Salt, salt and more salt everywhere, as far as the eye can see. If Pablo Escobar had ever happened upon the vast salt flats of La Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, while he was still alive and on a coked up rampage, he could have easily mistaken the seemingly endless and eerily beautiful salt vistas here for his own personal heaven, caked over with an endless supply of Bolivian marching powder.

While the La Salar de Uyuni isn’t coated over with blow (which we by no means condone), it does happen to be the world's largest salt flat. This southwestern corner of Bolivia’s Altiplano (high plateau) is a stark and stunning desert, home to a sea of salt full of natural wonders, as well as a few manmade oddities.

The oh-so kitschy salt hotel is one of those oddities. It’s a must for any fan of cheesy tourist fun. The hotel is a Mecca and obligatory stop (even if you don’t stay here) for the all-wheel-drive vehicles laden down with sunburnt holidaymakers, crisscrossing these flats in search of adventure. While it won’t be the most exciting part of your tour, it’s still an interesting diversion to bear witness to a hotel made entirely out of salt brick. Even the beds and sofas are constructed out of salt, although thankfully the mattresses and cushions are not, which is good news for people who aren’t as hardened as the thrill-seeker Bear Grylls (when he’s not faking it and staying in a Sheraton).

Once you get your fill of touristy goodness, you can head out into the wilds and experience some truly breathtaking nature. La Salar de Uyuni is a volcanic high altitude desert, which boasts gorgeous cone-shaped volcanoes rising out of the flats, as well as lagoons brimming over with pink flamingos at certain times of the day. You’ll also get to encounter steaming geysers, natural hot springs and tons of ridiculously picturesque moments in the cracked earth as you motor across this barren land.

mapache_mau, Wiki Commons
mapache_mau, Wiki Commons

Of course, if you’re a sensitive traveler who isn’t fond of grime and a bit of roughing it, this Bolivian gem might not be for you. After three or four days out in the desert, there’s a good chance you’ll have several layers of stink clinging to your skin. If you’re brave enough to get past your own reek, the stench of others, and that nettlesome itch plaguing your crotch (where did that come from?), you just might have the time of your short life as you trek across La Salar de Uyuni.

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