A trip to South America allows visitors to experience diverse landscapes, from lush rainforests to sandy beaches. Travel to the point where Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina meet, and you’ll also get a chance to witness the world’s largest salt flat: Salar de Uyuni.
Spanning across the Altiplano, Salar de Uyuni covers an impressive area of more than 4,050 square miles and is all that remains of prehistoric lakes that have long been dry. The ground features a thick layer of salt divided into a series of distinct patterns.
Although Salar de Uyuni is typically dry, a few times per year, it gets covered with a thin layer of water when nearby lakes overflow. It’s incredibly stunning during these periods and even more worth the visit.
The journey to Salar de Uyuni can be pretty harrowing, so it makes sense that travelers would want to spend at least one night in the area after they arrive. That’s where the world’s first salt hotel, El Palacio de Sal, comes in.
The salt hotel was built in 1998 and created by Juan Quesada Valda. It’s a 30-room, 28,500-square-foot structure made from over one million salt bricks. Every year, sections have to be replaced since they are washed away during the area’s rainy season.
The most popular way to access the salt flats is through Uyuni, Bolivia. Uyuni is a small town with multiple tourism agencies centrally located in its square. Travelers can book tours in person or online – both day trips and overnight trips are available.
Other ways to get to the flats include through San Pedro de Atacama, Chile (a three-day tour) and Tupiza, Bolivia (a four-day tour that is considered the best starting point for people traveling from Argentina).