Salvador Dalí Desert – Sur Lípez, Bolivia - Atlas Obscura

Salvador Dalí Desert

A desert that evokes the surreal. 


In Bolivia’s Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Abaroa, there is a surreal, barren, wind-swept swath of land that has been frequently compared to a Dalí painting.

Salvador Dalí was a Spanish painter best known for dreamy, sometimes eerie, nonsensical images against a minimalistic backdrop, the most well known examples of which include The Persistence of Memory and The Elephants

Though Dalí never painted this particular Bolivian reserve, the arid, stark desert horizon coupled with strange rock formations strike a strong resemblance to the famous surrealist’s work.

In particular, the Árbol de Piedra, or Stone Tree, could be one of Dalí’s disturbing subjects. The base of the rock has been weathered away by wind and time, while the top remained intact. The seemingly impossible structure stands 23 feet tall and casts its shadow even longer across the flat sandy desert.

If you’re walking through the Dalí Desert and find yourself peeking over your shoulder for melting clocks or flying cats, don’t chalk it all up to surrealism. It might be heatstroke.

Know Before You Go

There are no roads within the preserve; best to get a guide and driver.

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