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This salt desert is more than 12.000 km2 (around 20% biggest than Jamaica!!!), it was an immense lake that licked up the tops of the high mountains of the zone. To the edges the layer of salt it is deep around 30 centimeters, but in the center more than 8 meters; the salar is perfectly white and perfectly plain, apart the hexagonal forms inside the salt. In the dry period, the immense expanse of salt creates an amazing landscape, when you cross it you have the impression to be suspended between the clouds; during the rainy season the immense lowland is covered by the water that in some points can reach 1 mt deep forming some lakes that reflect to the perfection the blue sky of the plateau. The salar contains around 75 islands disseminated of cactus that grow of around 1 centimeter a year, some are tall 10 meters; the biggest island is the Isla de los Pescadores that contains hundreds of cactus. The Salar is source of maintenance for great part of the inhabitants of the zone hocked in the production of salt that after being picked (19.700 tons per year) is refined uyuni_colchani.jpg (33242 byte); other amazing use of salt is that building: the material is broken in regular blocks for being used for the manufacture of buildings like the Hoteles de Sal in the middle of the Salar. Just the excessive exploitation of the Salar has been the cause of the revolt of the preceding days of my visit that has caused between the other things the closing of the hotel of salt that in the future will be probably destroyed.



An article about the Uyuni civic strike

On Oct. 21 2001, the Bolivian government shut down tourist access to the Uyuni Salt Flats as a strike by local residents in Potoś department continued. Residents had seized control of the access routes to the region on Oct. 17 to protest two tourist hotels made from blocks of salt, which they say contaminate the local environment. The protesters are also demanding government investment in a local highway, and transfer of the assets of the former state-run railroad, now privatized, to municipal control. The strike trapped some 200 tourists in the area for two days; they left Uyuni on foot late on Oct. 19 and reached the city of Potoś  in buses with a police escort on Oct. 20.
[Los Tiempos (Cochabamba) 10/19/01; Hoy (NY) 10/22/01]



Copyright © 2001 Giuseppe Ruperto. All rights reserved.