Beside the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, you’ll find the stunning landscape of the Siloli Desert, a starkly contrasting scene to that of the vast white salt flats. Here, at the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve entrance you will find crazy rock formations that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The stand out among these different volcanic rock figures is the Arbol de Piedra, meaning ‘Stone Tree’.
Named after its unique appearance which resembles a surrealist vision of a tree, the Arbol de Piedra is 5 meters tall and has been formed by the work of wind erosion over millions of years. The base of the tree predominantly consists of quartz which is sensitive to erosion from strong winds in the area. The winds here carry sandstone and salt which increases the erosional effect on the rock. The upper part of the Arbol de Piedra is made up of iron that has a stronger defense to the winds which is what gives the Arbol de Piedra its large mushroom shape.
Part of this marvelous creation has already fallen off and rests beside it for visitors to see. It has since been declared a natural monument to protect its remarkable structure. You will understand why when you see how thin the foot of the tree is with respect to the rest of the stone. Therefore, it is now the only rock in the area that it is forbidden to climb on. Photography is, however, definitely allowed. Make sure to bring your camera to take many pictures at the Stone Tree, which is one of the most iconic and famous locations not only in this region of Bolivia but in all of South America.
A trip to the Arbol de Piedra is included in all 3 or 4 day tours of Salar de Uyuni.