Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. It covers 4,086 square miles, sits 11,995 feet above sea level, and during the rainy season (November – March) a thin layer of water covers the ground, causing a heavenly mirror-like effect.
The 3 day, 2 night tour is one of the most popular experiences in the region, taking you across Salar de Uyuni, the Bolivian Altiplano (high plains), eventually ending at the Chilean border close to San Pedro de Atacama. Most tours take place in a Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4 with groups up to 6 people. Private cars are available for a higher fee.
The tour isn’t the most luxurious experience in South America, but the landscapes are some of the most unique and incredible sights anywhere in the world. You need to see Salar de Uyuni before you die.
The town of Uyuni occupies a desolate corner of southwestern Bolivia. Uyuni serves as a launching pad for hundreds of travelers each week to kick off their tour of Salar de Uyuni or the Southwest Circuit through Bolivia’s most beautiful and deserted desserts. Tours leave the town of Uyuni at 11:00 am. The tours consist of groups of up to 6 people who spend the next 3 days and 2 nights together in a Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4.
The first visit on day one is to Uyuni’s famous train cemetery or train graveyard, which is located 3 km outside Uyuni. The Train Cemetery is one Uyuni’s main tourist attractions. The train graveyard is a collection of rusty steam locomotives and railcars that date back to the 19th century.
The town previously served as a distribution hub for the trains carrying minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports. Plans were made to build a large network of trains based in Uyuni, but the project was abandoned due to a combination of technical difficulties and tension with neighboring countries.
Sitting in between the town of Uyuni and the neighboring Salar de Uyuni salt flats lies the quaint salt-processing village of Colchani. The tiny town of just over 600 people is home to Bolivia’s largest salt-processing cooperative.
After spending ~30 minutes in Colchani, the tour will head to Salar de Uyuni, where everyone will see the famous salt pyramids, which sit at the edge of the largest salt flat on earth.
Isla Incahuasi is located in the heart of Salar de Uyuni, just 80km west of Colchani. The Inkawasi hill is covered in Trichocereus cactus and surrounded by expansive views of Salary de Uyuni.
There is an entry fee to climb the hill (B$30), but it’s worth the outerworldy views of the world’s largest Salt Flat framed by cactus along the hiking trails.. The trail to the top of the “island” takes around 15-minutes both ways. Please note that Isla Incahuasi might become inaccessible during part of the rainy season due to Salar de Uyuni being flooded.
Volcán Ollagüe is a massive andesite stratovolcano in the Andes on the border between Bolivia and Chile, within the the Potosi Department of Bolivia and the Antofagasta Region of Chile. The volcano sits at 5,868m above sea level and features a summit crater that opens towards the south. The volcano is usually covered with snow, which combined with its yellow and red colors gives Volcán Ollagüe a beautifully unique appearance. Other than some past glacial activity, the arid climate of the Altiplano region has kept erosion rates low, resulting in the volcanic edifice being kept well preserved.
Laguna Hedionda is a salt lake located in the Nor Lípez Province, Potosí Department of Bolivia. The lake is notable for various migratory species of pink and white flamingos. Laguna Hedionda lies at an altitude of 4,121 metres (13,520 ft), with an area of 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi). Salt flats and bofedales (wetlands) are spread over the periphery of the lake. Llamas and alpacas are often seen grazing in the areas surrounding the lake.
Arbol de Piedra
Géiseres Sol de Mañana is a 4850m-high geyser basin, consisting of bubbling mud pots and wild fumaroles. The area is characterized by intense volcanic activity and the sulphur springs field emit a thick and nauseating aroma of sulfur fumes that you can smell from a distance. The field is seismically active, emitting pressurized steam visible in the morning up to 50 meters high.
At the foot of Salar de Chalviri lies Termas de Polques, a small hot-spring pool, where travelers can swim and enjoy the warm 29°C pool after a rough adventure through the Bolivian desert. The mineral-rich waters are thought to relieve the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
Salvador Dalí Desert is a surreal, extremely barren valley that has frequently been compared to a Salvador Dalí painting due to its painted hills and strange rock formations. The desert is located within Bolivia’s Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Abaroa and sits at an elevation of 4,750m. A few of the desert’s most famous sites are the painted hills and the obscure Árbol de Piedra.
Laguna Verde is green due to the toxic copper water at the foot of Volcán Licancabur 6000m). Similar to Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde is more colorful on windy days.