Uyuni is the largest salt marsh in the world
If you think that you know everything about salt and it will not surprise you, then you should go to Uyuni to get acquainted with it again in the vast white desert.
Uyuni is the largest salt marsh in the world. It covers 12,106 km2, which is 5 times the area of Luxembourg.
The huge mountain lake Minchin 25,000 years ago almost completely dried up, leaving behind a couple of small reservoirs and two giant salt marshes: Uyuni and Koipasa.
The dried-up Uyuni salt lake is the main attraction of Bolivia. Visiting the salt marsh is included in almost all of our tours. Hundreds of tourists come here every day to see unearthly landscapes. Most often, people tend to get to Uyuni during the rainy season – from the end of January to February – at this time, the salt desert is covered with a layer of water and becomes a giant mirror, which contrasts with the blue sky. But even in the dry season, the Uyuni salt marsh is incredibly beautiful, and there are even more opportunities for photos in the boundless blinding white desert.
Each year, about 20 tons of salt is extracted here, and the total supply of Uyuni salt is estimated at 10 billion tons. The value of the salt marsh is not limited to salt. Uyuni has about 100 million tons of lithium, which is up to 70% of the world’s reserves – this is enough for batteries for all smartphones that will be produced in the next 100 years.
The Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia. Tours to Uyuni
Rest in Uyuni. Surreal landscape of a dried-up lake
Uyuni is a fantastically beautiful place, one of the most incredible places on our planet, where the sense of space is erased. Most tourists come to Bolivia to see this particular cosmic landscape and feel like an inhabitant of another planet.
The most popular entertainment on the dried – up lake Uyuni is creating surreal photos.
The sun, the bright blue sky and the endless salt expanse without filters will make your shots unearthly and bright. And even if you find yourself here out of season, when the salt marsh is completely dry, your photos will still be fantastically beautiful! This is why Uyuni is one of the most popular places for photographers all over the world.
Tourists are photographed here standing, sitting, lying, and jumping. To create the most original photos, guides take with them author’s attributes-from pans that” sit ” tourists in the frame, to dinosaurs that add fantasy to the frames.
The Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia. Tour to Bolivia
By the way, evening and night photography-sunset and starry sky reflected in the water-is another special pleasure for photographers, take this into account when choosing the duration of excursions.
The Uyuni Salt Flats. The main attraction of Bolivia
What to see in the vicinity of Uyuni: recommendations of tourists and guides
In addition to visiting the salt lake, you can also visit a number of unusual places in the vicinity of Uyuni-from the “train cemetery” to geysers, thermal springs and pink flamingos:
1. Cactus island / Inca Incahuasi (IslaIncahuasi)
In Inca times, when caravans of lamas and Chaska messengers crossed the Altiplano, this island in the middle of the salt desert served as a shelter for them for a short rest.
The island is covered with a forest of giant cacti, and from its top there are truly magical views of the salt marsh and the mountains around.
The island can only be accessed during the dry season, and there is no access to the island during the rainy season.
The Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia. Island Of Cacti
2. Colchani (Colchani) – the village of soledobychi
Salt is the main source of income for residents of Kolchan. Guides bring tourists here to show how to collect, process and pack salt and how to build houses from salt blocks. Kolchani is also known for its souvenir market, where you can buy unique products in the traditional Bolivian style – these are not sold outside of Uyuni.
3. Cemetery of trains
The dump of rusty steam locomotives of the XIX century, left over from the time when there was a factory for the production of trains in Uyuni, is especially interesting to tourists from Europe – they are new to such types. Although others may be interested in climbing old trains and taking a few apocalyptic photos.
The Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia. Cemetery of trains
4. Volcanoes and glaciers
There are many glaciers and volcanoes to climb in this region: licancabur volcano (5960 meters), Candelaria glacier (Nevado Candelaria, 5995 meters), active Ollague volcano on the border with Chile (Ollague, 5865 meters).
The active volcano Uturuncu (6020 meters) is a great opportunity to add a climb of 6000 meters to the Treasury of your achievements. And during the ascent to the Tunupa volcano (5432 meters) from the village of Kokesa, you can also visit the caves with pre-Inca mummies. The ascent and descent usually take 10 hours.
Climbing volcanoes is not included in the program of standard group tours, but they can be included in the individual route.
You must first undergo acclimatization at altitude for a few days before starting the ascent.
Avaroa Nature Reserve, Bolivia
5. Eduardo Avaroa national Andean Fauna Reserve (Reserva Nacional De Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa)
The landscapes of the Eduardo Avaroa National Park are beautiful and fascinating. One of the places is even called the “Salvador Dali Desert” – because the views are as surreal as the paintings of this artist. There are so many colors: colorful fields of quinoa, red, yellow and green lagoons with pink flamingos, snow-white peaks of mountains and dark peaks of volcanoes.
Herds of wild vikunias, domestic llamas, and alpacas with colored POM-poms and tassels in their ears graze on huge desert fields, wild foxes run around, and-what is quite surprising! – wild ostriches.
Flora and fauna adapted to the harsh local climate: biting winds, scorching sun and night frosts. In some months, the temperature drops to-25C at night.
6. Attractions Of The Eduardo Avaroa National Park
– Stone tree
As water sharpens a stone, so gusts of wind change its shape over the centuries. Photos of the famous “stone tree” can often be seen on postcards and in travel guides. A huge stone block standing on a thin ” leg ” is really amazing.
There is no escaping nature reserve, a Stone tree, Bolivia
– The colored lagoon (Laguna Colorada)
The largest of the colored lagoons – the Colorada Lagoon – occupies 60 km2, with the maximum depth of the lagoon only 80 cm, and the average-20 cm. the Rich red-orange color of the lagoon is given by seaweed and plankton, they also provide food for numerous flamingos.
The white shore of the lagoon contains sodium, magnesium, borax, and gypsum.
There is no escaping nature reserve, colored lagoon with flamingos, Bolivia
Valley of Geysers Sol de Mañana (Sol de Man ana), the height of 4850 meters
It smells of sulfur, and the ground is covered with swirling pools of mud in clouds of steam. But the view of the dawn valley, with columns of steam spouting from the ground here and there, deserves an early ascent.
There is no escaping nature reserve, valley of geysers, Bolivia
– Polques thermal springs)
What is happiness when, after a cold night in a hotel with minimal facilities and a piercing icy morning wind, you find yourself in a pool with hot thermal water, where you can relax and warm up.
NB: bring a bathing suit and towel for your trip.
– Green lagoon
When a strong wind blows, the lagoon becomes a rich green-blue color. This is due to the minerals contained in the water: lead, sulfur, arsenic, and calcium carbonates. These same minerals do not allow the lagoon to be covered with ice even when the temperature drops to -20C.
During a calm, the lagoon does not change color.
– The Salvador Dali Desert
The first tourists, passing by this desert, were struck by its similarity to the paintings of Salvador Dali. It is difficult to argue with this, judge for yourself.
Excursions and tours to Uyuni
Traditional excursion routes are designed for 1, 2 or 3 days.
The one-day tour starts at 10 am in Uyuni. During the day, tourists have time to visit the train Cemetery, the village of Kolchani, the salt marsh, the island of Incahuasi (in the dry season) and have lunch at the salt hotel. In the evening, the group returns back to Uyuni.
The three-day tour to Uyuni, the most popular, includes all the most interesting things: Uyuni salt marsh, Incauasi Cactus island, Colored lagoons with flamingos, Sol de Magnana geyser Valley, Green lagoon, Dali desert, Stone tree, overnight in a salt hotel and bathing in hot thermal springs.
You can finish the tour in Uyuni or in the Chilean city of San Pedro de Atacama.
What is included in the tour:
Driving a 4×4 jeep with a professional driver
Accommodation in hostels or hotels
Professional English speaking guide
Meals: all breakfasts, Lunches and dinners (except Breakfast on the first day and dinner on the last)
An individual route allows you to create a program that takes into account the wishes of tourists and, for example, add a climb to the volcanoes.
Book a tour
When to go. Climate and temperature
The rainy season in Uyuni lasts from December to February. This is exactly the time when the salt marsh becomes a giant mirror that reflects the sky. This period is considered the “low season”, but many tourists tend to get to Uyuni just when it is covered with water.
During the rainy season, some areas become inaccessible – the police close access to them for security reasons. For example, you can only get to Cactus island during the dry season.
Weather in Uyuni
At night it is very cold in the mountains, in some months the temperature drops to -10C. during the day, the air is heated and the sun warms very actively. Therefore, you will definitely need warm clothing for the evening and night, and light-for the daytime.
The warmest months are from November to April. At this time of day: +18 / +22C. at Night: +3 / +7C.
The coldest months are from may to October. Daytime temperature: +12 / +19C. Night temperature: -7 / +1C.
Bring a good sunscreen and a hat. And, of course, sunglasses – so much reflected sunlight is rarely found anywhere else on Earth.