Salar De Uyuni is more than just a blindingly white expanse; it’s an evocative and eerie sight that has left many mystified. The world’s largest salt sits at a lofty 11,985ft (3653m) and blankets an amazing 4633 sq miles (12,000 sq km).
During the dry season, this majestically placed touristic attraction is purely white, but when there’s little water, the surface uniquely reflects the clouds and the blue altiplano sky.
This alien landscapes of Bolivia and its surrounding deserts have become highlights of any touring escapade along the South American gringo trail. Salar invites travelling enthusiasts to an abundance of sand, expanses of glistening white salt, and a few small islands, accentuating a surreal beauty and one of the most awe-inspiring spectacles across the world.
Salar is the remains of a Bolivian pre-historic lake that dried off a long time ago and left an enormous void space of shining white sand, cacti-islands, and rock formations. For decades, this numinous milieu has harbored large flocks of beautiful pink flamingoes, seen especially during the rainy seasons.
Today, this is a major spot for salt extraction and processing in Bolivia with an approximated annual output of nearly 20,000 tons of salt for both human and livestock consumption. Beneath the beautiful surface, Salar De Uyuni also houses massive lithium deposits that are said to support the country’s economy for the next century. It is reported that 70% of the world’s lithium is found in this place.
When Should You Visit?
Salar is amazing and spectacular all year round, but how your trip looks will depend entirely on the season, you visit. There are two distinct seasons; the rainy season that commences on December and ends in April and the dry season from May to November.
The rainy season provides the visitors with breath-taking mirror effects, but if you are visiting, you should be wary of excessive rains that sometimes makes the placed unexplorable. It will probably be harder than the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, getting back into track this season!
During the dry season, temperatures are typically colder, the ground harder, and it’s possible to drive across the flat salt surface to places that aren’t otherwise accessible.
Tour companies in the country consider June to August to be the high season because visitors can experience more of Salar De Uyuni during these months of the year. As such, rates can be significantly higher, but experiences are a notch more pleasant as well. If you’re driving across this scene during such times, the effect is absolutely unreal—it’s hard to believe you aren’t flying through the clouds.
Most tour operators offer packages ranging between two to three days of the salt flats, lakes, islands, as well as other surrounding environs. If you are a budget traveller and only interested in the Salar, a one day tour in just enough.
For those touring towards North America, the best way to get to Salar De Uyuni is from Chile via the San Pedro Atacama Desert. The ones travelling south the best route is through Bolivia. From La Paz, it will typically take you about eight hours on a bed [cama] bus. It is advisable to travel overnight which allows you to get there in the morning, the best time to arrive at Salar.
From San Pedro De Atacama, Chile, it will take you about 11 hours if you factor in the border crossing to Bolivia and will normally involve a combination of transport. When coming from Chile, it is recommended you get a tour operator to guide you through the entire excursion.
You can choose between a private tour [customer-tailored and higher-priced] and shared tour [standardized, but cheaper]. Standardized itineraries will companies will usually provide Spanish-speaking guides may double as driver and guides. Private tours often offer multi-lingual guides, a driver, and a chef.
Taking Great Photos in Salar De Uyuni
Where words fail, pictures do the job…without photos, how else will you let people know you experienced this magical place? What about recording the memories? One of the highlights about Salar is the endless horizon that allows visitors to take different kinds of pictures in different angles, perspectives, and depth.
Key to great photos here is to get the camera low on the ground and very close to your prop. Then the person should stand further away from the one taking the picture.
With this kind of angle, the prop appears more prominent than the human subject. However, the one taking the picture shouldn’t venture too far since the greater the distance between the prop and the subject, the greater the challenge to keep everything in focus. If it’s possible narrow down your camera aperture as possible.
When the camera person strikes a great balance, the results are stunning as they are hilarious. You can stage battle scenes with toys, creep out of a gigantic bowl, cook your friends with pans and pots…etc. It’s all about how creative you get with your camera and this spectacular flatness.
To sum up, when it comes to a trip to Bolivia, the Magical destination to visit is Salar De Uyuni.
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