Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Hotel Made of Salt

Daily Mail: At first glance, you could be forgiven for mistaking these images for a beach house, with the floors dusted in a layer of sand and walls made from stone. But in fact everything in this incredible South American hotel is made from salt - including most of the furniture.

The Hotel de Sal, near Colchani, Bolivia, hosts guests who have come to visit the stunning salt flats where vast expanses of salt lakes give the surreal impression of the earth meeting the sky. Tourists typically stay for a few days to see the natural wonders of Bolivia's most notorious attraction before moving on to the next stop of their journey.

For £84 ($135) a night, lodgers can rent a double room - complete with their own salt bed of course - and breakfast.

Tour guide Pedro Pablo Michel Rocha, of Hidalgo Tours, works with the hotel to provide trips in the south of the country. He said: 'I love it when visitors come to this place for the first time. They can't get over the fact that everything is made out of salt and I've even seen a few people lick the furniture to make sure!'

'It is a wonderful experience to come somewhere like this where they've used the natural materials available to create something like a hotel.'

The infamous salt flats in Salar de Uyuni were formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. The plains are covered by a few feet of salt crust which has an unusual flatness and covers a pool of brine which is exceptionally rich in lithium.

Although tourists have long been visiting the area, it wasn't until around five years ago that interest grew in extracting the 5.4m tons of lithium which is found just below the surface of the salt.

The lithium in the area makes up half the world's supply and is used in batteries for mobile phones and computers, as well as being a key element in electric cars.

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