The Salar de Uyuni is a vast natural wonderland. Here are a few of the sights you can expect to see on a trip to the Salar de Uyuni.
The Salt Flats
Of all the sights within the Salar de Uyuni, the salt flats are by far the most renowned. The largest salt flats in the world, the bright salt floor extends as far as the eye can see.
Areas of interest within the flats include the pyramid piles of salt and various areas where the ground is so flush to the horizon that it is possible to capture the unique perspective photographs that have made the area famous.
Hard as rock and as bright as the sky, the salt flats are a breathtaking landscape. For miles all you can see is gleaming white salt and a bright blue sky. During the rainy season, water often floods the salt plain, turning the flats into the world’s largest mirror. When this happens, it is hard to tell where the ground ends and the sky begins.
An Island in a Salt Desert (Inca Wasi Island)
Inca Wasi Island, also known as fish island, is a cactus covered mound found within the great salt flats. Made of coral, the island takes up an area of over 60 acres, and houses gigantic cacti along with unusual coral structures, fossils and algae. What is visible of the island today is really the top on an ancient volcano sitting atop a now dried and salt filled prehistoric lake. A path has been charted for tourists, taking visitors around the island from one end to the next.
The juxtaposition of sharp jutting cacti against the smooth salt floor of the desert is a stunning scene to witness. Volcan Tunupa The Tunupa Volcano is a dormant volcano located on the northern end of the salt flats. A holy mountain to the indigenous Aymara population, Tunupa is the source of many local legends, one naming the volcano as the source of the Salar de Uyuni’s salt.
Along with hiking one of many trails that crisscross Tunupa, a visit to the volcano allows one to see the petrified mummies of a pre-Incan family who were trapped inside a cave during an eruption hundreds of years ago. If you believe the legend, the mummies existed at Tunupa even before the sun.
Surreal Dali Desert
The Dali Desert is a picturesque expanse that inspired the work of the celebrated surrealist painter of the same name. The barren valley at the southwestern tip of Bolivia resembles one of Dali’s paintings; the subtle red, yellow and brown hues of sand flow across the landscape and melt seamlessly into one another.
A number of unusual and peculiar rock formations are found within the area, including the famed Rock Tree. The beauty of this little visited region is as surreal as one of Salvador Dali’s paintings.
Vibrant, Colorful Lakes
The shallow salt lakes that dot the Salar de Uyuni are an incredible sight. Consisting of high concentrations of local minerals, the lagoons take on bright and unusual colors for a body of water.
The Red Lagoon, also known as Laguna Colorado, is appropriately red in color- the result of red sediment of the pigmentation of the algae which call the lagoon home. Thousands of flamingos live on the lagoon and the area serves as a breeding ground for the fragile birds as well as a nature preserve.
Likewise the Green Lagoon, or Laguna Verde, owes its bright green color to high levels of arsenic and other minerals found within it. The color of the lagoon varies from turquoise to emerald green depending on how harsh the winds are that blow through.