Star trails over Salar de Uyuni

Traveling around the huge salt flats of Salar de Uyuni is no easy task, as the distances are vast and you have to bring all you need including gas for the car, as well as find the very few places you can sleep at night.

The humans living on the edge of the salt flats are few and far between, and this night I stayed in a home by the foot of the volcano Cerro Tunupa converted into a hostel of sorts, in a tiny village on the very edge of the salt flats. It’s very basic and all the food has to be brought in by the visitors, thus the hostel only offers electricity and beds.

This place was quite different to the other ones I stayed at – I was the only visitor! So utter silence and a true sense of remoteness. This night I prepared to stay outside a long time, so I unlocked the door next to my room and went along to find a great spot on the salt flats.

The lack of artificial lights was staggering! The only light came from the sky and what a crisp sky it was! It was at least one kilometre to walk to the salt flats, and I quickly realized there was no way I could endure several hours unprotected, as the wind was relentless and so cold. Even with my down jacked, and layers of insulation beneath, I felt the cold would be too much for more than an hour or so, which is not enough time for the amount of exposures I needed.

Even though this is very remote, I wouldn’t take the risk of my camera being found and stolen before I got up to collect it in the morning. I therefor found some vegetation that protected me from the worst of the wind, and set up the tripod and camera, and went back to get some sleep only to find that the door now was locked, and nobody heard my knocking! The houses are protected by a 3 metre high wall which seemed unsurmountable. Fortunately I found some blocks of salt and rocks I was able to stack so I could reach the top of the wall. Behind it I was greeted by some very agitated dogs, albeit polite enough not to do any physical harm.

The long line of light on the horizon is a car! Salar de Uyuni is used day and night, for tourists and smugglers alike.

Altitude: 3665 metres.


Last updated on 29 December 2020