An evocative and eerie sight, the world’s largest salt flat (12,106 sq km) sits at 3653m (11,984ft). When the surface is dry, the salar is a pure white expanse of the greatest nothing imaginable – just blue sky, white ground and you. When there’s a little water, the surface perfectly reflects the clouds and the blue altiplano sky, and the horizon disappears. If you’re driving across the surface at such times, the effect is surreal; it’s hard to believe that you’re not flying through the clouds.
Salar de Uyuni is now a center of salt extraction and processing, particularly around the settlement of Colchani. The estimated annual output of the Colchani operation is nearly 20,000 tons, 18,000 tons of which is for human consumption while the rest is for livestock. And beneath the surface, massive lithium deposits should fuel Bolivia’s economy for the next 100 years.