What have you imagined heaven to look like? Living in the blue sky, walking on white fluffy clouds? Welcome to Salar de Uyuni.
The doors of our jeep opened and we leaped into the sky. Or at least it felt like it, until our feet touched a shallow layer of cold water. Here we were in the middle of the Bolivian desert, in the largest salt flat in the world, stepping on the largest mirror in the world.
Everything you’ve read, seen and heard about this place is true. The place is almost surreal. I’m not sure where the sky started or ended. What was real and what was the reflection. For as far as your eye could see it was the sky, above and below you.
Perched up ~3600m above sea level, in the land locked Bolivian desert is this natural marvel. No doubt it was once submerged in sea water, probably a few millennia ago before tectonic plates shifted to make the world as we know it today. But today this salty delight is in the middle of the South American continent. Accessed from a non-descriptive little town called Uyuni, the salar is the crowning jewel of this little nation.
The best time to visit the salar, in my humble opinion is the rainy season. Although most would prefer the dry winter months, when it rains a thin layer of water remains on the surface of the salt flat creating an amazing mirror effect that gives the feeling that you are walking on clouds. The dry season I’m sure is perfect, but when you see the sky and ground collide to create one seamless white & blue paradise, you know it just cant get any better.
There isn’t much to see here other than whiteness for as far as your eyes can see (over 10,000 sq km to be precise), but the setting does make for a fantabulous backdrop for perspective photography. So we hired a few “props” from our hotel (side note: all hotels have cupboards full of toys and toiletries and what not that one can rent for props for a day of photography) and set out shoot the day away.
Just remember to bring out the crazy in you, or ensure you have a crazy friend in tow, like we did (thanks Swa for the brilliant photo direction!) to end up with pictures like this
A few things to keep in mind when visiting the Salar,
- If you go in the rainy season, remember to pack water proof shoes. Stepping into the cold water early in the morning was not pleasant as a few of us discovered
- Pack water proof clothes, pants at least, so you can roll around in the water, shooting pictures with no worry
- Consider staying in a salt hotel, its an interesting experience to say the least! Read about our’s here.
- Nights in the salar can be bitterly cold, so pack well
- You are in the middle of a salt flat, so be extra careful with your camera and such devices, the last thing you want is the insides of your precious SLR corroding
- Tons of sunscreen is a must. You are completely exposed to the sun with no where to hide. At the end of the day we were burnt crisp.
- Take tons of props with you and let your creativity unfold.