Salar de Uyuni: a Large Mirror
If you are looking for a place where you can not differentiate between earth and sky, Salar de Uyuni is the answer. Located in Bolivia, this is the greatest salt flat on the earth. In this place, the spread of salt surface will fill up with few inches of rain water in the rainy season since there is no drainage. The water transforms the salt surface into an endless mirror which will reflect everything above it such as sky, the sun, clouds, visitors and even pink flamingo.
The History of formation
Salar de Uyuni is considered as the part of Altiplano of Bolivia which is a high plateau formed during the uplift of the Andes mountains. Bolivia was once covered with a prehistoric lake thousands of years ago; when the lake dried up, it became two modern lakes and two major salt lake. The biggest salt lake later known as Salar de Uyuni which is 10,582 square kilometers and likely 100 times bigger than Bonneville Salt Flats in United States. In the middle of the flats, there are some small islands which were the evidence of ancient volcano that emerged during the prehistoric time. The islands consist of coral-like substances and also some fossil and algae.
The main minerals in Salar de Uyuni in Lithium, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium as well as Borax. All these materials are found under the salt surface; the lithium itself is found in the brine under the salt surface in high concentration for about 0,3%. To get the lithium under the surface is very easy; by boring the salt surface and pumping the brine out. Currently, Bolivian government does not allow mining and exploitation by the foreign company; therefore there is no mining plant in the Salar de Uyuni. The government only allow the local pilot plants with low mine production each year. It is estimated that the salt contain in Salar de Uyuni is 10 Billion Tonnes.
This place also becomes the satellite calibration since it is large and stable reflection surface, just like the spread of ice sheets.
The Aymara legends believe that the mountains which surround the salt lake was once giant peoples, Tunupa, Kusku and Kusina. The story begins with Tunupa married Kusku but then Kusku ran away with Kusina. The sad Kusku was crying while breastfeeding the son. As the legends told, Kusku’s tears mixed with milk and then it spread and become Salar de Uyuni. The local people believe that Tunupa is is an important deity in the place.
The name Salar is originated from Spanish which means salt. The word Uyuni is originated from Aymara languages which means pen or enclosure which translates as salt flats with enclosures.
Salar de Uyuni provides a number of hotels for visitors from across the world. The unique part of the hotels is most of the building are made from salt. Besides the panoramic scenery, the main attraction in Salar de Uyuni is the train cemetery. The train was once built for the purpose of transportation and mining but sabotaged by the Aymara people as they believe that the train will be an intrusion in their life. For a different sensation of a holiday, Salar de Uyuni can be a good place to visit.