I worked on the “Bolivia Reborn” magazine and website last year, and while every story made me want to go to Bolivia, this one was special. I learned so much about Bolivia, but the Salar de Uyuni is one of the most tangible ways to see the nation’s untapped potential. I hope to go to Bolivia sometime in the next year, and see for myself.
White stretches as far as the eye can see in all directions. Salt crystals crunch beneath shoes. The dry cold contrasts the overwhelming, white-hot sun. The Salar de Uyuni, located in southern Bolivia, stretches to twice the size of Rhode Island. It is the single largest salt flat in the world.
Neil Armstrong spotted it from the moon.
The Salar’s salt is already fashioned into blocks used to build houses and hotels; one of Bolivia’s major tourist attractions is a hotel constructed entirely of salt blocks. Adventurers from across the globe sit at picnic tables constructed of salt blocks and eat their lunches, surrounded by the Salar’s white expanse. But the Salar’s massive stretch of salt isn’t its only claim to fame. It’s what lies beneath the salty crust — a mineral-rich brine that contains a treasure trove of lithium, a key to the future of energy. As consumers demand faster, greener and better fuel, neighboring Chile and Argentina are pumping out lithium for lithium-ion batteries, used in laptop computers, cameras and automobiles.
And Bolivia wants to play catch-up.