Las Salinas Grandes – a spectacular salt flat located in a remote corner of Argentina, 3350 m above sea level. It is the third largest salt flat in the world and the largest in Argentina. Covering 525square kilometers and up to half a meter thick. It boast some of the most spectacular scenery you can imagine. When wet after rain, it becomes a giant mirror creating stunning reflections of the blue sky on the surface of the salt flat, while walking barefoot on it.
My travels continues from the southern part of Argentina, the «End of the World» to the complete opposite end of Argentina. The north-western corner which borders Chile and Bolivia. The landscape here and the small picturesque villages are completely different from Tierra del Fuego in the south. The breathtaking scenery of Salta and Jujuy provinces are worth spending days exploring. We chose to stay in the litle town of Purmamarca some 190 kilometers from the city of Salta.
Purmamarca is a small town in the province of Jujuy. Only a couple of thousand people live here. We made it our base for some days, to be able to explore the area. With a rental car we could get around the area without having to spend hours on driving. It turned out to be a good starting point for day tours up the Quebrada de Humahuaca, to visit weird rockformations, colored rocks, ancient Inca ruins and to the salt flat. The biggest attraction in town is the Hill of Seven Colours, composed of seven different layers of minerals. These colours were created by different minerals, such as copper, iron, dolomite, sulfur, lead and hematite. Because we read that it is most beautiful the first 45 minutes at dawn, we did get up early. But both mornings were cloudy. Still, I think it was beautiful later in the day.
Las Salinas Grande is only about 65 kilometers from Purmamarca. The only road is the National route, RN 52. Driving across the mountain pass means driving zig zag upwards to a height of 4100 m. above sea level. But the view of the mountains is breathtaking, which meant many stops to enjoy the view. RN 52 is paved and in good condition, making driving quite easy. The salt flat is white as snow. Seeing it from a distance, it really looks as if it is snow! But this desert of white is hot. Average temperatures can reach more than 40 degrees celcius!
There is a parking lot by the road. Entrance to and parking is free. At the parking lot you will find locals selling souvenirs tortillas. We just parked the car. Took off our shoes. Put on sunglasses and sunscreen. It was an amazing feeling to walk barefoot on the surface and experience the stunning reflections all the way around us.
This vast, white desert of salt was once a lake. When the lake dried up, it left the concentration of salt here. The wet season is january – march which is the time when it is flooded. This is the time to visit, if you wish to see the reflections and mirror images on the surface of the flats. Otherwise, the rest of the year it will be dry.
Mining of salt is still going on here. Since it was a sunday, nobody was working. That area is closed to visitors, but he parking lot and toilet facilities are open for anyone to use.
The film starts and ends where the cars are parked. Filmed with my phone, but hope it will give you an idea of what it might be like.
The best is to take off the shoes and just walk bare feet in the water. It is an amazing place and one of the places I would't have missed.
Next stop: Southern part of Salta province
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All the photoes are mine, Ulla Jensen (flickr, Instagram and facebook)