Bolivian Salt Flats Tours are for many the highlight of Bolivia for good reason - they are incredible! Here you will find the tour you want and you can also read our guide to the Salar de Uyuni below
Most travelers that come to Bolivia will plan a trip to visit the Uyuni Salt Flats and we think you will agree with us when we say : that there is lots of confusing and inaccurate information out there!
We created this guide to visiting the Bolivian Salt Flats so you can find all the latest info & resources you need to research, plan and book your trip to the Salar de Uyuni right here.
We have all the latest up to date info to help you plan how to get to Uyuni, decide on what type of Salar de Uyuni tour & with which operator, what to take with you and many more essential tips.
This guide was last updated 19th May 2018
Click on the section heading to go straight to the info your looking for:
|Salar de Uyuni Guide Table of Contents|
|Types of Salt Flats Tour|
|What to Take On a Salar de Uyuni Tour|
|When is Best Time to See the Mirror Effect on the Salt Flats?|
|Taking Perspective Photos on the Salar|
|Altitude Effects on the Salt Flats Tours|
|Safety, Reliability & Drunk Driver Reports|
|Other Frequently Asked Salt Flats Questions|
|Links to Other Resources|
|Why Book Your Salar de Uyuni Tour with Us?|
We provide a full online booking service for you to book the best Salt Flats Tours with most popular, safest and reliable Salar de Uyuni operators.
Apart from tours starting in Uyuni (returning to Uyuni or with transfer to San Pedro de Atacama , Chile) we offer tours starting in San Pedro de Atacama and finishing in Uyuni or with a transfer back to San Pedro on the 4th day.
Additionally we offer a variety of transport options to get you to and from Uyuni including:
Also checkout out options for Hotels in Uyuni
Uyuni Salt Flats Quick Facts:
The most popular Salt Flats Tours are 3 Day or 1 Day options that start and finish in Uyuni but there are also a few other popular routes such as:
Any other type of salt flats tour you might see advertised is more of a custom option or just has transport to Uyuni as part of the tour.
For example tours from Sucre or Potosi usually just drive to Uyuni then do a standard tour and will cost more than public transport to Uyuni plus tour combination.
All the above options are tours in 4x4 vehicles (apart from motorbike tours) , usually Landcruisers, Nissan Patrols, Lexus type vehicles.
The transfers on the third day to San Pedro de Atacama are with Chilean buses that come to the border to meet with the 4x4s and must be arranged in advance with your tour from Uyuni (there are no public bus services from the border near San Pedro).
For single day salt flats tours you will just take a day pack of personal items with you and the operators let you leave the rest of your belongings in the office in Uyuni.
For multi day salt flats tours you will need to take more things of course but you should only take what you must take with you and leave things you dont need on the tour in the office. The reason is that the driver needs to manage the weight carried on the roof of the vehicle for both safety reasons and also it increase fuel consumption.
Of course those people that will be not be returning to Uyuni (e.g. with a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama) must take with them all their belongings.
What you take with you on your tour is of course personal preference and will also depend on which tour option you take (i.e. much less needed for a 1 day salt flat tour) but there are a number of things that we consider important to take on a salt flats tour :
Optional / Suggested
The mirror effect on the salt flats is one of the most famous attractions of the Salar de Uyuni and many people will try to visit when it is possible to see the water on the salar in this way.
The Salar itself is a vast dried up lake and therefore has a water table that sits not too far below the surface of the salt plains crust.During the Bolivian rainy season this water table rises as more and more rain falls. When there has been enough rain to raise the level the water starts to sit on the surface.
Being shallow there are no currents and the waters surface remains mostly calm producing the "mirror effect" wereby the clouds are reflected in the water and it can seem like you are driving through the sky.
Dry season (Winter) in Bolivia is approximately April to October and rainy season (Summer) from November to May - but it can be unpredictable , even more so with global warming.
It is not uncommon for example for it to be quite dry until Jan (when the heavier rains usually start) and continue to rain right through April - the best months for the mirror effect on the salt flats are usually Feb & Mar but there are no guarantees! All you can do is inquire as to the conditions closer to the time.
Also note that even though the mirror effect on the salt flats is incredible , if the water is too deep then it is not safe to drive across so if this is the case then Isla Incahuasi (the one with the large cacti on it often called Fish Island or Fishermans Island) will not be possible to visit. Also routes might be change meaning less chance of staying in a salt hotel on the first night of a multiday tour
Im sure you have all seem the crazy perspective trick photos that people post after their Uyuni Salt Flats tours.
You might be wondering how they are done and if they are difficult?
Good news is that they are acutually pretty easy and you are pretty much guaranteed to get some amazing photos on the Bolivian salt flats.
The effect is due to the vast flatness of the salt desert not having any point of reference to show depth of field in the images so things can appear to be right next to each other that are in fact many meters apart.
In general most of these kinds of photos are taken from a very low viewpoint , right down on the ground, with the small item you want to appear large close to the camera (often just a few feet / meters away) and with the items you want to seem small/ shrunk (usually people) located in the distance some 30 , 40 or more meters away.
The photographer will direct the people to change their poses until it matchs the effect they are looking for. A bit of practice and it becomes quite easy but also most salt flats tours guides/drivers are pretty good at getting some very effective shots for you and are always willing to help.
A good tip is to try to plan ahead a bit and take some interesting props with you so you can get really inventive - your imagination is the only limit - and sometimes the leg muscles of your photo subjects if your making them pose at funny angles for too long!
Possible ideas of props to buy or use are action figures, toy animals, various food and drink items, keyrings - basically anything small any interesting will work.
It is best to buy things before travelling to Uyuni though because once you are on the salt flats tour there is very few places to buy anything apart from a few souvenirs made from salt like ashtrays and candlestick holders.
The town of Uyuni itself is at an altitude of about 3700 meters (12139 feet) and the 3 day Salar de Uyuni tours can go up to altitudes of over 5000 meters (16404 feet) when they drive over certain high passes.
If your tour spends the night by Laguna Colorado, as most 3 day salt flats tours do, then you will be sleepng at 4300 meters (14107 feet).
Tours starting in San Pedro de Atacama which is at an altitude of 2400 meters (7874 feet) will be exposed to a faster increase in altitude and because of this it is more common for people to feel stronger effects when they stay by Laguna Colorada than those coming from Uyuni who have ascended more gradually.Often those starting in Uyuni have spent some time in La Paz and other high altitude places in Bolivia or Peru first so are more acclimitised also.
Regardless of how well acclimitised you might be prior to your tour you should expect to feel the effects of altitude to some degree during the higher parts of the tours.
For more people this is just light headaches or dizzyness, almost always shortness of breath and sometimes it effects peoples stomach at bit. Loss of appitite and difficulty in sleeping are also very common.
To help with the effects you should drink plenty of water, dont overdo anything that can dehydrate you like alcohol or too much sugary snacks.
Drinking coca tea can help with the symptoms of both headaches and upset stomach and usually the accommodations will have this available for you to try.
Standard headache medication like Ibuprofen can help and most pharmacies in Bolivia will be able to sell you tablets for "soroche" which is the local word for altitude sickness. Note though that these tablets usually contain caffiene so you should avoid taking them during the evening as they will inhibit your ability to sleep even further.
The Bottom line? - The vast majority of people go on salt flats tours and have no safety issues at all.
Some though , return to tell scary tales of their driver being so drunk that they had to take over the driving themselves or that he fell sleep at the wheel. It not huge amounts of people that experience this kind of safety problem but it is common enough and that is TOO MANY.
Even worse , a small amount never return to tell the tale at all!
Yes , its true. There are a handful of irresponsible drivers that work in Uyuni , that will get drunk and drive. They are a minority though and they unfortunately cast a bad image over the tourism industry in Uyuni when there are good , safe, hard working drivers working for responsible, professional companies doing their best to offer as good a service as they can.
How Can You Avoid Them? - Well the simple answer is to not use the cheapest companies.
Of course you can find blogs saying that "all tours are all the same" and "I went with super cheap company X and it was all fine" but that is because it is perfectly possible to go with a cheap company and everything go fine on that tour (also because people naturally want to think they got the best deal and brag about it in their blog).
Fact is - not all companies and tours are the same in safety, quality and standards. Its a simple equation really - the best companies wont work with the drivers that are known to drink and drive. The cheapest companies have to pay drivers less to cover costs so the better drivers wont work with them, meaning the drivers that drink will end up working for the cheapest companies.
It doesnt mean that only the most expensive are the only safe ones of course, but that it is likely that the cheaper you go the more risk there is of problems.
Also, booking your tour in advance is a safer option for the simple reason that you then know which company you are going with.
Turning up in Uyuni and booking on the day is a bit like entering a lottery as what usually happens is the tour companies just send each other the customers they have booked in order to fill up a group and you will often end up with a completely different company than the one you booked with.
Here is a list of the most commonly asked questions we received about the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats Tours.
Of course if the answer you are looking for isnt here simply ask us. If we are online you can chat direct using the live chat feature or you can leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Others ways to contact are email, the "Ask a Question" button on each product page or through facebook messenger.
We have provided a few useful links to other sites for your convenience
Googles Own Uyuni Salt Flats Travel Guide - A quick and basic travel guide provided by google , has a nice photo gallery though.
Tayka Hotels - these are the best hotels in the area and on private tours we can offer these as an upgrade option. Ask for prices as they change.
Weather in Uyuni Area - online current weather conditions and forecast for Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni Wikipidia Page - Some general info about the Salar de Uyuni from the online collaborative encyclopedia
El Potosi Newspaper - Uyuni News Feed - Latest news articles (in spanish) about Uyuni from the newspaper El Potosi (Uyuni is in Potosi district)
We have arranged Salar de Uyun Salt Flats tours for tens of thousands of satisifed customers.
You will see our name all over the internet , talked about in blogs and travel forums because we have been the number one for Salt Flats for many years for good reason.
We live here, we are in daily contact direct with the best operators and know what is happening on the ground in Bolivia.
Yes, we offer the convenience of online booking (we were the first in Bolivia to do so some 9 years ago) but we are not just an online faceless web page.
You can come and visit us in our La Paz office for any further questions or just to get some tips and advice.
We have staff answering emergency cel phone in country should you require any assistence whilst you are in Bolivia.
Most importantly though - the tours we offer are the best options. We KNOW this from experience. We could easily just offer any companies tours just to make a quick profit but instead we choose to offer the best experiences for our customers.
Apart from the many 1000s of satisfied travelers we have been trusted by companies such as the BBC, The New York Times (interesting recent article here) and many of the international embassies in Bolivia to arrange their salt flat tours.
We have been recommended in many guidebooks and blogs around the world.
If you can’t find what you need then please contact us for help.
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Regular Price: $264.00
Special Price $255.00
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Special Price $279.00
Red Planet Expeditions are the most popular choice for travellers visiting the salt flats of Uyuni. This is our best selling, mid-range salt flats tour option and includes an English-speaking guide. Red Planet are one of the most experienced, safe and reliable companies for the Uyuni Salt Flats and have been for a number of years and for this reason they do fill up in advance. First night in double or triple room accommodation. We are the number one booking agency for Red Planet Salt Flats Tours and can highly recommend this option.
Red Planet Expeditions are the most popular choice for travellers visiting the salt flats of Uyuni. This is our best selling, mid-range salt flats tour option and includes an English-speaking guide and a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama. Red Planet are one of the most experienced, safe and reliable companies for the Uyuni Salt Flats and have been for a number of years and for this reason they do fill up in advance. First night in double or triple room accommodation. We are the number one booking agency for Red Planet Salt Flats Tours and can highly recommend this option.
This is our 3 day "sunset" salt flats tour option including English-speaking guide operated by Perla de Bolivia. This operator is one of the most popular offering quality services , english speaking guides and increasing in popularity all the time - book in advance to ensure you get a place.
This is our 3-day salt flats tour option including English-speaking guide and transfer to San Pedro de Atacama operated by Perla de Bolivia. While this is a new operator, the staff and the guides have been in the tourism business in Uyuni for a long time and they have decided to open up this new one in order to offer a fresh and safe service to tourists.
3-day salt flats tour leaving from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) and finishing in Uyuni. The best way to get to Bolivia from Chile taking in the amazing Salt Flats, colored lakes, geysers and more.
This is our 4-day salt flats tour option including English-speaking guide operated by Perla de Bolivia, starting from Uyuni and ending in Tupiza. First night in a salt hotel. This tour is only available as a private tour. A great option if you are planning to head south/to Argentina after your salt flats tour.
This is our 3-day sunset salt flats tour option including English-speaking guide operated by Quechua Connection. Quechua Connection are a very popular choice for travelers visiting the salt flats of Uyuni and they get consistently good reviews. During dry season a bonus biking on the salar is also included. Daily departures from Uyuni. We are an official agent for selling Quechua Connection salt flats tours.
This is our 3-day salt flats "sunset" tour option including English-speaking guide and transfer to Chile operated by Quechua Connection, a very popular choice for travelers visiting the Salt Flats Tours of Uyuni. Daily departures from Uyuni. We are an official agent for selling Quechua Connection salt flats tours.
This 4-day salt flats tour starts in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and after a 3-day tour includes a transfer back to San Pedro de Atacama on Day 4. With up to 6 passengers per vehicle and a Spanish-speaking guide. A popular way to get to see this amazing area from Chile taking in the amazing Uyuni Salt Flats, colored lakes (Laguna Verde and Laguna Colorada), natural thermal hot springs, high altitude geysers and much more - all the while passing through the amazing and unique desert scenery all around. A memorable and other-worldly experience that will be a highlight of your South America trip.
Our standard plus 3 day salt flats tour is with maximum 6 people to a vehicle and a Spanish-speaking guide. First night in double or triple room accommodation. Classic and safe salt flats tour! Daily departures. This is the best option if you are travelling on a budget but don't want to miss out on this amazing experience.
Our standard plus 3 day salt flats tour with transfer to Chile is with maximum 6 people to a vehicle and a Spanish-speaking guide. First night in double or triple room accommodation. Classic and safe salt flats tour! Daily departures. This is the best option if you are travelling on a budget but don't want to miss out on this amazing experience.
This is our standard plus 2 day salt flats tour option including Spanish-speaking guide. Overnight in double or triple room accommodation. This is currently the only 2-day option that we offer and it can only be done as a private tour. The itinerary can be adjusted according to your bus/flight connections. This is the ideal option if you are short on time but don't want to miss out on the main highlights of the area.
Our mid-range 1 day salt flats tour option including English-speaking guide/driver operated by Red Planet. This is a classic and safe salt flats tour that will also take you to the foot of the stunning Tunupa volcano located on the northern side of the salt flats.
Our standard plus 1 day salt flats tour is with maximum 7 people to a vehicle and a Spanish-speaking guide. Classic 1 day salt flats tour for the budget backpacker - extremely popular tour leaving daily from Uyuni. A unique place in the world and a must on any trip to Bolivia. This is the best option if you are travelling on a budget but don't want to miss out on this amazing experience.