Southwest Circuit Day 3 — What is the elevation of the Southwest Circuit?
What is the elevation of the Southwest Circuit? Where is the Tree of Stone? What is a Salt Hotel? Do minerals determine the landscape’s colors?
The Route: Tree of Stone — Desierto de Siloli — Laguna Honda — Laguna Canapa — Salar de Chihuana — San Juan
Travelling through the southwest corner of Bolivia is a rich and awe-inspiring experience. The horizon line is uninterrupted as we drive across this vast and raw but rich scenic landscape. It is a high desert 4000–5000 m (13,000–16,500 ft) of diverse imagery, ranging from the blinding white of Salar de Uyuni to lakes of blue, green, white or red, depending on which minerals are present. The ground is literally boiling with minerals thus, the color spectrum is glorious. It is a very remote area where human habitation is negligible. However, llamas and alpacas are seen grazing along with various migratory species of pink and white flamingos. Driving 4 days on dusty dirt roads I found myself feeling dwarfed by the sheer scale of the place.
San Juan’s Salt Hotel
The hotel we stayed is built of salt blocks which are used for the floor, walls, ceiling and furniture, including beds, tables, chairs and sculptures. This beautiful yet simple structure was the only structure for miles around, and showed the nature of this developing country’s experience in construction: Although most of the walls in the private bathroom were stone, the salt wall of the walk-in shower wall was covered in a sheet of plastic waiting to be updated.