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San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni 3 Day Tour (One Way to Uyuni)

Experience the incredible Uyuni Salt Flats and some of the area’s other highlights, including high altitude lagoons, museums, and hot springs in this 3 day, 2 night tour from San Pedro to Uyuni.

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USD $200.00USD $1,400.00

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San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni 3 Day Tour (One Way to Uyuni)

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. Tours typically run every day.

Description

Experience the incredible Uyuni Salt Flats and some of the area’s other highlights, including high altitude lagoons, museums, and hot springs in this 3 day, 2 night tour from San Pedro to Uyuni (one way).

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

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 Lexus 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)

Day 3: Sunrise on the Uyuni Salt Flats – Uyuni City 

You will begin by watching the sunrise over the Uyuni Salt Flats from Puerto Chuvica at 05:00am and continue the adventure from there.

Places you’ll visit on Day 3:

Isla Incahuasi (Does not include entrance price of $3.000 CLP/ 30 bs.)

  • Salt Museum (Museo de Sal)
  • Train Cemetery (Cementario de Trenes)
  • Uyuni City (Ciudad de Uyuni) – around 14:00

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
    • 1st night – shared rooms with shared bathrooms (with hot showers)
    • 2nd night – double 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)

What to Bring

  • Your passport!
  • Cash – at least $170 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 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
  • 5 liters of water per person
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Closed-toed shoes or boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Toilet paper
  • Warm clothing
  • Bolivian pesos (at least 250 Bolivian pesos for entrances to hot springs and national parks, plus some extra personal expenses

About the Lodging:

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
  • 2nd night in Hotel de Sal – this has electricity and water, but is shared double rooms and shared showers and bathrooms
  • 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

Other Important Notes

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. 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. It is also more difficult to breathe at higher altitudes. 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.

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 in 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. 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 have had our staff on their tours with no such issues.

Map

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Uyuni Salt Flat

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Uyuni Salt Flat -20.133777, -67.489134

 

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. And 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.

The Atacama Desert

This tour leaves from 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. But if you haven’t considered such a plan, you really should think about doing so.

From stargazing to sandboarding to countless wondrous landscapes, 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

    :

    A Friend and I went on a three day trip from Atacama to Uyuni. Our chauffeur Rodolfo was very nice, very interesting and definitly very patient. Before leaving, we were very afraid of the driving as we had read a lot of terrifying stories, but our trip went perfectly well.
    I loved the fact that [the operator] was not following the same itinerary as the other agencies. The second day, we hardly saw other tourist.
    Accomodation and food were perfect considering you are in the middle of nowhere.
    Thank you Rodolfo for this amazing experience !

  2. 4 out of 5

    :

    I picked this agency because it was recommended by the owner of my hostal and it was a good choice. Before traveling I read a lot of horror stories on tours to Bolivia, and am happy to report that everything went smooth on mine. However I met a couple whose car had broken down on the way and they lost a full day of tour because that’s how long it took them to fix the car. This is an adventurous trip, and adaptation spirit is required – just accept that these things could happen. The cars are owned by the drivers, and they do their best to keep up maintenance, but you never know.

    Anyway, on my tour everything went well and I met very fun people – we were a fun group and got along very well! [The operator] goes to a different route than most other agencies, which means that places are less crowded when you get there, and that you sleep at lower altitude on the first day, which helps you get used to it. We always had plenty of food, which was good quality, and they were even able to arrange vegetarian options for two people in our group! The highlights was sleeping in a hostal entirely made of salt, including walls and floors, called Hostal Don Carlos, just at the entrance of the Salar de Uyuni. Very picturesque, they had good hot showers and comfy beds. We were the only guests there, so no crowds and no queue for bathroom or showers!

    Our guide was called Vladimir, and he took good care of us. The only feedback I would give is that he often gave quite basic information about the places we were visiting, and didn’t add much more if we asked questions. We would have appreciated more guidance and information on what we were seeing, and some more interaction with the group, especially when taking photos in perspective at the Salar. Service was very good overall, in terms of driving and food organisation – however these information and interaction aspects could be improved.

    My advice / watch outs:
    – Bring toilet paper with you. Not every bathroom has it and you might have to pay for it!
    – Some bathrooms are very very basic and not very clean. You can see that they are building more facilities and standards will probably improve in the next years, but for the moment some places really are very basic.
    – I can’t stress enough how cold it gets, especially in autumn/winter. Layer up and bring your own sleeping bag!
    – If you’re a light sleeper, bring ear plugs, as accommodation is mostly shared.
    – If your guide is not giving you enough info, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
    – Be aware that sometimes the officials at the Bolivian border can be corrupt and ask you for money to put a stamp on your passport and let you in or out of the country, for any excuse. It happened to me and while I was annoyed I decided not to argue, cause I just wanted to get out and back to Chile, and after all those 10 Bolivianos he asked were the equivalent of 2 dollars for me. Annoying tho.

  3. 5 out of 5

    :

    We were a group of 6 and we went to the salar tour for 3 days. Our guide/driver luis was great. Really helpfull , nice and explained everything we ask. Highly recommend

  4. 5 out of 5

    :

    Had the most amazing trip with remy as our guide. The food was really good, vehicle was reliable even though we heard many stories of other companies breaking down. Lots of stops along the way to break up the journey. Would definitely recommend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    :

    We really enjoyed our trip to Uyuni. Fabian, our guide was excellent. Very good and safe driver as well as just a lovely human being. Food and accomodation exceeded our expectations. Would definitely recommend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    :

    We really enjoyed our trip with White and Green. Our guide/driver German was great and we felt safe with his diving. Luckily there was someone in our group who spoke Spanish and was able to translate as he didn’t speak any english.

    The accommodation and food were better than expected! You definitely need to bring warm clothes for the nights and early mornings.

    We would recommend [the operator] for your salt flats tour!

  7. 5 out of 5

    :

    It was amazing!
    People in our car was so nice, and we really got along. Our guide, Remy, was excellent: not just funny and nice, but he also knows a lot about the culture and the country, and made our trip even better! (Ah, and the food also was pretty good.)
    And to get even better, we didn’t do the traditional way to Uyuni, but an alternative way: in the second day, instead of seeing a lot of lagunas (lakes), we stopped the car in the Rock Valley and walk around until we get to the Black Lake (Laguna Negra), and for me, that place was even better than Salar de Uyuni! It’s hidden between some canyons, in a really green valley with llamas walking around – and you walk among them. If you have the chance, ask for this alternative route, because it’s incredible.
    Thank you Remy, it was incredible!

  8. 5 out of 5

    :

    The amount of tour companies offering the 3 day trek from San Pedro can be a little overwhelming but after a lot of research we decided to go with [the operator] and we are so happy with our choice!

    There were 5 of us together and along with booking the moon valley tour with the same company we were given a good offer.

    Our driver was Vladimir – very safe and very careful. He spoke a little English but it might be beneficial if you have someone in your group that speaks Spanish to understand a little more. He really took care of the car (washing it and checking under the bonnet each night). I would highly recommend [the operator] and Vladimir to anyone looking to to do the tour :).

  9. 5 out of 5

    :

    Had a great 3D2N trip to Uyuni. Everything went really well.
    – Great driver Paulo, safe driving
    – Super guide Giovanni who was fun and great company. Spoke good English and took good care of us. Enjoyed very much our dinner conversations.
    – Great group
    – Even though there were 25 landcruisers with tourists leaving the Chile/Bolivia border, we were often on our own or with only 1-2 other groups. Also because we were a bit faster than others.
    – Decent food
    – Accomodation was better than expected
    – Good price, though of course that depends on how you book / bargain

    A negative was that the first night was spent at 4200m whereas the manager in San Pedro had promised a stay at 3500m. In the end this was not a big problem but why give this promise? So if some aspect of the trip is important to you, I would recommend to get it in writing *and* confirm it with the guide at the border.

    But in anycase, I would highly recommend [the operator] travel based on this experience.

  10. 5 out of 5

    :

    We spend 3 wonderful days with our guide Chris. I was so heardbroken to leave him. Thank you Chris for this amazing trip, it wouldn’t be the same with another guide !

  11. 5 out of 5

    :

    After all the horror stories I’ve heard of the San Pedro to Uyuni tour, I was wary of booking one. But my hostel I was staying at recommended this one and assured they offered a safe service, so I opted for it, and I’m glad I did! The tour with [the operator] was extremely safe (which was my main concern), the drivers were professional and drove appropriately. Although they seemed a bit over worked and tired on the first day (they had to be up at 5am!) they managed to do the whole trip in a very safe manner! The trucks were also good, only had a small minor flat tire which was quickly fixed!

    The first night accommodation is COLD! Just like everywhere in the desert, bring many warm clothes and maybe a sleeping bag and you’ll be fine! You also don’t sleep above 4000m of altitude which is a good thing! The second night was in a Salt hotel and it was amazing! Warm and cozy, and wow what a place to look at the stars! (Again bring warm clothes for star gazing!)

    The food was really good, and plenty, always had enough for the big group of hungry travellers we were!

    If you (or someone in your group) speaks Spanish, it will help a lot! The drivers had a lot to say about the places were we visiting but only spoke Spanish! So if you speak Spanish a little bit, you’ll get a driver AND a guide!!

    Overall, I’m happy I did it with [the operator], the price was VERY cheap for the quality of the food and accommodation that you get! If I were to do it again, I would chose [this operator]

  12. 5 out of 5

    :

    We had an amazing 3D2N tour! Remy was our driver and we were really impressed with how well he looked after us after all the horror stories you hear Remy was very professional and a safe driver. We were told before we went on the tour that they did not have an English speaking guide but luckily one of the girls in our car spoke Spanish. However Remy spoke slowly and clearly and repeated himself and it was surprising how much we could understand. Remy is so knowledgeable and very patient he made sure we saw as much as possible and that we were all ok as well as checking the car and it’s tyres at every stop. The food was great and we had no hidden charges. Our second night in the Salt Hotel was great with hot showers. The first night although there was hot showers very few people used them as it was so windy and freezing in the hostel. The only negative thing I can think of is that when we booked Eric had told us sleeping bags were included but when we arrived at the first hostel there weren’t enough. Once we arrived in Uyuni Remy took us to get bus tickets and also the ATM and told us to call him if we had any problems. I would definitely recommend requesting Remy as your driver if you can!

  13. 4 out of 5

    :

    Our trip with these guys was great. Our driver Johnny took great car of the vehicle making sure the tyres were always pumped up and the windows always clean. The food was good, especially the lunches. Had better food than some other tours staying in the same place in the evenings. Would totally recommend. In fact we did and some friends just had a great trip with them.
    The only reason for 4 rather than 5 is that the operator said that they would reserve bus tickets for us with a company we asked for. However when we got to Uyuni we found that they hadn’t and they were sold out. Johnny took us around to bus companies though until we found some tickets. So worked out in the end.

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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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