Salar de Uyuni, amid the Andes in southwest Bolivia, is the world’s largest salt flat.
The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes.
It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average elevation variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar.
The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium.
The large area, clear skies, and exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar ideal for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites.
Though wildlife is rare in this unique ecosystem, it harbors many pink flamingos.
Salar de Uyuni’s exceptional natural beauty and unique panoramas have turned it into arguably the most popular natural tourism destination in South America.
In the wet season – around January and February – the salt flats are covered in a thin layer of water, which makes for some truly surreal reflections against the vast Andean sky making it look like a big mirror.
Salar de Uyuni is a popular tourist destination, and consequently, a number of hotels have been built in the area.
Due to the lack of conventional construction materials, many of them are almost entirely (walls, roof, furniture) built with salt blocks cut from the Salar.
The first such hotel, named Palacio de Sal, was erected in 1993–1995 in the middle of the salt flat, and soon became a popular tourist destination.
However, its location in the center of a desert caused sanitation problems, as most wastes had to be collected manually. Mismanagement caused serious environmental pollution and the hotel had to be dismantled in 2002
Salar has been used as a filming location for movies such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017; as planet Crait), The Fall (2006), Salt and Fire (2016), The Unseen (2017), and several others.
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