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Bolivian Hotel Truly Is the Salt of the Earth

Where: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
January 27, 2009 at 9:15 AM | by | Comment (1)

When it comes to hotels constructed of unique materials, ice hotels always steal the limelight. They are, however, old news compared with Bolivia's Hotel Palacio de Sal, a hotel completely made of--you guessed it--salt. Far out in an otherworldly terrain of the salt flats, some 220 miles south of Bolivia's capital La Paz, the Salt Hotel actually hosts guests for $50 a night and up, provided you refrain from licking the walls.

Built in 1995 out of 14x14-inch salt blocks chopped from the earth, the property features twenty four beds, a pool table, a dining room, a central courtyard, and even flush toilets. As always when you travel, the guidelines for enjoying your stay here are to watch your hydration and don't be tempted to scrape the floor to flavor your dinner. During the day, it seems that the only activity is to stroll around the white expanse of nothingness surrounding the hotel until you reach Isla de Pescadores, or Fisherman's Island, populated with an odd collection of flamingos, llamas, rodents frolicking among thriving cacti.

Having visited similar salt flats ourselves, though in the southwest of Tunisia, we can vouch for the jarring unreality of such an environment. It's the perfect setting for shooting an amateur alien abduction film or just gazing off into space to ponder the meaning of life. Should either of these pursuits whet your whistle, some very old contact information for the Palacio de Sal can be found here. Happy licking!

[Photo: UltimateJourney]

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My experience...

I've stayed at this hotel, about 2 years ago!   It was quite the experience, and one of the coldest nights of my life, even with sleeping bags, blankets, all of our cold-weather clothing on, etc.   Dinner was practically frozen by the time it was served.  They lit a fire inside a 50 gallon oil drum inside the main room of the hotel at night.  We had one candle in our room for light.  The bathroom had no plumbing - you'd just scoop up water to flush the toilet, scoop up water to wash your hands.  Overall, glad I did it, but would definitely not do it again.

There's a great little boutique-y hotel attached to an amazing pizzeria run by a guy from Boston and his wife from Bolivia just in Uyuni, at the edge of the flats.  I'd recommend staying there, and eating there too!  

Ben

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