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Uyuni Salt Flats

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Uyuni is a town lying south of La Paz, in the southwest of Bolivia. The settlement is a transport hub where train lines from Argentina, Chile and other cities in Bolivia connect. Just outside the town lies the train cemetery – a strange attraction but interesting none-the-less. Here decommissioned trains are retired to an otherwise empty patch of desert, and now present a unique image of old rusty trains lying forlornly in a somewhat unlikely setting.

At 10,500 square kilometres, Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, and it really is flat, with the altitude varying no more than a metre across the whole area. Formed from the transformation of a number of prehistoric lakes, today the flats are comprised of a thick salt crust which sits atop a layer of lithium-rich salt water.

While the area is dry and sparse, it does support some life, most notably the pink flamingos which are a common feature of the Uyuni setting.

Sitting at an altitude of over 3000m, the town is surrounded by the largely flat, desert-like altiplano landscape. The town itself is little to write home about, however, it is a fantastic jumping-off point for the Uyuni Slat Flats, a vast expanse of snow-white salt which crystalizes on the ground’s surface. Many of Uyuni’s residents are engaged either in salt-related occupations, or tourism.

Other sights in this eye-opening region include the dormant Tunupa Volcano, which provides excellent views of the salt flats. It is also home to a cave where you will find the Mummies of Coquesa, a group of exceptionally well-preserved mummies.

Click here to read our blog about the overland journey from Chile to Bolivia.