Walking on Water Illussion in Salar De Uyuni Bolivia

Walking on water in Bolivia is one of the most unique things I have seen traveling around the world.  The absolutely breathtaking walking on water illusion is something that is very unique to the salt flats found in Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia.

Salar means salt flat in Spanish while Uyuni originates from a local native language signifying holding pen. Salar De Uyuni officially means salt enclosed in a pen.

There are many unique things to see in South America and each country has a variety of tourist attractions that everyone should visit. If there were only five things you could do in South America Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia would have to be one of them.

It is relatively difficult to get there considering the time of year in addition to its remoteness. At on a country like Bolivia which is marred by transportation problems and that adds to the complexity of seeing this wonder.

The whiteout effect caused by the rainy season can be attributed to both cloudy skies and a thin film of water. This small film of water rests atop the salt flat. The cloudy skies then reflect off of the water which creates the illusion that one can walk on water.

Salt Flats Bolivia

One can arrive at Salar De Uyuni from the Atacama Desert in Chile, the northern border of Argentina, and the more common route the city of Oruro or La Paz, Bolivia.  They do have planes available from the city of La Paz is the city of Uyuni is serviced by a small airport.

Be advised many buses take well over 10 to 15 hours to arrive so it is best to book a private tour or a private car can be taken.

On our tour we had a grueling trek from the Chilean city of San Pedro De Atacama to Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia. There are extremely interesting things to see in the region including the train graveyard and also very unique geological formations.

Walking on Water in Bolivia

Most tourists arrive in 4 x 4’s due to the roughness of travel on the trip. Vehicles have to be elevated due to the rainy season as most roads can get very bad in Bolivia during this time of the year. The picture below is a bit blurry but decided to share it anyway since you can see the whiteout effect clearly.

Walking on Water Bolivia

In the center of Salar De Uyuni there is a restaurant where most tourists have lunch. This is where one can seethe tiny mountains of sand.

Salar De Uyuni Salt Flats

Many people don’t realize that this was disputed territory at one point in history. The Pacific war between Chile, Peru, Bolivia changed many of the borders that we are now accustomed to in South America.  Bolivia borders were so drastically changed that the outcome of the war denied them access to the Pacific ocean.

Salar De Uyuni

Salar De Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world and also where close to 50% of the world lithium comes from.  This is the same lithium that a solid most of the lithium batteries we use.  Below one can see the most common site of the salt flat, the 4×4’s parked with tourists outside exploring.

Salar De Uyuni, Salar De Uyuni Bolivia, Salar Bolivia, Uyuni Bolivia, Bolivia Salar De Uyuni

Some of the tools that the locals use to mine the salt in order to extract the minerals from it. These tools were near the center of the salt flat located just outside the restaurant.

Salar De Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

The picture below is one of my favorites because it resembles the vision of what we all think heaven would look like; serene, so calm, extremely peaceful, and beautiful.

Bolivia Salt Flats

More tourists hopping out of the vehicles to explore the salt flats and take pictures.

Walking on Water in Bolivia

It won’t be easy to arrive to Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia.  it is definitely worth the trip and seeing this firsthand and having the illusion of walking on water is extremely unique.  As a person that has visited every country in South America and has seen almost every tourist attraction on the comment this is an absolutely must see.

Peruse more pictures of Salar de Uyuni in our Bolivia picture gallery and visit the top 5 page for more things to do in Bolivia and around the world.



  1. very cool place will have to ck it out in my travels
    question – do you speak Spanish?
    I speak very little and how important would you say it is to travel in South America.

    1. Spanish is my language 🙂 I would say you need to know at least basic expressions. Knowing Portuguese in Brazil would be paramount however

    2. It’s VERY important to have the basics of Spanish if you wanna travel in these lands. Even though I’m brazilian, I had a hard time understanding spanish in Argentina. And yes, very few people speak english in south america. And if you wanna go to Brazil, Spanish won’t help you. We usually get very annoyed by the fact that the world thinks we speak spanish and will most likely ignore you haha. I also heard many stories about turists who thought that because they spoke spanish, they thought they wouldnt have a hard time understanding people here. Poor them…

  2. You captured the best part of Bolivia, or one of the best part of it I must say. So jealous though that I wasn’t able to get on that part. Now I know when’s the best time to visit. Thanks, great shots!

  3. dear marcello,
    the photos are interesting and unique.i hope to travel to this place sometime.
    is there a particular season of the year.when there are less people sightseeing there?

    thank you!
    frank senner

  4. This is indeed unique! I would love to visit some day and be able to photograph this wonderful illusion. Your photos and commentary were very interesting, thank you for sharing!

  5. Hi Marcello, I am going to travel to San Pedro in January 2014. Which company did you take to get to Salar de Uyuni? When exactly did you visit Salar? It is flooded only several times per year, usualy in the so called Bolivian Winter which is supposed to be in December and January, I have researched many photos of Salar and I could not find out, what is the best time to see it flooded like this (most december and January photos were actually without any water). Cheers, Vaclav

    1. The company I used was the following: http://travelestrelladelsur.cl/

      I would only recommend them if you are comfortable with a very basic “extreme backpacker” style of travel. Many of the hotels didn’t have air conditioning and some didn’t have showers. You need to go during the rainy season I booked in February. Lookup the rainy season in Bolivia. I would recommend late January and February.

  6. Spectacular! It’s like on another planet!
    But I hear there are “hidden” underground cave-like systems, channels and the top layers can crack upon weight. And you can fall into them… Even cars can drive into these, but I guess it’s still better to be inside a car…

  7. Wonderful memories. I went in October 2009 and it was the highlight of my South American visit. Just amazing! My son visited November 2013 and his pictures are just awesome.

  8. These pictures are fantastic! What time of year did you go? I am planning to visit Salar de Uyuni in June of this year and am hoping there will be water as seen in your photos. Do you think it is possible? Or will it be dry in June? Any info you have would be greatly appreciated!

    1. You want to make sure that you visit during the rainy season which is between roughly Jan to June or so. I went in March. It really would depend on the weather but I imagine the later you go the more likely you wont be able to see it with the water.

  9. When I was a little girl in Massachusetts, I lived on an island. One of my most magical memories was walking across the frozen beach to school on a day where the sky was perfectly reflected in the frozen, slushy snow. When I started painting, I found myself in this same magical place adrift in the universe. I will be going to Bolivia and can’t wait to see how my painting is affected! Thank you so much for this story.

    1. November to March is about the season that you want to go for the water. I would try to go in the beginning or end so that you can get a balance between the water event and the dry salt flats. Best of luck Amber!

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