Salar De Uyuni: The Best Time to Visit and in General about the Most Popular Salt Flat

uyuni salt lake

There are places where you lose the feeling of time and space, where clouds float above your head and under your feet, it seems that the sky is around you, but at the same time you are firmly on your feet. One of such places on the planet is Salar de Uyuni. Bolivia salt flat reflection will not leave you indifferent!

What is the Salar de Uyuni?

Salar de Uyuni (with emphasis on yu) is the largest salt lake on the planet. Literally from Spanish “salar” is translated as “salt marsh”. The name “Uyuni” means “corral”. It originated from the Indian language of the Aymaras, a people historically living in the Andes. However, the Aymara Indians did not use the lake itself for breeding livestock, but only named the settlement closest to the salt marsh – Uyuni. Well, the place itself was later called the same as the neighboring city.

Where is the salt flat in Bolivia?

Salar de Uyuni is located near the border with Chile and the famous Atacama Desert, that is, in the south of the country. Uyuni is located in the Andes at an altitude of approximately 3700 meters above sea level, more precisely in the southern part of the high Altiplano plateau.

Every year, thousands of tourists from all over the world come to look at the salt marsh and take breathtaking photos of the endless salt plain. Moreover, in Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni is considered the most visited natural attraction.

Of course, the view of the salt marsh will surprise and impress you at any time of the year! However, this magical place has several seasons when it becomes even more beautiful and you can take even more impressive photos.

Best time to travel to Bolivia on Salar Uyuni

mirror salt lake bolivia

Remember! The rainy season is from November to March. Precipitation covers the crust of the Uyuni salt lake in a thin layer and turns it into a Bolivia salt flat mirror. At this time, you can not only look at your reflection on the lake surface but also take photos “floating in the air”. The effect is obtained because the surface of the lake reflects the sky and it feels like you are walking directly on the clouds. The most abundant rainfall occurs in February-March – at this time the chances of seeing the world’s largest mirror salt lake Bolivia are maximum. However, due to heavy rains, some routes along the salt marsh may be blocked.

Did you come to Salar de Uyuni after rain or too much rain fell so that the effect of the mirror almost disappeared? Don’t be upset! If the weather forecast is favorable and you have a few days to spare, just wait and explore other attractions in the region. The water from the salt marsh will begin to evaporate and be absorbed into the salt, and the surface of the lake will be covered with a single pattern of hexagons. True, among them you can find rare five, seven, and octagons – just like the fifth petal in lilac flowers!

The flamingo season is the most exciting time in this already delightful area. From November to December, about 80 species of birds fly to the lagoons located near the salt marsh for breeding. But chief among them is the South American and Andean flamingos.

Bolivian salt flat tours

It is better not to go to the Uyuni salt marsh on your own. It is extremely dangerous to walk on Uyuni salt flats alone without knowledge of the terrain. The fact is that Salar de Uyuni is not just a flat area covered with salt, but a real lake. The salt crust here performs the same function as ice on our reservoirs in winter. Its thickness ranges from 2 to 8 meters.

Every year, people die on the salt marsh, who went on a trip along unfamiliar roads and fell into the lake. However, traveling with a tour does not yet provide complete safety. Due to the increased interest in the place, many small companies have appeared in Uyuni offering cheap tours and are not at all concerned about the safety of tourists. Therefore, before purchasing excursions, carefully read the reviews about the company and choose reliable and proven guides!

Most salt flat Bolivia tours last from one to five days. In any case, you will spend one, maximum of two days on the lake itself. The rest of the time will be spent on excursions to the surrounding mountains, climbing to the volcano, and a trip to the steam locomotive cemetery near the town of Uyuni.

Also, a trip to Bolivia on the Salar de Uyuni can be combined with other iconic attractions of the Altiplano Plateau, the Chilean Atacama Desert, and neighboring national parks. True, in this case, you will have to move between countries and cross borders, getting new stamps in your passport.

Top attractions around Uyuni salt flat, Bolivia:

salt flats of bolivia

Isla Incahuasi

The island of Incahuasi in translation from the language of the Quechua Indians means “house of the Incas”. It is located in the middle of Lake Salar de Uyuni and is considered the world’s largest island located on a salt marsh. Only giant cacti grow on Incahuasi, and during dry periods it often looks just like a bare rock. The top of the island (3656 meters) is the crater of an ancient extinct volcano. If you wish, you can go up to it and look at the panorama of Lake Uyuni.

Volcano Tunupa

The ancient volcano Tunupa (5432 meters) rises on the edge of the Bolivia salt flat. The best view of the salt marsh opens from its top. But the full climb here will take about 2 days. True, less prepared tourists can climb to lower altitudes and also enjoy the excellent panorama of the lake.

Laguna Cañapa

We debunk the main misconception of tourists coming to the salt flat of Bolivia, Uyuni flamingos do not live here. Excessively salty and extremely rich in mineral water from the surface of the salt marsh is not suitable for living organisms, so there is no fauna here. However, in the vicinity of the lake, many birds, including flamingos, do fly to the nesting grounds. To see them, you need to ride on the lagoons located around the Uyuni salt marsh lake. One of the most popular among tourists, the Canapa lagoon is located very close to it.

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