Uyuni Salt Flats
The Uyuni Salt Flats and Potosi
The Salar de Uyuni
The Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flats) is the largest salt desert in the world and an extraordinary attraction. Stretched between distant Andean peaks like a pristine shimmering white carpet, the salt lake is home to pink flamingos, 1,000-year-old cacti, rare hummingbirds and hotels built entirely from blocks of salt. With a total extension of 10,582 km squared, it is believed to be the largest bed of lithium in the world, a valuable mineral used in rechargeable batteries. The Bolivian government and Japanese investors are to begin mining operations here soon. As for the environmental impact of such development, time will tell. This is an area of extraordinary natural beauty, a semi-desert surrounded by glaciers, rock formations, and volcanic craters.
Potosi is the capital of the Department of Potosi in Bolivia and is said to be the highest city in the world. It was originally built after the discovery of silver at Cerro Rico, or "Rich Hill" in 1544, where an estimated two billion ounces of silver were extracted during the Spanish Colonial era. Here, you can find dazzling religious and civil constructions, such as silver mines and the “Casa de la Moneda” (House of the Coin). Part of the charm of Potosi includes the surrounding towns, where the local residents are known for the colorful, handmade outfits they wear. The cultural and historical value of Potosi has been recognized by UNESCO, which has declared this city part of the “Cultural Patrimony of Humanity.”