Salar de Uyuni is the biggest salt flat in the world. It has over 70% of the lithium in the world and is one of the more interesting places in Bolivia.
The flat is at the Potosi and Oruro departments to the southwest of the country. It is close to the Andes crest. The flat spans an area of 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). The elevation is 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above the mean sea level.
What to See
The flat serves as the breeding ground for pink flamingos which you can see in droves. The wildlife consists mainly of flamingos and some goose. There is some vegetation around, most of them being giant cacti.
These grow a centimeter a year but can reach lengths of 38 feet. There are also shrubs like Thola and Pilaya. Quenua bushes and quinoa plants abound as well.
The Salar de Uyuni pink flamingos can be seen during November: during this period you will see James’ Flamingos, Andean and Chilean flamingos too.
The flat was created by the changes that occurred at several ancient prehistoric lakes. About 42,000 years ago, this site was a part of Lake Minchin. The age has been obtained from radiocarbon dating of shells.
After a time, Lake Minchin became paleolake Tauca 140 meters (460 ft) deep. The age for this lake has been estimated from 13,000-18,000 or 14,900-26,100 years. Coipasa is the youngest of the prehistoric lakes at about 11,500 to 13,400 years.
Two lakes emerged after it dried: Uru Uru Lake and Poopo Lake. It would also result in the appearance of Salar de Coipasa and this salt flat. Lake Poopo is bigger than Lake Titicaca. Titicaca overflows during the wet season. The water ends up at Poopo. This in turn goes into Salar De Coipasa.
There are many travel tour packages to Bolivia available. One day tours will cost less than 100 USD. Extended tours of the country can cost 6,000 USD and up.
The flat is also a good place to look for other birds. On certain occasions you will see the Andean goose and the horned coot.
Salar de Uyuni is also known for its unique train cemetery. It is 3 km (1.9 miles) outside of the sites and linked to it via tracks.
Sometime in the past the town functioned as a train distribution hub. These trains would transport minerals to the ports in the Pacific.