- Day 1 of our Salar de Uyuni Tour
- Day 2 of our Salar de Uyuni Tour
- Day 3 of our Salar de Uyuni Tour
- Day 4
- Questions About the 4 Day Salar de Uyuni Tour
Day 1 of our Salar de Uyuni Tour
At 8 am we meet our driver for the next 4 days. Ronal is a 20-year-old Bolivian guy who only speaks Spanish and after hearing some horror stories, I am praying that he isn’t a hoon driver who is going to kill us. Thankfully he is a safe driver – the only downside is that his playlist consists of songs with the EXACT. SAME. BEAT.
All you South American travellers out there know exactly what I’m talking about.
He’s such a nice guy though and agrees to let us plug in different music. Anyway, back to our day.
We ascend through Quebrada de Palapa to El Sillar where we witness burnt orange skies and snowcapped mountains in the distance. Straight out of a move.
We get to a field of llamas and in my excitement, chase them all away. They must have sensed that I was hungry.
We cross through Nazarenito mining areas, Chilcobija, Cerrillos, Polulos, Rio San Pablo and the colonial ruins of San Antonio Viejo until we reach the abandoned village of San Antonio de Lipez where we tuck in the for the night.
Day 2 of our Salar de Uyuni Tour
It’s a cold and early wake up at 6.30 am for a pancake breakfast and to see more llamas. We visit Laguna Morejon, Laguna Hedionda Sur and Salar de Chalvri before heading to incredible hot springs where we get to bathe for the first time in 2 days. Nothing better than some hot springs when it’s freezing outside… until of course, we have to get out.
We continue on through Laguna Verde and Laguna Blanca before stopping at Sol de Mañana geysers which are volcanic craters that smell like fart and are located at 5,000m above sea level. Cue fart photo.
We descend to Laguna Colorada (or Red Lagoon) which is shallow salt lake covering around 60 square kilometres and is home to the James, Chilean and Andean Flamingos. The James Flamingos were believed to be extinct in the 1950s but were reinstated when a small flock was spotted in South America.
The lagoon’s colour is the result of red sediments within the lake and the pigmentation found in certain microorganisms which dwell in it, together with red algae. The lagoon is also speckled with large, white pools of Borax and surrounded by yellow rings of sulphur. Ronal tells us that the colour also changes with the weather and is usually more of a blood red colour.
Our hostel for the evening sits at nearly 4,400m so Daniel’s migraine is worsened by the altitude. It is also the coldest day of our lives so this doesn’t help. He throws up a couple of times that night and in our 5 layers of clothing, we huddle up on our single bed together and try to get some sleep.
Day 3 of our Salar de Uyuni Tour
It’s another early start at 5.30am and is even colder than yesterday!
Our first stop is to the Soliloi desert to see Árbol de Piedra (stone tree), a rock formation standing at 7m high and is shaped by strong winds carrying sand and eroding the soft sandstone.
Our drive continues through Laguna Honda and Laguna Hedionda which very randomly has a hotel plonked right in front of it. It’s bizarre because this Laguna also smells like a fart (or rather, like sulphur) so not really sure why anyone in their right mind would want to stay there.
We then venture on to Laguna Negra which is more verde than negra and eat some pasta stealthily prepared by our cook. It’s hot, delicious and full of veggies – needless to say, I am happy!
We arrive at our salt hostel which has hot showers – praise Jesus! Lukas licks the wall and confirms that it is indeed made of salt. After 3 days of lagunas we’re all pretty pumped for the salt flats tomorrow!
It’s like Christmas morning and we’re all 6-year-old kids anxiously awaiting to open our presents. We wake up a 4.30 am and can’t wait to get going.
We start driving and suddenly we’re out on the stretch of the salt flats and everything begins to disappear.
Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flats at nearly 11,000 square kilometres. Around us is all white and it really is a breathtaking sight. Ronal tells us that it is better to stop to catch the sunrise without anyone else around.
The slow sunrise lights the sky up whilst the moon decides to hang around, resulting in some pretty awesome photos (and captured on my iPhone mind you).
After sunrise, we make a quick breakfast stop at Incahuasi Island to see giant cacti before continuing out to the middle of the salt flats for an hour and a half of fun photos. Unfortunately, we didn’t really plan for these photos so don’t have some decent props to play with and end up sticking to the violent style shots.
We stop for lunch in Colchani and go to our last stop, Cementerio de Trenes, a collection of historic steam locomotives and rail cars dating back to the 19th century.
We pull up into Uyuni and rush to see goodbye to Mieke and Lukas so that they can make their bus to Potosí. Determined to not stay in Uyuni for 6 hours, we hunt for a bus leaving ASAP and manage to find an 8-hour bus ride (which turns out to be 9.5 hours) heading to La Paz.
We get on and after 4.5 hours get told to get off and switch buses. We end up on a bus with no air, windows that don’t open and no toilet. It takes every bit of strength, will and mind power to not pee my pants for the next 5 hours.
Questions About the 4 Day Salar de Uyuni Tour
Q: How much did the tour cost?
The tour alone cost us 1,425 BOB ($263 AUD / $200 USD) per person which covered transport, accomodation and meals. However, we had to pay the following entrance fees:
- Entrance fee for Santo Lipez: 15 BOB
- Entrance fee for main reserve: 150 BOB
- Fee for hot springs: 6 BOB
- Entrance fee for Cueva Galaxia (Galaxy Cave): 20 BOB
- Entrance fee for Isla Incahahuasi (the cactus island in the middle of the Salar): 30 BOB
Total: 1,646 BOB ($305 AUD / $240 USD).
Q: Is it worth going on the 4 Day Salar de Uyuni tour?
Yes! This was our top highlight in Bolivia and loved every day of the tour. We liked the build up towards to the Salar at the end and feel that this was the best way to see many of the natural landscapes.
Q: Is it better to got from Tupiza to Uyuni or Uyuni to Tupiza?
You know the saying ‘save the best for last’? This is definitely the case here and you want to do the tour from Tupiza to Uyuni so that you save the salt flats for the last day. Going in the other direction is still enjoyable but probably quite anticlimactic.
Q: What do you need to pack for the the Salar de Uyuni tour?
Layers! It gets COLD so make sure you bring clothes to layer up. The hostels don’t have heating so you’ll need a thermal layer, mid layer and outer shell (at the very least).
Q: Is the tour in English or Spanish?
An English speaking guide was more expensive so we opted for the Spanish tour. We were able to understand enough to enjoy the tour and for phrases we didn’t understand, we had our dictionary and our friends to help. The guide doesn’t exactly go into depth about a lot of things so we don’t feel it’s absolutely necessary to have an English speaking guide. Also, what a great way to practise Spanish!
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