Jim Dobson reports for Forbes:
Escape To The Last Jedi Battleground In Bolivia And Stay In A Hotel Made Entirely Out Of Salt
Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is a spectacular and dramatic landscape from another world. Used as the battlefield location for the hit motion picture Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the expansive area is highlighted in the film as the planet Crait with its stunning red sand jutting up beneath the Resistance ski speeders.
When not utilized for space-age battles, the area of Salar de Uyuni is a natural salt flat located in Bolivia that stretches more than 4,000 miles and is 12,000 feet above sea level. It was created by a lack of water and from heavy evaporation during the last ice age, resulting in a flat landscape covered in a thick accumulation of salt. When it rains and the nearby lakes overflow, the salt mines look like the world’s largest mirror with a thin layer of water providing the perfect Instagrammable portrait and the effect of walking on water.
It is within this remote location that the Luna Salada Hotel & Spa proudly stands on a promontory overlooking the region. The hotel is made entirely out of salt from the walls to the furniture and even the floors. All windows open up to the stark white salty plains just outside of the resort. Despite being constructed with salt blocks, the hotel retains a cozy charm filled with warmth for winter evenings or cool during the summer months.
The rooms are filled with Andean designs, art, and furniture. The hotels delightful Tunupa restaurant offers up regional food (including a highly regarded Llama burger, Pique a lo Macho and Coca cakes) and there is even a spa with steam room and massage rooms offer salt based treatments with endless views.
Visitors will find many tour options when staying at the hotel including excursions to the areas natural geysers and hot springs throughout the Altiplano region. Local workers still harvest the salt with over 50% of the earth’s lithium, used in batteries and cell phones, all taken from under the Salar.
The ideal itinerary from the hotel is to visit the town of Colchani to see how the salt blocks are built as well as the craft market. Along the way, you will see the mountains of salt being mined. Next up is the Incahuasi Island surrounded by desert. The large island is covered in cactus and coral and provides a perfect spot for photos of the otherworldly landscape. End the excursion visiting the sacred Tunupa volcano and at night the Under the Stars tour. Many visitors plan ahead to watch the famed Dakar Races that take place in January.
The easiest way to get to the hotel is to fly into the Joya Andina Airport near Salar de Uyuni. You can also fly to Salar de Uyuni from La Paz, Sucre, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia’s largest international airport. Once you arrive in Uyuni, the hotel’s shuttle will bring you straight from the airport.
US visitors need a tourist visa ($160) as well as up to date vaccinations. The best time to experience the salt flats is during the dry season, between July and October and for the dramatic mirror effects during the wet season December through April. Make sure to book your visit directly with the hotel to make sure you have authentic and trust-worthy drivers and guides.
While the visit to the area is a bit grueling with extensive driving in jeeps it is truly worth the adventure and spectacular scenery filled with fields of quinoa and wildlife (Llamas, foxes and even Flamingos).
Copyright 2017 by Jim Dobson / Forbes. Material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without link to original content.