Uyuni Salt Flat: 3-Day Tour, Everything You Need to Know
The Salar de Uyuni is a unique and magical place located in the south of Bolivia. It is the largest salt flat in the world and in its rainy season it becomes a large mirror where heaven and earth seem to merge.
When you visit the Salar de Uyuni gives you the feeling of being on another planet, you will see salt for kilometers and kilometers, colorful lakes, flamingos, geysers… A landscape that looks like another world.
In this post you will find practical information to visit the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. In my case I did the 3 days tour, but you can book tours for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days.
Índice de contenidos
Tips and recommendations to enjoy the Uyuni Salt Flat
You have asked me several times when it is the best time to go to the Salar de Uyuni. Well, for me, without hesitation, it’s in the rainy season, now I’m telling you why.
Salar de Uyuni: When to go What is the best time to go?
The good thing about going in rainy season
The Uyuni salt flat is famous for becoming the largest mirror in the world a few months of the year. If you want to see this phenomenon you have to go in the rainy season. Since this mirror is a layer of water that floods the salt flat, the earth cannot absorb it and reflects light, producing these curious effects.
The rainy season in the Bolivian highlands occurs between January and February. I went to mid-February and was lucky enough to see this nature show.
The bad thing about going in rainy season
The bad thing about going in this days is that you may not be able to see something because you get caught in a storm and/or places that have access blocked.
On the first day of my tour, they were commenting on the radio between the different drivers as were the accesses, as there were sites that were too flooded, but in the end our guide got in the same way, because it was not that bad and we were able to enjoy the Salar.
But on the second day we weren’t as lucky. We could hardly see the stone tree, and we did not see the red lagoon, as it literally did not look, it rained very hard, it was almost at the end of the day and we went to our accommodation. This day I saw the biggest snowflakes I’ve ever seen…
What to bring to the tour of the Salar de Uyuni?
The main thing is to bring water, even if your guide carries water, my recommendation is that you also carry.
- Light clothing and warm clothing (at night it is very cold)
- Appropriate footwear, mountain boots are ideal. Also some flip flops.
- Cash. You will need it to be able to go to the bathroom, you are usually charged between 2 and 5 Bolivians and for the Eduardo Avaroa Andean National Wildlife Reserve. To buy some souvenirs, chocolate, etc.
- Toilet paper roll, just in case.
- Travel Insurance
Altitude sickness or soroche
What are the most common symptoms?
- Severe headache
- Physical fatigue or exhaustion
- Sleep disorder
- Nausea and vomiting
- Digestive disorders
- Lack of appetite
- Physical exhaustion
To avoid altitude sickness, follow these tips:
When you arrive it is best to acclimatize, not agitate or perform physical exertion at least for the first few days, it is best to walk slowly and stop to rest when is necessary. It is also recommended to sleep well, eat light and avoid alcoholic beverages.
To prevent altitude sickness or soroche, it is recommended to drink coca tea and/or chew coca leaves. The coca tea is quite good and that’s what the locals recommend, if you tell them you take pills for height they look at you weird, hehehe. The coca leaves are not literally chewed, they do is put them glued to the inside of the cheek and let them take effect when mixed with saliva.
If you go to any city that is above 2000 meters above sea level, it is recommended that you take these precautions so as not to suffer the symptoms of altitude sickness. During the tour of the Salar de Uyuni you will be above 3600 meters and sometimes above 5000, but this is already the third day.
As I came from being traveling Peru and Bolivia from the north, the altitude sickness did not affect me, I only had a little discomfort on the third day when we exceeded 5000 meters above sea level, but i don’t really know if it was the height or how bad I slept the night before. But if you haven’t got used to it before, you’d better take it easy, don’t get back to Uyuni town.
How to get to Uyuni (Town)
There are several ways to get to Uyuni (to the village of Uyuni).
From Potosí as was my case. I went by bus. You go directly to the Bus Terminal and you will find a few who go to Uyuni.
Directly from La Paz. If you have no intention of touring Bolivia, you can go by night bus, the journey takes 12 hours if everything goes well.
From Villazón (on the border with Argentina). Here you have the option to go by train or bus. Choose your own adventure!
My experience was from Uyuni to Villazón by bus and it was horrible. When it came to being on the road a wheel broke, the good thing about this was that I was able to sleep without suffering the craters that the road had… Another day I will tell you about my experience with Bolivian buses… By the way, they say the train isn’t a marvel either…
From Atacama. Hiring the tour in San Pedro de Atacama you can tour the Salar de Uyuni, it is practically the same tour.
Where to stay in Uyuni
Another adventure through Bolivian lands is accommodation, often does not correspond the quality of the accommodation with what you are charged and in Uyuni, despite being so touristy the accommodation is no wonder.
I honestly do not remember where I stayed, but if I remember that despite booking for Booking I had to pay in cash. So in case of doubt it carries cash, both for accommodation, lunch or dinner in Uyuni and for the tour, of course.
If you want to check out the Booking page or if you prefer and go well on time, you can tour some hostels or hotels and make the reservation right there.
What is the price of touring the Uyuni Salt Flat?
Where to hire the tour of the Salar de Uyuni
The best way to hire the tour is directly when you get off the bus. I’ll tell you why. When you get off the bus, even if you come busted from sitting for hours and all you want is to drop the backpack, there are going to be a lot of people trying to convince you to hire the tour with them.
My recommendation, is that if you go well by on time, leave your backpack in the hostel and then go to go to the street of the station (also ask in your accommodation), ask a few agencies at what price the 3-day tour of the Salar de Uyuni and that includes, I got it for 80 bucks, but 2 of my German travel companions were charged $90 and the other 2, u$s105. They don’t speak Spanish, so don’t let them scam you!
This price includes practically everything: the guide/driver, the transport, the accommodation, all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Ask if you include “la Isla del Pescado” or Incahuasi Island. What I don’t think any agency includes is the Eduardo Avaroa Andean National Wildlife Reserve. But you can ask, just in case.
What are you going to see in the Salar de Uyuni?
During this tour you will get to know landscapes of another planet. The first and most massed visit is the train cemetery, there you coincide with many tours, with those of 1, 2 and 3 days. Too many people for my opinion… Then you continue to the Salt Museums, the salt heaps, Salt hotel Museum, Fish Island or Incahuasi and night in a salt hotel.
On the second day you go to the salt flat of Chiguana, to the Vocán Ollague, to the lagoons with flamingos, to the siloli desert, to the Stone Tree, to the Red lagoon and you make night in a shelter inside the Reserve.
On the third day, you get up well early (at 5 am) to go to see the sunrise in the Geiseres, see the fumaers, take a bath in the hot springs at more than 5000 meters above sea level. Then visit the Salvador Dali Desert, the green and white lagoons and a few more stops.
Note: on these tours the third day you can continue to San Pedro de Atacama, many agencies do, just let them know. If you haven’t, the hot springs are where the detours are usually made. In our case, the driver asked if any were going to Atacama, who could go in another vehicle.
Travel insurance to Uyuni
For all trips it is necessary to take out travel insurance, but for some destinations in particular you could say that it is mandatory, it is the case of the Salar de Uyuni. You will be three days exceeding 3500 meters above sea level, sometimes you will be more than 5000 meters above sea level. My recommendation is that you go with travel insurance. We use Mondo’s,it has different types of insurance and you can customize it to your needs, through this link you will have a 5 % discount for being a reader of the blog.
Have you visited the Uyuni salt flat? What surprised you the most? Did it affect your height? Tell us about your experience to help more travelers get to know this wonder!!!
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