We visited Salinas Grandes, one of the greatest depressions in the province with an exposed surface of over 12,000 hectares of salt, 126km from Purmamarca. Its infinite vastness dazzles visitors with its white color.
Before leaving the district
, we contemplated the colors of Mount Siete Colores and let ourselves be carried away by the quietness of this area. The red, green, pink, yellow, white, grey and violet shades featured by this mount are created by minerals such as iron, copper, dolomite, sulfur, lime, lead and hematite, respectively.
Afterwards, we set out on a long journey up to Salinas Grandes. In order to reach this solitary area, visitors must go along National Route 52 and cross the Jama Pass into Chile
up to Abra de Potrerillo, where the salt flats are located.
We were gaining height as we followed a road through hamlets such as Quisquira, Patacal and La Ciénaga until we reached the winding Lipán Slope
. The meandering road spirals up the Lipán Slope until it reaches 4,140 m.a.s.l., where the crystal-clear sky gets mingled with the frost and the grasslands.
Bush species such as tola
and cacti such as cardon grow at the entrance of the Puna
At the highest point in the slope, the first panoramic view of the salt flats appears and eyes get lost on the white horizon. Going down to the vast plain of salt, we observed the way in which the salt is extracted. This salt flat is a chemical-evaporational sediment divided into three kinds of zones: the poligonal salt lake, the muddy and the salt efflorescences.
The local workers explained to us the process of extraction from the pools, and the modelling of the salt blocks with pickaxes.
After a few moments of beholding and acquiring some salt souvenirs carved by the workers, we retraced our steps to go back to Purmamarca.