This weekend Ana and Christie went south to the Salar de Uyuni, which is where the world’s largest salt flat is located (4,086 sq mi) and is also the traditional area where quinoa is grown in Potosi and Oruro departments. It is located around 12,000 ft above sea level and contains numerous natural wonders. The area has also become known because it contains about 50-70% of the world’s lithium reserves and there has been a big movement to try and commercialize this resource. In a 3 day tour of the Salar one can see lakes of red and green, islands of cacti, salt for as far as the eye can see and pink flamingos that make their home in watery areas around the Salar. When rain falls on the Salar and a small amount of water coats the surface it appears as if there is no space dimension between the earth and the sky and a giant mirror effect is created. Needless to say, Ana and Christie were excited to finally see this otherworldly place in person.
Given the rigorous work schedule we’ve been trying to maintain, just a one day tour was possible but the guide provided lots of interesting information and the day tour was fantastic. It was yet another aspect of Bolivia that makes it a unique and beautiful country. The trip included a visit to see the salt production and how it is heated, dried, processed and bagged for sale. The drive in the Land Cruiser headed west into the Salar for about 30 minutes and all that could be seen was a vast, flat, white openness with mountains far in the distance. Upon reaching the Incahuasi Island (meaning Inca House in Quechua), the group stopped to visit island, eat lunch and enjoy the views all around. The island is somewhat centered in the Salar and from various points one can see 50 km across or more. After lunch the group went to see the Ojos (eyes in Spanish) which are holes that form in the Salar around the size of small fridge but can be as deep as 20 meters because of a giant lake below this part of the Salar. The water was freezing and it appeared really similar to holes cut in the ice for those that do winter ice fishing. The last part of the tour was a visit to see an old hotel made of salt that has since become a museum.
Although it was quick weekend getaway, it was truly a memorable time and if you get a chance to see this place in person it is highly worth a visit. Here are a some pictures to enjoy (more will be posted in a flickr album for those interested)!