Skip to Content

The Unearthly Mirror of Salar De Uyuni

The Unearthly Mirror of Salar De Uyuni

Do you dream of visiting another planet? If so, your chances of realizing that dream are slim to none — unless you’re willing to give up on space travel and take a slightly more conventional voyage to Bolivia.

That’s where you’ll find the Salar de Uyuni, an austere and surreal landscape that’s as close to another world as you’re likely to get.

Stretched out in an expansive 4,000 square miles in the remote southwest corner of this South American nation, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat.

At an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet, the salar is an endless blanket of hexagon-shaped crystalline salt tiles covering the earth for as far as the eye can see. This, however, doesn’t even come close to describing the stark, unearthly beauty of the place.

An infinite sea of salt

Part of Bolivia’s Andean Altiplano, the Salar de Uyuni was once a gigantic salt lake. Thousands of years ago this lake dried up, leaving behind two huge salt deserts — the comparatively small Salar de Copaisa and the immense Salar de Uyuni.

Small islands of vegetation pop up occasionally in the stark white desert and the entire region is dotted with strangely colored mineral lakes. Adding to this otherworldly scene are the cone-shaped salt mounds scattered all across the flats. (These, though, are actually evidence of human activity, and are the work of area residents who scrape the salt from the surface of the flat and collect it for use and sale.)

From a distance, the Salar de Uyuni looks like a vast, blindingly white ocean — until the Andean rainy season. Rainwater transforms the flat desert plain into a magical mirror of the sky. The bizarre illusions that result make photographs of the salar look as surreal as the paintings of Rene Magritte.

Off-road adventuring

The obvious way to tour this incredible landscape is by 4-wheel drive car. Although the Salar de Uyuni is in a remote part of Bolivia, it’s near the crest of the Andes and some more well-known tourist destinations, and therefore relatively easy to reach. With the blessing of the Bolivian Department of Tourism, there are numerous guides willing to accommodate tours.

For a truly perfect way to end a visit to Salar de Uyuni, there’s a hotel made completely of salt — including the furniture. It’s definitely a rustic stay, without any electricity and with water that can only be brought in by truck. But the impenetrable stillness of the desert and the incomparable views of the brilliant night sky will make your journey to this awesome unearthly landscape absolutely unforgettable.

Lock In Your Travel Now
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
My favorite travel companion is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me lounge access, Uber credits, upgrades, and plenty of other travel perks. If you want to find out the best travel rewards credit card for you, consider using CardMatch to instantly get matched to a travel rewards credit card that meets your travel needs.
Booking Flights

Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!