Updated: Aug 22, 2018
As a travel photographer, specializing in landscapes, sunsets and sunrises, as well as candid photos, I have seen some of the most amazing places the world has to offer. My travels have taken me to Yosemite, California, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, Halong Bay, and beyond. In total, I have visited about 30 countries on five of the seven continents. I can say with great certainty that my experience at Salar de Uyuni was one of the most breath-taking and emotional experiences of my life.
After arriving in the small, and largely neglected, town of Uyuni, I must admit my expectations were dampened. Often times in my travel, I had been taken in by the allure of a beautiful location online only to have fallen into a tourist trap. The story of the Emperor’s New Clothes is a perfect representation of some of these experiences.
As we started out from the dusty town, our first stop was at an abandoned train depot. Though this ghostly location had much potential, it was alive with tourist (admittedly like myself) all battling for an inch of space for the perfect picture. Though I enjoyed my time there, my mind stayed focused on the last location of the trip as I tried to predict if it would live up to my expectations or if I would be disappointed.
As we moved on to several other locations throughout the day, my hope diminished. Every place, though beautiful, was covered with tourists. This vast dessert was ironically not big enough for the hundreds of us that flocked to it every day. Even the obligatory ‘Running from the Plastic Dinosaur’ had to be reshot a few times because of cars and people passing through the background.
As the sun began to set and our drive towards our last location seemed to go on forever, I admittedly lost all hope, assuming this would just be another tourist-packed shot that was very underwhelming. I have never been so wrong.
As the car slowed, I looked up from reading news articles to the glassy reflection of the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. Not only was there no one else for kilometers, but this landscape was every bit as breath-taking as advertised, if not more so. Every step felt like walking on water. Every step within this 360 degree view was more beautiful than the last. Every moment spent there was a moment where I was truly at peace. In short, this place, is my closest experience to Heaven on Earth.
By: Jamal Russell Black