South America Living

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Colchani, Bolivia & Salt Production

Hats and Scarves for Sale on the Street in Colchani

Population approximately 600 full-time inhabitants… what does that tell you? Small pueblo in Bolivia? You are right!

Colchani is a tiny, one street town situated on the edge of the Tunupa Salt Flat, 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Uyuni, Bolivia.

Colchani is the first stop on Salar de Uyuni Tours from the town of Uyuni.   Tours to the Salar de Uyuni

The only salt-making facilities using salt from the Salar de Uyuni are located in Colchani – a cooperative joint-owned by all salt workers. There is an estimated 10 billion tonnes of salt contained in the Salar de Uyuni, with around 25,000 tonnes excavated and processed at Colchani annually.

To view a short video of one of the small, salt processing plants view this YouTube video – Making Salt in Colchani, Bolivia :
 

They scrape salt off the salar into pyramid-shaped piles and leave it to dry in the sun. Once dry (after 4 days or so) the salt is shoveled into trucks and carted to Colchani to be processed. It is cooked in ovens to dry further, then iodine is added and the mixture milled before being sealed into 1 kilogram sacks. The final product – table salt – is sold by the cooperative in Bolivia and Brazil.

Trucks Loading up Salt Just Outside of Colchani

Tourist-ready Main Street in Colchani

Houses on a Backstreet in Colchani

More Articles You May Like:
Travel Guide to Tupiza, Bolivia
Silver Mine Tours in Potosi, Bolivia
Travel Guide to Capital City Sucre, Bolivia

Photographs & video by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.