Bolivia's Salt Flats | Uyuni

Updated: Aug 30


Hands down, one of the most incredible trips of my life! I highly recommend everyone to visit Bolivia's salt flats as there is no other place on this planet like it!


In this article, I will share with you my journey to Bolivia's salt flats and of course important tips to know before you go.


  1. How to get to the actual salt flats

  2. Types of tours

  3. Things to see and do in the salt flats

  4. My honest opinion about the tour options

  5. Important things to know before you go

  6. Video

How to get to the actual salt flats

First, you need to get to the town of Uyuni. To get to Uyuni you will need to take a long night bus from one of the big cities. La Paz and Sucre are two of the most popular ones. The bus journey takes from 6 to 9 hours depending on where you leave from. The ticket price depends on the company. Some companies offer cheaper options with basic seats but some have more expensive options and your chair transforms into a bed. The price difference is not that much, so I highly recommend you go with the 'cama' option which stands for 'bed' type of seat. This is so you can enjoy your salt flat visit to the fullest and not be exhausted by sleepless night on an uncomfortable bus.


We took the comfortable 'cama' type of bus from La Paz at 10 pm and we arrived at 7 am to Uyuni. The price per person was around 100 BOB (~ 15 EUR / 12 GBP / 15 USD).

Then from there, you will need to arrange a 4x4 with one of the local companies. You can simply rent a 4x4 and go on a wander as the directions are quite straight forward but I highly recommend you to go with a guide as he knows all the best spots where to go and stop. Also, they usually try to fill up the car with 5 people so you will end up paying the smallest price. If you go yourself, unless you are a group of 5 people, you will end up paying more.


We booked a spot with a guide in the car in advance, from La Paz so on our arrival we just had to wait for our tour to start because we wanted to be sure we have a tour on the day we arrive. BUT now when I have been there I can surely say that do not worry about booking in advance! On your arrival, there will be many people offering you to join tours at the bus station and then there are many tour agencies in the town that are open early hours so you can book once in Uyuni town. Because as I said everyone is trying to fill up the cars.


There is no public transport going to actual stops on the salt flats. Only 4x4s go there, so you will need to go on a tour or go by yourself by renting a 4x4.


Another reason why I would recommend going on a tour is because there are no restaurants or shops for a long time. Once you start your journey through the desert it is just you and a lot of salt around you. The tour guide will have prepared lunch and snacks for you for the whole journey. If you go on your own you definitely need to prepare some food with you. Our guide was amazing and even had some red wine for us!


Types of tours

There are 3 types of tours - 1 day, 2 days, or 3-day tours. All agencies more or less have the same agenda.


Also for every day, there is a specific route. So you can't squeeze many things in one day, as there are vast distances between the sites. You need to decide if you want to do everything, as you will need to allocate 3 days, or you can do the shorter tours. I will explain what each day includes and then you can decide how many days you want to explore Uyuni. You basically can't move things around, you choose the day amount depending on what you want to see and visit.


DAY 1

First a quick stop by the train graveyard. Then a ride through the salt flats, which includes a stop at the Incahuasi island (the cactus island) and if the season allows a place where there is water over the salt desert, giving you a magical reflection.


DAY 2

Visiting the active Licancabur volcano on Chile and Bolivia's border and then stopping at beautiful lagoons with flamingos in the Fauna Andina National Reserve.


DAY 3

Visiting colorful lagoons and spending some time in hot springs.


The reason why you can't really change much about this agenda is that the distances are long and days are planned out in a way that you stay at different places so the next day you start from where you finished. Unless of course, if money is not a problem and you can do a personal tour arranged with your guide.


More about each place will be explained in the next section.

Things to see and do in salt flats


Salt Flats

The first and most important is of course the ride through the salt flats. The distances are quite big so you will end up riding through it the whole day. It is absolutely magical feeling. For me personally, this has been one of the highlights in the whole of South America. During your ride make sure you stop and take silly pictures like these:


It is a must do in Bolivia's salt flats because you get this unique illusion.

Also, make sure your guide takes you to a place where there is some water so you get the famous mirror reflection.


This might not be possible during the dry season. But we went to visit during the dry season (June 2022) and our guide still managed to take us to a place where there was some water.


Uyuni salt flats are the largest salt flats in the world!

Incahuasi Island

During your first day's drive through the salt flats make sure you stop by the Incahuasi island! It is such a unique place! The entrance is 30 BOB (~ 4.30 EUR / 3.70 GBP / 4.30 USD) and it is so worth it. Firstly, once at the top, you get an amazing 360-degree view of the salt flats, and second, it is simply such a magical place to be at. You will see some of the craziest cactuses you have ever seen! Also, it is quite cold there so a little hike will help you warm up. The trail there you can do in 30 to 50 minutes. Your guide should give you time to explore the island.


Train Graveyard

You can also visit the train graveyard just 5 minutes outside the Uyuni town. It was an active train line transporting goods, minerals, and people but now it has been completely abandoned. It is quite a fun stop because you can actually climb on the rustic trains.

Night in a salt hotel

This one is a tricky one. It is an extremely unique experience. I promise you, 99% is from salt. Even tables and chairs are made from salt. But they haven't figured out the heating system yet. It was absolutely freezing cold. I was sleeping in my clothes under 5 blankets and I was still cold. We did travel during Bolivian winter so it was colder than other times of the year and apparently the temperature was quite low even for winter when we were there but I feel like either way it would have been cold during the night. So I am glad I did it. I stayed in a salt hotel! But I would never stay there again. They also didn't have a shower there. It was just a stop where to stay over the night, not an actual amazing salt hotel. I believe there are some similar ones but none of them are luxury ones. If you want this experience you will need to go through a cold night. It is a very unique experience though, so I am including it as an option for you to do. If I have scared you with this option then do not worry, you can always arrange with the guide to stay in Uyuni town where hotels have heating.


Licancabur volcano

If you want to see an active volcano and a bit of Chile then you have to make a 2-day trip and make your way to the Chile border where you can watch the smoke coming out of the Licancabur volcano. Interesting that half of the volcano is in Bolivia and half in Chile and the active side is in Chile. It was nice to see, but unfortunately, you can't get too close to it for obvious reasons so you can admire it only from a far distance.


Canapa, Hedionda & Turquiri Lagoons

This was the biggest surprise for me. The 3 lagoons located in the Fauna Andina National Reserve were just so magical. Full of flamingos and beautiful surroundings they just took my breath away.



Laguna Colorada

The colorful lagoon you can see and visit if you do a 3-day trip. The lagoon is completely pink or red depending on the day. Also full of flamingos.


Hot Springs - Termas de Polques

On the 3rd day, you also can enjoy some relaxing time in natural hot springs.


My honest opinion about the tour options

Truly if you have arrived in Uyuni just to see and experience the salt flats, then one day is completely enough. You can literally take a night bus to Uyuni, have an amazing day on the salt flats, and then in the evening take a night bus back. There is nothing really to do or see in Uyuni town so no point in staying longer.


Incahuasi is a must-stop on your tour! Definitely make an effort and do the little hike around the island. I promise there is no other place like that.


Licancabus Volcano I am sure is great when you can get close but we were so far I almost couldn't see it. I was very disappointed in that visit as we drove 3 hours just to see it. I thought we at least will hike a bit around but nothing. It was cool to see the active smoke coming out and the nature around there is very unique, with amazing rock formations.


The 3 lagoons I mentioned above - Canapa, Hedionda & Turquiri - that we visited on the second day were amazing. It was a long way to get there and then back but it was a great way how to see the beautiful nature in Bolivia that I wasn't aware of.


We only did a 2-day tour because we didn't have time for 3 days and I honestly really enjoyed our 2nd day but really you only need that one first day to have an amazing experience in the salt flats. You really do the actual salt flats only on day 1. The other 2 days are for the National Park connected to it.


My thought process was that if I am taking a long night bus to Uyuni and may as well spend 2 days there and not just one. I am really glad I did the 2nd day and saw more of Bolivia's nature but I was also exhausted, wanted a shower, and needed a warmer place, so I was happy to leave after day 2. I was happy we didn't do day 3.


Important things to know before you go

Just a few things:

  1. It is very very cold there. Doesn't matter if you go during the winter or summer season. Summer might be a bit more enjoyable but it is cold up there all year round. So dress warmly.

  2. Prepare some snacks. There are no shops or cafes. Your guide might stop at the beginning of the day and tour at some villages, then get as many snacks as possible because once you enter the natural reserve territory there will be no snacks.

  3. The above also goes for water.

  4. If you have several cameras to charge (or like I have separate drone batteries) then make sure you have a power bank with you as there was only one charger in our room in the salt hotel.

  5. Tip for all my digital nomads out there. Most of the time there is no coverage for data. No wifi of course anywhere. So this will have to be a proper trip and not juggling work and travel.


To get a better feel of the things and places

I mentioned in this article, watch my video:


Going to La Paz next? Check out these two blog articles and the video: