Monday, 10 November 2014

A Winter's Sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni

A small portion of the sky is glowing velvet and orange. The stars have faded, but the majority of the sky is still black. My eyes are heavy and my feet are numb.
'Stay awake', I say to myself. There's no way I'm missing the sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flats.
At this stage, however, my drowsiness might not be the only reason for missing the sunrise. We've pulled over to fix the tyre of another Jeep.
My palms are sweating and my legs are still jittering. I didnt get up at 430 to watch a Bolivian change a tyre.
Paul, a fellow jeep traveler is bouncing in his seat and tapping his shoe. Melanie, Paul's Puerto Rican girlfriend, cracks her knuckles. The Guide gets back in the Jeep.
"Okay, we will be at the salt flats in 20 minutes"
I clench my teeth and hold my breath. Glancing over to my girlfriend her gaze is fixed directly out the window. She is squeezing her hands together, as though cracking a peanut. It had already been pre-dawn for at least 15 minutes.
The driver explains the coral formations around the Salar to us. I absorb none of it, staring blankly at the ripening orange sky.
We reach the outskirts of the flats and the driver pushes the car to 120km per hour. There are no more obstacles or bumpy roads on this desolate plain of salt. We reach the other jeeps in our group.
"What happened?", yells Oscar, the head Guide
"We got lost", our Guide lies.
We step out of the car, teeth chattering and knees buckling. No less than 30 seconds later the sun appears between distant mountains, rising like the sprouting of a spring flower in fast motion.
The warmth hits us between the eyes. A sweet sense of satisfaction swoops over us. The hexagonal borders of the snowy salt flats glow in the morning sun, as though being artificially lit from below. The sky beams purple, orange and yellow. The angle of the morning sun makes our shadows project across the flats for at least 100m behind us. After 3 long days and 2 freezing nights, our shadows had now literally and figuratively completely covered this part of the world.


  1. Amazing photo! I hope to get to South America next year and the salt flats are at the top of my list!

    1. They should be! They're absolutely stunning. But make sure you bring clothes and plenty of them. It got to about minus 27 degrees Celsius when we were there!