Undoubtedly one of the absolute highlights from my South American trip was the 3 day Salar de Uyuni tour in Bolivia. It’s 3 days of driving around in a jeep in the mountainous south west corner where Bolivia meets Chile. Prepare yourself for endless deserts, reflective salt plains, wildlife and gorgeous landscapes. This is a tour not to be missed! Here’s my guide on how to book the Salar de Uyuni tour in Bolivia…and also how to prepare for it.
First of all, here’s an easy tip – DON’T BOOK ANYTHING IN ADVANCE!! Yes, there is absolutely no need to book this tour online or by any other means before you arrive in Bolivia. Get yourself to Uyuni, Potosi or La Paz and get things booked from there.
I did the Salar de Uyuni tour from the town of Uyuni, so this is my experience of it. I met other travellers who booked their trip in Chile, but I didn’t so here’s my guide on how to book the Salar de Uyuni tour!!
How to book the Salar de Uyuni Tour:
– Ask at reception in your hostel in Bolivia if they can organise a 3 day tour (I really recommend the 3 day tour, unless you are really pushed for time of course).
– Get a price for it, then shop around for the cheapest option (prices really do vary a lot, but I paid around $80 US for my 3 day tour back in 2010 – all inclusive).
– Be flexible with dates (I booked mine on a Tuesday night and started the tour on the Friday morning – this was over 2 days in advance, allowing me to see Potosi on the way to Uyuni).
– Check the price includes pick up from your hostel (in Uyuni) and all food for the 3 days.
– Ask where the start and finish point of the tour will be so you can prepare and book a hostel/bus for the third night after the tour ends.
– Ask what extra costs there will be (for example the cost of our tour included the guided tour of the Salt Refinery, but didn’t include the entrance fee to Laguna Colorada National Park).
– Get a receipt for the tour (you will pay up front in almost all cases).
How to prepare for the Salar de Uyuni tour:
– If you are heading across the border into Chile at Hito Cajun, ask about the passport situation (most people have to get their passport stamped in Uyuni before heading on the tour – this is important).
– Take lots of water – it gets particularly hot up there and aside from the drinks with your meals, no other drinks are provided so you need to bring your own water. I brought 2 x 2 litre bottles.
– Take a few beers as at night there is no alcohol available (at least in the places we stayed). This is a good way to bond and chat with your tour mates.
– Take plenty of sun cream and insect repellent.
– If you need to contact friends or family, e-mail them before you head on the tour and tell them you’ll be offline for about 3 days. There is no internet available on the tour, and you wouldn’t want it anyway!
– You might be able to leave your bags with a hostel in Uyuni if you’re heading back there (check beforehand).
– Make sure you take your passport with you. Just in case you fancy heading to Chile spontaneously…(although you’d also need your Bolivian exit stamp in advance). You may also be asked for your passport at the entrance to Laguna Colorada National Park.
– Charge your batteries in advance on your iPods, cameras etc. – don’t expect your accomodation to have sockets.
So that’s your guide folks! Get out there and see this impressive wilderness part of Bolivia. I totally LOVED it. For the record, I booked my Salar de Uyuni tour in La Paz with Extreme Expeditions, and everything went well so I’d have to recommend them! I left La Paz for a day in Potosi then headed onwards to Uyuni to begin the tour. It was an incredible few days of travel, here’s a few of my posts on it, I wrote 16 in the end:
Salar de Uyuni Part 12 – Laguna Colorada
Salar de Uyuni Part 5 – Incahuasi/Isla del Pescado
Salar de Uyuni Part 10 – Laguna Canapa
And one of my videos…