Skip to Content

Salar De Uyuni Tour: Exploring The Bolivia Salt Flats

Salar De Uyuni Tour: Exploring The Bolivia Salt Flats

Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is easily one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The huge salt flats extend in every direction as far as the eye can see, making an awesome photo-op playground full of reflections, depth of field and fun perspectives. From January to April, the Uyuni salt flat’s surface is covered in a shallow film of water. That’s when the Salar de Uyuni becomes truly magical, creating a rare mirror effect that’s mesmerizing to witness. The easiest and most popular way to experience the Uyuni Salt Flats is by taking a Salar de Uyuni tour. Below we’ll detail our experience of a 3-day San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni tour. In addition, we’ll provide information about other Salar de Uyuni tours, accommodation and making sure you’re acclimatised, since the Bolivia Salt Flats lie at high altitudes.

For more incredible natural attractions in this part of South America, check out our guides on the Atacama Desert and hiking Bolivia’s Pico Austria.

About Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, also commonly known as the Uyuni Salt Flats and Bolivia Salt Flats is a vast salt plateau in the Altiplano of Bolivia. The immense salt crust extends 4,000 square miles and is the biggest salt flat on the planet.

During the dry season, the surface of the Uyuni Salt Flats displays a mesmerising geometric pattern of hexagonal shapes stretching out to every corner of the white crust. But, it’s during the wet season that the magic of Uyuni really appears. The largest salt flat on Earth turns into the largest mirror on Earth. A thin film of water coats the salt surface, creating one incredible reflective surface that is so stunning it’s almost hard to comprehend.

The Bolivian salt flats sit to the south of the South American country, close to the borders of Chile and Argentina. Indeed, it makes for many tourists’ first stop if travelling into Bolivia from the south.

Certainly, no trip to Bolivia is complete without witnessing the majestic Uyuni Salt Flats. Truly, Salar de Uyuni is one breathtaking sight and easily one of Bolivia’s most popular tourist attractions. But, don’t let the popularity of the Uyuni Salt Flats deter you from visiting. Rather than being an overly touristic destination that isn’t worth all the hype, Salar de Uyuni is worth every bit of praise, and then some!

But the question remains, what’s the best way to see the Uyuni Salt Flats?

Salar de Uyuni Tour Options

Undoubtedly, the most straightforward way to visit Salar de Uyuni is by booking one of the many tours you’ll find on offer. You’ll find Salar de Uyuni tours of differing lengths and beginning from various locations. Just choose one that works best for you. Most tour guides for Salar de Uyuni will be Spanish speaking only. Expect to pay a little more for an English-speaking guide. Some popular options for seeing the Bolivia Salt Flats include:

3-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour: the 3-day tour of Salar de Uyuni is the most popular option most travellers choose. This way, you’ll get to experience more of the surrounding area, which is outstanding. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to see the Uyuni Salt Flats at sunrise or sunset, which is breathtaking.

1-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour: you’ll need to be in Uyuni town to take advantage of a 1-day Salar de Uyuni tour. Typically, you’ll see the train cemetery and visit the Bolivia Salt Flats for the majority of the day. If all you want to see is the Uyuni Salt Flats, then this is the cheapest option.

4-Day or 5-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour: you might find the odd tour company offering a 4-day Salar de Uyuni tour, but, we think the 3-day option is plenty and won’t leave you disappointed.

Choosing a Salar de Uyuni Tour

The majority of Salar de Uyuni tours leave from the town of Uyuni is Potosi, Bolivia. Alternatively, you can find Salar de Uyuni tours operating from the towns of Tupiza, Sucre or La Paz.

Best still, you can actually takes a Salar de Uyuni tour from San Pedro de Atacama, meaning your transport from Chile into Bolivia is taken care of. Equally, you can take this tour the other way around too. So, in this guide, we’ll delve into the Salar de Uyuni tour from San Pedro de Atacama in more depth. Not only is this Bolivia salt flats tour outstanding, passing through all the major attractions within the Eduardo Avaroa National Park and Salar de Uyuni. But, it’s also an unbelievably convenient and exciting way to travel from San Pedro de Atacama into Bolivia. A route itinerary we know many of you will be doing, just as we did.

San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Salt Flats | 3-Day Tour

We booked our Salar de Uyuni salt flats tour online with Denomades. We used this company during our trip to the Atacama and they were the best value online. The cost of the tour includes all transportation, food and accommodation. We should point out you can book a Salar de Uyuni tour for cheaper directly from a tour office in San Pedro de Atacama. Booking the Salar de Uyuni tour online is a more expensive option.

Our travel window for the Atacama/Uyuni was tight and so booking online gave us peace of mind. There are many tour operators in San Pedro de Atacama and all pretty well offer the same package. Therefore, it would be highly unlikely that any Salar de Uyuni salt flats tour, on your preferred day, would be sold out should you choose to wait until you arrive in San Pedro to book anything.

Group sizes are usually six-person max and the only extra cash you’ll need is to pay for the entry ticket to the Eduardo Avaroa National Park. You can check with your chosen tour company for the most up-to-date price for this. In addition, a little extra for public toilets along the way is useful. Generally, it’s 3-6Bs ($0.40-0.80US) per visit. It’s also advisable to carry a 6L bottle of water per person and your own snacks, which we did – it’s hungry work being driven around all day! Part payment for the tour is taken online, with the remaining balance paid at the booking office in town. At the tour office, they’ll run through a breakdown of extra costs, so you can make sure you’re prepared.

Salar de Uyuni 3-day Tour Itinerary Highlights

Day 1

San Pedro de Atacama – Refugio Huayllajara

Day 2

Refugio Huayllajara – Hotel de Sal

Day 3

Hotel de Sal – Uyuni

DAY ONE

San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Salt Flats Tour

The tour minibus will pick you up from your accommodation at around 6.30 am. You will usually be given a window of time in which to be ready, so it’s potluck whether you will be the first of the group to be collected or the last. Once your four new companions have joined, you’ll be driven the 30 or so minutes to the Bolivian border crossing. There can be long queues here due to the numerous tours departing at the same time. Also, Bolivia is an hour behind Chile, so you may find some of the waiting is caused by the border office not yet being open. Be sure to wrap up warm whilst you wait, it can be chilly. We were wearing shorts and made a very swift change into trousers!

Breakfast is provided whilst you wait. The other minibusses within the same tour company come together to lay out a pretty decent spread. The cheese, ham and bread are basic but more than sufficient. There was also cake, which well, why not I suppose. Help yourself to tea and coffee, including Coca Leaf tea, to aid with any altitude issues you may experience.

The Salar de Uyuni Tour Begins

Once processed through immigration you’ll be transferred from the minibus to a 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser. Then you’ll meet your 3-day personal guide and properly begin the Salar de Uyuni tour. This is where we met Simon. A super friendly, expert 4×4 driving and ultimately very sweet Spanish-speaking Bolivian guide, who clearly loved his job. Luckily our basic to none existent Spanish was helped out by the Brazilian and German couple sharing the tour with us. They kindly translated all the fun facts and general information Simon had for us, including the timings to be back at the car when off exploring. Muy importante.

One after the other, jeeps speed off into the desert to begin the journey to the Uyuni salt flats. They follow rough tracks laid out before them but ultimately speed along with freedom through the desolate landscape ahead. Being driven by such knowledgeable and experienced drivers means you really can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Laguna Blanca & Laguna Verde

These are two large lakes that sit next to one another, separated by a thin stretch of land. Their white and green colouring is caused by the types of minerals found in each. The lakes sit at over 4,000m above sea level, and so it is not unusual to feel the effects of altitude if you have not acclimatised properly. The splendid Licancabur volcano sits behind the lakes, most notable for its near-perfect cone shape.

Salvador Dalí Desert

Next, you’ll drive through the Salvador Dalí Desert, so called because the landscape resembles that from the work of the surrealist painter – melting clocks anyone? The sand is a rough, deep brown colour. Almost like the golden sand has been lightly toasted. Laid throughout are the winding tyre tracks caused by the constant stream of 4x4s. Even the sky seemed as surreal as the terrain. Considering it was daytime, the deep blue of the sky felt as though you were just touching the outer reaches of the atmosphere, heading into space. The fluffy clouds hung low, like that of strung-up candy floss at the funfair. They cast huge shadows across the desert floor, almost so close you could reach out and take a bite. The desert is as close as you’ll get to an interactive painting by Dalí himself.

The surreal landscape of the Salvador Dali Desert, Bolivia. The sand is dark golden brown, with the treadmarks of the passing Jeeps. There are three mountain peaks in the distance. The low fluffy clouds are casting deep shadows across the desert floor. The sky beyond is deep blue.
The surreal landscape of the Salvador Dali Desert.

Polques Hot Springs

Polques Hot Springs is a welcome stop from the car journey, but also a busy one on the Salar de Uyuni tour itinerary. Given the extensive volcanic activity in this area, it’s little wonder these popular thermal pools exist. Simon informs us we have just 40 minutes to enjoy the pools before we continue our journey. The speedy turnaround hardly seems worthy of the effort of getting changed, and then back again. But, we commit. We know we’d regret it otherwise.

It seems all tours convene here at the same time. It makes changing, especially for those wanting to use a changing room, a lengthy process. And by that same token, timing your exit from the thermal pool needs to be strategic. Hence, you’ll probably have around 10 minutes of relaxing in the supposed healing waters of the Polques pool. But again, it’s worth it.

Sol de Mañana Geysers

The highest point of the whole 3-day Salar de Uyuni salt flats tour will see you reach Sol de Mañana Geysers. The geysers sit between 4800m and 5000m above sea level. Again, if you follow the advice regarding altitude, you should feel fine. The area is a hive of geothermal activity. The ground is lumpy and potholed with mud pools. They bubble and spit as visitors walk by. The ground is a rainbow of vibrant colour set against brown peaks in the background. The obligatory sulphuric smell fills the air around the plumes of steam rising from the crevices. It’s a pretty surreal place to be, especially knowing how high above sea level you are.

Salar de Uyuni tour
Sol de Mañana Geysers.

Laguna Colorada

Last on the day’s itinerary of the San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni tour is Laguna Colorada. The lake here is famed for its pink waters and is home to hundreds of flamingoes. There is a short circular walk you can do. It takes you up a small hillside for great views of the lake before descending back down to the Laguna Colorada’s edge. Here you hug the lake closely as you view the many flamingoes out catching their shrimp supper. We found it pretty cold towards the end of the day, so wrap up.

A lone pink flamingo stands on the shore line of Laguna Colorada innear Uyuni, Bolivia. The lake is pink and reflecting the hill top in the background. The sky is predominantly cloudy with a little patch of blue sky to the right of the image.
Flamingo at Laguna Colorada.

Refugio Huayllajara

By this time you’ll be hungry for dinner and so on to Refugio Huayllajara – the accommodation for night one of the Salar de Uyuni tour. The hostel is basic but perfectly adequate. There is no wifi and electricity to charge your devices is only available between 6.30-9pm. Bring your own toilet roll, hand soap and towel. Oh, and no showers at this refugio either, that luxury will have to wait. Pleasantly, the beds aren’t as basic as we were expecting. They are made up with sheets, blankets and quilt, so no need to bring that sleeping bag along. The rooms are dormitories of four or six, so be prepared to share with your new travel buddies.

Dan and I opted for vegetarian meals for the duration of the trip. This was arranged when initially booking the tour so all the catering can be organised. Not that either of us is strictly veggie. More that Dan had, in fact, done this Salar de Uyuni salt flats tour a few years earlier, with a different company, and had fallen ill with food poisoning. So, this was more precautionary. However, we’re glad we did. Our meals soon became the envy of our fellow tour buddies, who were hoping to convert over to the green side. However, that is not possible. So make your decision before the Salar de Uyuni tour begins. All food is carried with your driver, and so brought along for the journey. Poor Simon had to try to procure more eggs to satisfy the new meat-free movement of our group.

DAY TWO

Siloli Desert

After a decent breakfast at the Refugio, the jeeps are reloaded with your group’s supplies and day two of the Salar de Uyuni tour commences. First stop is the Siloli Desert, which has a similar landscape to the Salvador Dalí Desert. It’s home to an array of weird and wonderfully shaped rocks including Arbol de Piedra (the Stone Tree). This is the star attraction.

The rocks in the Siloli Desert sit abruptly on the brown sand. They should look out of place but somehow belong in this vast desert landscape. You’ll be given the chance to wander amongst the rock formations by yourselves, like meandering through a sculpture park, before rejoining the group to continue on the Salar de Uyuni tour.

Arbol de Piedra, Siloli desert, Uyuni salt flats tour Salar de Uyuni tour
Arbol de Piedra, Siloli desert.

Lagunas Chiarchota

Lagunas Chiarcota, Honda, Hedionda and Cañapa follow, where you’ll stop for lunch. There are more flamingoes to photograph also. Around the laguna, you’ll have the opportunity to take your own short walk and explore whilst lunch is prepared. Another simple yet tasty affair.

The landscape is serene and peaceful, even with the numerous Salar de Uyuni tours making their lunch stop here over the course of a couple of hours. The flamingoes are shy and so tricky to capture up close if you don’t have a camera with a good quality zoom. Still, the little speckles of pink on the lake, scattered like hundreds and thousands on the top of a cake, looks remarkable.

Salar de Uyuni tour.
More Flamingoes!

Look Out For the Quinoa Fields

En route to the second nights’ accommodation of the Salar de Uyuni tour, you may be lucky enough to view in the surrounding landscape quinoa fields in full bloom. Quinoa is widely produced in Bolivia and is even made to produce beer. It’s worth a try – when in Rome and all that! What we found most surprising is just how beautiful the flowers are. The jaw-dropping vibrancy of yellows, reds, oranges and pinks is nothing short of breathtaking. They resemble, in autumnal shades, the ever popular lupine fields so often seen in our Instagram feed. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you pass through.

Hotel de Sal (The Salt Hotel)

The second nights’ accommodation of the Bolivia Salt Flats tour is Hotel de Sal. It’s an actual salt-built hotel located in Colcha K. More luxurious than the previous night’s stay, you’ll have a private room and a bathroom with a hot shower; most welcome at the end of a busy couple of days. The evening meal here is also good, including wine. What a treat. We were also greeted upon arrival to Hotel de Sal with a little late afternoon snack of tea/coffee and biscuits to keep us going.

SIDE NOTE: it’s important to point out spending the day touring in a jeep is not half as uncomfortable as you might expect it to be. The back is surprisingly roomy, with only day packs kept on your person. The larger luggage is carefully wrapped and stored on the roof. Although we do recommend trying to shotgun the back two seats of the jeep if you can. You’ll understand why when you’re there. And props to our guide for keeping us stocked up with lollypops!

DAY THREE

Salar de Uyuni

Day 3 and at last you’ll reach the pinnacle of the tour Salar de Uyuni. We visited in February, giving us a rare opportunity to view the flats as a giant mirror. This is due to a thin layer of water covering the surface and only happens at certain times of the year – during the rainy season. If you can time your visit with this time of year, then we strongly recommend you do.

Salar de Uyuni at Sunrise

The final day has an early start. You’ll need to be up and packed away ready to leave at 4.30 am. If you don’t leave this early, you won’t make it to the Uyuni salt flats in time for sunrise. Your sleepy head will thank you later. Sunrise at Salar de Uyuni is categorically one of the most breathtaking sites we’ve ever seen. In fact, it is by far one of the most memorable parts of our wider South America trip. The perfect mirror reflection on the ground, the playful ripples as you walk through the shallow water, the intensity of colour as the sun begins to rise. My word, such an experience. One we will never forget.

It’s cold out on the Bolivia Salt Flats, especially waiting for the sun to fully pop up, and so we can’t recommend layers enough. Dan wore his hiking boots, smart cookie. I, on the other hand, had just my trainers on. Not so smart. Being stood out in the extreme cold on a wet surface in just trainers is not a good idea. You’ll find you’re treading carefully to avoid absorbing too much moisture into your shoes. Instead, you should wear a boot or welly. That way, you can jump around the Uyuni Salt Flats to your heart’s content. Which you will.

Incahuasi- Cactus Island (Fish Island)

Post sunrise, the Salar de Uyuni tour stops for breakfast at Incahuasi; a cactus drenched island rising from the middle of the Bolivia salt flat expanse. We thought it was actually much cooler than we had imagined it would be. There’s a short walk around the small island to do whilst breakfast is prepared. It leads up to a viewpoint where you’ll be able to gaze upon the enormity of the Uyuni salt flats, stretching before you in every direction.

Filling the majority of the image is a tall cactus with six prongs. It sits on a dirt hill with other cacti surrounding it. Beyond is the wide, white and flat expanse of the Uyuni salt flats. The sky is light blue and there are wispy clouds across the sky.
Cacti at Incahuasi.
Uyuni salt flats
Cave lookout at Incahuasi.

After breakfast, you’ll be driven to the Uyuni salt hotel in the middle of the flats. Next to the hotel, you can marvel at the flag structure, which sits proudly in the white expanse surrounding it. Then, you can take the walk to the Dakar monument, home to the famous Dakar rally driving. Next up, the trick photography fun begins.

Bolivia salt flats
Flags at the salt hotel
Bolivia salt flats
Dakar Monument

Photography Fun at Salar de Uyuni Bolivia

The iconic photoshoot. You’ve probably seen pictures of the fun perspective shots taken on the Uyuni Salt Flats; crawling out of the Pringles tube, being chased by a giant T-Rex, standing in the palm of your partner’s hand etc. This is the place for all those shots!

The Salar de Uyuni tour guide is well practised in these perspective photographs and takes care of everything. We know from our experience that Simon was wonderful. The only thing you need to hope for is an enthusiastic group who want to have equally as much fun with the photoshoot as you do. The more animated you can be the better, so leave your inhibitions in the jeep. It’ll be worth it, we promise.

Salar de Uyuni Perspective Photography

Be sure to bring some props too, you can’t always rely on your guide to have any. We had to spend a couple of dollars on an empty Pringles tube (yes, we know!) and borrow a dinosaur from the jeep next door. Never thought I’d be saying that! As keen hikers, we managed to have a bit of fun walking the tightrope shoelaces of our giant boots. Luckily for us, our group was happy to join in this fun too.

Salar de Uyuni tour
Walking the shoelace tightrope.

The Train Cemetery

Leaving the Bolivia Salt Flats behind, next up on the tour from San Pedro de Atacama is a quick stop at the nearby town of Colchani. Here, you’ll find souvenirs en masse, before lastly ending at the Uyuni train cemetery. It’s an interesting place, and worth a look around. But, in all honesty, by this point you’ll just be thinking back to the magical morning spent on the Uyuni Salt Flats, and no train cemetery can beat that.

After a final lunch with your Salar de Uyuni tour buddies, time is your own again. For Dan and I, we had just a few hours to explore a little of the small town of Uyuni before catching a pre booked nightbus to La Paz. What an outstanding experience the San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Salt Flats tour this was.

Salar de Uyuni tour train cemetery
Train cemetery in Uyuni

Uyuni Town

You’ll need a good coffee- Uyuni has you covered. As we said, we didn’t find much to be going on in Uyuni, so after 3 days with no internet or decent coffee, we holed up for a few hours at The Guardian Coffee Shop (Av Ferroviaria c/Calle Sucre, Uyuni). They serve an excellent brew in true hipster comfort. It was a lovely little find that we highly recommend! The Todo Tourismo office, from where we were to continue our journey, also provides wifi, charging stations and a lounge room. Here you can help yourself to tea and coffee whilst waiting to board the bus to continue your adventures. More below under getting to/from Uyuni.

Best Time to Visit Salar de Uyuni

You can visit Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia any time of year. But, we highly recommend timing your visit with the wet season in Bolivia. That means visiting between January to April. This is because the Uyuni Salt Flats are coated in a layer of water that creates the most unbelievable mirror reflections. Honestly, the Bolivia Salt Flats look outstanding.

To enjoy more of the geometric patterns created by entirely dry salt pans at the Uyuni flats, then you’ll be better off visiting during the dry season, which typically runs from June – November.

Dan and I visited in February and managed to get the best of both worlds.

Animals on the Salar de Uyuni

Despite the desolate and harsh landscape you’ll find at the Uyuni Salt Flats on the tour from San Pedro de Atacama, some animals have managed to make the environment home. Along with flamingoes, you might spot Pumas, Viscachas and Vicuña.

San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni 3-Day Tour Recap

As you can see, the three-day San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni tour is jam packed with plenty to explore. The desert landscape is so wonderful to journey through, feeling very remote and off the beaten track. The Salar de Uyuni tour we booked was planned and executed extremely well, with no complaints from us on that front. Perhaps day two was where we felt the biggest drag of the whole experience, but then the start of day three turned all that around. Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia are up there as one of the most beautiful places in the world, and we implore you to go see it for yourselves.

Acclimatisation

Take precautions to reduce the risk of altitude sickness. Sitting at over 3,500m above sea level, the Salar de Uyuni exceeds the threshold by which most professionals believe you start to feel the effects of altitude. Put simply, altitude sickness can occur when the body has not had enough time to adjust to reduced oxygen levels in the air. This of course happens the higher above sea level you go. Age, physical fitness and gender make no difference, anyone can be affected. That said, it is always good to be mindful before booking trips in and around Uyuni, as many attractions reach heights of over 4,000m. Good practice would be to give yourself at least 48-72 hours rest upon arrival.

Luckily, if like us you’re travelling from San Pedro de Atacama, then chances are you will already have acclimatised. But always take precautions. Sip water throughout the day and do take your time when walking.

Salar De Uyuni Fun Facts

  • Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is over 4,000 sq miles of salt flats, making it the largest in the world.
  • Salt and Lithium are extracted from the Uyuni Salt Flats.
  • Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia sits at around 3,600 metres above sea level.
  • The Bolivia Salt Flats formed some 40,000 years ago when a giant prehistoric lake dried up.
  • The thick slat crust of Salar de Uyuni is estimated to be around 10 metres thick. That’s a lot of salt!

Getting to & From Uyuni

Just book a tour. There are always pros and cons of organised tours. You’ll inevitably pay more to have a guide, but sometimes it just makes sense. A tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni is one such occasion.

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s biggest salt flat for a reason- it’s huge! It’s near impossible to drive and navigate yourself from San Pedro de Atacama, across a desert landscape, to the salt flats; best leaving that to the experts if you ask us. Traveling directly from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni takes 10-12 hours. Cruz del Norte runs a bus between the two towns. We find Busbud a fantastic resource when booking buses overseas.

But, travelling directly between San Pedro de Atacama and Uyuni is a full day taken up with travel. So why not make a whole desert adventure out of it, meet fellow travellers and see some cool things along the way? Step forward a 3-day San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni tour. As mentioned earlier, an organised tour takes you directly from your accommodation in San Pedro, all the way to Uyuni, with everything taken care of in between, making life very straightforward.

Uyuni to La Paz

Book an overnight bus to La Paz. The Salar de Uyuni tour finishes early afternoon with lunch, and then time is yours again. The salt flats are the main attraction of Uyuni, so unless you desperately need extended time to rest after the tour, we recommend booking the overnight bus the same day up to La Paz, if travelling that way. Todo Turismo (located Av.Cabrera, Uyuni) depart Uyuni at 8 pm and arrive into La Paz at 6.30 am the following morning. Again, you can book directly with them or using Busbud.

We’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a few overnight buses now, and this was by far the best. We’d done a lot of research into the best way to get to La Paz from Uyuni, reading some overnight buses and other local forms of transport can often be unsafe. At a semi-reasonable price per person, Todo Tourismo is the most expensive option within our budget. However, the company did come with an outstanding safety record. Sometimes you just can’t put a price on that.

Additionally, there is a hot meal for dinner and a sandwich for breakfast. A blanket and pillow are provided for the night’s rest. Although the seats are not full cama, we found they reclined enough to afford sufficient comfort to be able to sleep well. Also, we’d had difficulties completing our booking online, but a simple Facebook message to Todo Tourism secured our reservation. We were able to pay, by card, once we arrived at the bus office in Uyuni. Great service and very easy.

Accommodation in Uyuni

The 3 day Salar de Uyuni tour we took included all accommodations. The hostels are Refugio Huayllajara and Hotel de Sal. Refugios are of course basic, hence why they are so cheap. However, we found both these accommodation options to be comfortable and more than adequate for food and a night’s rest. If you are looking for something a little more upmarket, you will find Salar de Uyuni Tours offering more premium accommodation. Inevitably though, you will be paying a lot more for those.

Once the Salar de Uyuni tour is over, if you’re not jumping straight on a night bus, as we did, then you’ll be needing someone to stay in Uyuni. These are the top three recommendations we came across for visitors after finishing the Salar de Uyuni tour.

  • Budget – Eucalyptus Uyuni: you can expect a simple yet comfortable stay at Eucalyptus Uyuni.
  • Mid-range – Tonito Hotel: this is one of the most popular and highly rated accommodation options in Uyuni. A stay at Tonito Hotel will not leave you disappointed.
  • Luxury  Hotel Jardines de Uyuni: this centrally located hotel has rustic decor, private bathrooms and a fantastic breakfast. In fact, a stay at Jardines de Uyuni might feel like a luxury but the price tag is still pretty reasonable.

Five Travel Essentials for Uyuni Salt Flats

Travelling to the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia is a trip to remember. Here are five of our top travel essentials to ensure you have the perfect trip. For a more comprehensive packing list, please check out the Ultimate Packing Checklist. It’s a great general summary of everything you’d need for a trip. For even more information check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. We go in-depth into what hiking and camping gear we use. There, you’ll find specific recommendations for all the products we love.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is necessary, particularly if you’re travelling to high-altitude areas like the salt flats in Bolivia and even wider South America.

SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.

For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.

SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future. Press on the image below to suss out a quote today.

Bonus Tips

  • Currency: If travelling from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni you will require Boliviano’s if you don’t already have them (we didn’t). There are many exchange bureaus in San Pedro where you can swap your currency. However, it proves more economical to obtain Bolivianos whilst still in Santiago, or any larger city, as there is a better exchange rate.
  • Appropriate footwear: During wet season hiking boots or wellies are essential. Cold, damp feet are not fun.
  • Supplies: as the Salar de Uyuni 3-day tour includes 3 meals a day, plus afternoon snacks, you don’t need to pack much in the way of food. Aside from the 6L bottle of water per person, you can pack your own snacks to nibble on throughout the day if you need. Meal sizes are decent though so don’t worry you’ll go hungry. We’re talking a three-course spread laid out. The hostel locations on the Uyuni Salt Flats tour are near a few local shops, but stock nothing in-depth and are generally quite expensive – so buy before you leave.
  • Travel buddies: spending 3 days on the Salar de Uyuni tour with total strangers is not as easy for some as it is for others. General rule – if someone puts headphones in, they want alone time.
  • Good practice: of course, it’s always good practice to do a quick Google search of any tour company before booking online or in-person and always check other traveller’s reviews.

Bookmark, pin or save this post for when you are able to take that awe-inspiring trip to Salar De Uyuni.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Violet says:

    Amazing review! Our group of 4 is looking to do this tour in November this year, a few questions that would really help us:
    1) Is star gazing an option in this tour? We would love to see them but feel like it is only shown in groups that are going Uyuni to Uyuni.
    2) How cold was it? The accomodation seems very basic and wanted to do if we should pack anything in particular?
    3) Is there a difference between the views for sunrise vs sunset? This tour has sunrise but I’ve heard sunset is more beautiful

    Thanks!

    • Beck Piggott says:

      Hi Violet,

      So glad you enjoyed the post. Uyuni was a truly wonderful trip. In response to your questions,

      1. Star gazing might be an option, but you’d have to check with your guide and it might be something you do independently from the accommodations, rather than being taken to the sale flats. But do ask.
      2. It is cold, so take layers to sleep in, but we found the accommodations had ample blankets and bedding for a comfortable nights sleep.I wouldn’t say thermals are necessary, but it depends on how much you feel the cold.
      3. We only saw sunrise, but I can promise you the experience will blow you away, so I doubt you’ll feel short changed by not seeing sunset.

      Hope that helps!
      Beck