Salar de Uyuni
Isolated, ready to rediscover in this vast territory surreal beauty. Place for lost and found, again and again, and again. The largest mirror and largest salt desert, unique journey. Between mountains and volcanoes, the flamingos wander in the waters of colors in this magical landscape.
Salar de Uyuni tours range in length from from 1 to 4 days. For those with a limited travel schedule, a 1 day tour will allow you to experience the flats as well as a couple of sights in the surrounding area. Longer tours however will take you deeper into the desert where you’ll discover soaring volcanoes, steaming geysers, colorful lakes, warm hot-springs, unique wildlife and much, much more.
Choosing a Tour Company and Booking a Tour Due to Uyuni’s remote location and Bolivia’s overall lack of regulations, experiences are not always as hoped. Often it’s a case of “you get what you pay for”, and those looking for the cheapest option can be left with an unreliable, uncomfortable or unprofessional tour. Therefore, it’s vital travelers do their research, reading reviews on travel blogs, before committing to a tour. For those with travel itinerary, booking your Salar de Uyuni tour in advance, either online or in La Paz, is highly recommend for peace of mind and to ensure you get a reputable tour operator.
What to Bring Whist days tend to be sunny and warm, there are places on route which are quite windy and nights can get very, very cold. Also, due to high solar radiation, the salt flats are notorious for causing sun burn as well as producing seriously strong glare. Therefore it’s recommend to bring the following items:
Sunglasses, Hat, Sunscreen – don’t forget to apply in and around nostrils as the sun’s reflection from the salt flats will burn them, Clothes suitable for layering – a t-shirt during the day, a jumper in the evening, a warm jacket, gloves and wool socks at night, Raincoat (from December to March), Comfortable Walking Shoes, Flip Flops – for easy access to the thermal springs and for when it has been raining on the salt flats, Swim Suit and Towel – for the hot springs, Torch – as electricity in the hostels is usually turned off during the night, Coins and Toilet Paper – you have to pay to use the public toilets
Extra Water – around 2 liters per day is recommended, Snacks – You are fed very well on the tour, however it’s always nice to have something to munch on during the long car rides and Passport.
Health and Safety The Salt Flats rise to an altitude of around 4000 meters so there is a high chance you will feel some effects such as headaches, nausea, sleepiness and shortness of breath. It is recommend that you acclimatize at around 3000 meters before the tour (e.g. stay in La Paz, Sucre, or Potosi) and that you take headache tablets and altitude sickness medication (e.g. Acetazolamide) with you.
During the tour make sure you drink plenty of water and take it nice and easy. Another thing to note is that due to its remote location, facilities on the Salt Flats are very limited. If you become sick or injure yourself, there are no medical facilities other than at the town of Uyuni, and even then, medical care is basic. Make sure to bring all your medications with you, don’t leave home without travel insurance, take care and don’t do anything reckless!
When To Go The best time to visit Salar de Uyuni depends on what experience you are looking for. For those wanting to experience the “largest mirror on earth”, visiting between March and April will increase your chances of seeing the natural phenomena. However please note that if you travel in the rainy season (January to April), you will most likely not be able to visit Fish Island due to the wet conditions. If it’s ideal weather conditions you’re after, it’s recommend to visit between July and October. This time of year sees lots of sunshine and very little rain.
Leaving Salar de Uyuni If you want to go direct to Chile on the third day after Laguna Verde, most tours can organize a transfer to the Chilean border where you can take a shared mini bus to San Pedro de Atacama. People taking this option will arrive in San Pedro around 1pm. The cost is Bs 50 ($7 US). Make sure to get your Bolivian exit stamp from the immigration office in Uyuni before commencing the Salt Flats tour.
If you want to travel to La Paz after the tour there is the option of a night bus which leaves Uyuni around 8pm (tours generally finish in Uyuni around 6pm). Do note however that this is a 13 – 15 hour journey on unpaved, bumpy roads. It is one of the most unpleasant bus rides in all of Bolivia, so be prepared for a long / uncomfortable night. A recommended bus company is Todo Turismo and a one way ticket costs Bs 230 ($33 US). An alternative is to fly to La Paz from Uyuni’s small airport.
A slower but more comfortable way to reach La Paz is to travel from Uyuni to Sucre or Potosi, both tourist attractions in their own right, and then travel between Sucre and La Paz (or Potosi and La Paz).
Nationals exempt from a Tourist Visa (Alemania, Argentina, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgica, Brasil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croacia, Dinamarca, Ecuadro, Eslovenia, Eslovaquia, España, Estonia, Filipinas, Finlandia, Francia, Grecia, Hungria, Irlanda, Islandia, Italia, Japon, Letonia, Lituania, Mexico, Monaco, Noruega, Nueva Zelanda, Paises Bajos, Palestina, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Polonia, Portugal, Reino Unido e Irlana, Republica Checa, Suecia, Suiza, Turquía, Uruguay, Vaticano y Venezuela ) are only required to have a current valid passport with a minimum validity of 6 months. Upon arrival tourists will be issued a temporary visa.
Dutch citizens do not need a tourist visa, but: Need to present your valid passport for almost 6 months, Flight tickets with return within 90 days, The Yellow Fever Shot. (if you have a contraindication, you can provide to the Bolivian Migration Office a Medical Certificate)
All you need to know in www.bolivia.travel