In Bolivia’s Altiplano, Salar de Uyuni—a 4,086-square-mile (10,582-square-kilometer) stretch of land encrusted with thick etchings of salt—is the world’s largest salt flat. Salar de Uyuni is famed for its massive scale and mirror-like appearance during the wet season, an effect that has lead it to be named a natural wonder of the world.
The can’t-miss Salar de Uyuni is one of Bolivia’s most famous attractions. Though the site is technically remote, located high in the rural Altiplano, guided salt flats tours provide an easy way to visit the hassle of arranging transportation. Tours to the flats typically include a hike to Fish Island (Incahuasi Island) in the middle of the salt expanse, a visit to the world’s first salt hotel, and plenty of time to take photos, as playful optical illusions using the endless white horizon are popular among travelers. Specialty tours, such as nighttime visits under the stars, sunrise tours, private tours, and 4x4 excursions, offer additional memorable experiences. If you have time, bundle Salar de Uyuni into a multi-day tour for visits to hot springs, Laguna Colorada, and Laguna Verde as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Salar de Uyuni is a must-see attraction in Bolivia.
- Bring sunscreen, layers, sturdy shoes, and your camera.
- The giant salt flat is at 12,000 feet (3,660 meters) above sea level. Avoid altitude sickness by giving yourself plenty of water, rest, and time to adjust.
How to Get There
The most common jumping-off points for Uyuni tours are the towns of Tupiza and Uyuni. Flights from La Paz make it possible to visit as a day tour from Bolivia’s capital, and you can also visit from San Pedro de Atacama, across the border in Chile. Guided tours typically include hotel pickup and drop-off in Uyuni.
When to Get There
Salar de Uyuni is remarkable no matter the season. The dry season gives the flat a cracked, desert-like appearance, while a trickle of water from nearby streams causes an otherworldly, mirror-like reflectivity during the rainy season (December to March). Visit in November for a chance to see pink flamingos flocking at their mating ground.
Prehistoric Origins of the Flat
Salar de Uyuni was once covered by prehistoric lakes, including the massive Lago Minchin. Their slow evaporation left behind the salt that composes the flat today.