Near the south border of Salar de Arizaro, the sixth largest salt flat on earth and the second largest in Argentina, 70 km from the village of Tolar Grande, lies a strange volcanic pyramid. An almost perfect cone, it rises unexpectedly in the middle of the salt pan. This is Cono de Arita and it looms majestically 122 meters above the Salar. Its name comes from the Aymara language where Arita means “sharp”.
In the early twentieth century it was believed that such a perfect cone could only have been built by man. But Cono de Arita is natural and believed to be a small volcano which lacked strength to burst through the curst and so never threw lava or developed a crater. Everything around the cone is black salt brought to the surface by ancient magma flows underground. According to the archaeological remains found in the cone, the place was a ceremonial center prior to the arrival of the Incas.
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