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San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Tour (4 Days, 3 Nights) Roundtrip

Experience the incredible Uyuni Salt Flats and some of the area’s other attractions, like high altitude lagoons, museums, and hot springs in this 4 day, 3 night roundtrip from San Pedro to Uyuni.

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San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Tour (4 Days, 3 Nights) Roundtrip

Please note that in order to reserve this tour, 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 info@keteka.com.

Description

Experience the incredible Uyuni Salt Flats and some of the area’s other attractions, like high altitude lagoons, museums, and hot springs. This 4 day, 3 night package includes everything you’ll need to enjoy your trip from San Pedro de Atacama to the Bolivian desert, including the guidance of a Bilingual Guide.

The Uyuni Salt Flat is the largest in the world at 10,582 kilometers. When wet, the ground becomes an absolutely stunning mirror of the sky. When dry, the seemingly endless ground can be used for fun, quirky photos that manipulate perspective.

This tour will take you  to and from several other-wordly locations. Aside from the Uyuni Salt Flats, you’ll see many other natural wonders from volcanoes to lagoons to obscure rock formations. Most of these sites are located in the Eduardo Avaroa Fauna National Reserve, Bolivia’s most visited protected area. And the adventure doesn’t end in Bolivia. From San Pedro de Atacama in Chile you’ll be able to continue on from this tour to all the amazing sites the Atacama Desert has to offer.

Important!

You will be entering Bolivia on this tour and required to comply with their visa requirements on top of any visa requirements you may have to meet for Chile. You can see the latest requirements and cost of the visa for your country at this link. Visas can cost upwards of $100USD and are not included in the price of this tour, so it is important to consider this in budgeting for your trip. The visa process can also vary in length so you may need to plan your trip including this tour further in advance than usual.

Itinerary Overview

  • 4 days and 3 nights, beginning in San Pedro de Atacama and ending in San Pedro de Atacama
  • Begins at 07:00 – 07:30 with pickup at your place of lodging in San Pedro
  • Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama around 1pm (13:00) on the 4th day

Prices

(Note that you can use the dropdown menus at the upper right side of the page to see the different prices)

Shared Accommodations

Spanish-speaking driver, shared dorm room, shared transportation: $251 USD per person

English-speaking guide, shared dorm room, shared transportation: $335 USD per person

Private Accommodations

Spanish-speaking driver, private accommodation, shared transportation: $365 USD per person

English-speaking guide, private accommodation, shared transportation: $440 USD per person

Private Tour

Private transportation, private accommodation, customizable itinerary English-speaking guide included in price: $1,700 USD total (not per person)

Itinerary of the San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Tour

Day 1: San Pedro – Colorada Lagoon

Transport from your hotel/hostel between 07:00 and 07:30 to the border of Bolivia. Board a 4×4 jeep in Hito Cajón (on the border) to begin your salt flats adventure.

Places you’ll visit on Day 1:

  • 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)

You’ll stay in a Refugio in Huayllajara (a modest hotel, with electricity only from 19:00 until 21:00).

Day 2: Colorada Lagoon – Hotel de Sal 

Places you’ll visit on Day 2:

  • Stone Tree (Árbol de Piedra)
  • Silolí Desert (Desierto de Silolí)
  • High Altitude Lagoons (Lagunas altiplánicas): Honda, Hedionda, Cañapa y Chiarkota
  • Ollague Volcano (Volcán Ollague)
  • Chiguana Salt Flat (Salar de Chiguana)
  • San Juan
  • Hotel de Sal (which has electricity and water)

Día 3: Sunrise on the Uyuni Salt Flats – Refugio Villa del Mar 

Places you’ll visit on Day 3:

  • Incahuasi Island ($3.000 CLP entrance not included in tour price)
  • Salt Museum (Museo de Sal)
  • Train Cemetery (Cementario de Trenes)
  • The Ancient, Indigenous City of San Cristobal (Ciudad indígena de San Cristóbal)
  • Villa Alota
  • Rock Valley (Valle de Rocas)
  • Black Lagoon (Laguna Negra)

You will stay the night in Refugio Villa del Mar.

Day 4: Villa del Mar – San Pedro de Atacama

You will leave Villa del Mar around 05:00am and arrive back in San Pedro around midday!

The Route from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama

(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.)

What’s Included

  • Pickup at your hotel or hostel in San Pedro de Atacama
  • Guide (Spanish only or a guide that speaks English and Spanish, depending on which tour you book)
  • All meals (please note that they generally do not have food in Uyuni 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 – shared rooms with shared bathrooms (with hot showers)
    • 2nd night – double rooms with shared bathrooms (with hot showers)
    • 3rd night – shared rooms with shared bathrooms (with hot showers)
  • Sleeping bags
  • 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)

What to Bring on the San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Tour

  • Your passport!
  • Cash – at least $160 USD for the Bolivia reciprocity fee (if you are from the United States), plus 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 casas de cambio (which are in San Pedro and Uyuni) or at restaurants (they don’t accept old, damaged bills). It’s better to bring small bills.
  • You should also bring a passport photo for the border crossing
  • 7 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.
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Closed-toed shoes or boots
  • Sunglasses
  • 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 San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni 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 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 info@keteka.com and we will see if the operator can arrange something for you!

  • 1st night in Refugio in Huayllajara – modest hotel, with electricity only from 19:00 until 21:00, rooms are shared dorm rooms with shared bathrooms and showers
    • If you book private accommodation for the tour, you will stay in a hostel in Ketena named Marina instead; the private rooms have private bathrooms
  • 2nd night in Hotel de Sal – this has electricity and water, but is shared double rooms and shared showers and bathrooms
    • If you book private accommodation, you will have a private bathroom
  • 3rd night in same Refugio as first night
  • Please note that hot water for the showers in each location is typically 10 Bolivianos (~1.50 USD) for about 15 minutes of hot water.
  • If you are traveling in winter (May-September) temperatures in the desert can go as low as -20 C° / -4 F°, so in these months you’re advised to bring a sleeping bag to use in addition to the bedding provided.
  • In winter, it is also possible that the water might be cut entirely due to extreme cold and there is not much the hostel will be able to do about it at the time, so having a flexible mentality is perhaps the best way to prepare!

A Note on Money

You can change money into Bolivian bolivianos 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 San Pedro or before you leave your country of departure. You cannot change money at the airport in Calama, and please note that in Santiago some ‘casas de cambio’ or money exchange places may not stock bolivianos.

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): 150 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
  • Re-entrance fee to Chile (required): 15 bolivianos or 1,500 CLP.

Uyuni is a very small town and is the last stop so do not to rely on changing money there because if you run out beforehand you will be very stuck. Additionally, you may need extra money for souvenirs or purchases on the road if you wish. You will be taken to a market just after the salt flats on the last day – it’s much better to buy souvenirs here than in Uyuni, as there is more variety and Uyuni does not have the same type of gifts.

In total, we recommend 350 Bolivianos per person, to allow for all the required fees plus some spending money.

Other Important Notes About the San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Tour

It is recommended that you bring winter clothing and comfortable trekking shoes. Due to the high altitude and desert climate at night, it can get rather cold and you will want to layer up. Accommodations do not have heat and mornings and nights could be brutal without proper clothing. As for trekking shoes, much of the ground is uneven, so it is best to have enclosed, stable footwear with good traction. While sneakers are sufficient, boots or more hiking-oriented shoes will help keep you from skidding on certain surfaces and provide you better protection overall. Terrain is quite varied, so your ankles will be quite thankful for the extra protection.

Altitude: Please note that parts of this excursion takes you to about 4,000 meters (over 13,000 feet) above sea level, so it will be important to remain hydrated, both leading up to the tour and throughout the tour. Water is not very easy to come by once on the tour, so be sure to pack plenty. It is also recommended to avoid alcoholic drinks the night before this trip, as well as the nights during the tour.

Symptoms of altitude sickness can include headaches, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and drowsiness. None of these symptoms are very ideal when you want to be enjoying an awesome trip to Uyuni, so warnings about hydration and avoiding alcohol should be heeded closely to help mitigate the risk. It is also more difficult to breathe at higher altitudes. This tour is not physically demanding so you should not be affected for the most part, but this is still important to take note of.

If you commonly suffer from altitude sickness, we recommend taking this tour after spending a few days in Atacama in order to acclimate if that can be worked into your personal itinerary. This excursion is not recommended for people who suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease. Pregnant women and children younger than 4 years old should not take this tour.

What’s Different on the Private Tour

  • Private rooms with private bathrooms (instead of shared)
  • More control over the itinerary
  • Includes bilingual guide (note that this means there are only 5 spaces in the vehicle – please email us at info@keteka.com if your group has more than 5 people and you are interested in a private tour)

Safety

It should be noted that considering you will be traveling in two different countries, safety standards will vary. Bolivia is considered to be less safe than Chile, meaning you should take extra precautions. Being on a tour with others may help to mitigate some potential risks, but overall you should still maintain a higher degree of caution. You are unlikely to be a victim of violent crime in either country, but certainly be aware of your belongings as pickpocketing is common. Being out of major cities also reduces your chances of having any problems. The area isn’t wildly popular for Bolivians to live in, so you will likely be around as many travelers as locals. For more information on safety in Chile and Bolivia, please refer to our safety directory.

Another safety concern for some people traveling to Uyuni is the drivers on these tours, as there have been some horror stories about the drivers for tours to Uyuni that involved lack of safety equipment in cars and even drunk driving. We work closely with a tour operator we trust, and we have had our own staff on their tours with no such issues.

Weather

The time of year that you go to Uyuni won’t make necessarily make or break your trip, it’ll just depend on what you would like to see. The Altiplano region of Bolivia where Uyuni is located tends to have more of a wet season and a dry season as opposed to four strict seasons. Most people look for the more ideal traveling conditions overall, which are in the dry season between July and October. However, there are a good number of people who specifically seek out a visit to Uyuni in its wet season in hopes of seeing the stunning mirror effect of the water on the salt flat.

The wet season is also colder, but nights during the dry season aren’t particularly warm. During the dry season, Uyuni’s climate takes after that of the Atacama Desert in the sense that the days can be hot and sunny but the temperature can drop drastically with the sun. In either season, layers will be necessary. And in the case of the wet season, you’ll want those outer layers to be waterproof.

Map

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Border Dispute History

Chile only gained control of the of the Atacama Desert following the War of the Pacific in the 19th century. The main conflict in this war was between Chile and Bolivia, but as an ally of Bolivia under a secret treaty, Peru got brought into the conflict. Before then, much of this area belonged to both Peru and Bolivia. Now, this region is an important part of Chile’s economy between the tourism to the area and the nearby copper mines. Aside from the main conflict of the War of the Pacific being between Chile and Bolivia, tensions the slight tensions remain higher with Bolivia than Peru because their connection to the sea was cut off when the borders were redrawn.

While they rarely become a problem in terms of crossing the border, disputes still occasionally flare up between Bolivia and Chile over regulations regarding the area. For example, the Bolivian gas conflict in the early 2000’s brought back some of the bitterness as many people were reluctant to export gas through Chilean territory. Another example being that Evo Morales, Bolivia’s president, is against the treaties that handed Atacama over to Chile. He particularly dislikes how they were cut off from access to the ocean. However, his opposition is unlikely to result in Chile losing any land even if certain rules and regulations between the two countries face some changes.

A Little Bit About Some of the Places You’ll Be Seeing on the San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Tour

  • White Lagoon: This salt lake is part of the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve and is named for the white-tinted color of its water.
  • Green Lagoon: Right next door to the White Lagoon, this body of water is part of the same is reserve and named for its green-tinted water.
  • The Dalí Desert: The barren area got its name for its surreal landscapes that are reminiscent of paintings by Salvador Dalí.
  • Morning Sun Geyser: This “geyser basin” is actually primarily made up of mud pots, but their similar appearance leads to this misnomer.
  • Colorada Lagoon: This lagoon is characterized by the white strips of land that rise out of reddish water, flamingos dotting the landscape.
  • Stone Tree: Though not a vast sight to see, this isolated rock formation is a commonly visited and photographed stop on travels through the area for its intriguing shape.
  • Silolí Desert: This desert has fascinating landscapes but is most known for being home to the Stone Tree.
  • High Altitude Lagoons: More lagoons means more incredible views of volcanoes beyond reflective bodies of water, and more flamingos.
  • Ollague Volcano: Formed over a million years ago, this volcano has no recorded history of an eruption, but is considered an incredibly active volcano for its intense fumarolic activity.
  • Chiguana Salt Flat: Though not nearly as popular as Uyuni’s salt flat, this area has a great view of the Ollague Volcano and long-forgotten railroads tracks embedded in the ground.
  • Incahuasi Island: This rocky outcrop is a unique sight to see jutting out of the ground and hosting an abundance of tall cacti.
  • Train Cemetery: Uyuni is an important point of transportation in South America, and at one point there were plans to put in a more advanced train network. The trains near Uyuni were abandoned along with that idea, and the way the salt of the desert has eroded them has made them an even more interesting sight to be seen.
  • San Cristobal: This old town is most known for its open-pit silver, lead, and zinc mine, though the town itself has a little charm of its own.
  • Rock Valley: This area is full of interesting rock formations, and sometimes climbers even come here to scale them.
  • Black Lagoon: One last lagoon on this tour. The water of the Black Lagoon may not be black, but the shimmering water is a sight to be had, not to mention the rock formations scattered around the lagoon add to the effect.

The Atacama Desert

This San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Tour leaves from and returns to San Pedro de Atacama. However, the majority of this tour is spent seeing sights throughout Bolivia, not those of the Atacama Desert in Chile. The Atacama Desert is an absolute wonder to be seen though. If you are booking this tour, you are likely already planning to spend several days exploring there as well. If you haven’t considered such a plan, you really should look into the area and reconsider.

From stargazing in Moon Valley to sandboarding in Death Valley to a variety of wondrous landscapes including even more lagoons and salt flats, you will not want to miss out on such an amazing opportunity to discover the driest non-polar desert in the world. To find out some more information about San Pedro de Atacama and to see our tour options to experience it, click here.

  1. 5 out of 5
    Rated 5 out of 5

    :

    We had a fantastic tour with [the operator], we spent ages checking all the various operators in San Pedro and this one seemed the best. First of all, the owner Eric was very honest and he helped us a lot. The driver was extremely responsible and even coped with our bad Spanish! The nicest thing is that your on a small, unique tour and don’t get stuck with the big crowds that go with some of the other operators. I highly recommend

  2. 5 out of 5
    Rated 5 out of 5

    :

    I am seasoned traveller, but I can honestly say this was one of the most breath taking, diverse, surprising and incredible travelling I’ve ever done. The landscapes, hot pools, nature is stunning. Everything was made simple for us- great chance to made some long lasting bonds with other travellers and even locals! Recommended for those wanting a different view of the world, group travellers and individuals.

  3. 5 out of 5
    Rated 5 out of 5

    :

    This trip to Uyuni was one of my favorite adventures during my time in South America! I would recommend this trip to travelers that are looking for a unique opportunity to spend four days off the grid exploring one of the most beautiful places in the world. I did this trip alone and it was very easy, all the accommodations were very well-planned.

  4. 5 out of 5
    Rated 5 out of 5

    :

    After some research decided to book with [the operator]. Very happy with the tour. Our guide, Eddie, spoke really good English and liked to explain a lot about the Bolivians and their culture.
    We heared some bad stories about drunk drivers before but Eddie was very careful and made sure everything was safe. All days were interesting but the day on the salt flats I liked the most.

  5. 5 out of 5
    Rated 5 out of 5

    :

    Was a great experience Orlando the driver did so much efforts for making us statisfied from the trip. Explained about the places and gave information

  6. 5 out of 5
    Rated 5 out of 5

    :

    Was one of the most wonderful trips of my life for its colorful landscapes.
    It is necessary to go with very warm clothing since in this time it is very cold but without envargo the tour is cute the tour is very different from the other traditional agencies.
    Our driver was Freddy is very friendly and knew all the places very well so I want to thank him.
    We also want to thank the agency for their organization of our tours
    The agency is highly recommended for those who want to go to the salar de uyuni.

  7. 5 out of 5
    Rated 5 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    Three of us joined this tour in May 2017… and as a very experienced traveller who’s had the Salt Flats on my bucket list for years I was worried about it not living up to expectations. Boy was I wrong! The landscape was truly stunning, and we never felt like we were in touristy crowds or being rushed around the sights. We had plenty of time at every stop to get photos and soak up the magic, and our driver was truly a friend by the end of the trip!

    We were really worried about some of the bad reviews we’d seen online for other companies but found everything through Keteka and their partners to be flawless. Reliable, punctual, friendly and helpful!

    Highly recommended if you’re looking for the trip of a lifetime!

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What Happens After I Book?

After you book your experience, you will receive a confirmation email from us confirming that your payment went through. You will then be connected directly to the tour operator, in case you have any further questions. We are also happy to answer any questions about the tour, or travel in general in your country of destination.

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