The Salt Flats of Uyuni is a super cool place to visit, they were like nothing I had seen before! This tour is a great way to get from La Paz down into Chile and the Atacama desert, or just a fun multi-day trip to do!
How to Get There
My trip to the Salt Flats of Uyuni started from the capital city of La Paz in Bolivia. I had arrived there two days prior to when I wanted to leave for the multi-day trip (I had nothing booked), because I was hoping to get a cheaper price if I booked in La Paz, rather than booking online in advance! We couldn’t really find anything though around La Paz, so we decided to risk it and head to Uyuni hoping to find a tour we could hop on the day we arrived.
So we ended up booking an overnight bus to take us from La Paz straight to Uyuni. We booked through the company Todo Turismo, because they had the best reviews and seemed the safest! We went to their office in La Paz, to make sure we had everything booked properly and ensure our seats were reserved, rather than booking online. Luckily their office was nearby our hostel, so we could walk there!
That night we headed to the bus station and waited to hop on the bus!
After an 11-hour trip, we arrived in Uyuni that morning. Because we had nothing booked, we had to find our own way to the various tour company offices, which was fine! We followed a couple that we had met at our hostel in La Paz, and ended up at the Andes Salt Expedition Tour office. We negotiated the price for a bit and ended up paying around 150 CAD for the base cost of the tour. This included food, transportation, and overnight accommodations. The only extra costs were admission into the various sites on the tour!
*There was a mix up in price with the tour operator, and we were told that this was the price for an English speaking guide, and so they honored this price. Typically 150 CAD is the price for a Spanish speaking guide, and it costs more for an English speaking guide. So make sure both you and the tour company are on the same page for both the price and the language of guide you need
Before setting off for the flats, we had a bit of time to grab breakfast from a nearby shop and any other supplies we might need for the 3-day journey. We each picked up about 1 L of water, some mittens, a toque, and toilet paper from the local market!
Stop #1 The Train Cemetary
The first stop on the tour is a train cemetery. Here you’ll have time to explore the abandoned trains and take some fun pictures!
Stop #2 Colchani
Colchani is a town in Bolivia where you can pick up some souvenirs, last-minute supplies before heading into the flats, and where you can visit a salt museum. At the salt museum, you’ll see how the salt is processed and can support the locals by buying some salt to take home with you.
Stop #3 The Salt Hotel
At the salt hotel, you will have your first chance to explore the salt flats of Uyuni and see some of the iconic stops of the flats! Outside of the salt hotel is where you’ll find the photo spots above, and is where most tours stop to have lunch.
Stop #4 Incawasi Island & The Salt Flats of Uyuni
After lunch is when the main part of the tour happens, your driver will take you to a spot of the flats where no other tours are, which is when you’ll have the opportunity to take the fun perspective photos the flats are famous for!
Incawasi Island is an island you can explore in the middle of the flats that is home to a bunch of cactuses, big and small. The island has a little hike up to the top of a hill, which provides a great view of the salt flats!
*There is an entrance fee to access Incawasi Island that is not included in the price of most tours. The cost to enter is 30 BS, which is about $6 CAD or $4 USD.
A ton of stops at beautiful landscapes!
It was hard to keep track of where the tour was taking us throughout the day, but basically we got in the car and they would drive us to a stop and we would get out, our guide would tell us about the location and we would have time to explore, and then we would get back into the car and drive to the next location!
A few more beautiful stops
On the last day, we stopped at a few more landscape locations before going our separate ways. Some stayed in the original vehicle and made their way back to Uyuni where the tour started, and some transferred vehicles to be taken to the Bolivia/Chile border, to continue on to San Pedro de Atacama.
Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama (or return to Uyuni)
We continued on to San Pedro de Atacama, and it was really nice to have someone help us cross the border from Bolivia into Chile, and take us to our next stop of San Pedro. We were driven in a minibus all the way there, and it was a super easy process!
I paid around 150 CAD for my tour (not including extra costs. Including the extra costs, I paid about 200 CAD. This included all of the extra tour costs and my transfer to San Pedro de Atacama.
Information for the company I booked my tour through here.
*Like I mentioned above, there are different prices for hiring a Spanish guide and an English guide. You can try to negotiate prices, but make sure you are clear with what guide you are getting and the price of the tour.
When to go:
I went from May 31 – June 2, 2018. It was cold, but the salt flats were nice and white!
September to November will have the best climate conditions.
December to February you will have the best chance of seeing the giant mirror effect of the flats.
Any time of year will offer you something amazing though!
Most companies offer 1 day, 2 day, 3 day, and 4 day trips
Don’t forget to bring:
- Sunglasses – it is so bright on the flats!
- Sleeping bag – if you have one. Otherwise, you can rent one from most tour companies
- Bathing suit – There are hot springs you can visit one evening
- Warm clothes! – It can get chilly!!
- Water & snacks
- A copy of your passport – they recommend you bring one but I never had to use mine
- Extra cash!!! – there are parts of the tour that are not included in the initial fee, and there are no ATMs. So make sure you bring enough cash to get you through the journey
Hopefully, these suggestions help you plan your trip, or inspire you to travel Bolivia and the Salt Flats of Uyuni! Comment below or send me an email with any questions you have, or just to say hello!