- Visit the the world’s largest salt flat (10,582 square kilometers (4,086 square miles))!
- See flamingos in the wild at high altitude lagoons
- Take epic photos on one of the most photogenic landscapes on earth!
- Relax in natural hot springs
- See some incredible naturally-occurring phenomena created by the salt flats and nearby volcanoes
- Get from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama, enjoying the trip along the way, instead of just sitting in a bus!
In going from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama, you will be entering Chile on this tour and required to comply with their visa requirements. You should check with your local Chilean consulate for what paperwork or fees are required. For many countries, you automatically receive a 90 visa upon entry, but Chile does charge a reciprocity fee for visitors from some countries, and some visitors will require a visa in order to enter Chile as a tourist.
- 3 days, beginning in Uyuni and ending in San Pedro de Atacama
- Begins at 10:30am in Uyuni
- Arrival in San Pedro around 13:00 (1 pm) on third day
(Note that you can use the dropdown menus at the upper right side of the page to see the different prices)
Spanish-speaking driver, shared dorm room, shared transportation: $200 USD per person
English-speaking guide, shared dorm room, shared transportation: $305 USD per person
Spanish-speaking driver, private accommodation, shared transportation: $270 USD per person
English-speaking guide, private accommodation, shared transportation: $375 USD per person
Private transportation, private accommodation, customizable itinerary English-speaking guide included in price: $1,400 USD total (not per person)
Detailed Itinerary of the Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama Tour
Day 1: Uyuni – Hostel de Sal
The trip begins with pickup at your hostel in Uyuni around 10:30 am and the first stop is at the Train Cemetery, where you will see antique locomotives and some of the other oldest trains on the continent. From there, you will move on to the town of Colchani, where you will learn about processing salt, meet some local artisans, and visit the Salt Museum. Then you will see the famous salt flats themselves! The Uyuni Salt flat is the world’s largest at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 square miles) and is 3,656 meters (11,995 feet) above sea level. It was formed from transformations between prehistoric lakes and it extraordinarily flat and expansive. Today, you will have the chance to see the Salt Mountains, salt extraction facilities, and the ‘Eyes of the Salt Flat.’ You will also see Isla Incahuasi, an island of coral and giant cacti in the middle of the flats! The day ends in the town of San Juan, where you will stay in a hostel that is made completely of salt!
Places you’ll visit on Day 1:
- Incahuasi Island ($3.000 CLP entrance not included in tour price)
- Uyuni Salt Flats
- Hotel de Playa Blanca
- Salt Eyes (Ojos de Sal)
- Montoneras de Sal (Salt Mounds)
- Train Cemetery (Cementerio de Trenes)
Tonight’s lodging is in Villa Candelaria Salt Hostel.
Day 2: Hostel de Sal – Comunidad Mallku Villa Mar
The exact order of Day 2 depends on weather and where other tour groups are that day, but you will see the following awesome sights:
- Sunrise over the salt flats
- Pinturas Rupestres (Cave Paintings)
- Valley of the Rocks (Valle de las Rocas) – featuring formations such as The Lost City of Italy (Ciudad de Italia Perdida), the World Cup (Copa del Mundo), Camello (Camel), and many others!
- Laguna Negra (Black Lagoon) – this area is full of altiplanic fauna, including Tawas (black ducks with yellow faces), Gansos (geese), and native vegetation
- Laguna Catal aka Laguna Misteriosa (Mysterious Lagoon)
- Cañon de Catal (Catal Canyon)
- Mirador de la Cascada de Agua Dulce (The Fresh Water Waterfall Lookout Point) – from here you can see a valley which is home to many Andean towns that make their livings tending animals such as llamas and alpacas
Tonight’s lodging is in a Refugio in Huayllajara or in a hostel in Villa Mar (depending on availability).
Day 3: Laguna Colorado – San Pedro de Atacama
Today is an early start, so that you can see Laguna Colorado – which is a nesting ground at times for over 30,000 flamencos – and the Geysers of the Morning Sun – incredible natural spouts of steam that sprout from the ground at over 90°C (194°F), at an altitude of 4,900 meters (just over 16,000 feet!). From there, you will go to the Polques hot springs, where you can enjoy the hot water before continuing the trip! After this you visit the Dalí Desert, named after Salvador Dalí as it features rocks which are reminiscent of the style he uses in many of his paintings. From here you continue to White Lagoon (Laguna Blanca) and Green Lagoon (Laguna Verde), both located at the foot of the impressive Licancabur Volcano. Around 10:30am, you will begin heading to the Chilean border by way of the Hito Valley. You will arrive in San Pedro around 13:00 (1:00 pm) – your driver will drop you off at your hotel.
Places you’ll visit on Day 3:
- White Lagoon (Laguna Blanca)
- Green Lagoon (Laguna Verde)
- The Dali Desert
- Hot springs (not included in the booking – additional $500 CLP)
- Morning Sun Geyser (Geiser Sol de Mañana)
- Colorada Lagoon (Laguna Colorada)
Map of the Area and Attractions
(Note that the tour generally follows the black lines, the blue route that goes through Ollague is only for when the Hito Cajon border is closed. This tour does not include drop-off in Calama.)
- Pickup at your hotel or hostel in Uyuni
- Guide (Spanish only or a guide that speaks English and Spanish, depending on which tour you book)
- All meals (please note that in Uyuni, they can accommodate vegetarian diets, but generally do not have food in that accommodates gluten-free diets)
- Basic Lodging (if you book private lodging, you will have a private double room with a private bathroom)
- 1st night – Villa Candelaria Salt Hostel
- 2nd night – Refugio in Huayllajara
- Note that there are 6 passengers seats in each vehicle, which means if you hire a bilingual guide, there would be 5 remaining passenger seats in the vehicle
What’s Not Included
- Entrances to hot springs and national parks (total of about $20.000 CLP or 200 Bolivian pesos)
- Visa (prices vary, can be upwards of $100USD)
- 5 liters of water
Important Notes About Going from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama
- Please note that in order to reserve this tour from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama, we need to pay the operator immediately, so all bookings are final. If you have any questions before booking or want to confirm a certain date, please email us at email@example.com.
- The exact pickup time on the first day depends on who else is on the tour and where they are staying, please check with the tour operator the day before the tour to find out your exact pickup time. They will not be able to tell you the exact time more than a day or two before the tour, but it will be between 10:300 and 11:00 am
- The 13:00 (1 pm) dropoff time in San Pedro on the third day is assuming there are no delays during the drive and no delays at the border. Neither the operator nor Keteka have any ability to control what happens at the border, and there are sometimes delays, for many different reasons, so we highly recommend not scheduling an afternoon flight from San Pedro the same day you return.
- There will be a maximum of 6 passengers in each vehicle
- The exact itinerary is subject to change with weather – the weather around the salt flats is mostly pretty consistent, but when it rains or snows, it can dramatically change what is available during the trip
- This is especially true during the months of February and March – the rainy season. The rain cuts off access to several parts of the itinerary, including (often) the salt hostel and Isla Incahuasi, among other parts of the trip. When this happens, the guide will do everything in their power to get you in a hostel of equivalent quality, but please note that all of the hostels around the salt flats are quite basic.
- If you book the trip in for February or March, please expect changes in the itinerary – that is the norm, not the exception at that time of year. It is impossible to predict ahead of time exactly how the itinerary will be affected, but expect that it will change.
- Please note that they generally do not have food in Uyuni that accommodates gluten-free diets
- The road conditions around the flats are quite bad, but the tour uses 4W trucks that can handle it; the trucks are not new but they are kept in good shape and consistently maintained
- We highly recommend you get travel insurance before this trip – between crossing an international border and the weather, there are lots of unpredictable factors that could affect the trip
- Average weather conditions throughout the year:
- Winter (May – August): chances of snow, with overnight temperatures reaching about -25° C (-13° F)
- Rest of the year (September – April): temperatures reaching about 5° C (41° F) at night
What to Bring
- Cash – make sure you check your visa requirements to enter Chile and have enough cash to pay this! You will also need some extra for souvenirs, snacks, etc. There are no ATMs available during the trip, so bring crisp, new US dollars or Chilean pesos to change at restaurants (they don’t accept old, damaged bills). It’s better to bring small bills.
- Your passport!
- Also be sure to have the small white paper the Immigration gave you when you entered Chile
- You should also bring a passport photo for the border crossing
- 5 liters of water per person – this may sound like a lot, but remember you’re in the driest place on Earth, may suffer from altitude sickness, and you cannot buy water on the way.
- Closed-toed shoes or boots
- Toilet paper – none will be provided in the bathrooms
- Hand sanitiser
- Warm clothing
- Bolivian pesos (at least 350 Bolivian pesos for entrances to hot springs and national parks, plus some extra personal expenses)
About the Lodging on the Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama Tour
Under ‘What’s Included’ above, we say “basic lodging” and we mean it. These are hostels and small hotels that are in basically the middle of nowhere in the northern desert in Bolivia, in towns that are very poor and lack the infrastructure that most travelers will be accustomed to. Please read the descriptions of what each night’s lodging includes, and if you would like a more comfortable/luxurious option, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see if the operator can arrange something for you!
- 1st night in Villa Candelaria Salt Hostel
- In the basic package, rooms and bathrooms are shared
- There is electricity at all hours (unless there is a power outage)
- Hot water is available at any time but you must pay 10 Bolivianos to have it turned on (they turn it on with gas)
- If you book private accommodation for the tour, you will stay in a private room in the same hostel – the room is very basic but it has a private bathroom and hot water is included
- 2nd night Huayllajara Hostel or Hostal Villamar
- There is only electricity at this hostel from 19:00 – 21:00 (7pm – 9pm)
- Rooms are shared dorm rooms with shared bathrooms and showers
- If you book private accommodation for the tour, you will stay in a private room in the same hostel – the room is very basic but it has a private bathroom
- Both hostels have hot water in the showers. The water will consistently be hot from August to April, but from May to July it is likely it will cut out and you may not get any on the night you stay there (this is due to extreme cold and there is not much the hostel will be able to do about it in the moment)
- If you book private accommodation, you will have private bathrooms throughout the trip
A Note on Money
You can change money into Chilean Pesos in San Pedro de Atacama or in Uyuni on the trip. It is highly recommended that you change all the money you will need to use either in Uyuni or before you leave your country of departure. If you need to change cash upon arrival in San Pedro, go to the street Toconao, south of Caracoles and you will find numerous casas de cambio which all have competitive exchange rates.
For your trip, here is a breakdown of expenses:
- Park entrance fee (required): 250 bolivianos
- Hot springs entrance fee: 30 bolivianos
- Showers in all refugios/hostels: 10 bolivianos each
- Toilets: cost between 2-8 bolivianos per stop, most do not include toilet paper or soap
Private Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama Tour
The private tour price above is total, not per person, and works for up to 6 people, or up to 5 people if you would like an English-speaking guide during the tour. Private tours have customizable itineraries, private lodging throughout the tour, and you and your group will have the vehicle to yourselves. Feel free to email us at email@example.com if you have any additional questions about private tours!
Since you will be in two different countries, it is important to note that safety standards will be different. In this case, you will be traveling into Chile, which is considered to be a safer country than Bolivia. In fact, it is considered to be the safest country in Latin America. However, this does not mean you should let your guard down entirely once you cross the border. For more information regarding safety in Bolivia and Chile, please refer to our safety directory.