10 Reasons Why The Salar De Uyuni Tour Is Worth It
1. The Salt Flat Is A Landscape Like No Other
But Bolivia’s salt flats really are on another level.
The flat white expanse is unlike anything you’ve come across before, and one of the highlights of South America.
The pristine white that stretches out to the horizon. The beautiful reflection from the layer of water that sits atop it. The rock islands that jut out of the salt to add a sense scale to what you are seeing. All of these moments will blow your mind.
But in my opinion, the salt flat isn’t even the best bit of the Salt Flat tour – which brings us on to point number two.
2. Day 2 Of The Tour Is Just As Mind Blowing
Most backpackers book a tour to see the salt flats, but on the second day of the tour you will see even more incredible landscapes.
On the second day of the tour, you enter the Altiplano, the high-altitude plateau set between two Andean mountain ranges. The surreal, other-worldly landscapes of this area will leave you questioning whether you’ve left the planet.
Brightly coloured, high-altitude lakes, the strange rock formations eroded by winds over millions of years, powerful geysers firing grey sulphuric smoke into the sky, and the weirdly wonderful Salvador Dali Valley that needs to be seen to be believed.
The sights on this trip will stay with you forever.
Highlights include Licancabur Volcano, the Stone Tree in the Dali Valley and deep red colour of Laguna Colorada.
Some of the sights on this list are so impressive that they deserve their own spots on this list!
3. High Altitude Lakes And Volcanoes
Three of the best sights on Day 2 of a Salt Flat Tour are Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde and Licancabur Volcano,.
The deep red colour of Laguna Colorada is caused by red algae and other microorganisms in the lake. You can also see huge flocks of flamingos (or a flamboyance if you want to be fancy), and this is your chance to catch a sight of the rare James’s Flamingo, also called the puna flamingo, is native to the Andes and the Altiplano area.
Volcán Licancabur is a stratovolcano with a near-perfect cone that rises up behind Laguna Verde. The symmetry of the volcano and the colour of the lake make for some beautiful pictures.
4. Sitting In The Thermal Baths And Star Gazing
On day two of the tour you will arrive at your accommodation, a small hotel set on the edge of a high-altitude lake, with uniquely yellow and orange coloured hills and mountains off in the distance.
Whilst the views here are incredible, this isn’t the best part. After dinner, all the different tours grab themselves a bottle of wine, head out in the cold and jump into the natural hot baths next to the lake.
The baths are fed from the mountains and heated by the volcanic activity in the region.
Being miles away from any big city and light pollution, the view of the night sky is unreal. We’d never seen the night sky so clearly before.
We could see every star in the sky, including the curve of the Milky Way and we even caught a few shooting stars. Floating carelessly in the warm baths with a bottle of wine is another fantastic experience that adds to the many you have on the salt flats tour.
5. Taking The Perspective And Reflection Shots
Yes, we’ve all seen them on Instagram, and there’s nothing original about them, but it’s still fun to do!
Your guide will be an expert at taking the perspective shot, so all you need to do is think up a unique idea. We think our magic carpet style drone shot was pretty original, but we would say that. They also take some cool videos and time-lapses on your phone for you to keep as a memory.
Perspective shots are possible all year round on the salt flats as all you need is a flat dry part, which isn’t hard to find. If you want the sought-after reflection shot then you will have to get lucky.
To get a reflection shot you, it must have rained the day before.
This will leave a layer of water over the salt and create the mirror effect making it seem like you’re walking on the clouds. The likelihood of rain is small in the dry season. Your chances are better during the rainy season (Nov-April).
Check out our guide here for the best times to visit Salar de Uyuni for the mirror effect along with some photography tips for getting the perfect reflection shot.
6. The Tour Is Great Value For Money
Even though Uyuni is fast becoming a popular tourist destination, the cost for the salt flat tour is still reasonable compared to other tours in South America.
For two night’s accommodation, three meals a day and a jeep tour across one a unique landscape, for around $100-$150 – its great value for money.
Here are a couple of tips for finding the best price on a tour:
- Don’t book online, tour prices are always inflated
- Shop around in town and compare prices
- Haggle – bartering isn’t a social faux pax in South America. If there is a small group of you, you can try and get a lower price as a package deal. Their first price won’t be their best price so don’t accept it right away, you’ll easily get a 5-10% reduction
- Visit in low season – fewer tourists mean prices are lower
7. The Tour Is Convenient And An Easy Way To Get To Chile
If you are on an extended South America trip, then a Salt Flat Tour is an efficient way of travelling to Chile.
So along with an incredible tour, you also get transport to your next destination included in the price.
It makes sense to travel from La Paz to Uyuni, and then into Chile where you can either book a cheap flight to your next destination in South America or elsewhere.
Check out our Atacama Desert guide to see all the incredible activities awaiting you once you cross the border:
Or to see how the salt flats tour fits into a wider South America backpacking trip, check out this post:
8. You Will See One Of The Best Sunsets In The World
This simple formula will always create the best sunsets: mountains + the salt flat + a layer of water.
Whilst the sunsets in the dry season will still be amazing, if you can make it in the rainy season to catch Salar de Uyuni covered in water then even better. Here you can get even more fantastic reflection shots along with the beautiful glow of the sun as it disappears. The pictures speak for themselves.
On the second day of the tour you will also see some incredible scenes as the sun sets over the high-altitude lakes and volcanos across the Altiplano.
9. You Will Get To See Rare Wildlife - Vicuñas, Viscachas And Flamingoes
Whilst the animals of the Altiplano are rare; when you do eventually catch sight of it, it will be a special moment.
The cousins of Llamas, Vicñuas, you will have seen across the country hopefully, but if not you will easily see them grazing away on quinoa dotted across the desert. Visachas are round chubby rabbit-like rodents that are cute as hell and won’t be hard to catch hiding amongst the boulders strewn across the Altiplano.
The best part will be the three species of flamingo you come across at the lakes with this being the only place in the world that to see the rare James’s Flamingo.
Be sure to check out our extended Bolivia itineraries to see how the Salt Flats fits in with travelling through the rest of this amazing country:
10. A 1-Day Tour Is Also A Great Option
The 1-day tour is perfect for backpackers who are short on time but still want to see this incredible natural wonder.
The morning is simple as you drive just outside of town to see the Train Cemetery. After half an hour exploring and taking photos, you move on to the Salt Museum and have lunch. The museum isn’t anything spectacular and just seems like a place to stop to get you to buy souvenirs.
After lunch, you will head out onto the actual salt flat for the famous perspective shots and reflection shots (if there’s been recent rainfall). You’ll spend a couple of hours driving around, finding good spots for photos and generally enjoying this beautiful place.
Finally, you will travel to Incawasi Island – a rocky outcrop in the middle of the salt flat – where you can watch furry little rodents called visacas running around and climb to the top to get an incredible view of across the salt desert. Then to end, you will drive close to Tunupa volcano to watch the sunset before returning to Uyuni.
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