Bolivia Photography

How to See Bolivia’s Salt Flats, La Paz, and Other Wonders

how-to-see-salt-flats

One of the biggest questions I get is how to see Bolivia’s salt flats.

You may have seen photos of what seems like a mirage of endless skies, or an indiscernible landscape that makes it impossible to tell what is up or down!

This is a terrific place to visually play with perspective. Due to the reflections, clean backgrounds, and clear skies, Salar de Uyuni produces some of the most interesting images from creative photographers.

Read on for how to see Bolivia’s salt flats!

how to see bolivia's salt flats

During spring break of my final year in college, I headed down for an adventure through Bolivia and Peru. Doable on two weeks with a tight schedule, this is a trip not to be missed! Apart from the northern lights and Antarctica, nothing has taken my breath away quite like Salar de Uyuni, or Bolivia’s salt flats.

how to see bolivia's salt flats

When?

The flats are reflective during the rainy season, when a layer of water covers the entire landscape, resulting in the ‘mirror’ effect. The rainy season of Bolivia lasts approximately January to March.

Tip: when there, I highly recommend staying for the sunset!

Next time, I’m coming back for nighttime photography in the salt flats. Imagine a galaxy of countless stars – now imagine that reflected!

how to see bolivia's salt flats

How?

The sprawling soup bowl city of La Paz is your gateway to Salar de Uyuni.

City: La Paz, Bolivia

Famous for: being the highest capital city in the world

Elevation: 12,000 feet

Visitors flying into La Paz are warned of altitude sickness, which I experienced personally on the first day as soon as we landed (faint, light headed, dizziness are all common symptoms.) From La Paz, you will travel to the flats by bus or private transportation.

how to see bolivia's salt flats

Where to stay?

Traveling to Uyuni also gives you the opportunity to stay in a unique salt hotel! Check out Hotel de Sal Luna Salada and Palacio de Sal.

Know

That the sun is extremely strong. Combined with the altitude, be sure to wear sun protection. I rarely burn, but left Uyuni with panda eyes from my sunglasses!

What else is there to do in Uyuni apart from taking pretty mirror images?

Incawasi Uyuni is also home to Incawasi, an island covered with cacti in the middle of the Bolivian salt flats. This is a great place to hike around and explore, and to catch some much welcome shade in the unforgiving sun.

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Train cemetery – a fantastic abandoned train graveyard, this is a playground where you can actually climb on top of the structures. The biggest issue you’ll face here is who gets to climb and who takes the pictures!

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Picnic – have a picnic in the middle of the flats! A unique experience not to be missed.

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Discover the surrounding landscape – a drive across Bolivia’s rugged terrain will bring you to places that make you feel like you’re on another planet.

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Or in La Paz…

Witches’ Market – this is a popular attraction that sells everything from potions, medicinal plants/herbs, and preserved llama fetuses, which are buried under many Bolivian houses as a sacred offering to the goddess Pachamama.

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Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) – a really cool location to wander around with strange clay formations that create tall spires. Good footwear is recommended.

Want to see what’s after an adventure in Bolivia? Read on to find out about its neighboring country, Peru, and a visit to Machu Picchu!

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62 Comments

  • Reply Alli Smith August 24, 2016 at 2:36 am

    I would love to travel to Bolivia and see the salt flats. The photos are stunning! The clay formations and interesting also. My husband has been to Peru, but I’ve never been to Bolivia or Peru. Would love to visit both countries.

  • Reply laveenasengar August 24, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Oh my god! These pictures makes Me wanna be there. These pictures are just so fabulous. Amazing place I must say.

  • Reply dana vento (@danavento) August 24, 2016 at 7:21 am

    In Bolivia I think that the Witches market sounds fabulous however I am tossed because the picnic in the flats is so different. Looks like so much fun.

  • Reply wanderingwagarschristina August 24, 2016 at 7:36 am

    The Bolivian salt flats is definitely high on my list of places to visit. Until recently I didn’t know it was best to visit after a rainstorm. Your photos are inspirational and it is making me want to book a ticket immediately.

  • Reply Anamika Ojha August 24, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Bolivia’s Salt Flats looks like heaven! After watching this breathtaking landscape, you can’t even ask anything more in life. And your pictures are just killer! Have pinned your post!

  • Reply Brandy August 24, 2016 at 8:42 am

    This looks like a lovely place to visit, the photos are simply breathtaking! I would love to visit Bolivia someday!

  • Reply Pam Wattenbarger August 24, 2016 at 9:23 am

    My son in law has been wanting to visit Bolivia, one of his coworkers goes there about once a year. These salt flats are beautiful! I would love to see them in person.

  • Reply www.kidfriendlyeurope101.com August 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

    How beautiful! Looks like you are walking on the clouds! I think … well I know my kids would absolutely love this! Maybe one day we can venture there. 🙂

  • Reply Traveling Bytes August 24, 2016 at 10:36 am

    First of all, I love all your photos. They definitely showcase Bolivia and made me want to go there right away (too bad I am leaving for Australia in 2 weeks 😉 ). Now, let me tell you about my favorites. #2 – it looks heavenly… with a quirk. A car in the middle makes it a modern heaven, I guess. #4 – amazing! Well, sunsets are my Achilles heel, so there is no contest about this one. Finally, ##10-11 – I promised myself that this is “must visit” place if/when I visit Bolivia.

  • Reply mishvo August 24, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I was in Peru last year and wished I had gone to see the salt flats in Bolivia but just didn’t have time. So now it will just have to be a separate trip 😉

  • Reply Dash the Map August 24, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Wow! The salt flats in Bolivia look so cool. It looks like you are walking through the skies. Great photos!

  • Reply Jacqui S August 24, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    These are beautiful! I love reading travel posts like this. The world is so big, we should try to see as much of it as we can. I’m so happy that you are!

  • Reply lisa August 24, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    These pictures are amazing! I would love to visit Bolivia. Looks like a fantastic time.

  • Reply Alberto C. August 24, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Bolivia’s Salar has been on my bucket list for a while, such a unique place!
    Your photography on this post just amazing, as usual 😀

  • Reply Jenn @ EngineerMommy August 24, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Wow, this is a beautiful place. I’d love to have a picnic in the middle of the flats! This would be a beautiful vacation.

  • Reply Vera Sweeney August 24, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    This would be so beautiful to travel to and explore!!! Your photos turned out amazing, what a breathtaking place to visit!

  • Reply Liz Mays August 24, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Wow these salt flats are just so cool. I didn’t know about them! I love how they look with the reflective water.

  • Reply Rebecca Swenor August 25, 2016 at 12:16 am

    The flats are indeed just gorgeous and I have never heard of Bolivia Salt flats before. This is a place I hope to visit some day with my sons. I love these beautiful fun photos you took and will have to share this post with my sons. Thanks for sharing the beauty of the salt flats and your experiences.

  • Reply Bites for Foodies August 25, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Wow, those pics are absolutely stunning!! I have always wanted to travel all over South America…every single country! I wouldn’t even know where to start!

  • Reply John Rodgers August 25, 2016 at 2:18 am

    I have been to the salt flats in the U.S. in Utah and I have to admit that the ones in Bolivia are much more beautiful. We are planning a trip to South America soon and this would be a must see location. I love your photography as well.

  • Reply Joanna August 25, 2016 at 3:56 am

    I am looking forward to my upcoming trip to Bolivia. I will be going there in January, so in the rainy season. I can’t wait to see the sky reflected in the salt. How can you stay there for sunset? Are there special tours for it?

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 25, 2016 at 8:14 am

      You’ll have so much fun! You can simply stay on or ask your tour if you can do that…just make sure you’re not on a group tour! ☺️

  • Reply Terri Ramsey Beavers August 25, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Oh my gosh, your photos are amazing. I’d love to see the Bolivia Salt Flats during rainy season sometime.

  • Reply Annemarie LeBlanc August 25, 2016 at 5:15 am

    Stunning photos! Looking at them made me want to book a flight to Bolivia, but taking a look at my finances, I guess it won’t materialize for quite some time. The salt flats are beautiful!

  • Reply Liana August 25, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Bolivia’s Salt Flat… What an experience! I’ve seen pictures, but living it for real, incredible!! I love this travel guide, and I’ll be sure to cross it from my bucket list!

  • Reply littlemisscant August 25, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Absolutely beautiful photographs! I would love to go and see the salt flats for myself especially at sundown to see if I could get a shot like that one. Looks like you had a ton of fun! Love the photo of you on the swings 🙂

  • Reply Amanda Love August 25, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Very beautiful place I must say. It feels like the serenity of the seas and oceans got molded with the conformity of the desert sands.

  • Reply Eloise August 25, 2016 at 11:21 am

    those pictures are amazing, you’re so lucky to actually see those places in person… thanks for sharing a little bit of paradise…

  • Reply CourtneyLynne August 25, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Omg what breathtaking photos!!! I can only hope my travels take me there one day since it looks like one beautiful place

  • Reply verushka August 26, 2016 at 4:42 am

    These images are amazing ! Thanks for sharing these day and night images.Bolivia looks amazing defo bucket list worthy.

  • Reply Dana Peller (@Pellerini) August 26, 2016 at 5:25 am

    Pier, the salt flats are so beautiful – and your photography is exquisite!

  • Reply polly674 August 26, 2016 at 6:08 am

    I would love to take a pic-nic in the middle of nowhere as you did! Should have been amazing!

  • Reply indrani August 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

    What a place! A mix of all kinds of colors and textures! Your description made me crave to visit the place, especially the comparison with northern lights!

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 26, 2016 at 11:08 am

      It’s definitely an incredible place! I’m sure you’ll get to go one day!

  • Reply Judson L Moore August 26, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Since you have been to both the salt flats and Antartica, would you say it is possible to skip Antartica and just do the salt flats since it is A) warm, and b) also snow-like whiteout?

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 26, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Haha that’s hilarious! And very true, if you’re seeking white landscapes 🙂

  • Reply Jenni August 26, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Looks like you had a great time your photos are amazing. I really wasn’t to go here and after seeing these pictures I want to go now!!!! Lol

  • Reply Blair Villanueva August 27, 2016 at 2:23 am

    that’s a wide stretch of salt, I’ve never been to Bolivia, and your story makes me motivated to visit it one day 🙂 Thank you!

  • Reply Ami Bhat August 27, 2016 at 3:59 am

    The mirror effect of the salt lakes is amazing. I wish I could see it for myself. Lovely pictures that drive wanderlust.

  • Reply Shounak August 27, 2016 at 8:45 am

    WOW ! Got to go here..got to go here …defintely ..your shots are amazing.. Like walking on water..

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 29, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Thank you so much! 🙂 I hope you get to go soon, it’s truly amazing!

  • Reply Komang Ayu August 27, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    very nice photo. all the place looks beautiful nature photographs. whether the original is really beautiful? I want to go to all the tourist places like this.

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

      I promise the original is definitely just as beautiful! 🙂

  • Reply Chubskulit Rose August 28, 2016 at 8:49 am

    What a paradise that place is, my goodness! I’d be happy to stay there as long as I can lol.

  • Reply Stella the Travelerette August 28, 2016 at 10:33 am

    This looks amazing! I would like to visit in February some time since I have vacation then and you say that the salt looks reflective. I would also like to visit the train graveyard.

  • Reply Tom August 28, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I never heard of this place, but the first photograph sums it up. Thanks also for listing other things to do in the area.

  • Reply Janine Good August 28, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    This is a great piece! Your posts are making my wanderlust go in overload as the last few pieces have been on my already lengthy bucket list. The Salt Flats look absolutely incredible and the other things in Uyoni look just as intriguing.

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 29, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Hi Janine, thank you so much for your kind words! 🙂 Would love to hear your thoughts on other travel destinations and your bucket list! 🙂

  • Reply Subhadrika Sen August 29, 2016 at 2:24 am

    I can definitely see some interesting things to do here. i love the way the swing was made. Thats my favourite picture amongst all of these.

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 29, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Thank you so much! There’s definitely an assortment of activities 🙂

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 29, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Thank you so much! 🙂 It was honestly such a cool spot.

  • Reply Tamz August 29, 2016 at 7:41 am

    The pictures in your post has made me feel one thing – I need to visit this place. I can imagine the actual feeling of being there in the salt flats from these photos. And you are right, the night photography here with a clear sky full of stars would be nothing short of magical. Maybe I’ll beat you to that first 🙂

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 29, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Ahhh, that would be amazing! Please let me know if you end up going, and be sure to send along photos so I can marvel at them 🙂

  • Reply Tae August 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Wow, I love how you include such a practical guide to the salt flats! I’ve always wanted to go and this is the perfect resource for it 🙂 the pictures are amazing too!

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 29, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Ahhh, I’m so happy it was helpful! Please do let me know when you make it to the salt flats, would love to hear your experience 🙂

  • Reply BigCityGirl August 29, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    The description of the salt flats through your photography is amazing, I am planning on visiting South America next year and Bolivia will surely be on my list after reading this post!

    • Reply Pier Nirandara August 29, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      I’m so glad it helped! ☺️ Please let me know where you end up going – would love to hear all about it!

  • Reply Bryony Clapperton (travelsandmore) September 8, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    I missed out on the Salt Flats in Bolivia and these photos are really making me regret that. Another great post, so well written. Thanks for sharing!

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