Visa Trip to Bolivia – visit the The Salar de Uyuni
If you have some more time to spend in Bolivia during your ‘border hop’ or ‘visa trip to Bolivia’ before heading back to Peru, one of the tours I’d recommend is the three day tour on the Salar de Uyuni (the Uyuni Salt flats). The tour costs around 135 dollars, and it is definitely worth it! From Copacabana you can take a bus straight to La Paz) and once in La Paz, you can continue your trip with the night bus to Uyuni (there are only night busses so to Uyuni). You’ll will arrive in the morning, just on time for your Uyuni tour that usually starts at 10:30 in the morning. Another option is to travel in a small plane from La Paz that leaves early in the morning, so you will still be in time for the tour. These flights cost less than 100 dollars. Nevertheless, busses are cheaper; the tourist class only costs aprox. 35 dollars.
Tours to the Salar de Uyuni are done in a 4×4 car, with a maximum of 6 people. The tour starts with a visit to the train cemetery just outside of Uyuni. On the way to the salt flats you will see quinoa plants, wild vicuñas, and llamas crossing the road. Driving over the salt flats is a very special experience. All you will see for a long, long time, will be blue and white (sky and salt), separated by the horizon. If you would like to have a picnic on this very unique location you can ask your driver. After lunch you will continue to La Isla de Pescadores. Here you can walk around and see hundreds of cactuses, some almost 10 meters. You will definitely need sun block and your sun glasses, otherwise the trip will not be as enjoyable. There will be plenty of time to take the famous “Uyuni fun photos” and then afterwards you will drive to a small village to spend the night in a ‘salt hostel’. Do not be surprised to see that everything is made out of salt: walls, tables, chairs, beds, and even the floor!
The next day you will leave the salt flats to see beautiful Bolivian landscapes with volcanos. The drive through the middle of nowhere leads you to the highlight of the dessert: the famous “Arbol de Piedra” (the tree-shaped stone). You will also see lakes with flamingos at a distance of only a few meters. Your lunch is at a nice location with a great view, overlooking the mountains and the beautiful lakes, in the company of vischacas (they look like big rabbits, but with a tail). In the afternoon you will arrive at the Laguna Colorada. Because of the climate change this lake is not that red any more, but it is still impressive. Prepare yourself for the high altitude (4260 meters) with warm clothes because here you will spend the night. You may also want to bring toilet paper with you since there is only toilet paper at a few places in Bolivia.
On the third day of this tour you will wake up very early in the morning to see the sunrise at the geysers. At an altitude of 5000 meters you will see smoke coming out of the earth. Some geysers are very strong and the smoke goes horizontally. Be careful walking through the smoke, since you cannot always see where you step. There is nothing that covers the holes to protect you from stepping in them and you can see the earth boiling. It is quite impressive. To end the tour, there is an opportunity to relax in the natural hot springs, so bring your swimming suit!
IF you wish, there is the possibility to be dropped of at the Chilean border. The cost should be about 13 dollars and in a few hours you will be in the dessert town of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. If not, you should be back in Uyuni around 6:00 in the evening and you can take the night bus to La Paz at 10:00 and continue on your way back to Cusco – or elsewhere in Peru.