Bolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flats are quite unlike anywhere else on the planet. Stark, serene and occasionally eerie, these glaringly white plains can appear endless as they stretch toward the distant horizon. At first glance, they look empty – indeed their emptiness is part of their intrinsic appeal – but private tours of the Uyuni Salt Flats reveal that there is more than meets the eye. Pink flamingos, rare hummingbirds, millennia-old cacti and bizarre rock formations as well as hotels constructed entirely from salt can be found here.

bolivia-uyuni-description-02Salt may dominate the scene, but the most important resource in the Uyuni Salt Flats is actually lithium, a valuable mineral critical to the production of batteries. In 2013, Bolivia’s first lithium processing plant was opened on the edge of the salt flats. At the moment, extraction is limited, but with demand for battery-powered technologies increasing, lithium mining looks set to expand here. As for the environmental impact of such developments, only time will tell.

A camera is essential equipment for travelers taking luxury tours of the Uyuni Salt Flats as the vast empty expanse allows photographers to play with perspective.