See the beautiful “Laguna Colorada”, home to three species of flamingo
Take the trip of a lifetime and discover everything the salt flat offers
All tours are given in English by local guides
A unique place in the world - it’s the legacy of a prehistoric lake that dried up, leaving behind a desert-like landscape of bright-white salt rock formations, and cacti-studded islands. Though wildlife is rare in this unique ecosystem, it does harbour many pink flamingos. You can finish your tour at San Pedro de Atacama, it is included in the tour price!
All year round
Red Planet Expedition Office, Avenida Ferroviaria, between Sucre & Camacho Street, Uyuni
Red Planet Expedition Office, Avenida Ferroviaria, between Sucre & Camacho Street, Uyuni
RED PLANET EXPEDITION
Day 1: Uyuni - Colchani - Incahuasi Island - Altucha
From the Red Planet Expedition office, you will depart at 11:00 am in a 4x4 Toyota land cruiser. You will head to the train’s graveyard to see the first locomotives in Bolivia. Have your camera ready for some cool photos!
Afterwards, you will go to the tiny village of Colchani (salt miners’ workshops next to the Salt Flats) to visit the factories, and see the traditional means of table salt production. You will then be taken to the great Salt Flat of Uyuni (Salar de Uyuni), where you first will see the salt mining, and the piles of salt (pyramids of salt). After this, you will go to see the Eyes of the Salt. These are big holes in the salt flat, from which bursts out water at high pressure (this water comes from beneath this dead lake).
Following this, you will go straight to the salt-made hotel (the only hotel allowed on the salt flats). Here, you’ll have time to explore the various rooms, salt sculptures, and the hotel’s lobby (Playa Blanca), as well as take photos! At this very hotel, you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch.
After the food, you will make your way to Incahuasi Island (Fish Island), located in the centre of the salt flats. Here, you’ll see the giant cactus and the coral rock formations. There’ll be the opportunity to stop here, right in the middle of the flats, to see the unusual hexagon- and pentagon-like formations. You’ll have a lot of fun here with your camera – play around with the vast perspective for some incredibly bizarre results!
The final stop of the day will be at the small village of Atulcha, to spend the first night. Arriving there, you’ll enjoy some hot coffee or chocolate, and later a delicious dinner.
Accommodation: Salt hostel "Nuevo Amanecer" in Atulcha - private toilets. 10 Bs extra for a hot shower.
Day 2: Desert of Chiguana - Andean Lagoons - Desert of Siloli - Red Lagoon
This day starts at 7:00 am. Wake up for breakfast, and then get ready to begin an amazing day (check your room carefully when packing up, don’t leave anything).
You’ll first visit the small desert of Chiguana, located on the south side of the Uyuni Salt Flat. This desert is surrounded by many volcanoes, including dormant and extinct ones, as well as a semi-active volcano called Ollague (5840m high). You will see Ollague from the lookout, and spot the steam that still comes out from the top.
The next part of the journey will be heading south. You’ll reach the Andean lagoons, where flamingos can be seen hanging around in their hundreds (three species of flamingos live here). Going further south, you will get to the big Siloli Desert, which sits at 4550m high. This is the highest and driest desert in the world. Once you cross this desert, you will see the Rock Tree (a lava-cooled rock formation).
Later that day, the last stop will be at the amazing Red Lagoon to see some pink flamingos, and the redness of the water from the viewpoint. Afterwards, the car will take you to the top of a big volcano called Sol de Mañana. Upon entering the crater, you will see the fumaroles and boiling mud pots (volcanic activity, 100 Cº).
Following this volcanic visit, you will go down the hill to our shelter point, "Efames" to spend the second night (basic accommodation, big dorms for 5 or 6 people). Hot chocolate or coffee and a delicious dinner will be waiting for you when you arrive. After your meal, you can drink a glass of wine in the darkness, and watch the stars. If you fancy a dip, the hot springs are just 100 metres from the shelter. This is nice clean water, and 35 Cº, so don’t forget your swimsuit.
Accommodation: Basic dorm accommodation - private toilets. No hot shower.
Day 3: Dali Desert - Green Lagoon - White Lagoon - Uyuni
Following a 7:00 am breakfast, departure will be at 8:00 am for the Dali Desert. Here, you will visit the Green Lagoon and the White Lagoon. At 11:00 am, we will start to make our way back to Uyuni. There will be stops along the way for lunch, bathroom breaks and leg stretching. You will be arriving back to Uyuni at approximately 6:00 pm.
For those that wish to finish at San Pedro Atacama in Chile instead of coming back to Uyuni: On the third day, in the morning after the visit to the Green Lake, the car will take you to the borderline, which is 35 minutes away from the Green Lake. Once at the border, the tour guide will help you to swap into a bus. This bus will take you to San Pedro from the border (a 1-hour ride), and you will get to San Pedro by 2:00 pm (Chile time) on the third day of the tour. The drop off is at San Pedro de Atacama’s main square.
Important: During the rainy season (from January to April), it is not possible to access Incahuasi Island because it becomes dangerous as water melts near the island. We will spend the first night in a hotel (salt made) in Villa Candelaria o San Juan. The itinerary and the transfer to San Pedro de Atacama may change depending on the weather conditions.
Important: During the winter season (from June to August), it is not possible to access Eduardo Avaroa National Park (red lagoon, Dali dessert, green lagoon). However, there is the possibility of visiting black lagoon and rock valley, changes to the itinerary maybe made without prior notice depending on the weather conditions. You may also sleep in different locations depending on vehicle access.
Note: Tour given in English and the operator provides sleeping bag ( you must inform the operator before the tour starts)
DAY 1: 10:30 - 10:45
Meeting point at the Red Planet Expedition Office
DAY 1: 11:00
DAY 1: 11:30 - 13:00
Visit the Train Graveyard, Colchani Village, the Salt Pyramids and the Eyes of the Salt
DAY 1: 13:00
Lunch at the Salt Hotel "Nuevo Amanecer"
DAY 1: 14:00
Visit Incahuasi Island to see the giant cactus and rock formations
DAY 1: 16:00
Arrive to Atulcha Village to spend the night
DAY 1: 19:00
DAY 2: 07:00
DAY 2: 08:00 - 12:00
Visit the Chiguana Desert, the Ollague Volcano, see the Andean Lagoons
DAY 2: 12:00
DAY 2: 13:00 - 16:00
See the Siloli Desert, the Rock Tree, the Red Lagoon, the Sol de Mañana Volcano
DAY 2: 16:00
Arrive to the shelter point "Efames" to spend the night
DAY 2: 19:00
DAY 3: 07:00
DAY 3: 08:00 - 11:00
Visit Salvador Dali Desert and the Green Lagoon
DAY 3: 11:00
Return to Uyuni, with stops along the way for lunch, toilets, and leg stretching
DAY 3: 17:00 - 18:00
Arrive back to Uyuni
- All transportation
- Oxygen tank and satellite cell phone
- All meals along the tour - first day (lunch and dinner), second day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), and third day (breakfast and lunch)
- Two nights’ accommodation (Salt Hostel "Nuevo Amanecer" on the first night, basic dorms in a shelter "Efames" on the second night)
- Guide (English-speaking)
- "Float" Accident Insurance
- Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile
- Sleeping bag
- Entrance fee 30 Bs for Fish Island
- Entrance fee 150 Bs for the National Park
- 10 Bs for a hot shower
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, torch, batteries, toilet paper
- Warm clothes for the night, light layers for the morning
- Towel, bathing suit, and flip flops
- Some snacks
- A hat/beanie
- Extra water
- Money for the park entrances fee, and toilets on the way
Cancellation or changes of this tour:
CHANGES: It is FREE to change the tour date before 5:00 pm (Uyuni time) 3 days before the tour begins.
NO SHOWS & CANCELLATIONS: If you cancel before 5:00 pm (Uyuni time) 3 days before the tour begins, a 10% administration fee (+ the card fee). After this time, there is a 100% no-show or cancellation fee.
You must email firstname.lastname@example.org (include the name of the tour and the reservation number) to cancel this tour or to make any changes.
From where do the tours start - can I start from La Paz?
All of the tours of the Salar de Uyuni start in Uyuni. The tours will not include your transfer from La Paz; you will need to organise and pay for this separately. The buses to Uyuni are overnight, departing from La Paz every evening, and arriving into Uyuni the next day at about 7:00am. You are able to start a tour on the same morning, as tours start from 10:00am. We recommend the bus company Todo Turismo, as it is the most well-known among travellers.
Can I hire a sleeping bag for the tour?
Yes, the operator provides one and you must inform the operator before the tour starts.
I heard that I can finish this tour in Chile...Is that possible?
It is possible to get a transfer onto San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. On the third day in the morning, after the visit to the Green Lake, the car will take you to the border line, which is 35 minutes away from the Green Lake. Once at the border, the tour guide will help you to swap into a bus. This bus will take you to San Pedro from the border (a 1-hour ride), and you will get to San Pedro by 1:00 pm (Chile time), on the third day of tour. The drop off is at San Pedro de Atacama’s main square. The tour price includes the transfer onto San Pedro.
Do I need to stay one night in Uyuni before and after my tour?
You will arrive into Uyuni early in the morning, so it is possible to start a tour the day you arrive. Most of the tours will start at 10:30am or 11:00am. You will return to Uyuni by 17:30pm or 18:00pm, giving you time to eat and head back on the overnight bus to La Paz, or even take a bus onto Potosi / Sucre. It is advised that you book these buses before doing your tour of the Salt Flats. By following this itinerary, it is not necessary to stay in Uyuni.
What kind of weather can we find in Uyuni Salt Flats?
From June to September, you will find the lowest temperatures. Generally, it is cold, dry, and windy, and can easily reach -15 °C at night. Daytime temperatures can be between 5 and 10°C, and even increase a little more. The temperatures from January to May increase until at a comfortable level, and particularly in the day it can easily reach 19°C. However, the humidity from rain can cause a drop in the temperature.
How does the wet season affect the tours?
Salt flat (Salar de Uyuni) tours leave year-round, including during the wet season. In fact, many people try to visit during the wet season, in order to see the "mirror effect" of the water sitting atop of the salt flats and reflecting the sky, which is an incredible sight. This is caused when the water table below the salt flats has risen enough to cause the water to sit on top of the salt. It is fine to visit the area when there is a certain amount of water, but when it becomes too deep (after long, sustained periods of rainfall in consecutive days) some places can become inaccessible, such as Isla Incahuasi. These must then be omitted from the tours, but we can usually continue visiting other parts of the salt flats. Also, the area to the south (with the coloured lakes, geysers, hot springs etc) is usually not affected, so tours are not cancelled completely.
Are there additional costs?
The entrance fees for the attractions will not be covered. On a 3D/2N tour, the cost will be Bs180 in total (Bs150 for the Eduardo Avaroa National Park, and Bs30 for the Isla del Pescado). For the full day tour, the additional fees will be Bs30. Also, if you would like a hot shower on the first night, there will be an additional cost of approx. Bs15. Make sure you bring small change for bathrooms along the way.
What should I bring to the tour?
Bring a torch, because the lights go out when the generator runs dry. Take coins and small bills, as the bathrooms aren't free. Don’t forget sunglasses, a camera with spare batteries, extra water, sunscreen and a hat, a sleeping bag, extra snacks (especially fruit and protein), lip balm (the sun, wind, and dry air will crack them up), and your passport. Take warm clothes (layers are best) for nights, as temperatures can get very low. Bring a t-shirt for daytime use, a jumper for the evenings, a warm jacket, gloves, and woollen socks for the night-time. Also, remember comfortable walking shoes, flip-flops (for shared restroom facilities), a swimsuit, a towel, and a raincoat (for the rainy season, from December to March).
Will I have problems with altitude sickness on this tour?
Altitude sickness can catch many travellers a little bit off guard. Not everyone gets sick in high altitudes, and it is difficult to predict who is likely to be badly affected by it. For most people, it is nothing more than a headache and a dizzy sensation that diminishes over a short period of time, 1 to 2 days for most people. If you want to limit your chances of getting sick, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, do not fly directly into high altitude - proceed slowly, allowing your body time to acclimatise as you ascend gradually. However, for many that is not possible, so it’s important to drink lots of water, and to slow down! This sounds simple, but both of these things are very important. Your body is struggling because you don’t have enough oxygen, so avoiding any strenuous activity is a good idea. Chew some coca leaves - the native people of South America have been chewing coca for centuries, thanks to its ability to alleviate mild altitude sickness symptoms. Coca leaves can be bought in any supermarket, and even souvenir shops or street stalls. Take altitude sickness pills (Soroche): these are sold over the counter all over Peru and Bolivia, and are just a few dollars. If you are flying straight into altitude over 2500 metres without spending any time at an intermediate elevation, and you’re worried about getting sick, you can ask your doctor for more specific and stronger altitude sickness medication in advance. In the rare case that your symptoms are more severe than a headache and mild dizziness, you should descend in altitude and seek medical assistance.
Are there ATMs and an internet connection?
Bring money with you, as sometimes the ATMs do not work in Uyuni – it’s best to have money prior to arrival. There is no internet connection on the tour, as the places that you’ll visit are in very remote locations.
I have heard and read awful stories about the drivers being drunk, and terrible car accidents happening?
We only work with the best tour operators in Uyuni, and they monitor their drivers closely to ensure that there are none of these issues. We know there are many rogue operators in Uyuni with bad reputations, and for this reason we only offer tours with selected operators that we feel we can trust.
Do you sell any Uyuni Salt Flats tour over the Christmas / New Year period?
We do not sell any Uyuni Salt Flats tours from December 23rd through to January 6th because of safety concerns. Specifically, this is due to the high number of drunk driving incidents that occur on Salt Flats tours during this time. We don't sell tours with any tour operator that we work with, and we think it is best to avoid the dangers and problems that occur at this time of year.
Can I pay to upgrade my hotels on the Salt Flats tours?
No, you can't. Unfortunately, we do not offer the option to upgrade accommodation because this would involve separating groups to different areas, and it is considered as a private tour by the tour operators.
Where I will be staying in Uyuni for the 2 nights?
On the first night, you will stay in a salt hostel called "Nuevo Amanecer" in Atulcha, in a 4 to 6 bed dorm. Each dorm has a private toilet. If you want to take a hot shower, the price is 10 Bs per person. On the second night, you will stay in a shelter point called "Efames" in Polques, in a big dorm for 5 to 6 people. You will need to use a shared bathroom.
Can I rent rain boots?
Yes, of course, but you will need to pay an extra 30 pesos bolivianos. You need to inform us 24 hours before your tour date and inform to the guide at the beginning of your tour.
I do not want to take all of my belongings with me to the Salt Flats. Where can I leave my big bag or suitcase?
The first day of your tour you can leave your belongings at the Red Planet Expedition's office, and pick them up on return.
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