Tour Uyuni Salt Lakes in Bolivia
Tour Uyuni Salt Lakes in Bolivia
Uyuni and beyond: highlights and tips.
A tour of the Salt Lakes of Uyuni and Southwestern Bolivia is not luxurious, comfortable, or warm. These desolate places are difficult to access and require a serious commitment to land travel. But the journey is absolutely worth the effort for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
- to sleep in a hotel made entirely of salt,
- to climb to 5000 meters and drive into the crater of an active volcano,
- to balance precariously on a Red Bull can in the world´s largest salt flats,
- to visit Fish Island only to discover that it is neither an island nor contains fish,
- to drive through the Salvador Dali desert and be witness to some of the most beautiful and barren scenery on the planet.
How to get to Uyuni
I was living in Cusco (Peru) at the moment of writing so from there, I took night bus to La Paz. From La Paz, you will take a 13 hour overnight bus on (mostly) paved roads to the small town of Uyuni. Here you will meet your driver, and the rest of your group. You´ll spend the next 3 day touring the Uyuni Salt Lakes with a few tourists and a driver in a very necessary SUV.
In order to make the most out of your Uyuni Salt Flat tour, I have made a list with the Uyuni Highlights for you.
- Taking the Uyuni Salt Flat Photos that you have always dreamed of – On Day 1, you will have the opportunity to take your own! You can balance on top of small objects, fight with a dinosaur, hold your friends in the palm of your hand, lift a truck over your head, etc…the possibilities are endless. Arrive equipped with funny toys, a great imagination and extra batteries for your camera!
- Sleeping in the Salt Hotel — interesting of course not only because it is a hotel made of salt but also because of the geographical isolation — when you sleep in such a remote area, you have the opportunity to see an amazing, unobstructed sunset and sunrise (if you choose to get up in time) AND, be sure to go outside after nightfall and look up, or left, or right, or pretty much anywhere, to appreciate the stars and constellations that seem to be right in front of you. Absolutely amazing!
- Volcano Crater — on the last morning of the trip, you´ll wake up and be on the ¨road¨ by 5am. You´ll reach a height of 5000 meters in altitude as you drive directly into the crater of an active volcano, where you can get out of the vehicle and walk right up (but not too close) to the geysers that are spraying steam! On the way out our driver mentioned that it’s best to leave quickly as we have no scientific information pertaining to that particular volcano exists – truly living on the edge!
- Hot Springs — it would be easy to decide to stay dry when the weather is so cold, but really, when is the next time you will have the chance to dip yourself in hot water that bubbles naturally from below the Earth´s surface, outside, in the middle of virtually nowhere in the no-man´s land where the countries of Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile meet? Probably never. So go for it – you only live once!
- The Lagunas – throughout the tour you will stop at several picturesque lagunas, most of which are descriptively named (Blanca, Verde, Colorada) and all are unique and provide breathtakingly beautiful photo opps! You´ll get a chance to see many flamingos and if you are luck you´ll witness a performance of their mating parade.
How to prepare for your Tour to Uyuni!
- Extreme Temperatures – Bring layers, sunscreen as you will be about a meter from the sun, and rent or bring a sleeping bag. We opted not to and on the last night, everyone was freezing cold in our room with 6 beds. We all doubled up and slept 2 per bed so that each bed could have twice the amount of bedding. If you aren´t traveling with a friend and don´t like sleeping with strangers, consider the sleeping bag option!
- Altitude — if you are coming from an extended stay in Cusco, Puno, La Paz etc., you should have no problem with the altitude. However, if you are traveling from sea level to do this tour, I suggest acclimating for at least a couple of days in one of the aforementioned locations! 5000 meters is no joke and is definitely the highest I have ever been so far!
- Entrance fees – there are about 180 Bolivianos worth of fees that are not included with the tour. Luckily we were informed by Dos Manos Travel Agency so so we were prepared. But there were people on our tour who were not. There are no ATMs on the journey, so bring the appropriate cash with you — you may also want extra change for snacks, a beer, and a 10 boliviano shower along the way.
- Spanish-speaking driver – there are drivers that do not speak a single word of English. Luckily ours did, but make sure you get one of those if you don’t speak any Spanish and arrange it ahead of time! (if you book your Uyuni Salt Mines Tour at Dos Manos Travel it’ll be taken care of but if you don’t…….)
For more information about traveling in Peru or Bolivia , or if you want to talk to one of the Dos Manos Trip Counselors, please contact Dos Manos Travel Agency.