You are here already, with no idea of what to do in the Atacama Desert in Chile? How about a visit to the Salt Flat? There are many charming things for you here, sit back, relax as you browse through what this winning environment has for you.
What is the Atacama Salt Flat?
Known as the “Salar de Atacama”, the Atacama Salt Flat it is a vast expanse of water that is covered by a thick layer of salt, dust, and minerals. The locals call the combination of think desert dust that settles atop the lake, ‘Tiznada.’ The Triznada has a rich collection of Titanium, one of the most valuable minerals in the world.
Primarily, the Salt Flat is a large lake of very salty water. There is an underground outcrop that produces extremely brackish water at the base of the lake. Because of the hot temperature of the Atacama, which ranges from 41°F to 104°F, the water evaporates fast enough to leave behind a layer of salt. Besides, the pan does not have an outlet. Therefore, the salt particles that remain after all the water evaporates settle into a thick and cracked layer.
Location of the Atacama Salt Flat
The salt flat, which measures about 1,200 square miles, sits on a stunning stretch of land. On the Eastern side of the flat is a range of Andes Mountains including the Amacarachi, Calientes, and Lascar. The Andes contains some of the most active volcanoes in Chile.
On the Northern side of the flat at about 34 miles, sits San Pedro the Atacama. The city, a tourist haven, has some of the best Atacama vacation rentals services and top-notch hotels for visitors. You can access the Salt Flat from this town.
The uniqueness of the Atacama Salt Flat
Several things make the Salt Flat a perfect destination for any visitor to the Atacama Desert in Chile. First, the scenic beauty of the flat is breathtaking. The site of an expansive crust of salt juxtaposed against the massive Andes mountain ranges on the one side and the peaceful Pacific Ocean on the other is something that you would not want to miss.
The combination of the ocean and the mountain ranges create a perfect scenery for anyone looking for serenity in a distant place. Moreover, the air around the Salt Lake is glaring, with fierce winds arising from the Pacific anticyclone occasionally blowing from the imposing ocean. Given the topography of the location, normal daily activities like the sunset and sunrise are usually scenes to behold.
Secondly, the flat is not a continuous layer of salt, as one would imagine. Occasionally, the crust gives way to small masses of water called lagoons. If you love birdwatching, then the lagoons of this Salt Lake bird watchers’ paradise.
There are many extrinsic species of birds that inhabit the small lagoons in this flat. You can catch a glimpse of the Humboldt penguins, the Andean Seagull, the Burrowing Owl, and the Andean Flamingo in all the lagoons of the Salt Lake.
Third, you can take a road trip to Toconao, a small village that is 24 miles North of the Salt Flat. The lives of the people of Toconao depends on a unique oasis which enables them to cultivate a range of fruits and vegetables.
At the center of the village is an old-style church building with a ubiquitous bell. The church and the bell are collectively a national monument in Chile. Legend has it that the small town is 1,200 years old. While in the city, you can learn a few things about the Atacamenian culture.
How to visit the Atacama Salt Flat
You can select from a range of different travel packages that are available. Most packages cover for accommodation in some of the best apartments in San Pedro de Atacama, a nearby town that is the haven of tourists in the region.
There are special packages for touring the Salt Lake from San Pedro de Atacama. A typical package, which lasts for 5 hours, costs a minimum of about $50. The package includes a visit to some of the most beautiful lagoons in the lake, including the Chaxa Lagoon. Also, you can visit Toconao town and the part of the lake that forms the National Reserve Los Flamencos.