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The World's Largest Salt Flat - Salar de Uyuni

Updated on November 24, 2016
Salt Flats of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Salt Flats of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia | Source

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat that covers more than 12,000 sq, Km. Heaped upon the lands of Salar de Uyuni are piles of salt deposits.

The salt flat is located in the Potosi and Oruro departments of southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes. It is at a height of 3,656 meters, about 11,995 ft above the main sea level.

Salar de Uyuni is 25 times larger than the Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States. Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is also the highest salt flat in the world at three thousand seven hundred meters above sea level.This salt flat is the remains of a prehistoric lake.

How did the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni form?

The land of Salar de Uyuni is completely surrounded by mountains, and there are no outlets for the water to drain. The water dries up leaving behind salt deposits on the surface of the lake.

The Salar de Uyuni salt flat was formed by the transformation of many lakes that were part of a giant prehistoric lake, "Lake Minchin" about 30,000 to 42,000 years ago.

These flats are covered by thick salt crusts. They serve as natural resources of salt. The center of Salar de Uyuni has many small islands located on top of dormant volcanoes that were submerged by Lake Minchin. These islands have coral like fossil structures covered by algae.

The Salar de Uyuni salt flat is so level that the surface is used to calibrate the altimeters on board satellites. Beneath the salt flat of Salar de Uyuni, there are about 9 million tonnes of lithium - that is more than a quarter of the world’s known resources according to the US Geological Survey.

Heaps of salt on Salar de Uni
Heaps of salt on Salar de Uni | Source

Salar de Uyuni has ten billion tonnes of salt. Twenty five thousand tonnes of salt is extracted every year.

The salt flat becomes the world’s largest mirror when covered with water. Pink Flamingos come here to breed during the wet season.

Hotel Playa Blanca on the Salt Flats of Bolivia
Hotel Playa Blanca on the Salt Flats of Bolivia | Source
Inside the hotel
Inside the hotel | Source

A hotel in the middle Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Situated on top of the Andean mountains, Hotel Playa Blanca is built out of salt bricks, held together with salt motar. The floors, roof, walls, tables and chairs in the hotel are made entirely of salt.

Many tourists visit Salar de Uyuni to see the magnificent salt flats and to enjoy the vast lands covered with brilliant white salt.

A tour of Salar de Uni

A trip to Salar de Uyuni

After reading this hub, will you consider making a trip to the salt flats?

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    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      RTalloni, yes that is true a lot of mining is taking place in Bolivia and this will destroy the salt flats little by little. Thank you for sharing your important views we need to save what is left of Planet Earth.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Thank you for this look at Salar de Uyuni. It would be a amazing to see it first hand and be able to take photographs of it in different lights on a seasonal basis. I imagine the colors would be astounding.

      It is always interesting to see inexplicable places in the world, as well as to see people's responses to them. We have so much to learn, yet with words to explain what they do not know as fact, assumptions are made about a place like this and used to summarize theories so business/science can attempt to "utilize" its resources before understanding all the ramifications. Learning from Bolivia's own experiences with mining operations rather than dismissing them would be huge for real progress there. To be good stewards of the earth is to see the most protection and benefit for everyone involved.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      joanveronica thank you, wow you are in a great place. Thanks for the vote and share.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Really good article! Voted up, also A&I. Shared! You might say this is in my vicinity, although I'm several hundreds of miles away, but this is Spanish America! Thanks for posting it. See you!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      midget38 yes it is really amazing. Thank you for stopping by.

      Linda the hotel is really a new concept, all made of salt!! Thank you.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I most likely won't visit since excess salt makes me bloat :) but this article was very interesting! I never heard of salt flats. Not that I can remember. The hotel looks awesome!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Beautiful!!!Amazing how Mother Nature works out something of such beauty, and takes man's needs into consideration too!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      KoffeeKlatch Gals yes it is an amazing place to visit. Thank you for stopping by.

      Nell Rose thank you, the hotel is fascinating just like the place.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      How fascinating! and to think its that high up, just goes to show how the earth was covered in water so long ago. That hotel sounds fascinating! everything made from salt? Wow! great hub, and yes I would love to visit there!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      It sounds like an amazing place to visit. I love the hotel. Wonderful pictures.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      MartieCoetser am glad you enjoyed the tour, thank you for stopping by. These salt flats are amazing!!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      We have salt flats down here, but by far not as large as Salar de Uyuni. "Pure white brilliance!!" - is an awesome picture. I enjoyed the video - A tour of Salar de Uni.

      Thank you, vellur, for this most interesting hub about the world's largest salt flats.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      rajan jolly thank you, these flats are absolutely stunning.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      This salt flat is absolutely stunning. Nature is at its best here. Voted up and beautiful.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      always exploring yes there is so much to see in this world, thank you for reading.

      aud99 yes you said it right, the world is amazing with so many fascinating places to see.

      tillsontitan am so glad you came to know about this awesome place. Thanks you for the vote, pin and share.

      MrsBrownsParlour thank you for stopping by and this place is like a true new world!!

      Cyndi10 thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. This place is truly amazing.

      manatita44 thank you for stopping by, this place is really beautiful.

      iguidenetwork yes, it all seems so unreal!! Thank you for stopping by.

      MrAhmad thank you,I do hope you get to see them!!

    • MrAhmad profile image

      MrAhmad 4 years ago from Edmonton, Canada

      Wow! The salt flats look beautiful. I never had ever heard of them before but, now I want to go see them for myself! Great pictures by the way.

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

      Loving one of the pictures -- the blue sky and the pure whiteness of salt. Really fascinating, it almost seems so unreal.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 years ago from london

      The place looks beautiful. The music is exquisite. One day, perhaps.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      I never heard of this place. Thanks for telling us about what seems to be an amazing place. I didn't vote for going there, but I can see why some would want to see it. Now I have to find out why the flamingos like to breed there. Is it the salt or the remoteness of the area? Well done. Pinning.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      This is fascinating! I had never heard of this place before---it is otherworldly! ~Lurana

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Vellur this was great. As you can tell from the comments you've received already, you are actually introducing many of us to this wondrous place. Your choice of pictures is so perfect. Between reading and looking I had to go get a drink from all that salt ;) Seriously great hub.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, anmd interesting. Shared and pinned.

    • aud99 profile image

      Audrey 4 years ago

      I haven't heard of this place before. Where have I been? ;) But it is certainly a reflection of this amazing place called Earth!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is an amazing article..I can't imagine sleeping on a salt bed. The area is clean and beautiful. I would love to see it. There is much to see in our world and you enlighten us with your hubs..Thank you.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      livingsta thank you for reading and am glad you came to know about this unique place. Thanks for the vote and the share.

      Jackie Lynnley thank you for stopping by and am glad you enjoyed the video.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is so interesting. I avoid salt like the plaque but when I do have some it is the course sea salt which pops on the tongue and is a real treat.

      Great video. ^

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is a great hub. Something which I have never heard of before. The salt flats look beautiful...much like frozen ice. That picture inside the hotel, interesting. Wondering, they cannot use metals that react to salt in that area I guess and many more items will get easily damaged including electronics.

      Thank you for sharing this information with us. Beautiful photos. I love the one with the flamingos.

      Voted up and sharing!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      teaches12345, yes this area is so fascinating!! Thank you .

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      This is a great post on this area if our world. Fascinating to hear about the salt flats, especially the hotel.