Salar de Uyuni facts – Interesting facts about the Bolivian Salt Flats

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Before you take off to the legendary and memorable Uyuni Salt Flats adventure, make sure to learn these tiny Salar de Uyuni facts!

What’s the best time to visit Salar de Uyuni? Dry season or rainy season?

What’s Uyuni altitude? Will I get altitude sickness?

The best time to visit Bolivia depends on the type of landscape you would like to travel through.

If you plan on visiting the Bolivia salt flats, you might want to consider the weather for various reasons.

Wet season and dry season both have their charm and both are a guarantee on a set of surreal pictures.

Of course in the rainy season, you would have a higher chance on rainy days during your visit. But you might want to take that risk if you’re after the wet salt flats pictures.

Depending on which way you want to see the flats, you can decide when is the best time to go  visit Salar de Uyuni.

Uyuni Salt Flats Weather

The Uyuni Salt Flats weather is an important factor to decide when is the best time to visit Salar de Uyuni.

So you might want to consider this when booking your Bolivia holiday. We were lucky to have 3 days filled with sun, but you could have less luck than we did.

Days on the salt flats are usually sunny with a temperature of up to 15 degrees Celsius. Usually, nights are below freezing point, like minus 6 degrees Celsius.

This is normal Uyuni Salt Flats weather and it’s one of the reasons it’s dangerous to spend a night alone on the Salt Flats.

Wet Salt Flats

Visiting the Uyuni salt flats during rainy season guarantees your pictures to be dreamy and surreal.

The flats are wet and appear to be a sea of reflection. The water surface reflects the clouds and it looks like everything is upside down. I do like the pictures of the salt flats where it looks like people are walking on water.

During rainy season, the Uyuni Salt Flats turn into the world’s largest mirror!

Rainy season in Uyuni is from December until May.

Dry Salt Flats

During the dry season, the Salt Flats look more like a desert of ice and you could be thinking you’re in a science fiction movie, walking on a different planet.

We visited during the dry season. So I guess if we ever visit again, it would be during the wet season.

The dry season in Uyuni is from June to November.

Salar de Uyuni facts
Doing silly on the Salar de Uyuni Flats

Uyuni altitude

The Uyuni Salt Flats are located on a high altitude Altiplano and the actual Uyuni altitude is 3656 meters above sea level.

So the Salar de Uyuni altitude is reasonably high and altitude sickness could most definitely arise.

We suggest taking the tour from La Paz, which is a great place to take your time and adapt to the altitude. If you take your time to adapt to the altitude in La Paz Bolivia, you will have an awesome time on the Salt Flats.

When joining a Salt Flats 3 day tour from La Paz to San Pedro de Atacama, you will descend towards the end of your tour.

The altitude of the Bolivian capital La Paz is 3640 meter above sea level.

San Pedro de Atacama is located at an altitude of 2408 meters above sea level.

Uyuni Size

Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt plain in the world.

The Uyuni Salt Flats National Park in Bolivia has the largest salt flats in the world and measure 10582 square kilometers. That’s more or less the size of Gambia or Jamaica!

They’re located in the south west of Bolivia, near the Andes and border the Chilean desert.

Salt flats facts
Photo by Otsuka88 on Pixabay

The Salt Flats of Uyuni can be seen from space

Thanks to their massive size and the beautiful contrast in colour with their environment, the Salar de Uyuni comes in as a handy tool sometimes!

Not only are the flats perfectly visible from outer space, but they are also used to calibrate satellite sensors.

For this use, there are a few added bonuses:

  • the perfect whiteness
  • the fact the the flats are really FLAT
  • mostly clear blue sky

Thickness of the salt crust

The salt crust thickness varies heavily on different spot on the flats.

At some points, the salt crust is only a few millimeters thick, while other spots have over 2 meters of crust.

How much salt is there in Uyuni?

If you combine the size and the crust thickness of the Uyuni salt flats, you can probably already imagine there must be loads of salt available.

And that’s exactly true!

The flats are made of over 10 billion tonnes of salt. Only a very small percentage of that gets extracted each year: around 25 thousand tonnes.

Batteries contain pieces of the salt flats

Over 50% of the worlds lithium is located in the lower part of the salt crust in different salt flats around the world. Since Uyuni is the largest, these flats contain the most lithium of all.

It must be said, your batteries are not made in Bolivia!

It appears to be quite difficult to get the actual lithium out of Uyuni.

How flat are the salt flats?

Pretty flat… but not entirely.

Over the entire area of the Uyuni flats, there’s a total altitude difference of less than 1 meter. So the variations are so small you can’t see them with the naked eye.

How did the Uyuni Salt Flats originate?

The salt flats are located on a high altitude plateau in the Andes mountains.

Over 30 thousand years ago, this area consisted of a massive lake. When the lake dried up over the ages, the salt flats arose.

Conclusion - Salar de Uyuni Facts

The Uyuni Salt Flats are definitely an interesting place to visit. This surreal landscape is one that people tend to dream about and which could be the setting of magical surrealism in fantasy books.

But in fact, these flats are a very natural part of our world and it’s great to learn more about them!

Do let us know if you have any other interesting facts about the Uyuni salt flats or if there’s anything you want to know!

Have you already been to the Salt Flats in Uyuni or anywhere else in the world?

Read our guide on visiting Uyuni on a tour from La Paz to San Pedro de Atacama.

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