The Salar - Photos

People cut the salt into blocks to make houses and other things with, much as ice blocks used to be cut from lakes. This is a big stack of them - there were lots of these stacks. You can see the stratification on the edges of the blocks.The "road" into the salar or Salt Flats. Many jeeps drive here each day. The jeeps take a real beating on the rough terrain later in the tour, so I'm sure lots are leaking something, thus the black salt.
This little building, like many others on the flats is built out of their only building material - salt. There are no trees for lumber, no stones for building with. The truck in front probably still runs, although I'm sure all this salt can't be very good for the vehicles.
The kids found a salt pile behind one of the buildings and had a salt-ball fight and made salt angels etc.
The salar was as everyone said - stunning. It felt like walking on a crusty beach. This part of the salar is covered with big shallow pools of water. Later in the season it will be completely covered and the sky will reflect perfetly in the shimmering surface.

The kids were thrilled, because the tour guide thought to bring along some lollypops for the kids (and the big kids too). Aodhan was thrilled!

This is the original "Salt Hotel". It was shut down, because it was creating environmental problems. The only ones allowed now are the ones on the edges, beside the salt flats. This one is just a little museum and gift shop & snack bar now.
Our guide showed the boys that if they dug a little, they could get through the salt layer. The salt layer is about a foot or two thick. Underneath is about 5 metres of water. After learning that I was a little usnure whether driving out in the thin salt layer was really such a great idea after all...
The salt that they pulled out of the hole is ladened with minerals, and has lovely purple, blue, yellow green and orange hues.

Aodhan had to try it to make sure it was salt!
It is also called "La Playa de la Salar" or "the salt beach"
There are some islands in the middle of the salt lake (or salar).
And of course the obigatory perspective shots. You have to take some of these if you were there. I had planned to take a lot more, but the days before the trip had been .. difficult and I did not come prepared physically or emotionally to set up shots. Also, they are very difficult with a digital camera with no real viewfinder. The sun is so bright there that the digital screen turns into a mirror. The first one is Ciaran on the waterbottle.
Ian "holding" his friends.
The island - as we got closer to it. Isla de Pescado (or Fish Island).
The surface of the salar is so white and perfect that NASA uses it to calibrate its instruments.
Isla de Pescado is covered in huge cacti.

This is a wild vizcacha - like a rabbit, but with a tail. There is a better picture of one in the zoo near the Oberland Hotel.

Some really pretty flowers on the island.
The "window" at the top of the island!
The surface cracks into this cool mozaic pattern in some areas of the salt flats.

Aodhan spent some time cutting out pieces of salt with rocks and lifting up the squares!

Ciaran spent some time building an Inukshuk.
This is an area where the salt is quarried for bricks.

The salt was a little prickly in some places - oohh, aahh

Even our beds were made of salt in our salt hotel! Everything was made of salt.
Ciaran and Iain helping to unload the jeep.
Ciaran and Iain playing cards on the salt table while drinking their hot chocolate.
Aodhan was thrilled because there was a layer of salt everywhere and he could build roads for his little cars.
This was absolutely the most surreal thing I think I have seen so far. A wire clothesline tied to a cactus, with meat drying on it. There was a storm rolling in and the sky was maddened and dark and the meat looked like bats flapping in the wind.
This was our quaint little salt hotel. If you zoom in over to the right of the hotel, you can see the cactus with the clothesline full of meat. You can really start to see the storm clouds forming.
Even Iain and Ciaran got into playing with Aodhan's roads and little cars.
Ok this was surreal too. There were wires hanging all through the hotel that were covered with crystalized salt. Lots of them were electrical wires, like this one - which if you look closely, you can see is a light fixture. The Big taxidermied flamingo just adds to the Daliness of the place.