Salt galore! Indeed, we did see lots of salt during our time in Bolivia. Although Bolivia is not the most friendly or safe country in the world, it definitely is one of the most divers countries, regarding the landscape. Firstly, the capital of Bolivia is the highest in the world at 3700 meter above sea level. It is surrounded by snow-peaked mountains of 6000 meter. Also worth mentioning are the beautiful and full-of-live Amazon jungle, the worlds’ biggest high-altitude lake, deserts, moon-like landscapes, small villages at 5200 meter above sea level, tens of thousands of flamingo’s, geyser fields, beautiful lakes, many volcanoes and huge salt flats… And all of this in one country. Another interesting fact is that Bolivia is known for having the most dangerous stretch of road in the world. With a 4700 meter descent, sheer drops and a length of 69 km, one can understand that it is being called The Death Road. Tourists visiting Bolivia love to cycle this road downhill, but after some serious deliberation, we found it wise to rather skip that adventure… 🙂
Although we have been to most of the above-mentioned destinations, we would like to tell you more about The Salt Flats of Uyuni in particular. The Salt Flats, lying at an altitude of 3800 meters, measure half the size of The Netherlands (imagine that! :)) It took us more than 3 hours to drive the total length of the flat. At the edges the thickness of the salt crust is 10 cm and over 8 meters in the center. The most wonderful thing about the flat is that, during the height of the rainy season, it turns into the biggest mirror of the world. The crust will then be covered with a thin layer of water which reflects the sky above (search on Google for flooded salt flat Uyuni for some cool pictures). People living around the salt flats make their living out of the salt and minerals by drying, cleaning and exporting it. They make beautiful salt handicrafts which tourists love to take home as a souvenir. The Salt Museum is also worth a visit and you may guess what you are likely to find inside! These salt sculptures (correct… in the museum) are similar to the sand/ice sculptures made in The Netherlands. When in the area, be sure to book a stay in a hostel built with blocks of salt; even the tables, chairs and our nightstand were made of salt. It definitely is an unforgettable experience!
The funny thing about this endless salt flat is that you can make perspective photos. This turned out to be really cool to do (see above). And be sure to watch our Pringle Dance, with the Salt Flats as filming location!
The amazing and most wonderful aspect about the Salt Flats is thinking about its origin. Although it does seem most unlikely, the amount of salt suggests that there must have been a sea in that location. Being a geography teacher, the formation of such landscapes is more than interesting. This salt flats could either have been formed by the force of tectonic plates or by a gigantic flood. The shifting of the sea plate moving in underneath the land plate, could have resulted in the forming of the Andean Mountain Range. Volcanoes then formed in the mountain as well as salty water, being pushed up from the sea. In both cases the force behind it must have been enormous. We realize again how futile we are and the greatness of the Maker of these forces.
The salt flat was not the only bizar landscape we saw in Southern Bolivia. Our tour-guide took us to unbelievable heights (of up to 5800 meter) showing us many volcanoes, lakes (red, black and green) and thousands and thousands of flamingo’s, millions of stars (we even saw 2 other galaxies just with our naked eyes), freezing cold temperatures and steaming geyser fields. The pictures below speak for themselves but simultaneously can never fully reflect reality.
We send our most warmest regards from New Zealand, where two people are very busy painting a terrace (actually, only one of us is painting while the other one is typing this blog :)) and where we are enjoying our swimming pool which has an entrance in the living room!
Steve and Anne
PS. Check out our very short geyser movie 😉