Salt Flats Tours

imagen2
Below we have compiled the most up-to-date guide to the Uyuni Salt Flats, fast becoming one of THE must see attractions in South America.

TOURS TO THE SALT FLATS

If you are looking for information about tours of the Uyuni Salt Flats, visit FindLocalTrips.com where you can compare itineraries, operators and prices.

BUSES TO UYUNI

Bolivia Hop does not offer bus travel to or from Uyuni at this time. For information on our routes visit our passes page.

Quick Tip: If traveling to or from Lima Airport, it is strongly recommended to use the luxury Airport Express Lima bus to get to or from your hotel. Safer and cheaper than a taxi with no baggage limit as well as free Wi-Fi and USB chargers onboard, it is ideal for travelers.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SALT FLATS

If you would like to get more general information on Uyuni, read our tips and guide further down! 
Salt Flats - Bolivia Hop
BOOK A SALT FLATS TOUR NOW

To book a tour in Bolivia we recommend you use FindLocalTrips.com a search and comparison website for tours across all of South America.
Find Local Trips Logo

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, spanning over 4,000 sq. miles (10,582 sq. km) in south-western Bolivia. It was part of a prehistoric salt lake, Lago Minchín. Unlike traditional deserts which are filled with sand, the Salar de Uyuni features vast expanses of glistening white salt. Salt water deposits seeped from the surrounding mountains. Since there is no outlet to the sea, they were deposited here which is the lowest point of the Altiplano plateau. That water then formed a giant lake. High salinity means that whilst this vast lake has long since evaporated under the sun, a thick crust of salt remains, forming what we now know as the Salt Flats of Salar de Uyuni. The Salar sits at approximately 3650 meters (11,975 ft) above sea level. There is no place else like it in the world.

The best time to go to Uyuni

In the dry season, Salar de Uyuni is a special sight not to be missed. However, rain during February to April make it a totally different experience. As a thin sheet of water (a couple of inches) covers the flats, it reflects a perfect representation of the sky above so that it is impossible to tell where sky ends and the land begins. This mirror effect has given rise to spectacular photo opportunities.

1-salar(2)

How to get to Uyuni / Getting to the Salt Flats in Uyuni

This is a long and previously unpaved road that has gained notoriety for a number of bad accidents. A new access road has recently been finished reducing the journey time to 8 hours. Choose your bus operator carefully and always travel with a trusted company that values your safety. Arriving in the early morning by bus you get to watch the sunrise over the incredible lunar landscape.

Some domestic carriers offer infrequent flights to the regional airport in Uyuni province from La Paz and Santa Cruz.

Tips for trip to Salar de Uyuni

The best and most popular way to visit the Salar de Uyuni is by taking a 4×4 tour across the salt flats.

Most Salt Flats tours are safe and reliable; however, the conditions are basic in this area and you should be aware of this. The Salar de Uyuni is one of the harshest environments for vehicles on the planet and occasional vehicle issues can happen, this to a certain extent is unavoidable. The drivers are used to breakdowns and are pretty adept at fixing their vehicles. They are always willing to help each other out and you are usually not stuck for long – so a bit of patience is often all you need. Food will be basic.

If you don’t mind a bit of rough travel then these tours are well worth it. You are guaranteed to see some of the most unique landscapes on the planet. As with all tours, pick your tour operator carefully. There have been occasional issues with tour drivers drinking alcohol while driving 4×4 jeeps laden with travelers and causing some nasty crashes. Once in Uyuni, before the tour, make sure your vehicle has the appropriate amount of seat belts and is in a roadworthy condition.

Miroir

The sun is extremely strong in the Bolivian Altiplano. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are highly recommended. When the sun begins to set at this altitude, things get very cold very fast. Gloves, hats, extra thick socks, a scarf, thermals, and a good sleeping bag are a must if  you are planning one of the multi-day tours. Given the isolated nature of the place – electrical power sources can be rare so bring external power packs or extra batteries to ensure your camera and phone are always charged!! Extra tip: Batteries run down very quickly in the freezing night-time climate, so keep them close to your body or even in the bottom of your sleeping bag to preserve the power a little longer.

How to take good photos in Salar de Uyuni

The unique setting of endless salt flat at Salar de Uyuni make all kinds of crazy perspective photography possible. Here we have our top tips for great Salt Flats photos to add to your collection.

  • Bring as much small and interesting items as possible: toy animals and action figures, toy vehicles and regular props such as sunglasses, hiking boots, and water bottles can all be turned into something funny and useful.
  • To set up for the shot the photographer needs to lie on their stomach and rest the camera on the ground to make positioning much easier; holding the camera in your hand makes it next to impossible
  • Advice from an old photographer: “Shoot, shoot, shoot!!” Take lots and lots of shots since it’s not so easy to see your camera screen in the glare and you might never be back here again.
  • Making everyone jump in the air is a last resort shot that can always come out well!!!

Types of tours of the Salt Flats

Most tours include a visit to both Colchani village and the train cemetery.

2-salar(2)

Colchani – Right at the edge of the Salar, Colchani is home to the salt cooperative. It is a small one-street town and it is the first stop of all tours leaving from Uyuni before they enter the flats themselves. An abundance of stalls line the street with Salar memorabilia, salt ornaments, and other local goods. There are also some very basic salt ‘museums’.

The train cemetery of Uyuni. Uyuni was once a bustling railway hub and a key link in the transport chain connecting the mines of Bolivia with the rest of the world. During the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed taking with it the demand for a huge rail hub in Uyuni. The trains were abandoned to be stripped by the locals. They were left to rot and rust in the harsh climate of fierce sun and the salty winds.

Most of the trains that can be found in the Graveyard date back to the early 20th century. The quiet corroded locomotives, laced with graffiti are now huge climbing frames for adventurous travelers looking for a special photo as part of their Salt Flats tour.

Tours of Salar de Uyuni

There are a couple of different tour options for Salar de Uyuni, we will list them below:

4-salar(2)A one day tour of Salar de Uyuni in 4×4 jeeps are common and the shortest tours possible. The one day tour is also the cheapest way to visit the Salt Flats.

A visit to the train cemetery is followed by a stop in Colchani before arriving to the Salt Flats and getting the first glimpse of this vast environment. Salt hotels, salt mounds, isolated ‘islands’ covered in cacti, lunch, and plenty of time for taking photos before returning to Uyuni at 5 pm. This is approximately how most of these tours run.

It is possible to then catch an overnight bus later that evening back to La Paz.

Prices are from $30 USD to $60 USD

Apart from the incredible Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni), a multi-day tour will visit red and green colored lakes with flocks of flamingos, hot geyser fields, hot springs, and pass by barren volcanic desertscapes with surreal rock formations.

13

Multi-day tours – 3 day tours of Salar de Uyuni in 4×4 jeeps are the most popular tour type. The first day is the same as the one day tour – usually spending the first night in one of the basic Salt Hotels on the Salar. These hotels are almost completely constructed out of bricks made from dried salt!

The second and third days are spent seeing the colored lakes, hot springs, flamingo flocks, hot geysers, crazy rock formations – such as Arbol de Piedra (Rock Tree), and painted volcanoes. You will be sleeping in tents and truly immersing yourself in this rugged part of the world. The stars alone in this unpolluted place can take your breath away. Multi day tours start at $100 USD and can cost as much as $250 USD depending on the operator and level of comfort you desire.

12

Muti-day Salt Flats tours ending in San Pedro de Atacama – It’s also possible to hop over the border at the end of the tour, connecting to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

No attractions are missed by leaving the tour at the Chilean border before it heads back to Uyuni.

From San Pedro de Atacama – There is also the opportunity to do this Salt Flat tour starting in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile and ending in Uyuni on the last day or returning to San Pedro the following day. Tours from San Pedro can be somewhat more expensive than those from Uyuni. This is the best way to get to Bolivia from Chile and the itineraries are the same as above just in reverse order with the final day being the Salt Flats themselves.

Muti-day Salt Flats tours ending in Tupiza – No attractions are missed by leaving the tour at Tupiza.

There is also the opportunity to do this tour starting in Tupiza, Bolivia and ending in Uyuni on the third day. Tours from Tupiza tend to be somewhat less crowded than from Uyuni. The first days in this surreal desert-scape are spent visiting the lagoons, geysers, spotting wild alpacas, and flocks of flamingos before the final day is spent on the Salt Flats themselves.

carro 4

Below is some information about 1 day and 3 day tours to the Salt Flats:

FULL DAY TOUR UYUNI

Detailed itinerary Full Day Tour:

10:00am
The tour starts from Uyuni. We will depart to the Salt Flats.

11:00am – 12:00pm
The first stop is going to be the Train Cementery where you’ll see the first locomotives in Bolivia. From there we go to Colchani, a small village next to the Salt Flats known as the “salt miners workshop”. You”ll be able to witness the factories and rustic way of table salt production.After this comes the great Salt Flats of Uyuni (Salar de Uyuni) where they will show you how the salt is mined aswell as see the piles of salts (pyramids of salt). Following that you’ll see the “Eyes of the Salt Flat” (Ojos de Sal), which are big holes located in the salt flat where the water from underneath of this dead lake still comes out by high pressure.

13:00pm – 14:00pm
Visit a hotel made entirely out of salt (also a museum), you’ll be able to take pictures of the rooms, lobby and sculptures inside. When all that is done, lunch will be given in the same hotel!

14:00pm – 15:00pm
Once you all finish your meals, you will go forward to the central point of the salt flat which is Incahuasi Island (Fish Island), where you will see the giant cactus and the rock formations of petrified Coral. There will be always time to stop in the middle of the salt flat to see the unusual formations in the salt flat that look like hexagons and pentagons on the surface. And a must-do here is to take pictures with the vast perspective (you can google some picture ideas!).

15:00pm – 16:00pm
After some fun you will head north and get close to the big Volcano Thunupa (5434 m.a.s.l.) to get some more pictures from the distance. Later you will return back to Uyuni arriving to town at 18:30 pm after having enjoyed the most fantastic sunset in the big Salar of Uyuni.

18:30pm
Arrive back to Uyuni

Included:

  • Round trip
  • Lunch
  • Guide in English

Not included:

  • Entrance fee for Fish Island: 30 Bs.
  • Entrance fee for the National Park: 150 Bs.

What to bring:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Warm clothes for the night
  • Torch and batteries
  • Towel
  • Bathing suit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some snacks
  • Extra water
  • Money for the park entrances fee and toilets on the way

BOOK A FULL DAY TOUR NOW

To book a tour in Bolivia we recommend you use FindLocalTrips.com a search and comparison website for tours across all of South America.
Find Local Trips Logo

SALT FLATS – 3 DAY TOUR

Detailed itinerary 3 Day Tour

Day 1:
  • 11:00am
    Departure from Uyuni
  • 11:30am – 13:00pm
    The first stop is going to be the Train Cementery where you’ll see the first locomotives in Bolivia. Followed by a stop in Colchani, a small village next to the Salt Flats known as the “salt miners workshop”. You”ll be able to witness the factories and rustic way of table salt production.After this comes the great Salt Flats of Uyuni (Salar de Uyuni) where they will show you how the salt is mined aswell as see the piles of salts (pyramids of salt). Following that you’ll see the “Eyes of the Salt Flat” (Ojos de Sal), which are big holes located in the salt flat where the water from underneath of this dead lake still comes out by high pressure.
  • 13:00pm – 14:00pm
    Visit the hotel made out of salt (the only hotel allowed inside of the salt flats), where you can take your time for pictures, take a look at the rooms, salt sculptures and the lobby of the hotel (Playa Blanca) and have lunch at the same place.
  • 14:00pm – 15:00pm
    Once you all finish your meals, you will go forward to the central point of the salt flat which is Incahuasi Island (Fish Island), where you will see the giant cactus and the rock formations of petrified Coral. There will be always time to stop in the middle of the salt flat to see the unusual formations in the salt flat that look like hexagons and pentagons on the surface. And a must-do here is to take pictures with the vast perspective (you can google some picture ideas!).
  • 16:00pm
    After some fun you will go west to the small village of Atulcha to spend the first night.
  • 19:00pm
    Delicious supper for dinner.
Day 2:
  • 07:00am – 08:00am
    Breakfast
  • 08:00am – 12:00pm
    A visit to the small desert of Chiguana on the south side of the Uyuni Salt Flat. This desert is surrounded by many volcanoes, which you will see from the lookout and enjoy the steam that still comes out from the top of it. Afterwards, making your way south you will get to the Andean lagoons where flamingos are hanging around in hundreds.
  • 12:00pm – 13:00pm
    Lunch
  • 13:00pm – 16:00pm
    Going further south you will get to the big desert of Siloli at 4550 high (highest and driest in the world). Once you cross this desert, you will see the Rock Tree a lava cooled- rock formation. Later that day, the last stop will be at the amazing Red Lagoon to see some pink flamingos and the redness of the water from the view point. Afterwards the car will take you to the top of a big volcano called Sol de Mañana where you get in to the crater and will see the fumaroles and boiling mud pots.
  • 16:00pm
    After the volcano you will go down the hill to our shelter point “Efames” to spend the second night.
  • 19:00pm
    Dinner
Day 3:
  • 07:00
    Breakfast
  • 08:00 – 11:00
    We head to Dali Desert. Here, you will visit the Green Lagoon and the White Lagoon.
  • 11:00
    We will start to make our way back to Uyuni. There will be stops along the way for lunch, bathroom breaks and leg stretching.
  • 18:00
    You will be arriving back to Uyuni

Included:

  • All transportation
  • All meals along the tour – first day (lunch and dinner), second day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and third day (breakfast and lunch)
  • Two nights accommodation (Salt Hostel “Nuevo Amanecer” the first night – basic dorms in a shelter “Efames” the second night)
  • Guide in English
  • Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile (optional)

Not included:

  • Entrance fee for Fish Island: 30 Bs.
  • Entrance fee for the National Park: 150 Bs.
  • 10 Bs. for hot shower
  • Sleeping bag (rent for 50Bs.)

What to bring:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Torch and batteries
  • Toilet paper
  • Sleeping bag
  • Warm clothes for the night, bathing suit, light layers for the morning
  • Towel and flip flops
  • Some snacks
  • A hat/beanie
  • Extra water
  • Money for the park entrances fee and toilets on the way

BOOK A 3 DAY TOUR NOW

Quick Tip: If traveling to or from Lima Airport, it is strongly recommended to use the luxury Airport Express Lima bus to get to or from your hotel. Safer and cheaper than a taxi with no baggage limit as well as free Wi-Fi and USB chargers onboard, it is ideal for travelers.

FAQs

Will I get problems with altitude sickness at the Salar de Uyuni?

Altitude sickness can catch many travellers a little bit off guard. Not everyone gets sick at high altitudes and it is difficult to predict who is likely to be badly affected by it. For most people it is nothing more than a headache and some dizzy sensations that diminish over a short period of time, 1 to 2 days for most people.

If you want to limit your chances of getting sick though, there are a few things you can do.

Drink lots of water and slow down!! This sounds simple but both of these things are very important. Your body is struggling because you don’t have enough oxygen so avoiding any extraneous activity is a good idea. Chew Some Coca Leaves. The native people of South America have been chewing coca for centuries thanks to its ability to alleviate mild altitude sickness symptoms. Coca leaves can be bought in any supermarket and even souvenir shops or street stalls.

Take (Soroche) Altitude Sickness pills, these are sold over the counter all over Peru and Bolivia and are just a few dollars. If you are flying straight into altitude over 2500meter, without spending any time at a intermediate elevation and you’re worried about getting sick, you can ask your doctor for more specific and stronger altitude sickness medication in advance.

Read more about altitude sickness on our blog about Altitude Sickness Peru & Bolivia and how to prevent it.

From where do the tours of the Salt Flats start? Can I start from La Paz?

All of the tours of Salar de Uyuni start in Uyuni. The tours will not include your transfer from La Paz, you will need to organise and pay for this separately. The buses to Uyuni are overnight and depart La Paz every night and arrive into Uyuni the next day at approx. 7am. All the tours start at 10am-11am.

Do I need to stay one night in Uyuni before and after my tour?

You will arrive into Uyuni early in the morning and it is possible to start a tour the day you arrive. Most of the tours will start 10am-11am in the morning. You will return to Uyuni by 5:30 – 6:00 pm and will have time to eat and head back on the overnight bus to La Paz or take a bus onto Potosi / Sucre. It is advised that you book these buses in advance of taking your trip of the Salt Flats so no it is not necessary to stay in Uyuni.

Are there ATMs?

Bring money with you. Sometimes the ATMs do not work in Uyuni so it is best to take out any money you need in advance.

Will I have internet connection?

No, there is no internet connection on the tours. It is a very remote location.

BOOK A SALT FLATS TOUR NOW

To book a tour in Bolivia we recommend you use FindLocalTrips.com a search and comparison website for tours across all of South America.
Find Local Trips Logo
Share this page with your friends...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

SEARCH BUS TICKETS