THE SOUTHERN AMERICAN SERIES PT13
SAN PEDRO, CHILE – UYUNI, BOLIVIA
Along with the infamous death road, the Salt Flats tour should be at the top of your list when it comes to deciding on what to do in Bolivia. The tour as a whole was one of the best things I have done in South America. So many sites and all of them entirely unique made this trip very worthwhile.
WHERE ARE THE BOLIVIAN SALT FLATS?
Atacama Desert & Bolivian Salt Flats
The tours tend to leave from San Pedro in Chile and end at Uyuni in Bolivia or vice versa. There is no benefit to starting at one town rather than the other. I was heading north so it made sense to start at San Pedro.
WHERE TO BOOK
Whether you are in San Pedro or Uyuni you can book with the many tour operators there. In doing so it also gives you the flexibility of booking with a recommendation or with friends who you meet on the way. However if you wish to book before hand I would suggest any of the companies below;
You would be forgiven to think that the salt flats are the only thing to see in this part of Bolivia but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The southern part of Bolivia is incredibly unique and offers and host of different sites and attractions. I hadn’t done enough research to get excited so everytime we stopped I was awe struck as I just didn’t expect to see the things I did. I would suggest the 3 day tour which takes in the following sites;
- Geysirs & Hot Springs
- Green Lagoon
- Laguna Colorada
- Canyon Anaconda
- Train cemetery
HOW MUCH IS THE TOUR
You can sign up to a 3 day tour for as little as $120 but I would keep your expectations very low and possibly be worried for your safety. Going with a recommendation or a tour operator who is highly commended will be so much more beneficial! Expect to pay between $200 – $250.
WHEN TO GO
To get the best experience you should aim to be at the Salts Flats between December and March. This will give you the mirrored image that everyone loves. I was there at the end of January and the weather was perfect. Outside of these months and it gets significantly colder.
I left from San Pedro de Atacama which is another worthwhile experience in itself but the trip can also be done in reverse from Uyuni. I booked last minute with a company called White & Green. They were good but I was in a jeep with a party of Israelis who couldn’t speak much English, not their fault!
One thing I remember about the trip was the incredible climb in altitude and something my body didn’t agree with. I think we were over 5000m above sea level within just a few hours.
Once we passed through the smallest immigration office I have ever seen it was officially the start of the tour. Our first stop was the Laguna Verde which is a Salt lake in an endorheic basin not far from the Chilean border. Shortly after we enjoyed a bit of time in the Hot Springs before stopping off at some geysers. We have only been driving a few hours but the change in landscape is like nothing I have ever seen.
After the geysers it was onto Laguna Colorada before again going higher and higher. Here the driver stopped and bought a packet of coca leaves which is known to help with altitude sickness. Well I had plenty and can safely put this down as an old wives tale! As soon as I got to the accommodation I was out for the count. I slept for 15 hours that night and still struggled to wake up in the morning.
The following day we made our way further north to Anaconda Canyon. Another amazing site within a landscape not like anything we had seen the day before. Our last day would be spent checking out the train cemetery and of course the salt flats. I know I say this all too often but the scale of the salt flats just blew me away.
- PEOPLE – 7/10
- BACKPACKING – 8.5/10
- SAFETY – 8/10
- WEATHER – 7/10
- THINGS TO DO – 7/10
- FOOD – 4/10
- HIGHLIGHT – The landscape
- LOWLIGHT – Altitude sickness
- VISIT AGAIN – Yes
- RATING – 8/10
Thinking about South America as a whole, I would easily put this tour within the top 5 things to do and having visited almost every country in the continent it says a lot!
Cycling Death Road, the most dangerous road in the world! Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
This post is part of The Southern American Series, click to explore or for episode 1 click here.
- Have you been to Bolivia?
- Did you do this tour?
- What was your highlight?
- Did you do anything while in Bolivia that you recommend?
Let me know in the comments below . . .