Nature Blows My Mind! Bolivia's Salar De Uyuni Creates World's Largest Mirror

Driving on Flooded Portion of the Salar de Uyuni photo
©. Frank Guiziou/Hemis/Corbis
The Salar de Uyuni photo

© Carlos Cazalis/Carlos Cazalis/Corbis

This remote location in Southwest Bolivia was on my list for our Nature Blows My Mind series because I love this juxtaposition of barrenness and otherworldliness. When I first saw photos of Bolivia's stunning salt lake, the Salar de Uyuni, I marveled at a landscape that was both remarkably simple, but also stunningly beautiful. While it is normally an arid, barren surface of salt, creating one of the least inhabitable areas of the world, during the rainy season, Salar de Uyuni becomes one of the world's largest mirrors.

Salar de Uyuni, world's largest salt flat

© Theo Allofs/Corbis
We're used to thinking of actual otherworldly locations, such as Mars or our moon, as having these dry, lifeless surfaces, which, like the Salar de Uyuni in its dry state, are interesting in their own right, but when this ancient lake bed is covered with a few centimeters of water, it becomes what is surely one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Driving on Flooded Portion of the Salar de Uyuni photo

© Frank Guiziou/Hemis/Corbis
No longer are our eyes drawn into the cracks of the salty earth or focusing on the far away horizon. When the clouds and the reflection are right, the Salar de Uyuni provides us a mental escape from this Earth, in its place providing us a glimpse at scenes that may have previously only resided in our dreams or imagination. We think of this as otherworldly, because until you learn of its realness, we just aren't likely to think of places like this existing in this world. The endless sky, enveloping everything around us, creating a seamless sea of clouds, is more like what we may picture when we think of Heaven or remember a peaceful dream.

Salar de Uyuni salt flat mirror photo

© (Carlos Cazalis/Carlos Cazalis/Corbis)
But this isn't Heaven. It's not a dream. The Salar de Uyuni is real. It is out there right now, probably looking even more beautiful than we see in these photos. And while most of us will never visit, thinking of this one feature of this one spot in this one remote corner of one country on one of our seven continents, I can't help but wonder about all the other places. This planet is ceaselessly amazing and this is just one reason why nature blows my mind.

Salar de Uyuni mirror photo

© Patrick Escudero/Hemis/Corbis

Salar de Uyuni salt photo

© Carlos Cazalis/Carlos Cazalis/Corbis

Salar De Uyuni mirror photo

© Kazuyoshi Nomachi/Corbis

What blows your mind? Tell us about it. We'd love to feature your suggestions in future editions of Nature Blows My Mind.

See what else blows our mind at the Nature Blows My Mind tag page.