Salinas Grandes, Argentina
If you are planning a trip to this country of wonders, you should definitely visit one of nature’s greatest phenomena – the Great Salt Flats or Salinas Grandes in northern Argentina. Located 170m above sea level at the foot of the Sierras de Córdoba Mountain range, the salt flats cover 12,000 hectares.
Salinas Grandes is something you will never forget. It is the third largest plateau in the world. From a distance the salt flats look like an enormous frozen lake. However, there is no snow – instead of it you have naturally self-renewing salt up to a 1.5 m thick. Long time ago this area used to be an ancient lake. On a sunny day the blinding contrast between the blue sky and the never-ending field of whiteness is fascinating. If you want to admire this magical scenery without hurting your eyes, you should definitely take a reliable pair of sunglasses. Sunscreen and a couple of bottles of water are advisable, too.
Although the area is privately owned by mining companies, they willingly allow tourists to roam about. Consequently, there is no entrance fee to enter the Salinas Grandes. Visitors can watch and learn about the mineral salt extraction process and buy a few hand-made salt figures as souvenirs. Salt extraction methods in Argentina have been traditionally unchanged for decades. At first a medium rectangle is cut out with a pick axe. Then the salt is removed and piled next to the ditch. Then the water fills the cut. As the sun shines almost all year round, the water evaporates within six weeks.
To add more grains of salt to your visit, you can have a meal at the open-air salt restaurant “Restaurant de Sal” overlooking the road to Chile, which runs right through the flats, as well as the railway. The vastness and of the flats offers great photo opportunities You can come up with stunning results by playing with the visual perspective and the combination of white and blue.
To get to this solitary area takes about 200 km of traveling along route 9 and 52, passing by some picturesque villages like Yala, Tumbaya and Purmamarca. There are no bus tours to the place, so you can either book a private tour or rent a vehicle. Public transportation is quite limited in the area. The Salt Flats are stunning and should not be missed if you happen to be in Argentina.
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