Part 1 of the Bolivian Death Triangle.
And as promised, the salt flats. But first, a stop in a town just outside, where the tourists in the army of identical Toyota Land Cruisers stop to buy souvenirs and use the bathroom one last time before entering the flats.
There’s also a salt museum where the walls, floor, and statues are all made of salt.
Then, it’s on to the flats themselves.
It makes for great panoramas.
And even better silly perspective pictures.
It’s actually not entirely a smooth surface: sections are riddled with these kinds of potholes where you can touch the salty water and grab an authentic souvenir to take home! The water also stores the world’s largest reserve of lithium, so naturally the government is taking advantage of the worldwide electric car boom and extracting it.
On the water surface of these holes are hollow pyramid-shaped individual crystals, which look absolutely unreal up close.
There are two islands in the middle, filled with cactuses.
And a hotel made of salt, with a bunch of flags on the outside. I couldn’t quite understand the criteria for inclusion among them; the American flag is not present, for one.
Since it had recently rained, we drove to try to see if we could see some cool reflections. We got to ride on top of the Land Cruiser for this segment; despite my concerns earlier it seemed safe enough…
Unfortunately it was too windy to see the reflections. Still, sunset over the flats was spectacular.
In all, it was an awesome day on the flats–and I was also happy that I would not need to spend two nights in the bitter cold as I would have if I had done one of the typical 3-day tours.