The beautiful Salar de Uyuni is with its 10.582 square km (4.085 square miles) the world's largest salt flat. It is located in the Department of Potosi in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, at 3.650 meters above sea level.
Some 40.000 years ago, the area was part of Lake Minchin, a giant prehistoric lake. When the lake dried, it left behind two modern lakes, Poopó and Uru Uru, and two major salt deserts, Salar de Coipasa and the larger Salar de Uyuni. Salar de Uyuni is roughly 25 times the size of Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States and is estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt of which less than 25.000 tons is extracted annually.
Every November, Salar de Uyuni is also the breeding grounds for three species of South American flamingos - Chilean, James's and Andean.
La Isla del Pescado (Fish Island) located on the salt flat and full of giant cactuses is named this way as the ´island´ has the shape of a fish. It is the only sign of life for miles.
Laguna Verde, Laguna Colorada and the hot springs can also be visited during the Uyuni salt lake tour when entering the National Reserve Eduardo Avaroa. Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon) is a beautiful green colored salt lake close to the Chilean border at the foot of the Licancabur volcano. Its color is caused by sediments, containing copper minerals. It is located approx. 4.300 meters (14.000 ft) above sea level. Laguna Colorada is a red colored salt lake, also because of the presence of minerals. In these lagoons live flamingo's creating a very unique scene of spectacular beauty!
Salar de Uyuni is estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt of which less than 25.000 tons is extracted annually.
This reference program is based on a private tour with ´Tayka´hotels. These hotels are being considered as some of the best hotels in the region, but are by no means luxury.
One of them is the salt hotel, another one is a hotel made out of stones and there is the Desert Hotel located 40 min. from the red colored Lake.
Salar Tour 3D/2N Uyuni – Uyuni
You will be picked up from the hotel around 10.00 AM. You will have an unforgettable trip across 12 000 km2 of fantastic salt landscape. Have your camera ready! The amazing white coat of the Salar de Uyuni (or Thunupa) looks like a huge glacier.
We will enter the Salar at ´Colchani´, where we will stop to visit the salt factory.
We will then enter the Salar and stop at the salt mounts from where we will continue towards the magic Thunupa Volcano. We will ascend a part of the volcano with the car to the Coquesa Mummies. From this point we will have a nice view upon the monumental Salar.
Then we will descend to Tahua where we will have lunch at the comfortable Tayka Salt Hotel. In the afternoon we will get away from the hotel to Chantani where we will visit the pitchers museum. We will enjoy the impressive landscape.
We will spend the night in the Tayka Salt Hotel (3.696 meters above sea level) with private bathroom, hot water and heating (L, D).
This day we will cross the Salar from north to south with the first visit to the Incahuasi or Pescado (Fish) Island, 'islands' located on the Salar. We will follow the little path to arrive at the top of the island Incahuasi from where we will get the amazing 360 º view on the Salar. Then we will continue toward the Mala Mala Bahia, to find the Galaxia Cave where we will find a cactus sanctuary and petrified stromatolites and finally a Chullpas cemetery (ancestral burying) . The cave presents a very weird sub-aquatic geological formation from the era of the Michin Lake (300 000 years ago) and from the Tauca Lake (40000 years ago).
We will continue the expedition towards San Pedro de Quemes where we will have lunch and a break in the Tayka Stone Hotel.
In the afternoon, we will go towards the lagoons chain of Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiarkota, Honda and Ramaditas, where we will see a good quantity of the three kinds of flamingos and other kinds of birds as andean seagulls and wild ducks. These birds live on the lagoons alongside of the volcanoes with their eternal snow on the top and their green sides mixed with other colors done by the borax and sulphur.
After the last lagoon, you will enter the huge and great desert area with no roads or ways. These fantastic deserts gather all the colors from browns, reds, oranges, brass, coffee and beige which are successively shown at every curve of the trip. You will spend the night in the Tayka Desert Hotel (4.523 meters above sea level), with private bathroom, hot water and heating (B, L, and D).
We will start this day early to see the desert under the lights of the sunset. Later on, we will appreciate the svelte figure of the wild Vicuñas entering the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve. We will visit the Stone Tree and see Yaretas and Vizcachas (wild desert rabbit). Then we will arrive to the Geysers of Sol de mañana during the most active moment and with the first ray of lights. This point is the higher altitude of the tour. We will be at 5000 meters above the sea level. The cold is intense, and we will be able to walk among the smoky and noisy geysers, boiling mud stewpot where red and grey mud is boiling like water.
The desert and Salar of Chalviri are another scenery of big value which combine the white of the snow and from the borax with the red brown of the desert and with the blue of the water. In that place we will have the opportunity to have a bath in the Hot Springs of Polques and then to have a delicious open air breakfast.
Then you will take the way to the Ladies of the Desert, Chef d’oeuvre of the wind work. The columns of stones sculpted by the wind show fantastic colors. After that you will arrive at the feet of Licancabur volcano to appreciate La Laguna Verde (the Green Lagoon, one of the pearl of the reserve) at its best moment to observe the change of color from emerald green to deeper green. We will have lunch on the shore of the Green Lagoon.
We will continue to the next gem of the reserve, La Laguna Colorada (The Colored Lagoon) which is the main flamingos nesting site. The red color of the lagoon and of the flamingos comes from the effect of the solar radiations and wind on the algae and plankton.
On the way back to Uyuni, we will stop at San Cristóbal village which has been moved from its original site to the actual one (even the church!) for the needs of one the biggest mine in the world.
We will say goodbye to the llamas and vicuñas before arriving to Uyuni.
Nobody can forget the experience of this trip to the end of the world…
IMPORTANT! Due to the weather and road conditions the routes and hotel reservations can sometimes be changed without notice, reason why the itinerary is only for reference, and is not to be taken as an exact itinerary of what this tour implies. Rain, snow, ice and strong winds for example can cause that some parts of the route are temporarily impassable and may oblige us to make changes in the itinerary. But notice that if we have to make changes it is for your own safety. The surroundings of Uyuni are one of most isolated areas in the world.
Rainy season: the rainy / wet season is roughly from January to April (subject to change). During this period parts of the Salar may be covered with water. It's still possible to do the trip, to visit the Salar and the beautiful lagoons, the highlights of the trip for most people. However with water on the Salar you cannot cross it for hours like in the dry season and you generally cannot get to Isla Incahuasi / Fish Island. Also the Tayka Salt Hotel in Tahua can often not be reached during the rainy season therefore we will either use a salt hotel called Cristal Samana (see http://www.hotelcristalsamana.com/en/home.php) or the Tayka Stone Hotel instead. Other places that cannot be visited during the rainy season are Cueva de las Galaxias, Momias de Coquesa and Chantani, but notice that those places are considered to be minor attractions in the area. Some photographers specifically want to visit the Salar during the rainy season as when the Salar is covered with a little bit of water it becomes one big mirror which makes for beautiful pictures. With too much water however the mirror-effect is gone. Except for January, even in the rainy season the number of rainy days is below 5 per month. Needless to say we cannot predict whether or not it will rain before or during your trip, it’s up to Mother Nature.
Notice that during the past year –probably due to seismic activity- the Laguna Verde has lost much of its green color and is more towards brown nowadays, especially in the morning.
- Overnight stay as described in program, in comfortable Tayka hotels like the salt (entirely made of pure salt), stone (made of rocks) and desert (located in a beautiful desert only 40 minutes away from the Red Lagoon) hotels. The Tayka Hotels have heating and warm water, although not 24 hours a day. At night the gas heating is switched off.
- Transport 4X4 equiped with radio communication or a satellite telephone.
- Spanish speaking driver.
- Also included: natural herbs and medication against altitude sickness and high pressure, oxygen and extinguisher.
Tour does not include:
- entrance fees
- alcoholic drinks, personal snacks and tips.
- Bus tickets to Sucre, Potosi or La Paz
- Hotel reservations in Uyuni
- Bilingual guides
- Private transport in a 4WD from Uyuni to either Potosí, Sucre or La Paz
Do not forget to bring the following items:
The route to the salt lake is cold, windy and with high solar radiation. During the day it iss generally sunny and the weather is pleasant but at night it can get very cold. Our recommendations on what to bring with you are:
- Warm clothes.
- Wool socks.
- Hat covering your ears and to protect you from the sun.
- Swimming suit.
- Lips moisturizer.
- Sun block 30+.
- Sun glasses.
- Raincoat (From December to March)
- Extra drinking water
Note: Don’t forget to bring a copy of your passport.
Apart from the private -more upmarket- tour as described above, we also offer a cheaper basic tour on the Salar de Uyuni, with basic hostels and private transport only.
Please read what our clients say about their trip to Uyuni Salt flats!
Please contact us in advance so we have time to check availability with our operator in Uyuni.
We also offer tours from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) to Uyuni and vice versa. And a trip that starts and ends in San Pedro, while you visit the Salar and the Lagoons. Check out our programs for:
Uyuni - San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama - Uyuni
San Pedro de Atacama - San Pedro de Atacama
Check our page about how to travel to Uyuni.
Bolivia holds about half of the world's lithium reserves. Most of those are located beneath the Salar de UYuni. Demand for lithium, used in battery powered cars and portable electronics, will increase drastically over the next decades. Click here for a short CNN documentary on youtube.
Contact our tour agency for more (price) information or to make a reservation for Salar de Uyuni.
Visit our homepage for more information on tours and travels in Bolivia.
VIDEOS: Watch some interesting youtube videos about the Uyuni salt flats: