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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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.
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.
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:
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:
Día 3: Sunrise on the Uyuni Salt Flats – Refugio Villa del Mar
Places you’ll visit on Day 3:
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see if the operator can arrange something for you!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This 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.
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.