Locally known as Salar de Uyuni, this area in the country of Bolivia, which is in South America, is famous for being one of the largest salt flats in the world if not the biggest. Stretching for miles in several directions with the Andes Mountains to the West, the whole place is covered in natural salt from the prehistoric lakes that once occupied the area millions of years ago. But while it is in a desert, the temperatures remain fairly steady not getting too hot or too cold. Also, while the flats themselves don’t have any plants or animals except for the surrounding areas there is one exception: flamingos.
Every year, certain breeds of flamingos migrate to the salt flats when its covered in water from the rains that occasionally sweep through the area for the purpose of breeding. The place has also become popular for tourists, who stay in nearby hotels made from salt rocks and visit certain areas of the flats such as the Train Cemetery which was created after Bolivia’s initial mining operations failed in the area forcing them to move elsewhere. On top of that, certain pictures taken in the salt flats where the photographers get creative with the expansiveness of the area as well as its natural beauty have made more people come here. So here's a sampling of the best and funniest pictures from Bolivia's salt flats.
29 “Photo essay” - The Magic of Perspective
As the previous two pictures demonstrated with the toys, the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni have proven to be the perfect environment to take pictures that deceive the viewer’s perception of depth. This in turn makes things seem closer or further away than they actually are. Take this picture, where a woman is pretending to step on someone who’s clearly further away. Even if the illusion immediately breaks when given a second glance, this picture shows how the emptiness of the flats creates less of a distracting environment to pull off this kind of pose compared to any other.
28 “Salar de Uyuni” - There Be Giants in These Parts
While the “Photo Essay” picture ultimately failed to convince us the bigger person was trying to step on the smaller one, this one is far more convincing by comparison. Since we don’t see the person’s entire body, the lower-half of their feet ends up creating a menacing tone and sense of peril when we see them trying to step on the smaller person below. Now unlike the second person in the previous photo who clearly stood far away, this one is positioned in a way to where we almost think they’re really trying to stop the bigger person’s foot.
27 “Bolivia salt flats” - A Tiny Specimen
Running with the theme of seemingly giant people standing in pictures, we have a woman pretending to hold a smaller man up by the collar of his shirt. While the illusion almost seems convincing given the position of the woman’s hand in relation to the shirt collar, which is indeed lifted as if she were actually holding the man by his shirt, there is one thing that undoes the whole thing. Looking at the man’s feet, it’s clear that he’s standing firmly on the ground further away as opposed to being held up due to the position of his shadow.
26 “Mirror Mirror…not on the wall” - Blessed Day
Well, aren’t we being symbolic this morning? It doesn’t take a genius to see the obvious symbolism behind this man’s pose where he’s stretching his arms out and has his legs pressed firmly together. Combined with the rising sun and the birds flying above his head, the whole thing comes across as noticeably religious in tone regardless of whether that was the photographer’s artistic intention or not. Though with that said, another way to interpret this picture is the man is simply greeting the new day which is a universal symbol that transcends religion as far as context is concerned.
25 “A dinosaur chasing us on the salt flats” - Run Away!
While the previous pictures up to this point were good in terms of quality, they weren’t exactly distinct pose-wise or related to their location that much making them easy to trade out for any other picture anywhere else (with the exception of the pizza one though the poses were somewhat generic). But here, we have something that’s not only memorable but also funny. Even though it’s clear that the titular dinosaur is actually a toy, particularly of Godzilla, and the people are actually posing mid-run to create the illusion of running away, it’s still an entertaining picture overall.
24 “moon landscapes and dinosaur attacks” - Barney’s Revenge
Taking the silliness up a notch, we have two young women seemingly riding on the backs of llamas to get away from a big purple dinosaur. While the llamas are an adorable touch, despite the fact that they’re obviously fake, the dinosaur’s position is well-structured to where it seems like it’s actually close to the women. But what ruins the illusion is the women themselves, who aren’t lined up with the llamas well enough to completely fool us into thinking they’re actually riding them. This reveals that they are further away from where the llamas and dinosaur are positioned.
23 “Bolivia’s Salt Flats” (Guardian) - On the Edge of Night
Like the lamp picture from earlier, this one utilizes the gathering darkness and the reflective surface of the salt flats to create an image that’s reminiscent of a lighthouse. Though in this case, it doesn’t use a physical prop to represent one. Instead, we see a person wearing a red shirt who is holding something that’s producing light. Because we’re far away from them, it’s hard to tell what the person has whether it’s a flashlight or lamp. Yet the stormy sky above as well as the lightning that’s partially visible in the distance add to the lighthouse-like effect.
22 “See the night sky over Bolivia’s Salt Flats” - The Rising of the Milky Way
Upon seeing this picture, the viewer is immediately blown away by the starry night sky that’s present both above and below the singular person standing in the middle of the frame. On top of that, the stars form an arch-like pattern that is clustered like dust revealing it to be the Milky Way galaxy that can be seen from Earth on particularly clear nights. While the skeptic may wonder at the authenticity of this picture, given the unknown source of light that illuminates the person’s body and the orbs in the distance resembling suns, its beauty ultimately matters more.
21 “The Bolivian Salt Flats in the Andes” - Just a Doll
Instead of a giant woman picking up a small man, we have a giant man seemingly holding a small woman. Like before, the man’s grip on the woman seems convincing though the illusion is undone by the woman’s shadow revealing she’s standing further away from the man to make us think she’s smaller when she isn’t. With those things said, though, the umbrella in the woman’s hand is a cute touch. Plus, the horizontal frame of the picture gives us a better view of the landscape around the two people whereas the previous one was vertical and didn’t show much.
20 “uyuni salt flats tour perspective” - Presto!
As opposed to a rabbit being pulled out of a hat (though it’s surprising someone hasn’t tried to do a picture of that in Salar de Uyuni), this woman has a tiny person seemingly sitting on the rim of her hat. Unlike the other giant person pictures so far, this one almost works. For starters, while the edges of the woman’s hat and the man’s knees don’t quite match up it’s good enough to fool us. Plus, the hat covers the man’s shadow up so it’s not immediately obvious that he’s sitting far away thus maintaining the illusion in turn.
19 “Uyuni, Uyuni, Bolivia” - Huff and Puff!
Yet another improvement from the other giant pictures, we see a woman kneeling on the ground while seemingly holding another person on the palm of her hand. But instead of merely holding them, she’s pretending to blow the person away with her breath thus causing them to flinch. Like the previous picture, the lining between the woman’s hand and the person’s feet is almost perfect. Also, the pose the smaller person is making seems convincing though it’s clearly a midway flinch. On top of that, the wider frame of the picture helps maintain the illusion instead of making it obvious.
18 “Salar de Uyuni” (joaquim) - On the Other Hand
While this picture’s not as convincing as the last one, given the woman’s hands and the feet of the other two women clearly don’t match up in terms of alignment, it’s certainly a creative photograph regardless. First, there’s the woman in the center who’s smiling with her legs crossed. Then there’s the two smaller women who are making dramatic poses at each other. Though given that one of the smaller women is wearing a white coat, while the other’s coat is black, it’s clear they are meant to be a shoulder angel and devil respectively to the main woman symbolically.
17 “Bolivia Hop” - Get Back in There!
Uh, oh! This picture is visually menacing right off the bat, given the partially visible frown on the giant woman’s face. Plus, her seemingly enormous size in relation to the much smaller people that appear to be standing in a pot that the woman’s taken the lid off of adds to the menace of the situation as well. Because we clearly can’t see the other people’s shadows, and the wider frame allows for the entire woman’s crouched body to take up most of the screen, it makes the whole scenario seem a lot more convincing as a result and unnerving.
16 “The shiny, shimmering world of the Bolivian salt flats” - Satisfying that Sweet Tooth
Moving from the hilarious yet threatening giant people of the Bolivia salt flats, we are greeted with the sight of a seemingly tiny person licking a supposedly giant lollipop that’s sticking out of the ground. Though the person’s figure is blurred while the lollipop is more clear by comparison, thus implying an issue of focus with the camera itself, it’s an adorable picture that almost seems dream-like if one pretends that the ground beneath the lollipop is sugar instead of actually being salt. Plus, knowing the picture comes from a blog called travellingtoothbrushes.wordpress.com makes it pretty ironic.
15 “salar-de-uyuni-pringles” - Drowning in Chips
Now unlike the previous picture which combined a sweet candy with the salty environment, this one actually relates to salt since chips are often made with salt. Same goes with the particular brand of chips displayed here, which is obviously Pringles, that the person in this picture appears to be emerging from. On the whole, the picture convincing enough in its illusion since it’s hard to tell whether the lid on the Pringles can is on or not and the person’s shadow is completely hidden behind the can. So as a result, the picture’s intended comedic tone is rightfully earned.
14 “Uyuni” - Just a Little More Salt
To top off the previous food-related pictures, we have two people that are supposedly being buried in salt that is being poured by a seemingly large shaker from an equally giant person’s hand. While the Pringles picture was only tangentially related to salt, this one is all about it and thus is more funny as a result. Apart from the shaker itself, the hilariously exaggerated poses that the two people are making adds to the illusion that they’re being poured with salt though the texture of the salt in the shaker is noticeably different from the pile before them.
13 “May the fourth be with you” - Clash of the Sabers
While food pictures can be fun, it is time to step things up a notch. Starting with this one, where two people wearing winter jackets are clashing lightsabers against the backdrop of a starry night sky and the reflective surface of the salt flats themselves. It’s an amusing picture at first, given its obvious homage to Star Wars. But given how well the colors contrast one another, and the crispness of the sky itself, it’s also quite beautiful to look at. Plus, it reminds one of the pivotal lightsaber duel that happened on the crystalline planet in The Last Jedi.
12 “Bolivia’s ethereal Salar de Uyuni” - Pyramids of Salt
Standing like the Pyramids of Giza, only on a smaller scale and with more of them, we see natural deposits of salt clustered together while the sun rises offscreen to the left. There are also noticeable puddles on the ground, indicating that it either recently rained as indicated by the swirling clouds in the distance or the moisture in the air was heavy enough to create mist that gradually sank into the puddles we now see in the wake of the rising sun. Whatever the case may be, it’s a well-composed shot that was clearly taken by a professional photographer.
11 “Uyuni Salt Flat Bolivia” - More People Now
Compared to the last picture where a bunch of people jumped in the air, this one is far superior. Not only does it have more people in it, adding to the picture’s overall fun tone which is aided by the horizontal frame of the picture, but the landscape around them is more visually appealing. Apart from the sunrise behind them (or sunset as it’s hard to tell what direction they’re facing), there is also the clearness of the water below them which shows perfect reflections of their bodies making it seem like there are more people than they’re actually are.
10 “Llamas, salt flats and other natural wonders” - Crystalized Friendship
Up to this point, we’ve seen pictures where groups of people (who are presumably friends) have done mid air jumps or done funny experiments with perception to indicate they were having a good time in Salar de Uyuni. But here, we see groups of three people holding hands while four of them are leaning downward and touching the ground. The clearness of the watery surface not only makes it seem like they are suspended in the air, given the sky’s reflection, but it also reflects the group’s own bodies thus creating an overall image that reminds one of patterns in snowflakes.
9 “Cloudy” - Can’t Tell Where the Sky Ends or Begins
If the previous pictures haven’t demonstrated clearly yet, Salar de Uyuni is capable of not just messing with one’s perceptions of reality depending on the photographer’s intended effect. These salt flats can also create the illusion of a glassy surface, especially after it rains. Take this picture, for example, where a lone person is walking along the salt flats with the blue yet cloudy sky over him. Yet because of how clear the rain-soaked flats are, it makes it seem like he’s walking on air. The only clue that he’s walking on land is the position of his shadow.
8 “Salar de Uyuni” - A Balancing Act
As enticing as the previous dance-related picture was, this one certainly takes the cake. We have the lone dancer standing in the middle of the frame, who’s making a pose that’s similar to the kind seen in ballets. While the dark water is below her, with ripples extending out from her foot, the brightening sky stands above as the sun is poised behind the dancer’s silhouette. It not only creates a sense of mystery, since we can’t really see what the dancer looks like, but also a sense of awe with the near perfect balance of light and shadow.
7 “Everything You Need To Know About The Salt Flats” - Not Even There Yet
While this picture wasn’t exactly taken in the salt flats themselves and more on the edge of it, it’s still a well-composed image. For instance, the light coming from the offscreen sun nicely contrasts the shadows on the rocks and cacti along the slope. Then there’s the lone woman who is standing in a confident yet odd fashion, looking in the direction of the vast salt flats before her which are glaringly white against the various shades of brown and green on the slope. This in turn makes it stand out more apart from the mountain in the distance.
6 “Where Can You Get Good Pizza Around Here?” - No Idea
Now here’s a weird idea: have three people standing in the middle of the Bolivia salt flats with one guy holding a tray of pizza with the sun bearing down behind him and the two women on either side. However, the strangeness of this picture quickly disintegrates with context as it’s actually intended to promote a pizza place in Salar de Uyuni. Wait, what? According to UMass Magazine, the pizzeria’s owner graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the 90s working first at a local pizza place and then opening his own pizzeria in Bolivia called Minutemen Revolutionary Pizza.
5 “Majestic Uyuni Salt Flat” - A Light on the Water
Though this picture is simple in execution, it still manages to be quite beautiful overall. With the fading sunset in the distance and the gathering darkness of night, it manages to strike an excellent balance between light and shadow. Then with the water surrounding the lone lamp which is placed on a higher clump of salt, it reminds one of a lighthouse whose purpose is the same: to illuminate the dark for any weary traveler. Plus, the mirror-like reflection of the lamp in the water below gives it the illusion of being taller in height than it actually is.
4 “Big Pictures Salar de Uyuni” - Interpretive Dance
Of the various types of pictures to take in Bolivia’s salt flats, one of the more popular ones is of a woman dancing on the salty earth. One such example is the picture above, where the woman is making a dramatic posture by leaning back with her foot sticking out. Then with her arms above her head, it makes it seem like she’s in the middle of a strange yet interpretative dance. Although whether she’s really dancing or not is certainly debatable, one can’t deny that the landscape itself fits the strangeness of the dance-in-question in its serenity.
3 “Uyuni Salt Flat” - Having a Good Time
So apart from women dancing, another popular pose tourists like to do when taking pictures in Salar de Uyuni is doing a mid-jump before the camera takes a picture making it seem like the person is floating in the air. This can either be done alone, or with a group as the women above are clearly demonstrating. However, what makes this one neat is seeing each woman at different stages of a jump with the one on the far left barely getting her toes off the ground while the one on the far right is completely airborne. So kudos!
2 “Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia” - Spell It Out!
While the idea of a bunch of people getting together to spell something out to the camera for a picture isn’t an original concept pose-wise, it’s distinct when seen in Salar de Uyuni. Because there are no other distracting elements, such as other people or buildings, the viewer is forced to focus on the people in the picture only. Plus, it makes their figures more distinct against the white ground and the blue skies behind them. With that said, though, it’s a little hard to tell what the people are spelling out as their bodies are posed like letters.
1 “Uyuni Salt Flat, Potosi, Bolivia” - Full of Love
Like with the previous picture, the idea of two people who are dating each other or married making a heart with their hands for a picture isn’t anything new. Yet here, it’s more distinct against a background where the sky and the water seem to be blended together as the two people’s bodies stand out as dark silhouettes with their heart-shaped formation reflecting back at them below. Yet if one didn’t know this was taken at Salar de Uyuni, they would quickly assume this picture was just artificially created by a professional photographer and slapped on a Hallmark card.
Resources: trover.com, wordpress.com, umass.edu, travellingtoothbrushes.wordpress.com