Although the Bolivian salt flats of Uyuni are remote, going on tours of the flats is very popular. Traveler’s from all over the world come to experience the “world’s largest mirror” during the wet season. Although the amount of time that you have to spend in Bolivia may vary, there are tours for almost any length trip.
Experience Bolivian Salt Flats Tours
If you are not familiar with the Salar de Uyuni, you’ll undoubtedly have an incredible experience going on one of the tours. The Bolivian salt flats are the largest salt flats in the world. In addition to being the largest, the salt flats are also one of the flattest surfaces on the planet.
In Bolivia, there are two seasons, the wet season and the dry season. You’ll only experience the salt flat’s mirror effect on tours that leave during the wet, and not the dry season. This is because the mirrored effect occurs due to rain runoff from nearby mountains which floods the salt flats. When this happens photographers flock to the area to capture images of the stunning landscape.
Travelers from all over the world book Bolivian salt flats tours to experience the over 4,000 square miles of salt flats. The experience of seeing the sky and the water become one during the wet season is truly unforgettable.
Although you can book a tour in Uyuni for the salt flats, for safety reasons it’s best to book online and in advance. Depending on how long you plan on staying in Bolivia, there are a few different tours offered of the salt flats.
The Best Bolivian Salt Flats Tours
Unfortunately, due to the rise in tourism in Bolivia, there have been cases of companies scamming tourists, so be careful choosing a tour operator. However, do not be discouraged, there are a number of reputable tour operators available. You can find all of the recommended operators on the site FindLocalTrips.com.
It’s also important to understand that any tour in Bolivia can change depending on weather and seasons. During the dry season, there are very few restrictions, so you are more likely to be sure to see the Bolivian salt flats. However, during the wet season, some of the locations may not be accessible by automobile due to flooding.
Full-Day Tours of the Bolivian Salt Flats
For travelers who are just passing through or have limited time in Bolivia, full-day tours are perfect. A one-day tour is both the cheapest and quickest option. Recommended tour operators Perla De Bolivia, Red Planet Expedition, and Camel Expeditions all offer full-days tours of the salt flats. They offer safe and reliable full-day tours starting and ending in Uyuni or La Paz. Although the tour is only one day, your one day will be packed with activities.
Your tour will start by first stopping by the historic “train graveyard” just outside of Uyuni. From there you will make your way to a salt miners’ settlement called Colchani, where you’ll get to see the salt mining process.
On the way to the salt flats, you’ll see the Salt Hotel Museum and the Pyramids of Salt, among other interesting attractions. After arriving and exploring the salt flats and visiting Incahuasi, you’ll catch a beautiful sunset to end the tour and head back to Uyuni.
Although what the tours offer differ slightly, most of the full-day tours of the salt flats are virtually the same. Regardless of the tour package you choose, you’ll have an unforgettable experience touring the Bolivian salt flats.
3-Day/2-Night Tours of the Bolivian Salt Flats
Although the full-day tours have a lot to offer, if you have more time, taking a longer tour offers more adventure and adds more to the experience. A number of our recommended tour operators offer tours lasting 3 days/ 2 nights or even longer. Tours can start and finish in Uyuni, La Paz, or in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile depending on your preference.
3-day tours are popular with travelers who want to get the most out of a Bolivian salt flats tour. Tour operators Red Planet Expedition, Perla de Bolivia, Camel Expeditions, and World White Travel all offer safe 3-day tours.
The 3-day tours start out similarly to the full-day tours, however, once at the salt flats you’ll spend a lot more time exploring the area. With these tours, you’ll usually still get to see the historic “train cemetery” as well as seeing a few small villages on the way to the flats.
After spending time taking photos of the amazing landscape, you’ll end your first night by staying in a hotel made almost entirely of salt. The exception is for those taking a tour with World White Travel. Their tour starts from San Pedro de Atacama and takes a different route to the other three operators.
Throughout the remaining days of the tour, you can look forward to starting your day off with a provided breakfast before trekking. Once fed you’ll get to explore the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve. You’ll also get to see the Sol de Mañana Geyser and a semi-active volcano called Ollague as well.
You’ll have the chance to see the nesting center for more than 30,000 flamingos of 3 different species, one of which is the rarest flamingo on the planet, found only in the highlands of Bolivia. These Andean lagoons are where these beautiful birds call home.
For travelers who want to really experience the region and have the time to spare, there is a longer tour available. World White Travel offers 4 days/ 3 nights tours of the massive Bolivian salt flats. This four-day excursion starts and finishes in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
Few things can compare to traveling in 4×4 vehicles through the spectacular landscape of Salar de Uyuni. In the four days that you’ll be exploring the Bolivian salt flats, you’ll experience so much.
You will have the opportunity of seeing boiling mud pools, geysers, volcanic rocks, and hot springs. You’ll also spend an evening at a salt hostel, see flamingos, and even see the famous desert rock formation “The Tree of Stone”.
Tips to Remember
Due to the high elevation of the Bolivian salt flats, it’s important to be prepared for the altitude and drink plenty of water. The best way to prepare is by spending a day or two just acclimating to the elevation prior to doing any strenuous activity. There are also altitude sickness pills that are available if needed.
You want to make sure to bring extra money for costs that are not included in the tours. You’ll need money for the park and museum entrance fees, bathrooms, souvenirs and anything else you find along the tour.
Finally, you’ll want to remember to bring sunscreen with you. The UV rays are more intense at higher altitudes, so it’s important to protect yourself.
Depending on the amount of time you have to spend in Bolivia, you can find some amazing tours of the salt flats. Regardless of what season you choose to visit taking one of these tours will make your trip truly unforgettable.