Tours from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni are an adventure in between two countries, crossing the border of Bolivia and Chile, in the Andean High Plateau. We offer one way and round trip tours from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. You can choose between a One Way Trip or Roundtrip tour as well as choose between an English-speaking or Spanish-speaking guide.
For tours departing from Uyuni, Bolivia click here.
Uyuni is a small town in the southwest of Bolivia, which is most famous for hosting the world’s largest salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni. It’s an ideal point at which to cross the border between Chile and Bolivia if you are on a longer journey through South America, as the area is populated not only with the stunning salt flat, but also deep blue lagoons, impressive rock formations, and a host of wildlife such as alpacas and wild flamingos which gather by the hundreds around the lagoons.
Uyuni was founded in 1890 and has around 11,000 people. When you arrive in Uyuni it’s highly likely you will see the large street-market that takes up much of the main area in town, where you can buy souvenirs or find a place for lunch. As there are scarce water supplies near Uyuni and the water itself is very saline due to its proximity to the salt flats, the countryside is very arid and formed mostly of dry planes. Many Bolivian people make their living from quinoa farms which are located between Uyuni and the Chilean border. Whilst quinoa needs to be kept moist in its early stages, an arid climate suits the seeds once they are past their initial growth stages and thus this area provides the perfect climate.
Perhaps one of the most famous parts of Bolivian culture is the typical dress of Andean women that involves the pollera (pleated-skirt), a 19th century European style bowler hat, and a silky shawl called a manta. Originally influenced from the Spanish colonial dress which people were forced to wear, they have since become a symbol of pride for indigenous people and their culture.
In San Pedro itself it’s best to stay closer to the main street of Caracoles, as this is where many of the tours will depart from if they don’t provide a pick-up service. However the town of San Pedro de Atacama is very small and easily walkable no matter where you end up staying, so if you decide on a hostel or hotel that seems further out then this is still not a problem. The town is very quiet and you won’t have any problems walking around even at night. You may be alarmed by the number of street dogs but these are all friendly and often follow travelers around to accompany them from one end of town to the other.
Uyuni is a very small town and whilst the countryside around it is absolutely breathtaking, there is not much to do in the town of Uyuni itself. We recommend that you only stay in Uyuni in a hotel or hostel if you have rented a car and want to explore nearby landscapes by yourself, or if you have a late/early morning connecting flight onwards to somewhere else.
Not to be missed are the stunning salt hotels which you can stay in right next to the Uyuni salt flat itself. On our San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni tour, you will have one night in one of these hotels and will see how the entire structure is crafted from salt bricks. There are other more luxurious salt hotel options which can also be explored if you are traveling on your own and want an even more comfortable place to stay whilst based on the flats.
There are arguably two best times to visit Uyuni, and each depends on personal preference! In general the summer months between October and March are the best times to visit as you will have the best weather, although of course there will be more travelers on the road during these months too. Typically it rains very little in this region considering as it’s mostly arid desert, however the month of February is when it’s most likely to rain. Some people may wish to avoid traveling in this month because with the rain come a number of other problems, such as cancellation of other tours or trips, or difficulty stargazing due to clouds. However saying this, the famous ‘mirror effect’ of the Salt Flat of Uyuni can only be seen once it has rained, so if you are looking to see this stunning reflective view then you may have to compromise and make the most of the rain!
Bolivian food is an interesting combination of Spanish-influenced cuisine combined with indigenous Bolivian ingredients. Along with this, many immigrants from Germany, Italy, the Basque country, Croatia, Russia and Poland have made their homes in Bolivia and thus also put their own influences on traditional cuisine. The three main ingredients are always typically corn, potatoes and beans, which are often combined with the European influenced additions of rice, wheat, and beef, pork, and chicken.