The Uyuni salt flats are the worlds largest at 10,000m square, and also the highest at 3.65km in altitude. They are so flat, its used to calibrate satellites. They also have around 65% of the worlds lithium reserves which are currently being mined by various overseas countries.
We booked ourselves on a three day tour to see the salt flats, but what we saw really exceeded all expectations.
Then we toured to a tiny to salt mine town, where heaps of salt decorated yards, waiting to be processed and then sold. The locals dig up the salt from the flats, then heap it in piles ready to dry out in the sun (we were told to not eat this as its polluted from cars…well that warning was a bit late for me, and I can tell you, doesn’t taste great or that salty...)
Once dry, they chop up the hunks of salt over a fire, purifying and turning ( salt pops in heat). Then refining the salt and adding the iodine are the final touches. (Oh and selling little bags to tourists like us!).
Getting into the Salar was amazing! Miles and miles of white, tessalated salt flats (see the video below to get a sense of it!). The altitude made it hard to climb the lone island in the middle of the Salar. Once on top, I realised it was made out of dead coral, from many many years ago…odd to think this was all underwater.
We spent quite a few hours getting the requisite, silly perspective photos (being chased by dinosaurs, posing with Totoro!) etc.
That night we huddled in sleeping bags, in our salt hostel (the whole place was made of salt blocks, even our bed!!). It was mighty chilly and the wind screamed all night.
After dinner we were invited to swim in the hot springs under a full moon…..heavenly.
As the chill seeped into our bodies overnight I wasn’t surprised that no one else wanted to hit the springs in the morning. But that didn’t stop me!
I had one of the best experiences of the trip, where I had the pool all to myself, and got to watch the sun slowly rise over the horizon…..beautiful. (See the video here ; )
It was a tense couple of hours waiting for help, but not knowing if it would come (no reception). Finally another tourist truck tried to help and got stuck too! We did get out (check the video to see how!)
And decided we’d celebrate our alive and safe status that night in Uyuni with a fantastic pizza at Minuteman (highly recommended restaurant in Uyuni) made by a Bostonian.
Then it was onwards to our next stops, the mining town of Potosi where the Devil of the mines is worshipped!