Salar de Uyuni is a mesmerizing place of stark contrasts. What appears to be an icy lake frozen on a chilly day is actually an endless expanse of salt. This is one of the most unique places in South America and is the world’s largest salt flat. Cracks in the salt make it look like a quilt; piles of salt look like they have been poured by a giant feasting with a massive spoon. Feel and hear the sound of the salt crunch beneath your feet as you walk along the thick crust of hexagonal patterns that are formed when the salt has dried.

Earth meets sky in this corner of southwest Bolivia. Silent and salty, it is an ethereal place that sparkles. Blanched and blinding, sunglasses are not an optional travel accessory here.

A bizarre “island” of towering cacti and odd coral rock formations juts out in the middle of the salt pans. The Incahuasi island is a reminder that this was once a large prehistoric lake. Hike to the top for a panoramic view of the surrounding white plains.

Hundreds of graceful pink flamingos add a brilliant jolt of color in an otherwise serene space. The spectacular birds feed in the shallow lagoons that shimmer in hues of red against a deep blue sky. Depending on the time of year, a thin film of water covers the salt pans, making it feel like a giant mirror reflecting the stunningly blue cloudless sky.

The other-worldly appearance of Salar de Uyuni means that it has often acted as a sit-in for out-of-this world locations in film. It could very well be a planet on its own with the expanse stretching more than 4,500 square miles. Lithium is extracted here, finding its way into cellphones and batteries across the world.

Stay in a salt hotel with bright pillows and seating that pops against the white backdrop. At night look up to the sparkling sky as the deep darkness lights up the salt pans in varying shades of blue.