The high-altitude salt flat of Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia creates the world’s biggest natural mirror. It sits near the crest of the Andes at an elevation of 11,995 ft above sea level.
Considered one of the flattest surfaces on Earth (4,086 sq mi), the salt flat, also known as the “Mirror of God,” is so big it can be seen from outer space. In fact, space satellites often use the flat’s intense relfections to calibrate their sensors.
It’s remarkable to think that the Salar de Uyuni was once an ancient lake before it dried up. While Uyuni is extensive, remember that most dry lakes are small.
Mind-bending reflections of Salar de Uyuni
During the winter, a thin layer of water from the summer rains hovers over the salt creating the reflective mirror effect. The entire landscape reflects onto the ground, giving the impression of where Heaven and Earth meet.
As the salt crystallizes from the saline oozing out of the mud cracks, the ridges in the salt flat also become hexagonal (see images 1 and 5 below). The bright white salt is up to 32 feet thick at the center of this prehistoric lake.
Visitors to the location are known to take pictures that play with the perspective of the viewer’s depth. Check out some of the photoshop-looking optical illusions after the jump.