The Uyuni salt flats in Southwestern Bolivia are a haven for photographers and are home to some of the most fantastic views and landscapes in the world. Sitting at 11,995 feet above sea level, near the peak of the Andes Mountains, Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flats in the world. They formed between two prehistoric lakes during an upward shift in the earth’s crust in the Andes Mountains somewhere in the time frame of 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. The crust of the Uyuni salt flats sits atop a mixture of lacustrine mud, salt and brine. The brine of these Bolivian salt flats are comprised of lithium chloride, sodium chloride, and magnesium chloride mixed in water.
Everything You Need To Know About Uyuni Salt Flats
The brine mixture contains more than 40% of the world’s lithium reserves. Most of these lithium reserves are located within the salt flats of Bolivia, specifically, Uyuni. An American corporation had invested more than 100 million to perfect lithium extraction back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The locals feared a loss of money from external companies working in the Bolivian salt flats. Currently, there are three European companies bidding for rights to build lithium processing plants in the Uyuni salt flats. These Bolivia salt flats have been referred to as the Saudi Arabia of lithium.
In addition to the abundance of salt and lithium in the salt flats of Bolivia, the Uyuni salt flats are a major roadway across the vast expanse of Altiplano, the exception being when the road is covered by seasonal rain waters. Due to shortages of natural building materials, many houses and buildings are constructed of salt blocks. The first hotel (1993) in the salt flats of Bolivia was lacking in indoor plumbing and was torn down to make way for a new facility with modern amenities in 2002. Additional hotels followed after and developed businesses in the Uyuni salt flats.
Although you won’t find a lot, flora found in the salt flats of Bolivia include cacti and shrubs such as Pilaya, Thola and quinoa and quenua bushes. The Uyuni salt flats are a breeding area during the month of November for three species of South American pink flamingos and the James’s flamingos.
Tourism is huge due to the amazing beauty and unusual landscape of the salt flats of Bolivia, and you can go on a tour from one, to even three days. Travellers are urged to choose tour operators with caution, due to less stringent restrictions on auto safety. You can make your way to Uyuni by car, van, motorcycle and even 4 x 4s. You can expect cool temperatures at night so be sure to take some layers with you and get ready for the experience of a lifetime.
Travel to Uyuni with Bamba to experience this spectacular natural wonder!