An epic 3-day adventure will leave you breathless more than once!
We recently visited the salt flats in Bolivia and it was absolutely amazing; something everyone should see at least once in a lifetime. The famous salt flats in Bolivia are on record as the world’s largest salt flats and is covered in 10 billion tons of salt!
WHAT WILL YOU DO
There is a 1-day tour option for the salt flats but we recommend taking the 3-4 day tour if you can because you get to see so much more of the beautiful scenery that Bolivia has to offer. If you take a 1-day tour you will miss out on some epic sunsets and the stars. We ended up taking the 3-day tour and it was perfect.
You jump into a Jeep or another 4×4 off-road vehicle around 10:30-11am that fits 6 people plus the driver. The highlights of the tour day by day include:
- Train Graveyard
- Visit Tiny Village called Colchani where you can buy souvenirs and props for taking photos at the salt flats
- Visit the salt flats to take photos and have lunch (make sure to tell your driver that you want to see the reflection)
- Visit Fish Island that is covered in giant cacti and cool coral rock formations.
- Stay at the salt hotel (extra 10 Bob for hot shower)
- Visit the small desert of Chiguana that has lots of volcanoes in the distance
- See Llamas
- Go through the Andean lagoon that has lots of flamingos
- Visit the Red lagoon that has a red pigmentation in the water
- See the famous “tree of rock”
- See a big volcano called Sol de Mañana
- Spend the second night in a hostel
- You can ask your guide to take you to the geysers early in the morning. It is supposedly the best time to see them as the sun rises.
- Visit the Green and White Lagoon
- See some more volcanoes
- Visit the hot springs where you can relax in warm water pools
- Your tour guide will drive you to a shuttle that will take you to San Pedro (Atacama Desert). If you do not want to go to Chile you can continue with the drive back to Uyuni.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO
The best time to visit the Uyuni salt flats all depends on what you’re looking for. The wet season is from January to April. The rain will create an amazing mirror effect off the salt and it will look as if you are floating in the sky and it goes forever. We were here at the end of January hoping to get the mirror effect but it hadn’t rained there for over a week and we ended up missing out on it. The weather is warm during the day and cold at night.
Another good time people suggest is from May to November when the weather is milder and the salt flats are completely dry.
HOW TO GET TO UYUNI SALT FLATS
There are two ways to get to Uyuni one is by bus and the other is by plane.
Option 1: Bus – Cost $250 Bob (Roughly $36 USD)
You can take a 10.5-hour overnight bus from La Paz to Uyuni that leaves at 9 pm and arrives in Uyuni at 7:30 am (we arrived a littler earlier). You get dropped off right in town and will still have lots of time to go book your tour and go for breakfast. We recommend Breakfast Nonis, they had a great basic breakfast for a decent price.
We suggest that you book your bus with Todo Turismo their seats are very comfy, and they give you a decent dinner (we ordered rice and chicken but they also offer a vegetarian option). You can now book directly on their website which wasn’t an option when we were there, but we suggest booking well in advance to reserve your seats as they fill up quickly since they are rated the best bus company.
Option 2: Fly – Cost can be anywhere from $80-220 USD
If you are going to fly book well in advanced because they hike the prices up a lot in the busy season for tourists. Flying takes roughly 1 hour to get to Uyuni but remember that you have to be in Uyuni early to make sure you have enough time to get to the tour companies. This option is a lot more expensive because you have to pay to stay another night in La Paz, pay 50 Bob ($7.25 USD) for a taxi to the airport than one more taxi from the airport in Uyuni to town.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST
It’s best to book the salt flat tour when you arrive in Uyuni, you will end up saving a ton of money and taking the exact same tour as everyone else who pre-booked online or back in La Paz. Those savings could go towards some hard earned cold beverages.
Don’t stress about not getting a tour either, there are lots of companies on the main road in Uyuni that all offer the exact same packages and they all go out on a daily basis.
If you have any sort of bartering skills this is the place that will pay off. After we negotiated with a few companies we were able to get our 3-day tour for 700 Bob, which is roughly ($100 USD). The average price you should pay in town is around 700-750 Bob (100-110 USD). This price was for a Spanish-speaking tour guide. We only speak a little Spanish but decided to take a chance and save some money. We lucked out since one of the people in our tour group spoke fluent Spanish and translated everything for us. If you want to get an English-speaking tour guide you’re going to pay around double the cost anywhere between 1300 to 1500 Bob (Roughly 220 USD).
The sales reps that work at the tour offices will try to tell you that their company has better food or better accommodations but everyone stays at the exact same places and the food, from what we saw, looked pretty much all the same.
The price for the tour includes everything for the 3 Days – food, transportation, and accommodations. There is a $20 national park entrance that you will have to pay as well as a 50 Bob border fee when transferring at the border if going into the Atacama Desert in Chile.
This exact same tour can also be taken from Chile but unfortunately, it is a little more expensive from what we were told.
WHERE YOU STAY
The first night you stay in a “Salt Hotel”…. Sounds pretty awesome and we thought so too, a hotel made of salt! I am not sure if it was our imaginations that built this salt hotel into some amazing place prior to arriving but everyone in our group was thinking the same as we were. The salt hotel is more of a hostel with small rooms and salt bed frames with a thin mattress. Luckily there were three couples in our group and we ended up getting our tour guide to give us all separate rooms. They have showers here but you have to pay 15 Bob for hot water. The food was good and we ended up having a great night.
The second night you stay at a hostel and share the room with the people in your tour group. This was our favourite night because we all stayed up and talked about our travels and played games. The beds were super comfy and everyone all had great sleeps. There are also showers at the hostel and food was good.
If you’re not a hostel type person don’t let the accomodations change your mind on doing the 3-day tour, it is truly amazing.
WHAT TO BRING
- Snacks – You get breakfast, lunch and dinner but it’s always good to have extra food that you like while on a 3-day adventure. You can buy everything in Uyuni.
- Toilet Paper – This is a good thing to have during this tour as the hostels you stay in don’t have toilet paper unless you purchase it in their store. Also, the bathrooms that you stop off at throughout the tour charge you for toilet paper.
- Microfiber Towel – Having your own towel is clutch, especially one that will be dry by the morning when you leave. Here is a link to the ones we bought for $20.
- Cacao Leaves – If you get altitude sickness these will save you! We chewed on these for the full three days and were completely fine. Don’t swallow the cacao leaves, just chew them and stick them in back of your mouth between your top teeth and cheek.
- Cash – Having some spare Bob is a good thing to have on you as there are some small fees on the 3-Day adventure. They have some snacks you can buy along the way, but they are more expensive than if you were to buy in Uyuni. You will also be able to exchange any extra Bob when you get to Chile.
- Camera – This is a must have on this trip and don’t forget your charger!
- Props – You can buy props in Uyuni for when you get to the salt flats to show off different illusions. Check out our blog post on the “The Best Salt Flat Pics”
- Warm Clothes – It’s super hot during the day but it gets freezing at night. It is also cold in the mornings so having layers helps.
- Sun Screen – The sun gets super hot out there!
- Sunglasses – Protect those eyes
- Flashlight – May come in handy
- Water – It’s a must! We bought a 4L jug and ended up drinking the whole thing before getting to the border.