a glimpse at the atacama region

In December 2017 I spent a few days in Chile's Atacama desert, and while I didn't take a lot of photos, I am pleased with the images I did capture.

 

When I'm experiencing a new place for the first time (and traveling just for fun...), I want to preserve the memory as much as I want to be present. It's a tricky balance, but I'd still rather have five standout images than 500 documenting every hour of my trip. Shortly after arriving in San Pedro de Atacama, I watched sunset fade down the 19,423-foot face of Licancabur, one of the more prominent stratovolcanoes in the area. Geysers spit out backlit steam the next morning at sunrise, and the glittering dunes in Valle de la Luna were spectacular, even under the midday sun. And...I didn't shoot much else!

SURREAL LANDSCAPES IN SALAR DE UYUNI + BEYOND

My mom and I do a trip together every year, and in 2014 we traveled to Bolivia. After showing me one photo of Salar de Uyuni, I was sold on the idea, and experiencing this landscape in person was mind blowing.

 

If you're a salt flats aficianado, the vastness of Salar de Uyuni dwarfs Bonneville and Badwater Basin, which are stateside favorites. Thousands of miles of salt tiles stretch to the end of the horizon, and in the middle of it sits an island covered in cacti, where you might catch a peek at a viscacha, a member of the rodent family that looks like a fat chinchilla with rabbit ears. I didn't even know this animal existed until I saw one pop out of the rocks.

 

Shortly after arriving, we were chased by the massive thunderstorm in the distance, which continued well into the night. We were still making our way across the salt flats after the sun dropped and the sky turned black, and I pressed my face to the window of our SUV, trying not to fog it up with my breath. I watched pink bolts of lightening flash and reflect over the salt flats, offering a sneak peek at what we’d see the next morning: Mother Nature’s largest mirror.

Otherworldly is the best adjective to describe Salar de Uyuni. It truly feels like you're on another planet, and watching the hexagonal tiles turn into a glassy daydream was unbelievable luck. These are the only two photos of the salt flats that I generally share, and I don't know that I'll ever be able to shoot these conditions again, unless some serious planning is involved. Below are a few more snapshots from Uyuni and Incahuasi Island, along with two from the Bolivian Amazon. I had never seen a neotropical cormorant before, and their vibrant aqua eyes left me speechless.