Over the last number of years, the Bolivian salt flats have become the most popular destination in Bolivia and a must-see spot for anyone traveling through South America. With its sheer beauty and otherworldly features, thousands of travelers come to revel in its beauty every year. Currently, the best way to experience this stunning landscape is to book onto a tour with a local operator. Unfortunately, there have been many reports of tour operators scamming unsuspecting travelers when they reach the flats. In the past scammers have reportedly charged a significantly higher rate than the average rate of operators. As a result of this, it is highly advisable to book your tour through trusted and secure websites such as findlocaltrips.com. This is a website that compares the quality and prices of different local tour operators.
One-day tours are perfect for travelers who don’t have a huge amount of time to see the salt flats. As it is only a one-day tour, visitors taking this tour will not have the time to visit the surrounding attractions. However, any traveler who opts for this tour will not be disappointed as they will have the opportunity to take one of the world-famous pictures of Salar de Uyuni in fantastic quality.
These one-day tours are only available from Uyuni, where buses arrive very early in the morning in order to allow the passengers enough time to do the tour of the flats the day of the tour. These tours begin at approximately 10am and finish at approximately 5pm, allowing those on the tour enough time to catch an overnight bus to their next stop.
The first stop of the one-day tour is the fascinating train graveyard. The second stop is then the Colchani, the salt production site where you will learn about the entire salt production process. You also have the opportunity to visit one of the iconic salt hotels at this stage of the tour. Following this is a visit to Incahuasi, where giant cacti up to 10m high can be observed.
Also on show at Incahuasi are stunning rock formations made up of petrified coral and a stunning 360-degree view of the beautiful salt flats. Lunch is also served at this spot while groups prepare to take the famous Bolivian Salt Flats perspective pictures. The tour ends spectacularly while the sun sets over the vast region of salt flats.
The train graveyard
A salt hotel
The final and most recommended way to experience the salt flats Bolivia is by taking a 3 or 4 day tour which is offered in a 4×4 jeep. The three day tours on offer start t either Uyuni or San Pedro de Atacama and finish in Uyuni. The three day tour that begins in San Pedro de Atacama and ends in Uyuni is the ideal option for visitors who wish to travel northwards after having visited the salt flats. Another option is to take the 4 day tour that begins and finishes in San Pedro de Atacama. There is no real difference between this tour and the 3 day apart from the extra night needed in order to make the long journey back to Chile.
The first day of these tours is the same as the one day tour. It departs from Uyuni at approximately 10am, finishes around 5pm and visits the same sites. After your first long day of exploration, you will sleep in one of the famous salt hotels or hostels. In these spectacular accommodations, fascinating salt designs can be found from the beds to the walls. You should be aiming to get to bed early while sleeping in the salt hotel/hostel as the second and third day both consist of early rises (breakfast at 7am and 5am respectively). Over the following two days you will be shown everything that the stunning Bolivian salt flats have to offer and you will have the opportunity to take once in a lifetime pictures in one of the most magical landscapes in the world. On the second night, you will sleep in very basic accommodation beside the Polques hot springs, beneath a sky full of stars.
For those that begin their tour in San Pedro de Atacama, the running order of the sites visited is reversed. The desert, lagoons, hot springs etc. are visited at the beginning of the tour and the salt flats are visited at the end. On the third night of the 4 day tour, visitors stay in a hostel in Villa Mar village. Here, you will wake up at approximately 4.30 am to continue on with the tour. Finally, the group will arrive back to San Pedro de Atacama at approximately 2pm.
The Lagoons Polques
Arbol de Piedra
Isla Incahuasi can become inaccessible for much of the rainy season (January to April) because of flooding. Eduardo Avaroa National Park (red lagoon, Dali dessert, green lagoon) is also inaccessible for much of the winter season (June to August).
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