AROUND THE WORLD
2023 March 28, 29
Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni
by Linda Ludwig
Imagine salt as far as the eye can see
Salt may be commonplace, but the Salt Flats of Bolivia are anything but that! They are so huge that satellites can clearly identify them, the world’s largest salt flats, from space. From November to March, the rainy season, water overflows nearby lakes, eventually reaching the flats. The water covers the salt with a layer of water, creating a mirror. Some say it is hard to tell where the sky ends and the land begins during this time of year. In fact the flats have been nicknamed “The Mirror of the Sky.”
Sitting at 3,656 meters above sea level, the flats vary by just one meter in elevation over their entire 10,582 square kilometer area. Now that is flat! This arid area is the lowest point of the Altiplano Basin that rivers drain into. Because the air is so dry, the rainwater quickly evaporates leaving behind salty elements. How much has been left behind? The estimated amount is about 10 billion tons, 10 meters deep in places.
Just two islands are located on the flats. Isla Incahuasi hosts giant cacti that can reach 10 meters in height, and Isla del Pescado boasts a prime place to watch the sunrise.