Worth its salt

Bolivia’s Hotel Palacio de Sal is a destination in itself.

The philosophical saying “As above, so below” takes quite a literal appearance at the world’s largest salt flat at Salar de Uyuni. The South American natural wonder situated in southwest Bolivia resembles a gargantuan mirror when it’s wet, reflecting all of its surroundings.

But you’d be wrong to conclude the salty adventure just yet. Picture having a delectable meal and sipping wine at an altitude of 11,984 feet above sea level, witnessing twice the view.

Exterior view

Exterior view;

Interiors of Palacio de Sal

Interiors of Palacio de Sal;

View of the desert from a room;

View of the desert from a room;

Sleep under an igloo-shaped ceiling;

Sleep under an igloo-shaped ceiling;

Interiors of Palacio de Sal;

Interiors of Palacio de Sal;

Marvel at the barrenness of Salar de Uyuni;

Marvel at the barrenness of Salar de Uyuni;

Situated at the edge of the 7,456 square miles of salt flats is Hotel Palacio de Sal. Its name gives away its speciality, which is Spanish for “Salt Palace.” From walls to ceilings and furniture to sculptures, almost every element of the hotel is made of salt extracted from the Uyuni salt flats. Juan Quesada Valda was the envisioner of the concept of the world’s first, and still the largest, of numerous salt hotels that followed in the area. When it opened in 1998, the Palacio was in the central locale of Salar de Uyuni, which later in 2004 shifted to the border, overlooking the magnificent barrenness.

Sporting an earthy and neutral palette throughout, the luxury hotel houses 42 guestrooms ranging from standard and VIP to suites. Sleep on a salt bed under a dome shaped ceiling reminiscent of an igloo. All the markings of a lavish stay are well taken care of, whether it’s room temperature, a soothing sleep, or an invigorating shower. Dine from the regionally inspired menu from El Mesón restaurant, which is guaranteed to never run out of a certain crystalline flavor enhancer.

From walls to ceilings and furniture to sculptures, almost every element of the hotel is made of salt extracted from the Uyuni salt flats.

Ride northeast from Uyuni to reach the constitutional capital of Sucre and the city of Potosi, or head southwest to Laguna Colorada, a mineral-rich lagoon where migratory Andean flamingos breed. Situated south of Laguna Colorada in Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, Laguna Verde is a high-altitude saltwater lagoon near the border of Chile.

It is recommended that you borrow a bicycle or request a ride from the hotel to explore the locale up close.

Lounge on sofa made of salt;

Lounge on sofa made of salt;

Have meal with twice the view;

Have meal with twice the view;

Witness the land turn into a mirror at Salar de Uyuni;

Witness the land turn into a mirror at Salar de Uyuni;

It’s all hunky dory at the hotel—until the rains pour in, for they tend to wreak havoc on the salt structures. This necessitates the replacement of salt slabs every year.

Visit Uyuni in the rainy “water reflection” season from December to April, or during the dry, wintry time of May through September.

Worth its salt Common area

Common area (Images courtesy of Palacio de Sal.)

The experience might just make you a “seasoned” traveler.

For more information, visit www.palaciodesal.com.bo.

Reported by Najook Pandya