12 Stunning Salt Flats Around the World

Raksha Kulkarni Mar 12, 2019
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What forms when a thin film of water assembles over a vast area of salt deposits? Probably, a natural mirror? Well, almost! We are talking of salt flats, which are an amazing wonder Mother Earth has created.

A Photographer's Delight!

Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is one of the most popular destinations for forced perspective photography, a technique in which photographers use intentional optical illusion to make objects seem closer or farther away, thus clicking funny tourist poses.

Salt Flats

Salt flats, also called salt pans or salt deserts, were once lake beds. These natural areas, created over thousands of years due to evaporation of water pools, have their grounds covered with salt and other minerals. The ground areas appear shining white under the Sun.
According to the National Park Service in the US, there are three essentials for salt flat formation to occur:
  1. The area is a source of salts.
  2. There exists an enclosed drainage so that salts do not get washed out.
  3. The climate is arid (evaporation is more than precipitation) so that salts remain behind when water evaporates.
Salt flats are present around the world and are a spectacular sight to behold. So, let's get going with a look at the 12 most enchanting salty wonders this world houses.

12 Breathtaking Salt Flats Around the World

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia - Largest salt pan in the world.

Once a part of the ancient salt lake that covered most of Southwestern Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni is located at Daniel Campos Province in Potosí, in southwest Bolivia.
The ground here dried up leaving a massive layer of salt crust. This gives rise to a never-ending white landscape that does not have reference points, which mystifies tourists and you cannot go here without sunglasses. About 50 - 70% of the world's lithium reserves are found here.

Salinas Grandes, Argentina

Following Salar de Uyuni, Salinas Grandes is the second-largest salt pan in the world. Located in the central-northern part of Argentina, this salt flat measures an area of 2,300 sq mi and is at an elevation of 3,350 m above sea level.
On a bright and clear day, you wouldn't want to miss the blinding contrast between the bright blue sky and the cracked and crusty stretch of white. Don't forget your sunglasses though!

Salar de Arizaro, Argentina

Here's another salt pan found in Argentina, which is the second-largest in the country after Salinas Grandes and the sixth-largest in the world. The salt pan measures an area of 617 sq mi and is situated in the Andes mountain range, near the Chile border.
According to folklore, this place was a ceremonial center formed five to ten million years ago before the Inca civilization came into existence.

Salar de Atacama, Chile

The third-largest salt flat in the world, Salar de Atacama covers a land of up to 1,200 sq mi and is located at an elevation of 2,300 m (7,500 ft).
Amidst the vast expanse of Salar de Atacama, you will come across Laguna Cejar, which is a small lake lying right in the middle. Its salt concentration is so high that it gives rise to a floating effect, akin to the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan.

Etosha pan, Namibia

Etosha pan is another vast and open expanse of white land that measures about 4,800 square kilometers, which makes it almost 25% of the Etosha National Park.
The name Etosha itself means 'great white place'. This salt pan is believed to have been formed over 100 million years ago and is easily the largest pan in Africa.
Once a lake, it was forced to find its way in the Atlantic Ocean due to climatic changes, leaving behind a salt pan. During the rainy season, parts of the salt flats form pools of rainwater. A striking feature of this salt pan is that during the wet season, this pan transforms into a lake, drawing a large number of migrating flamingos.

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, US

If you plan a visit to Salt Lake City in Utah, then you shouldn't miss out visiting Bonneville salt flats, located close by (west of Salt Lake City). You can spot this salt pan as you drive I-80 between Salt Lake City and Wendover, NV.
This flat is so flat and barren that you seem to see the curvature of the planet. This flat is best-known for motorcar racing that takes place here in certain parts of the vast land called Bonneville Speedway.

Devil's Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, US

Located within the Death Valley National Park, Devil's Golf Course is the largest salt pan to be present in the US. So, where did the name come from, you ask?
Well, there went a famous line in a handbook of the National Park Service back in 1934 that said "only the devil could play golf" on the rough land. The salt pan measures over 1,000 ft (300 m) and reaches an elevation of up to 9,000 ft (2,700 m).

Chott el Djerid, Tunisia

The largest salt pan in the Sahara Desert, Chott el Djerid, is by and large a dry salt lake in the southern part of Tunisia. In fact, 'Chott' is a word used in Tunisia to refer to dry lakes. Once a part of the Mediterranean Sea, the pan measures an area of 5,000 to 7,000 sq km.
This pan stays hot during the dry season and traveling by car or walking can be perilous as the salt crust is susceptible to breakage. The flat can be crossed by boat during winter when it turns into a lake. Star Wars recently used Chott el Djerid as a filming location, garnering this salt pan world recognition.

Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana

Once a lake, Makgadikgadi pan dried up several thousands of years ago leaving behind a vast salt desert.
The unique characteristic of this pan is that it is not a single pan but a union of several salt pans with desert sand lying between them. It remains dry for most part of the year. But during rains, water formation occurs, thus attracting wildlife.

Namak Lake, Iran

The surface of Namak Lake measures up to 700 sq mi; however, this lake is more or less dry with only 1 sq km of water. This salt lake is located approximately 100 km east of the city of Qom.
It contains rich deposits of lithium, has large sodium sulfate deposits (144 million metric tons), and also holds potassium and magnesium reserves.

Sabkhat al-Jabbul

This is a large salt lake and salt flat located 30 km southeast from Aleppo, Syria. The salt flats are so huge that it can be seen from space too. This area is also a protected site for waterfowls. This salt flat is the major salt source in Syria. The lake covers almost 39 sq mi (100 km2) and attracts many tourists.

Rann of Kutch

Rann of Kutch is a seasonal salt marsh in the Thar Desert in Kutch district of Gujarat, India. It is 2,897.78 sq mi in size and extends till the Sindh province in Pakistan.
It is the largest salt desert in the world. It is one of the hottest areas of India, with summer temperatures going up to 121.1°F (49.5°C) and winters are chilling with 32°F (0°C). Apart from the salt pans, there are many wildlife sanctuaries you could visit.
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