salt Museum which exhibits many interesting items. The village stands on the edge of the salt flat and is a great point of access. In the area you’ll find several buildings built almost entirely out of salt blocks.
3) Visit the Incahuasi Island
Also known as Isla Incahuasi, Incahuasi Island is a hilly and rocky outcrop of land and former island in the middle of Salar. The total area is 61 acres. The island has gigantic cacti (Trichocereus pasacana) and a tourist center. There are unusual and fragile coral-like structures and deposits that often consist of fossils and algae. The island is actually the top of the remains of an ancient volcano, which was submerged when the area was part of a giant prehistoric lake, roughly 40,000 years ago.
4) Traverse the Salar
Depending on what part you start and what part you’ll finish, that walk can be over 137 kms (85 miles). A long traverse which can be done in around 5 days. This is activity is similar to a glacier traverse since it is cold and white.
Uyuni is the primary gateway to discovering the spectacular landscapes of the Salar de Uyuni, and what better way to do this than to join guided tours. Never miss out on these attractions.
1) Isla de los Pescados
This fish-shaped rocky island is located in the middle of the Bolivian salt flat. This cacti-covered island is a great spot to have a quick picnic or snack. To gain access to the island there is a small fee of USD5 to pay.
2) Uyuni Plaza Arce
Plaza Arce in Uyuni connects the train station and a local church. It is one of the most vividly colorful areas near Salar de Uyuni. The plaza is great for taking a walk in the morning or late in the afternoon. Restaurants, a museum and numerous tourist agencies are located within the plaza.
3) Termas de Polques Hot Springs
Located by the blue lagoon and lost in the wilderness, Termas de Polques attracts tourists from all around the world. The hot spring’s inviting steamy water seems to be what most luxury spas try to mimic, yet there is no doubt that nature has the edge when one takes a dip. Arrive early and watch the sun rise.
4) Laguna Colorada
This unique lake is known for its pinkish red tint. Its red color originates from the red algae growing abundantly in its warm waters. The resident flamingos captivate the many tourists who explore the lake and admire its scenic beauty. From the lake, one can access a national natural reserve. There is an entry fee of USD20.