UYUNI SALT FLATS TOUR (STANDARD PLUS) - 2 DAYS
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.
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 accommodation and food will be basic. 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. 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 (for example during rainy season), sometimes additional things are included (such as train cemetery visits at the start or end of the trip) so this shouldn’t be seen as a rigid itinerary, although the most popular main sites are always included if safe to do so. 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 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.
DAY 1 – Uyuni – Colchani – Incahuasi – San JuanWe will leave Uyuni in the morning and first visit the train cemetery where you can see the old rusting trains from decades ago. After this we proceed to Colchani and witness how the salt is processed before we arrive to the salt flats themselves and see the "Ojos de Sal" where water bubbles up through the salt plains. We will see where the salt has been placed in mounds ready to be transported, the original salt hotel (no longer used for guests) and visit the Inca Huasi island to see the giant cacti and have great views of the salt flats all around. There will be plenty of time for taking amazing photos before we head toward the village of San Juán where we stay the night in a salt hotel.DAY 2 – San Juan – Lagunas – Laguna ColoradaAfter an early breakfast we leave to travel further south. We will pass through the Chiguana desert area where the scenery will include a number of extinct volcanoes plus the semi-active Volcan Ollague. As the journey continues we will pass by high altitude lagoons (Cañapa, Hedionda, Honda) that are home to 3 species of flamingo before arriving into the desert of Siloli and the "tree of rock". Our final destination is "Laguna Colorada", an amazing red colored lake. From here we will then start making our way back to Uyuni arriving at around 19.00 (please see Important Information below if you have a bus/flight connection after the tour).
INCLUDED / NOT INCLUDEDINCLUDED / NOT INCLUDED
- Transportation in 4x4 vehicle
- Spanish-speaking guide / driver
- Meals during the tour (take extra snacks)
- Accommodation in double / triple rooms in a salt hotel (we need to confirm availability)
- Transport to Uyuni
- Entrance fees (30 Bs + 150 Bs)
- Water (we recommend you purchase 2 liters per person per day to take with you)
- Breakfast on first day, dinner on second day
- Sleeping bag (can be rented before departure)
- Sunglasses and sun cream
- Additional snacks and beverages
- Torch (recommended)
- Transportation in 4x4 vehicle
IMPORTANT INFORMATIONIMPORTANT INFORMATION
BOOKING - THIS TOUR CAN ONLY BE BOOKED AS A PRIVATE TOUR
Due to infrequent departures (1 and 3 day tours are far more popular) we can only offer this tour as a private tour option. This has a set single cost for the whole vehicle and therefore the cost is the same for 6 people or just 1 person. The price shown at the top of the page is the calcualted cheapest per person price (so private tour costs divided by 6). You must choose the amount of people below when booking as this it is required in order to know how much food and accomodations will need to be booked but the cost remains the same regardless of group size (up to 6).
The salt flats tours travel to altitude of around 5000 meters so the majority of people will feel some effects from altitude sickness. 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.
This tour starts in Uyuni and DOES NOT include the cost of transport for getting there. We can arrange flights, buses and trains for getting to Uyuni - see them all in our Transport section.
Bus/flight connections - This is a private tour so it is more flexible than the other options that we offer. This means that we can adjust departure/arrival times according to your needs. If you arrive on an overnight bus and have an overnight bus back, for example, to La Paz at the end of the tour we will make sure you don't miss your connections. Same goes for the flights, if you arrive in the morning the tour can wait for you and if you fly out after the tour we will make sure you arrive back there on time (as long as the flight is after h 20.00). Please note that pickups and transfers to/from bus station and airport are not included but we will make sure you have enough time to reach them on time. A taxi from/to the airport is 15-20 minutes drive, whereas the bus terminal is at walking distance from the office you will leave from.
This is a private tour so the price will be per car. Each car has 6 seats so you will need to pay for the 6 of them regardless of how many of you are on the tour. This means that the larger the group, the cheaper per person it gets, up to a maximum of 6 people. If there are 7 to 12 of you then a whole second car must be paid for. For this specific tour we have arranged price to be shown always per car and not per person, so you will have to put 1 in the Quantity Box regardless of the amount of people.
This tour is with a Spanish-speaking driver/guide and at the moment we are not offering any upgrade to English-speaking.
Please note that this tour covers a long distance so especially during the second day you will not be able to spend a lot of time at each location. The guide will have to make sure the schedule is followed correctly and it is important you don't underestimate how far from Uyuni you are actually going. We can also decide, if you agree, to arrange the tour the other way round, swapping the two days of the itinerary so that you are more relaxed and closer to Uyuni while you visit the salt flats on Day 2. This is a possibility we can discuss but we will need to see if it's feasible depending on when you arrive in Uyuni.
We recommend you take a sleeping bag to use in addition to the provided blankets in the accommodations - these can be rented on the morning your tour departs.
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.
Accommodation - The accommodation for the night will be in double/triple rooms in a salt hotel (we need to confirm availability). Bathroom and shower (that has an extra cost of about 10 Bs) will be shared.
Luggage - Bags are normally stored on top of the car, but the space will be limited so you might have to leave part of your luggage at the office in Uyuni and will collect it when you get back from the tour. We recommend you have your luggage ready for this evenience (in order to take things our easily etc.) should this be necessary.
Rainy season - Please note that during the rainy season (usually from January to May) the Incahuasi Island and the salt hotel might not be reachable if the salt flats are covered in water. We cannot know this in advance and the guide will decide on day. In case the salt hotel is not reachable, you will spend the first night in a regular accommodation of the same standard (but not made of salt).
Health and safety - 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.
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.
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
- Why don't you do salt flats tours over Christmas/New Year period?
We do not sell any salt flats tours from Dec 23rd through to Jan 6th because of safety concerns.
Specifically this is due to the high number of incidences of drunk driving that occur on salt flats tours during this time. Some of the companies we work with, for example Red Planet, also completely stop tours during this time for the same reason. We still don't sell tours with any company that we work with that does not stop completely during this period as whilst they are likely to be safer options the fact is there could be drunk drivers from other companies making the area less safe. From experience we think it is best to avoid the dangers and problems that occur this time of year.
Please do not ask us to recommend any companies for tours during this time as we do not recommend anyone for the reasons stated. If you must do a tour (and we understand this is a highlight and it would be bad to miss) we would suggest you do a one day tour only as the 3 day tours are more problematic for the drunk drivers (drivers tend to celebrate in the evening with friends in the local villages near the accommodations). Also keep a close eye on the condition of your driver if you do end up on a tour.
- Can I pay to upgrade hotels on the salt flats tours?
In our standard tour offerings we do not offer people the option to be able to upgrade hotels because this would involve taking one part of the group to the standard hotels and others to the upgraded hotel in a different area and therefore two different routes and too much additional driving. We can only offer hotel upgrade options if you are doing a private tour for this reason - please contact us for pricing if you are interested.
- What time do salt flats tours start?
Salt flats tours in Uyuni usually start "approximately" 10.00 am to 11 am but this can vary. The reasons it can vary, apart from punctuality not being very common in Bolivia, can be for a number of different things. For example there is only one fuel station in Uyuni and it can be hard to get fuel quickly so drivers might have to queue for long periods to get fuel and this can affect preparations.
We usually request you to be at the local office at 9 AM to do your check-in, but if for example if your flight lands at 9 AM then no problem simply take a taxi to the office and be there as soon as you can - we will let the office now about your flight time and this will be taken into consideration. Also buses or flights arriving to Uyuni late (more common in Rainy season) can affect departure times - if someone in your assigned group is on transport that is late then the operator will try to wait as long as is possible to accomodate that so they can get on the tour that day - obviously there are limits to this and they dont want to wait too much as it effects the rest of the groups tour time. Tours starting in San Pedro usually start earlier around 8-8.30 am.
- Where do the Salt Flats Tours start from?
This salt flats tour starts in Uyuni and it does not included the price of getting to Uyuni. We can arrange transport (buses, trains, flights) from La Paz to Uyuni also – please visit out transport section HERE to see some popular options.
- How does rainy season affect the Salt Flats Tours?
The Salt Flats (salar de Uyuni) tours leave year round including during the rainy season and in fact many people try to visit during the rainy season in order to see the "mirror effect" of the water sitting atop of the salt flats and reflecting the sky which is an incredible sight. This is caused when the water table below the salt flats has risen enough to cause the water to sit on top of the salt. It is fine to visit the area when there is a certain amount of water but when it becomes too deep (after long sustained periods of rainfall in consectutive days) some places can become inaccesible such as Isla Incahuasi and these must then be omitted from the tours but they can usually continue visiting other parts of the salt flats and the area to the south (the colored lakes, geysers, hot springs etc) are usually not affected so tours are not cancelled completely.
The road between La Paz and Uyuni usually becomes a bit problematic with potholes and other damage caused but the constant rain and is worst in Mar/Apr time. The buses are sometimes cancelled due to this and other forms of transport such as train or flights are recommended or alternatively you can travel via Sucre / Potosi to Uyuni which is a better conditioned road that is less affected.
- What altitudes do the salt flats tours visit?
The town of Uyuni and the Salt Flats themselves are around 3700 meters (12139 feet) so 1 and 2 day tours are usually around this altitude only.
For 3 day tours you will visit much higher altitudes with the second nights’ accommodation near the Laguna Colorado area being at around 4300 meters and the Sol de Mañana geothermal field that is visited at around 4900 meters (16076 feet). You may also drive over a pass at 5000 meters (16404 feet), depending on the exact route taken, which will be the highest point.
- How many people will be in the vehicle?
On 2,3 and 4 day salt flat tours there will be a maximum of 6 travellers in the vehicle (1 in the front passenger seats, 3 in the center seat row and 2 in the rear seat row) plus the driver/guide.
On 1 day tours there can be up to 7 people in the vehicle (although usually 6) as the group gets out of the vehicle much more often and comfort is not an issue like it is for the long driving distances of the multi day tours.
- I want to take perspective photos – will there be lots of time & items for me to use?
People enjoy taking the interesting perspective style photos on the salt flats and of course there will be some time to stop and do this. The exact amount of time is impossible to say as it will depend on a variety of factors such as how long you have taken at previous stops, weather conditions, the group dynamic etc and you also need to bear in mind there is a schedule to keep to so the driver will only allow the amount of time he can in order to keep to the schedule safely.
As for items to use in your photos, some drivers do have some fun items but some wont have anything especially for photo props. The best advice is to take something interesting things yourself so you can get unique shots – let your creative side go crazy!
- Can you pick me up from a Colchani salt hotel?
Yes this is possible by prior arrangement, but if you wish to be dropped off back at Colchani after the tour , there will be an extra charge (please ask) as it is not on the standard route as tours return to Uyuni some 30 minutes drive away.
Also, as the train cemetery is near Uyuni town then you would miss this visit out as it takes place before arriving to Colchani