Salt Flats Tour from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) to Uyuni - 3 Days
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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.
Trips to the Salar de Uyuni are an unforgettable experience but unfortunately the general standard of facilities and services are not very high in this remote area. We would like to make it clear that things are not as reliable, comfortable and professional as we would like on these tours so for this reason we do not promise more than what you will receive for your money. The accommodations and food will be basic, the driver acts as a basic guide but he is unlikely to speak any English, or if he does it wont be a good level. Due to the harshness of the terrain vehicle breakdowns are common. Still interested? Good, you should be because if you can put up with a bit of hardship you should have a great time. It is not essential to have an English speaking guide for this tour as most of it is looking at landscapes and these are pretty self explanatory. Take some extra snacks, plenty of warm clothes and a sleeping bag (can be rented) and the accommodations won’t feel so bad. The drivers are used to breakdowns and are pretty adept at fixing their vehicles, they are always willing to help each other out and you are usually not stuck for long - so a bit of patience is often all you need. We believe if you are informed truthfully about the possible negative aspects of the tours you can prepare yourself better and will have a more positive experience.
The following is a typical tour but sometimes some things are omitted from a tour, sometimes additional things are included, so this shouldn’t be seen as a rigid itinerary, although the most popular main sites are always included. If there is something you really want included your group should stress this to your driver at the start of the tour so he can plan accordingly.
This 3 -day salt flats tour starts in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and finishes in Uyuni, Bolivia. With up to 6 passengers per vehicle and a Spanish-speaking guide. A popular way to get to Bolivia 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 otherworldly experience that will be a highlight of your South America trip.
This tour arrives in Uyuni in time to catch evening flights and buses to La Paz - advisable to book in advance as usually full. See our transport section for options to book your tickets online.
DAY 1 – San Pedro de Atacama – Hito Cajon – Laguna Verde – Geysers
You will be picked up from your central hotel in San Pedro de Atacama around 8 am to be taken to the border at Hito Cajon (border of Chile / Bolivia). After passing through the border formalities it is a short journey to reach Laguna Verde where we will see the emerald green waters of this mineral rich lake (n.b. only green if there is some wind churning up the mineral - if calm there is a beautiful reflection of the volcanoes). We then head towards the geysers "Sol de Mañana" to witness the bubbling hot mud pools and shooting of steam many meters into the air. Next stop will be Laguna Colorada - a fascinating lake with red water and we can see many flamingos feeding along its shores. Here we will stay in a basic hotel for the night (shared accommodation and no shower).
DAY 2 – Laguna Colorada – Desert of Siloli – Laguna Honda – San Juan
We depart on this second day after breakfast around 8 am and we have a chance to see Laguna Colorada again as we pass by a different side of the lake. We will travel through the Siloli desert area and see surreal rock formations. Further along today we pass by Laguna Honda to witness its sulphury smell and pass by some other high altiplano lakes. In the evening we arrive in the town of San Juan where we will stay the night.
DAY 3 – Full day on salt flats – Salar de Uyuni – Uyuni
Today we will visit the amazing salt flats. Here we will see the "ojos del sal" were water is bubbling up through holes in the Salar, we will see where local workers gather salt into mounds and visit Isla Incahausi where we will find giant cacti and have great panoramic views of the surrounding salt flats. After leaving the salt flats we will visit the town of Colchani to see how the salt is processed and you can also ask your driver if he can take you to the Train Cemetery for the final stop on the tour before arriving in Uyuni. There will be plenty of time to stop and take photographs of the incredible salt flats throughout the day before we head to Uyuni arriving in the afternoon around 15.00.
Included / Not Included
- Transportation in 4x4 vehicle (usually max 6 persons) - transfer to border from San Pedro is by bus where you change to 4x4.
- Drivers acts as basic guide (Spanish-speaking)
- Meals during the tour (take extra snacks as food can be quite plain)
- Accommodation in basic lodgings (often no showers or if available there is a extra charge)
- Pre-tour briefing the day before of the tour
- Hotel pick up in the morning of the tour
- Transport to San Pedro de Atacama
- Entrance fees – 30Bs + 150 Bs = 180BS total for the 2 days minimum (some itineraries visit some small attractions with small entrance fees)
- Water - you recommend you purchase 2 liters per person per day to take with you.
- Sleeping bag - highly recomended as the high altitude means cold nights!
- Breakfast on first day, dinner on last day
- Sunglasses and sun cream
- Additional snacks and beverages
- Torch - recommended
- This tour starts in San Pedro de Atacama and DOES NOT include the cost of transport for getting there. We can arrange buses and flights for getting from Uyuni to La Paz after your tour - see them all in our Transport section.
- Optional day 4 returning to San Pedro de Atacama - We can arrange for you to take an early transfer back to return to San Pedro de Atacama if you wish arriving around midday approximately in San Pedro. If you wish to have this option you should use this product page.
- Please note that weather and conditions during rainy season may mean that some items on this tour are inaccessible - you will be advised of this at time of booking if this is the case.
- Low season / high season - This price is the low season price and some years around July / August prices can rise for "high season". We only know when this will happen and by how much when it actually happens and usually it is with just a couple of days notice. This is because it is the decision of the drivers union in Uyuni and not our or the operators. The price rise is usually around 20$ more but we cannot know for sure until the time. For bookings around this time you should book with the low season price and we always try to get the operators to honour advanced bookings at low season price. If they do not we will need to ask for the price difference or, if you don't wish to pay, you can cancel also.
- Luggage - There will be enough space on top of the car to store your bags.
- Can I fly to La Paz on the last flight on the last day of my tour? - Yes it is possible as long as there is an evening flight scheduled. Usually there is a flight at 19.50 pm (or 20.30) and tours finish around 16.30 / 17.00 pm so there is time to get this flight. On weekends though sometimes there is not a 19.50 pm flight scheduled.
- Can you drop us off at the airport after the tour? - For this you would need to speak to your driver direct - you might be able to arrange for him to take you, he might charge you for doing so, he might not - depends on the individual driver. He might not want to provide the service. Either way, the operator can arrange a taxi for you though and it costs about 20/30bs and takes about 20 minutes - this is the easiest way.
- Important - For safety reasons, we won't be accepting bookings for tours starting between December 23rd and January 6th. You can read a more detailed explanation of why we don't do salt flats tours over Christmas/New Year period HERE.
- Groups are max 6 persons in a vehicle.
- These tours visit very remote areas that have very limited facilities. If you are ill or there is an accident there are no medical facilities other than Uyuni town and even these are basic. If things go wrong you are faced with the reality of travel in a remote area of a developing country.
- Altitude sickness - The salt flats tours travel to altitude of around 5000 meters so the majority of people will feel some effects. we recommend that you should be acclimitized to above 3000 meters before going on these tours and that you take headache tablets, altitude sickness :'soroche" tablets and any other medications that you may require.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please read through these common questions & answers - if you cant find what you want to know send us your questions using the Ask a Question button
- Can we have this tour with an English speaking guide?
- Why don't you do salt flats tours over Christmas/New Year period?
- Can I pay to upgrade hotels on the salt flats tours?
- What time do salt flats tours start?
- How does rainy season affect the Salt Flats Tours?
- How many people will be in the vehicle?
- I want to take perspective photos – will there be lots of time & items for me to use?