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Imagine a place with scorching heat during the day, with bitter cold nights; a land of scant rainfall surrounded by deserts and barren hills bordered by active volcanoes with nothing around for miles but Salt. With no vegetation and a cracked and flaked earth, this is perhaps the bleakest of all places one can be in. Seems like a description of Hell? Wrong!

Welcome to the salt flats, one of the most beautiful geographical features on planet Earth. A land of mind boggling landscapes, dazzlingly colorful sunrises and sunsets and of flawless reflections. Wildlife, though few and far between add to the wild Martian like beauty. These are an adventurer's and photographer's paradise, seeking the wild beauty which very few places on Earth can still offer. Very few countries are blessed with of these saline escapades, and some of the gems are...

1. Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia.

The Salar De Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world covering and area of10,582 square km. It is located in the Daniel Campos Province in Potosí in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes and is at an elevation of 3,656 meters above sea level.

The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness. Salar de Uyuni attracts tourists from around the world. As it is located far from the cities, a number of hotels have been built in the area. Due to lack of conventional construction materials, many of them are almost entirely (walls, roof, furniture) built with salt blocks cut from the Salar.

One can find more information about Salar here.

Photos of Uyuni Salt Flat, Daniel Campos, Potosi Department, Bolivia 1/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Uyuni Salt Flat, Daniel Campos, Potosi Department, Bolivia 2/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Uyuni Salt Flat, Daniel Campos, Potosi Department, Bolivia 3/3 by Sounak Ghosh

Must See: Train cemetery - It is 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) outside Uyuni and is connected to it by the old train tracks. The town served in the past as a distribution hub for the trains carrying minerals en route to Pacific Ocean ports. The railway lines were built by British engineers arriving near the end of the 19th century and formed a sizeable community in Uyuni. The trains were mostly used by the mining companies. In the 1940s when the mining industry collapsed, the trains were abandoned creating an eerie graveyard of rusting locomotives and other railway euipments.

Photos of  1/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of  2/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of  3/3 by Sounak Ghosh

2. Salinas Grandes

The Salinas Grandes is a large salt flat in central-northern Argentina, spanning the borders of four provinces (Córdoba, Catamarca, La Rioja and Santiago del Estero), at an average altitude of 170 metres above sea level. Situated at the foot of the Sierras de Córdoba mountain range it is the second largest salt flat in the world after the Salar De Uyuni covering an area of 6,000 square km.

Information about Salinas Grandes can be found here, here, here, here and here.

Photos of Salinas Grandes, Cochinoca Department, Jujuy, Argentina 1/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Salinas Grandes, Cochinoca Department, Jujuy, Argentina 2/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Salinas Grandes, Cochinoca Department, Jujuy, Argentina 3/3 by Sounak Ghosh

3. Salar De Atacama, Chile.

The largest salt flat in Chile and the third largest in the world, Salar De Atacama lies 55 km south of San Pedro de Atacama. In the east it is enclosed by the Andes, while to the west lies a secondary mountain range of the Andes called Cordillera de Domeyko. Large volcanoes dominate the landscape, including the Licancabur, Acamarachi, Aguas Calientes and the Láscar.

More information can be obtained from here, here, here, here and here.

Photos of Salar de Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile 1/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Salar de Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile 2/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Salar de Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile 3/3 by Sounak Ghosh

4. Los Flamencos National Reserve, Chile.

Los Flamencos National Reserve is a nature reserve located in the commune of San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta Region of northern Chile. This area is made up of two salt flats: Salar de Tara- Salar de Aguas Calientes and Salar de Pujsa. The former is located 120 kilometres east of San Pedro de Atacama and 440 kilometres northeast of Antofagasta, reaching an altitude of up to 4,860 meters above sea level. The latter lies southwest of Salar de Tara, 83 kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama, and northeast of Acamarachi volcano. With a maximum altitude of 4,585 metres above sea level, Pujsa is considered the most isolated section in the reserve.

Information for travels can be sought here, here and here.

Photos of Salar de Tara, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile 1/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Salar de Tara, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile 2/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Salar de Tara, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile 3/3 by Sounak Ghosh

5. Death Valley National Park, USA.

Death Valley National Park is a national park in the United States. Straddling the border of California and Nevada, located east of the Sierra Nevada, it occupies an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts in the United States.

Badwater Basin, an endorheic basin in Death Valley National Park, is noted as the lowest point in North America. The site itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of "bad water" next to the road in a sink; the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. Adjacent to the pool, where water is not always present at the surface, repeated freeze–thaw and evaporation cycles gradually push the thin salt crust into hexagonal honeycomb shapes. The salt flats are hazardous to traverse (in many cases being only a thin white crust over mud), and so the sign marking the low point is at the pool instead.

More information about the salt flats of the park are available here.

Photos of Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA, United States 1/4 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA, United States 2/4 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA, United States 3/4 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, CA, United States 4/4 by Sounak Ghosh

6. Bonneville Salt Flats, USA.

Vroooommmm!!! Whooshhhh!!!

These are the sounds that is most likely to welcome you here. The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah is a remnant of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. These salt flats are famous for automobiles trying to set land speed records. Speed races regularly take place on the pans, with cars and motorbikes tearing across the plains at breakneck pace. Many world land speed records have been set and broken at Bonneville, so there’s a good chance you’ll witness history in the making.

Photos of Bonneville Salt Flats, Tooele County, UT, United States 1/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Bonneville Salt Flats, Tooele County, UT, United States 2/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Bonneville Salt Flats, Tooele County, UT, United States 3/3 by Sounak Ghosh

7. Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana.

The Makgadikgadi Pan (Botswana salt flats) is a salt pan situated in the middle of the dry savanna of north-eastern Botswana. It is one of the largest salt flats in the world. The pan is all that remains of the formerly enormous Lake Makgadikgadi which dried up several thousand years ago. A dry salty clay crust most of the year, the pans are seasonally covered with water and grass, and are then a refuge for birds and animals in this very arid part of the world.

More information can be found here, here and here.


Photos of Makgadikgadi Pans, Tutume, Central District, Botswana 1/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Makgadikgadi Pans, Tutume, Central District, Botswana 2/3 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Makgadikgadi Pans, Tutume, Central District, Botswana 3/3 by Sounak Ghosh

8. Lake Eyre, Australia.

Lake Eyre, officially known as Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre,contains the lowest natural point in Australia, at approximately 15 m below sea level. The shallow endorheic lake is the depocentre of the vast Lake Eyre basin and is found in Northern South Australia, some 700 km north of Adelaide.

When the lake is full, it has the same salinity level as the sea, but as the lake dries up and the water evaporates, salinity increases.

More information can be found here, here and here.

Photos of Lake Eyre, South Australia, Australia 1/1 by Sounak Ghosh

9. Rann of Kutch, India.

The Great Rann of Kutch is a seasonal salt marsh located in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India. It is reputed to be one of the largest salt deserts in the world. Although most of the marsh is in protected areas, the habitats are vulnerable to cattle grazing, firewood collection and salt extraction operations, all of which may involve transportation that disturbs wildlife. There are many salt farms in the area.

Annually, the Government of Gujarat hosts a 3 month long festival during winter called the "Rann Utsav festival of the Rann" where tourists can see the various sights of the Rann.

Rann Utsav gives visitors not only a chance to experience full moon on salt deserts but also get a taste of the local culture, cuisine and hospitality. Specially built local houses are also used to house tourists to give them a taste of local traditions. Many adventure clubs and travel clubs organize expeditions. More information about Rann Utsav can be found here.

Photos of Rann of Kutch, Lõuna-Aasia, Kutch, Gujarat, India 1/5 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Rann of Kutch, Lõuna-Aasia, Kutch, Gujarat, India 2/5 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Rann of Kutch, Lõuna-Aasia, Kutch, Gujarat, India 3/5 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Rann of Kutch, Lõuna-Aasia, Kutch, Gujarat, India 4/5 by Sounak Ghosh
Photos of Rann of Kutch, Lõuna-Aasia, Kutch, Gujarat, India 5/5 by Sounak Ghosh

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