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Salar de Uyuni

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Salar de Uyuni

Salar of Uyuni is the largest salt mine in the world. It is located in the department of Potosi in the southwest of Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, at an altitude of 3650 meters above sea level, with 10 582 km² (4085 square miles).

In the center is a group of islets, the most important of all is the Isla del Pescado, which is characterized by its huge cactus and houses some services. You can hire excursions from the town of Uyuni, and there is also the possibility to go from the city of Atacama (in Chile) through the Andes mountain range.

The Salar of Uyuni is the largest continuous salt desert in the world, with an area of 12,000 km². The salt is distributed in 11 layers ranging from 2 to 10 meters thick. The salt is about 120 meters deep.

It is estimated that the Salar of Uyuni contains 10 billion tons, of which less than 25,000 tons are extracted annually.

Salar de Uyuni, contains very important compounds for basic and industrial chemistry. There are approximately 11 layers of salt, with thicknesses ranging from less than one meter to ten meters. The crust that is on the surface has a thickness of 10 meters. The depth of the salt is 120 meters, which is composed of layers of superimposed brine and lake mud. This brine is composed of lithium, boron, potassium, magnesium, carbonates (borax) and sodium sulfates. A very interesting mineral is the ulexite, the stone television. It is transparent and has the power to refract the image of what is below to the surface of the stone. This salt is considered the largest reserve of lithium, although it is very difficult to extract due to lack of water.

 

Salar de Uyuni facts

  • Where is it? In the Andes mountain range, in the department of Potosí, province of Daniel Campos, southwest of Bolivia. The flight time, from La Paz, is 45 minutes; by bus, the route is 12 hours. Mirror Effect The rainy season comes, generally, from December to March. Then a natural phenomenon occurs: the salt becomes impermeable and the water accumulates on the surface, creating a mirror effect.
  • How was it formed? Between 40 thousand and 25 thousand years ago, it began to be formed by the evaporation of several lakes. Rocks the sky Uyuni, also called Salar de Tunupa, is one 3,600 meters above sea level. The maximum height of the Bolivian Altiplano is approximately 6,500 meters.
  • The salt desert in numbers: The largest salt flat in the world has 10 thousand 582 square kilometers of surface. It contains 10 billion tons of salt. Every year 25 thousand tons are extracted.
  • Geometric forms: Some guides say that the surface of this salt field is in constant motion and that is why almost perfect hexagons are formed; others say that it is due to the drying process after the rains. Some more assure that it is by the respiration of the salar.
  • It has a lot of pile: 90% of the lithium on the planet is in this desert. Lithium is used in the manufacture of batteries, electric cars, nuclear energy and medicines for psychiatric diseases.
  • Red Lagoon: Within the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve (border with Chile and Argentina) and about five hours by car from the Salar de Uyuni, it is one of the unmissable destinations of the altiplano. The lagoon measures about 60 square kilometers and is named for its exotic reddish colorations, produced by algae. It is home to a few thousand flamingos. The traveler can see foxes, llamas, alpacas and, if he runs with luck, condors and pumas.
  • What else is there to see? The Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve not only protects colored lagoons, geysers, geothermal waters, volcanoes, the Stone Tree (a rocky formation in the middle of a desert), the Dalí Valley (a landscape that seems to have been brought from Mars) and about 80 species of migratory birds.
  • Everything is salt: Colchani is a small town on the edge of this white desert. There are souvenirs, restaurants and even hotels made from the crystalline element. The Salt Palace is one of them and calls itself the first salt accommodation in the world.

Salar de Uyuni best time to go

The Salar de Uyuni becomes, at the beginning of every year, the largest mirror in the world. A gigantic extension, that reflects the light creating impossible optical effects. The earth and the sky merge in a unique way in the world, the horizon is diluted and the perspective is lost. For us, that is the Salar de Uyuni best time to go.

 

When does this phenomenon occur?

In summer, between January and February, it can be extended to the first week of March. During this time, there are generous rains in the Bolivian highlands, turning the Salar de Uyuni into something like a gigantic lake less than a foot deep. It should be noted that this phenomenon depends exclusively on the weather and rainfall, so that its appearance can not be completely guaranteed.

 

What is the Salar de Uyuni best time to go and see the mirror effect?

The best time to glimpse the mirror effect is from mid-January to the end of February. In this period, the rains that flood the salt are concentrated and produce this visual effect. It is important to keep in mind that in this period it is more likely to see the mirror effect, but it is not safe, because the weather conditions may vary from season to season.

 

Salar de Uyuni tours

To visit in depth the Salar de Uyuni it is advisable to take an excursion. In Uyuni there are several travel agencies that carry out this type of tours. The most typical Salar de Uyuni tours are one or three days.

Remember that during this Salar de Uyuni tours you reach very high levels and the altitude can cause headaches and fatigue. It is convenient that you spend a few days in San Pedro de Atacama to acclimatize yourself, if after three days there you continue with the symptoms, it is better to lower altitude and go to the doctor.

 

Excursion to the Salt Flat 1 day

The 1 day tour is for all those who do not have more time to visit. In this excursion Colchani and the Hotel de Sal are visited and a part of the Salar can be appreciated.

 

Excursion to the Salt Flat 3 days 

The 3 day excursion is more complete, you sleep in accommodations prepared to receive tourists in small places. The 3-day tours include all meals. It does not include the entrances to the Reserves and Natural Parks.

On the first day you visit the Cemetery of Trains, Colchani, Hotel de Sal, Isla Pescado and you cross the salar to spend the night in a nearby town.

On the second day you leave the Salar de Uyuni to enter the Altiplano and the Eduardo Abaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve to visit the viewpoint of the Ollagüe Volcano, Piedra tree, the lagoons such as Hedionda, Chiar Kkota, Honda and Colorada.

On the third day, very early, we visit the Sol de Mañana geysers, the thermal baths, the Salar de Chalviri, Dalí Valley, Laguna Verde and the Licancabur Volcano. On the way back to Uyuni, we pass through Valle de las Rocas, Villamar and Culpina and San Cristóbal.

 

Salar de Uyuni hotel

The creation of the Salar de Uyuni hotel in Bolivia, was in 1998 by the crazy initiative of a gentleman man, Juan Quesada Valda, pioneer in the salt hotels in the world. Juan's innovative and creative idea of building a hotel 100% salt (walls, ceilings, tables, chairs and others) was materialized in what he called the Salt Palace. Of unique architecture and suigeneris, its goal was to provide visitors to salt a place where to find the balance with nature and enjoy a pleasant and unforgettable break. For 2004 the Salar de Uyuni hotel was moved to the banks of the salt with the sole intention of offering a service according to the demands of customers. Since then the exotic, the modern and the autochthonous, combine to create, over more than 4,500 square meters, the first salt hotel in the world, in a tourist attraction worth knowing.

  • Bedrooms: To achieve a unique stay, it has 42 rooms - "Suite - VIP - Standard" - equipped with all the comforts of modern hotels, such as private bathrooms, hot and cold water, central heating and / or electricity, among others. Where new rooms are divided according to quality.
  • Dinning Room: With windows that provide unique images that frame the salt, in a cozy atmosphere, the dining room has the amenities that will allow you to enjoy our exclusive and more exquisite meals made with salt. Discover the unique flavor in each of its dishes made with llama and lamb meat from the region or our specialty: chicken with salt.
  • Lobby, bar, viewpoint and games room: The majesty of the Salar de Uyuni hotel impacts from its lobby, which stands imposing in salt providing, both visitors and those of us who are typical of the place, a welcoming welcome as well as the prelude to an experience that, we guarantee, will be unique and exotic. The bar and the games room invite you to enjoy unforgettable moments when playing pool or sharing a relaxing moment contemplating the immensity of the salt in the heat of a fireplace. As a special attraction you can contemplate the immensity of the salt, its starry nights that exalt the spirit, the sunsets and the changes of color that occur in the salt, everything from the lookout that is accessed from the lobbie by a staircase made of Salt. A dazzling view of 360 degrees specially conditioned to enjoy each moment as unique.
  • Souvenir shop: Small environment where you can find items of all needs.
  • Boutique: Salar de Uyuni hotel has a boutique where you can buy handmade textile products in alpaca and sheep wool from the valued Bolivian brand Awaj Warmi. The raw material comes from the Andes, the place where alpaca hair is extracted for the production of wool. The designs of the articles of dress rescue the artisanal and the new tendencies of the fashion.
  • Balcony: Contemplate the immensity of the salt, its starry nights that exalt the spirit, the sunsets and the changes of color that occur in the salt, a dazzling view of 360 degrees specially conditioned to enjoy each moment as unique.
  • Wedding plan: You can celebrate your wedding at the Majestic Salar de Uyuni and enjoy the happiest day of your life at the first hotel of salt. A destination and above all a hotel specially prepared for different celebrations, with character and style.
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