- Duration: 3 Days, 2 Nights
- Price: ~US $210
- Ideal Month(s): November – March
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.
Sights: Train Graveyard, Salar de Uyuni, Isla Incahuasi
Tours leave the city 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 town served as a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals to Bolivia’s Pacific Ocean ports. The rail construction started in 1888 and ended in 1892. The trains were abandoned in the 1940s, resulting in the train cemetery.
After visiting the train cemetery, the tour continues to the small village of Colchani (salt miners workshop close to the salt flats), where you will visit mini factories and see examples of table salt production. 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.
The tour continues by driving further into the salt flat, which during the rainy season (Nove – March) has an amazing mirror effect. During the dry season there are patterns called the eyes of the salt across the entire salt flat (dry parts are also visible during the rainy season). During this time all Land Rovers typically stop so travelers can take perspective photos and eat lunch.
After lunch tours drive to the central point of Salar de Uyuni called Isla Incahuasi or Inca Wasy (fish island) where you see an island full of gigantic cacti and coral rock formations. After visiting the island and taking more perspective photos the tour will head to the small Village of Atulcha to spend the first night in a salt hotel. Upon arriving guests will enjoy hot coffee, hot chocolate, or tea, and later a dinner prepared by local Bolivian men and women.
The first night accommodation is in one of Uyuni’s many salt hotels. Private toilets are on site, with hot showers costing an extra ~10 Bolivian Soles.
Sights: Desert of Chiguana, Volcán Ollague, Andean Lagoons, Desert of Siloli, Árbol de Piedra, Laguna Colorada, Sol de Mañana, Geysers, Hot Spring & Stars
The second day starts with breakfast at 7:00 am. If everyone in your group agrees to wake up for sunrise, the tour guide will pack your breakfast and you can enjoy your food with amazing views of a colorful salt flat sky.
After leaving the hotel and salt flat for the last time, the tour will head to the small desert of Chiguana on south side of Salar de Uyuni. Chiguana desert is surrounded by many volcanoes, mostly dormant / extinct volcanoes and one semi-active volcano called Ollague (5840m high). Throughout the day the tour continues south, passing by various colorful Andean Lagoons filled with hundreds of flamingos. The views are breathtaking and guides will allow all travelers time to take photos. Some tours stop by the lagoons to allows travelers to eat lunch in a beautiful setting.
The tour continues further south to the Desert of Siloli, which at 4550m high is the highest and driest desert in the world. Passing through the desert you will see the famous Rock tree (lava cooled- rock formation, Spanish: Árbol de Piedra).
After Árbol de Piedra, you will see the amazing Red Lagoon called Laguna Colorada, where thousands of pink flamingos hang out. The windier the day, the more red the water will be because of the sediments in the lagoon. Following Laguna Colorada, the car will take you to the top of a large volcano called Sol de Mañana (5000m) where you will see small geysers for the last stop of the day.
The day ends at a very basic hostel (big dorms for 5 – 6 people) where you will spend the second night. Hot coffee, hot chocolate, or tea, will be waiting on you along with dinner prepared by Bolivian men & women. After dinner you will have the opportunity to relax and drink wine in a large hot spring, where you will have one of the most amazing views of the stars anywhere on earth. The 35 cº hot spring is located 100 meters from the hostel, and has clean water and a changing room attached. Don’t forget you swimming suit.
Sights: Laguna Verde, Desierto Salvador Dalí, Laguna Blanca, San Pedro de Atacama
The last day starts around 6:00am after a hearty breakfast (pancakes, yogurt, milk, etc.). The first stop of the day is visiting the Salvador Dali Desert, and then continuing to Laguna Verde (Green Lake). The lake 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.
Laguna Verde is the last stop on day three and tours have the option of continuing to San Pedro de Atacama, or traveling back to Uyuni (7 hour ride). We recommend continuing to Atacama, but if you decide to head back to Uyuni, tours arrive around 6:00pm.