Uyuni - What To Expect From A 1 Day Salt Flats Tour

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The mirror effects and perspective photos of Salar de Uyuni are without a doubt the most famous photos of Bolivia, and for good reason. This place is as photogenic as it gets, but even after seeing a hundred or so of these photos you’re still not going to be prepared for the real thing. That’s because the sheer extent of the salt flats blows you away. The sky and the floor become one and you can get lost in the reflections of used-to-be islands, jeeps and clouds, whilst you wonder into the horizon. It’s hard to image there to be more relaxing places in the world.

When talking to most people about doing a salt flats tour, the majority questioned why we’d only opt to do 1 day, rather than the 3 day tour which you can also use as a way to cross the border. Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that obviously the 3 day tour is significantly more expensive and, although we like to forget about it from time to time, we do have a budget at the back of our minds! The second is that when travelling north (Chile to Bolivia) as we were, you’ll end up paying Chile prices for the 3 day tour, rather than Bolivian ones, therefore further adding to the cost. The third reason is that we’d seen a lot of the landscapes of day 2 & 3 of the longer tour already, (volcanoes, lagoons, flamingos, vicuñas etc) from doing day tours in the Atacama. Finally neither of us were too fussed about being stuck in a jeep for 3 days.

That said, if you’ve got the money and the time, it is sooo much easier to cross the border via a 3 day tour and there will undoubtedly be some great photo spots along the way. We were pleased with our decision, but equally we met plenty of others who had such a great time on the 3 day tour. One thing we would say is stay in Uyuni a couple of nights first if you’ve got the time, then make some friends to do the tour with (otherwise you could be snuggling up to some weirdos for the next 72 hours!)

So, our 1 day tour of the salt flats left Uynui at 10:30am and finished at sunset around 8pm. The first stop was the Cementario de Trenes (train graveyard) for some photos and to try you hand at a bit of parkor!

Next we went on to a village where locals were selling traditional handicrafts and general tourist tat, which was entertaining for a few minutes. 

Finally, the main attraction, the salt flats themselves! We spent the majority of the day exploring by ourselves, walking around barefoot, taking photos of the reflections and walking towards the horizon. At one point our driver asked for all of our cameras, which we gave him, before being asked to walk away from him. “Much further” he’d say. We all looked at each other as if this guy could’ve worked out the perfect robbery, leaving us in the middle of the salt flats and him jumping back in the jeep and driving off with many expensive cameras. We were pleased to find out he was simply trying to take some photos of the group! 

We stopped off at a salt hotel to have a standard Bolivian lunch of ‘meat’, rice and salad and after a long day of exploring the salt flats we took in the sunset and headed home. 

If possible we’d really recommend going after it’s rained to get the reflection effect, but if not you’re still going to get those great perspective photos. Bare in mind that if it rains too much tours may be cancelled so if you have the time it may be wise to leave a few days for Uyuni in case of flooding. If you are going in the rainy season, we’d advise packing a pair of flip-flops as you don’t want to be putting socks, walking boats or trainers on with salty feet. For the same reasons it’s probably a better idea to wear shorts than trousers or leggings.

Finally, our tour cost us 200 Bolivianos each (around £20). Don’t pay more than this as they are quick to offer you this price!

Hope this is somewhat useful

Thanks for reading,

Will & Melissa

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