SAJAMA NATIONAL PARK & SALT FLATS 5-DAY TOUR - LA PAZ TO UYUNI

Price
$560.00
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This is an incredible 5 day trip that starts from La Paz and takes you down to the Uyuni salt flats passing through the amazing Sajama National Park and the seldom visited Coipasa salt desert. This tour includes English-speaking guide and is a new alternative to the classic salt flats tours. You can choose between three different levels of accommodations, from basic lodges to the Tayka Hotels. Price depends on groups size.

OVERVIEWOVERVIEW

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. 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 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 is an incredible 5 day trip that starts from La Paz and takes you down to the Uyuni salt flats passing through the amazing Sajama National Park and the seldom visited Coipasa salt desert. This tour includes English-speaking guide and is a new alternative to the classic salt flats tours. You can choose between three different levels of accommodations, from basic lodges to the Tayka Hotels. Price depends on groups size.

ITINERARYITINERARY
DAY 1 – La Paz – Sajama National Park
Meals: lunch and dinner
You will get picked up from your accommodation early in the morning and start a scenic drive towards the Sajama National Park through the amazing Bolivian altiplano for about 5 to 6 hours on a paved road (time varies depending on traffic conditions). This national park is the first national park of the country and is located at the foot of impressive Mt. Sajama (6.542m), the highest mountain of Bolivia.  We have lunch upon arrrival and we will spend the rest of the day exploring the beauty of this natural area. You will have the chance to see the highest queñua forest in the world, local natural hot springs and geysers, a lagoon, a lot of native fauna as well as the opportunity to enjoy some moderate trekking with the breathtaking views of Sajama and other stunning snowcapped peaks on the Bolivia-Chile border. In late afternoon we will then make our way to the accommodation of your choice where we will enjoy a local dinner before we go to sleep.
 
DAY 2 – Sajama National Park – Coipasa Salt Flats  Uyuni Salt Flats
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Today we leave Sajama National Park and move further south along dirt roads passing by herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas across the vast altiplano as we get closer to the salt flats. This is a very long day and we will cover a long distance. We will pass by a number of traditional villages and picturesque archaeological sites and have lunch on the way. In the afternoon we continue our ride through some lagoons (possibility of seeing flamingos in their natural environment) until we reach Bolivia's second largest, and lesser-known, salt flats: the salar de Coipasa. We will then spend the night in a small village located on the northernmost tip of the Uyuni salt flats. Enjoy sunset and get a good night rest after this long but rewarding day.
 
DAY 3 – Uyuni Salt Flats
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
On the third day we will explore the world's largest salt flats for a whole day, starting with a stunning sunrise on the salar. We then venture further inside the salt desert from the northern side all the way towards the eastern part. We will hike up the Incahuasi Island (a rocky outcrop covered in coral rock and very old cacti) and enjoy beautiful views of this white sea from its top. We then visit a former salt hotel (no longer used for guests) and of course there will be plenty of time to take amazing pictures to show to our family and friends back home. Don't forget to bring your own props! We will then leave the salt flats and find our accommodation for the night. 
 
DAY 4 – Lagoons – Siloli Desert  Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve – Laguna Colorada
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Today we leave the amazing salt flats behind us and we head further south, stopping at a number of pristine lagoons like the lagunas Cañapa, Hedionda and Honda, in a unique natural environment that will leave you speechless. We then continue our adventure through the Siloli Desert, eventually entering the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve. We stop at the Arbol de Piedra (Stone Tree) and other rock formations along the way. In late afternoon we will get to the stunning Laguna Colorada, where we will have the chance to witness up close the life and behaviour of the beautiful pink flamingos before we move into our lodge for the night (please note that if you choose to stay in the Tayka hotel for the night, the National Reserve and the Laguna Colorada will be visited on day 5).
 
DAY 5 – Laguna Verde – Uyuni
Meals: breakfast and lunch (lunch not included if taking a transfer to San Pedro)
Unfortunately today our incredible adventure has to come to an end. After breakfast we continue our drive through the Eduardo Avaroa Reserve until we reach the highest point of this trip, the breathtaking Sol de Mañana geyser field (4.900 m). We later spend some time relaxing in natural hot springs, and then get back on the car and stop to take pictures at the bottom of the Licancabur Volcano overlooking Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon) before making our way to Uyuni town (or if you want at this point, arrange a bus transfer over the border to continue to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, 1.5 hrs. away). Our tour ends upon arrival in Uyuni in the afternoon. From here you can return to La Paz by bus, train or plane (not included - see our Transport section).

INCLUDED / NOT INCLUDEDINCLUDED / NOT INCLUDED

INCLUDED

  • Hotel pickup in La Paz
  • Transportation in 4x4 vehicle 
  • English-speaking guide
  • Driver
  • Meals during the tour (4B, 5L, 4D) and bottled water for all lunches
  • 4 nights accommodation depending on package chosen
 

NOT INCLUDED

  • Entrance fees (total 310 Bs approximately - subject to change)
  • Transport back from Uyuni to La Paz 
  • Transfer from border to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile - available for an extra price
  • Sleeping bags
  • Extra beverages and snacks
  • Breakfast on first day, dinner on last day
  • Sunglasses and sun cream 
  • Torch - recommended
  • Tips

IMPORTANT INFORMATIONIMPORTANT INFORMATION
  • This tour starts in La Paz and includes the pickup from your central accommodation, but it ends in Uyuni and doesn't include the transport back to La Paz. We can arrange buses and flights for returning to La Paz - see them all in our Transport section. Alternatively, you can decide to book a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile at the end of the tour for an extra price.
  • Departures - This tour does not depart daily and we recommend you send us an e-mail before placing a booking in order to confirm availability.
  • Accommodation - You can choose between three different types of accommodations for this tour (price varies accordingly): standard, mid-range, premium. Accommodation will be arranged as follows.
  1. Night 1: basic lodge with warm water in Sajama village (standard), Tomarapi Ecolodge (mid-range and premium).
  2. Night 2: basic lodge with private bathroom and shared hot shower (standard), basic salt lodge with private bathroom and hot shower (mid-range), Hotel Tayka de Sal (premium).
  3. Night 3: basic lodge with shared bathroom but hot shower (standard), simple lodge with private bathroom and hot shower (mid-range), Hotel Tayka de Piedra (premium).
  4. Night 4: basic lodge dorm-style with shared bathroom and no shower (standard), simple lodge with private bathroom but no hot shower (mid-range), Hotel Tayka del Desierto (premium).
  • Rainy season - Please note that during the rainy season (usually from January to May) the Incahuasi Island some other locations might not be reachable if the salt flats are covered in water. We cannot know this in advance.
  • Group size and price - Price depends on the group size and the accommodation type that you choose. However, this is not a private tour so in case we manage to find more people for your dates, we will then be able to refund you part of the price accordingly.
  • 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. The salt flats tours travel to altitude of around 5000 meters so the majority of people will feel some effects for altitude sickness. We recommend that you should be acclimitized to above 3000 meters before going on these tours and that you take headache tablets, "soroche" (local word for altitude sickness) tablets and any other medications that you may require.
  • 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.

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.

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!

Booking Form

HOW TO BOOK

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IMPORTANT

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