Awash In Salt: Photos From Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

June 2, 2011

With so many photos of Bolivia’s famous Salar de Uyuni floating around, we thought it would be impossible for it to surprise us. At an elevation of 3653 metres, the largest salt flat in the world (12,106 square kilometres) was formed when the prehistoric Lago Minchin evaporated. Today it is visited by tourists and also provides salt for the Bolivians, though we are told they still import sea salt from countries like Chile.

Salt dries in mounds on the flat before it is processed.

Unfortunately we only had one day to explore the salt pan. When filmmakers want to depict ‘heaven’ as an endless expanse of otherworldly white clouds and surfaces, this could easily be their set. We sat in silence as we drove along, staring out the windows and contemplating the vastness of this unique place.

I’ll let our photos tell the story for words cannot describe such a location

Locals call these formations ‘The Hexagons.’

Parts of the flat are wet, others drier…

Deep “caves” have formed on parts of the surface.

We visited this bizarre natural island covered in giant cactus…

…and ate lunch on tables formed out of salt.

So, what do you think of Bolivia’s most popular attraction?

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  • Cathy Sweeney

    I’ve been craving to see the Bolivian salt flats ever since I first heard of them about a year ago. And your photos are totally different than ones I’ve seen before — only makes me want to see them even more.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Cathy! You should go =)

  • Anonymous

    Wow.  I was looking forward to these, and they were worth the wait!  I can’t wait to see these in person, some day!  Amazing!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much! =) You guys must go…and there’s a really good pizza place in Uyuni town…American style…best we’ve had in South America =)

  • Amanda Williams

    Holy cow. Amazing! I never tire of seeing photos from this place. I would LOVE to go there someday.

    My favorite photo is third from last — simply stunning!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Amanda! =)

  • Jamie Davy

    youre right, there are a lot of photos. but for good reason, its bloody amazing!
    love the second one, it almost looks like its taken with a tilt shift.
    the sunset ones are great as well.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Jamie =)

  • Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    Okay these photos rock.  Love the little microchip-looking piece of salt and the SUV on ice pics.  So I guess it’s off to the pepper flats next?  :)

  • Jade

    Stunning… the one photo of the car- it almost looks like a mirror reflecting the image! Unreal and gorgeous.

    • Andrea and John

      I couldn’t believe that one when I was reviewing! Looked like a fake backdrop. Thanks so much, Jade =)

  • yTravelBlog

    Stunning photos. I really want to go here. I’ve heard so much about it this past year. So jealous

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much =) Definitely put it on your list!

  • Marina K. Villatoro

    This place blew my mind when I visited it. It’s surreal and the cactus island is such a mystery on how it exists!

    • Andrea and John

      So surreal! Cactus island was so much fun but a mystery indeed =)

  • Sherry

    Wow! What an awesome photo collection to inspire me to go there, too. The photos are gorgeous and the place looks almost surreal.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for the two of you to be there in person.

    • Andrea and John

      It’s just crazy how white it is – you just feel like you’re driving forever to nowhere…

  • Kelsey Freeman

    I’ve been wanting to go there for years!

    • Andrea and John

      You definitely should…a great place for photography =)

  • Christy @ Ordinary Traveler

    Great shots! I’ve also wondered myself if I’ll be bored of the photos I take here since there are SO many floating around on the net. I guess it’s completely different when you see it in person.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Christy =) I tried not to look at too many on the ‘net so I wouldn’t be influenced…it’s fun to just get out there and see it, never mind the pics!

  • Emily

    I can see how this would be the kind of place where you’re still blown away even after all the photos. I hope to be blown away in person someday not too far in the future!

    And your photos are really gorgeous.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Emily! You guys should definitely try to get to Bolivia…so beautiful and heaps to do there =)

  • Faith

    Wow, this is just so beautiful. The picture of him standing next to the car looks so surreal! 

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Faith =) That photo looks bizarre to me as well…

  • Krista

    WOW!! Your photos are absolutely stunning!! It feels peaceful just looking at them, I can only imagine how it must’ve been gazing out over the flats.

    • Andrea and John

      You just can’t believe it when you’re there…thanks so much, Krista =)

  • A Kiwi in Chile

    Incredible photos that make me want to go there. That’s right, I haven’t been there…. YET!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much – you’ll love it…just GO =)

  • Dina VagabondQuest

    Mmm…. my dream destination…. You guys are such great photographers :)

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Dina! It’s so much fun to play out there – you and Ryan will LOVE it =)

  • Angela

    Gorgeous shots, wow, planet earth is truly full of beautiful places.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Angela – it certainly is! Love seeing places like this =)

  • Normand Boulanger

    Great pictures, very very beautiful shots, can’t wait to get there.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Normand…highly recommend it! =)

  • Lenche

    Wow. Absolutely amazing, otherworldly describes it well..

    • Andrea and John

      You would love it, Lenche =) Wish we had time to stay there more days…

  • Robin

    Those shots are absolutely gorgeous – what a place!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Robin! =)

  • Abi

    These are the most beautiful photos I have seen for a long time. I missed Bolivia when I was travelling through South America – and now I really wish I hadn’t! Lovely work – thank you.

    • Andrea and John

      Thank you SO much, Abi – what a compliment! If you ever get back to SA, don’t miss Bolivia again. It’s still so unspoilt and the people are fantastic =)

  • Abby

    Yay! I’ve finally made it over and subscribed to your site — and just in time for this. WOW. Like you said, there are so many photos around, but yours are ridiculously spectacular. You almost need sunglasses to look at them! They are so, so very beautiful. Glad you guys had fun!

    • Andrea and John

      Wow, thanks so much, Abby! Really appreciate the compliment – it was just so much fun to be out there; the photos took themselves! =)

  • Tijmen

    Awesome photo collection! Must be such an amazing destination to visit with the endless white and reflective surface.

    • Andrea and John

      It truly is! Never seen anything like it before…wish we had more days there. Thanks =)

  • Megan

    These are incredible!

    I guess with the salt being super concentrated it must hurt if you get some on your hands and then in your eye?? I can totally imagine myself doing that. 

    • Andrea and John

      We didn’t rub our eyes, haha, so not sure! We did taste the salt, though. Everything just looks so clean out there =)

  • Matt Hope

    Wow, the cube in hand picture is freaking cool.  Gotta love nature.  Awesome photos and post.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Matt! Nature is indeed fantastic =)

  • Red Nomad Oz

    Wow!  How surreal – makes the saltworks I’ve visited downunder here in Australia look like … well … a pinch of salt!  Great photos – love the handstand one!!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much! I’m not usually much of a gymnast but got inspired out there =)

  • Randy Kalp

    Wonderful shots! This place looks very cool. I have never see anything like this before.

    • Andrea and John

      Oh you MUST go! It’s amazing…I don’t get wow’ed very often but this place had me breathless with excitement!

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  • Wendy Waters

    Fantastic photos.  I’ve been their twice (1993 and 2003), both incredible experiences. 

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Wendy! Did you do the multi-day tour? Wish we had time for that – I’d love to return =)

  • Erin in Costa Rica

    Love the photo of the piece of salt on your hand. It helps me to imagine what it looks like in real life on a larger scale…not sure if that makes sense. Let’s just say it makes this photo essay that much more magical :)
    The photo of the car is cool, too – the reflection and background are so perfect it looks photoshopped!

    • Andrea and John

      It DOES look Photoshopped, I know, haha…but it isn’t. Salar de Uyuni was one of our favourite places to take pictures!

  • Claire

    These pictures are phenomenal-I just heard of this place last year after another blogger visited and wrote about it. Now two posts on the topic and I am thinking… close is Nicaragua to Bolivia?! Is this doable in a weekend?!! haha. Thanks for sharing. 

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Claire! I would recommend doing the three day circuit – we only had time for a day trip but apparently there is much more to see. =)

  • Andrea and John

    Thanks so much, haha =)

  • Andrea and John

    Both North and South America are gorgeous! =)

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  • Pavithra


    Amazing photographs! :-)
    Could you please tell me in which month you visited the Salar? Thanks!

    • inspiringtravellers

      Thanks so much, Pavithra – we visited in late May =)

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