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Dry Salinas Grandes

These salt flats, the third largest in the world, are among the country's biggest attractions


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Salinas Grandes is the snow-white desert of Argentina. At first glance, you might really believe it is snow but it is not so! The first impression is deceptive: the temperature in the Argentine salt desert Salinas Grandes reaches +45°С during some days. Being the world's third largest salt desert, it covers the area of 6,000 square kilometres that embrace 4 provinces including Catamarca, Córdoba, Santiago del Estero and La Rioja.

Salinas Grandes is a vast salt marsh located in a tectonic depression at an altitude of 170 m between the ranges of the Sierra Pampa of Argentina, to be more precise in Salta province. Obviously, Salinas Grandes is the bottom of a dried relict lake. This lifeless plain is suitable only for the extraction of mineral salt. Only sometimes in the desert does water accumulate, drained from nearby mountains or from heavy rains.

Because of the inconceivable heat and frequent winds, the water, standing as a mirror-like surface, evaporates very quickly. The extraction of minerals is carried out in this territory: there are extensive deposits of soda and potash. Travellers can see this process here if interested. In Salinas Grandes, you can buy figures of salt made by locals or have dinner in the open-air "Restaurant de Sal".

Travelling along the salt desert is a rather extreme experience. If you're determined to cross the desert, the dry season from April to November is definitely better time as it's neither too hot nor is the territory flooded. You will need sunglasses, sunscreen, and stock up plenty of drinking water!

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