Driving the Salar de Uyuni

I've been in South America for the past six weeks. Today I am flying home.

One of my Photo Tour participants - Geoffrey Van Beylen, kindly sent me these videos of us driving the Salar de Uyni salt flat after an early morning sunrise shoot in the middle of it. 

The Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world. In the video you can see that we are spread into two Land Cruisers, and that we are heading for a volcano (Tunupa) in the distance. As you watch the video, the volcano doesn't get any closer, despite appearing to be rather close. It's about 30KM away from where we were in our cars. It's easy to get confused by distances in Bolivia.

Here is another one showing the deserts that we have to cross. The distances are large and the roads are often just tyre marks in the sand often. I wouldn't recommend trying to navigate these places on your own. I am often surprised by the knowledge that my drivers have of the areas. They know these 'roads' well, despite the landscape often consisting of many criss-crossed markings that have no road signs and no indication of where they lead to. 

I'm personally surprised that Bolivia is not on the 'map' for most photo-tour / landscape-workshop participants. Most folks haven't figured out yet that Bolivia is really 'up there' in terms of scenery and photography.

 The Salar at dusk, Laguna Colorada at dusk and the Salar again at dusk, but this time shot from an island in the heart of the salt flat.

The Salar at dusk, Laguna Colorada at dusk and the Salar again at dusk, but this time shot from an island in the heart of the salt flat.

I also spent some personal time after the tours back in Bolivia for a week exploring more of the landscape and making some new images. I found some very surprising locations that are not on the general tourist trail that are very worthy places to visit and I felt I made some new images which I hope to include in a new book I'm currently working on.

As with all things, I tend to find that I go back to a place to 'complete' what I felt I missed the last time, only to find out there is a whole lot more. It seems that I could spend years working on a book of the Altiplano....and it would be tempting to do so. But I now feel I need one or two more trips here to finish off what I started back in 2009. Yep, I've been coming to Bolivia for quite a while now. The quality of the light here at sunrise and sunset is like nowhere else that I've been so far.

As part of my time here in South America, I also visited a new place - the Argentina side of the Altiplano, which at the moment is even less well known than Bolivia is, but is just as impressive, and different. This particular place has a landscape that is not unlike the central highlands of Iceland in my opinion, and also many other strange and wonderful locations. Perhaps that book on the Altiplano is going to take much longer than I had anticipated..... and I feel I need to go back to this region as well. So I'm already hatching plans to do so within the next six months if I can.

So much to explore, and so little time.... :-) But I feel I've found 'my landscape', a place that I have room to grow as a photographer. The world may be getting smaller, and sometimes it may feel as though everywhere has been photographed to death, but in reality - we haven't even scratched the surface of what is out there.

I had a great time with my groups in Patagonia and Bolivia. Many thanks to all whom spent time with me (including you too Brian ;-)