Salar de Uyuni and the Lagunas
Santiago, 26 Sep 2009 (Click on any image to enlarge it)
The Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia is the world's largest salt flat (4085 sq. miles),
6 to 33 feet thick and containing 10 billion tons of salt.  The salt has leached out of the surrounding mountains over the millennia and built up because there is no outlet to the sea - that part of Bolivia is bordered by mountain ranges to the east and west.  My Lonely Planet says that during the winter, the temperature can drop to -70° F with the wind chill to -100° F.  The tour included 2 nights (in unheated accomodations) with the temperature below freezing.  The first day was a run across the Salar, followed on the second and third days by stops at several lagunas and deserts south of the Salar. 
The tour started with a visit to the "Train Graveyard" at Uyuni.. 
Then to a little community on the edge of the Salar where they collect the salt by scaping it up.  In the photo on the left is a little boy playing in some of the salt .. sort of reminds me of playing in the snow banks when we were young.  The building next to him is made of salt blocks.
We stopped for lunch at the Isla del Pescado.  The guide said it is called this because it is shaped like a fish when viewed from the north.    
Then we stayed the first night in a hotel on the other side of the Salar.  It is built of salt (the walls and floor, but not the roof).
On the 2nd day we stopped at the "Necropolis" near San Juan.  This pre-Inca civilization buried their dead in hollows in ancient coral formations in this area just south of the Salar.
We visited a half dozen lagunas south of the Salar. 
Several had flamingos and at one there were some vicuñas drinking water.
At the last one, Laguna Verde, it was freezing cold with a bone- chilling wind blowing.

On the 3rd day we stopped at the geysers and hot springs..
Here is some of the pretty countryside we passed..