Round Trip Uyuni Salt Flats from San Pedro de Atacama
This San Pedro de Atacama roundtrip tour has been designed for travelers who want to visit the Salar de Uyuni from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), without having to travel all the way to Uyuni and being dropped off there. This trip starts and ends in San Pedro de Atacama. A 4 day program is available as well.
3D/2N Round trip: San Pedro de Atacama – Uyuni Salt Flats – San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), visiting the salar and lagoons.
Day 1 COLORED LAGOONS (San Pedro de Atacama – Hito Cajón) (L, D)
We will pick you up from your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama and take you to Hito Cajones, the Bolivian border. Once in Bolivia we will enjoy the magnificent landscape dominated by the Licancabur Volcano and the mirror of the Green Lagoon, one of the jewels of the Eduardo Avaroa Reserve and first stop of our trip.
We will continue towards another jewel of the reserve: the Colored Lagoon, which is the main nesting area for three flamingo species. The color of the water is produced by the presence of algae and plankton activated by the sunlight and the wind. This particular algea is what gives the flamingos its pink and reddish feet and feathers. We will go round to the east side of the lagoon where we should be able to see a lot of flamingos.
We will continue the trip to Villamar village and a bofedal (wet land), where we will wait until our lunch is ready.
In the afternoon we will continue to Valle de Rocas where you can use your imagination and your skills to take photographs. Throughout the years, the wind has modeled the rocks like an artist. Valle de las Rocas has numerous rocks, which according to the locals, resemble people and animals.
Our next stop will be San Cristobal village, near the mine with the same name, which is one of Bolivia’s largest mining facilities. Years ago the whole village was moved by the mine corporation to a new location 14 km away from its original location where a big amount of minerals were found.
On our way to Colchani we will stop by the train graveyard, with old rusted steel steam locomotives from 1890.
At the end of today’s route we will enter the salt lake through Colchani, a small village on the border of the salt lake, where we will visit the salt factory.
Overnight stay in Hotel Luna Salada or Hotel Palacio de Sal (Hotels made out of salt).
Day 2 SALT LAKE AND LAGOONS (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will continue our trip until we reach the Incahuasi Island, located in the centre of the Salar. This Island is formed with volcanic stones and has a lot of giant cactuses. From the top we will be able to enjoy a 360 degree view of the Salt lake. Then we will head back to the south and get out of the Salar by Puerto Chuvica and make our way towards San Juan where we will have lunch.
In the afternoon we will ride along the chain of lagoons Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiarkota, Honda and Ramaditas. In these lagoons we will be able to spot a large number number of flamingos consisting of three different species (Andino, James and Chilean). These flamingos also share the volcanoes eternal snow and green sides (paja brava, yareta and thola) together with other species bird species such as Andean seagulls and wild ducks. The colors of the sand and rocks are a product of the millennial winds together with the presence of the borax and sulfur.
After we pass the last lagoon we will enter a huge and great desert area where gravel or dirt roads are no longer present. These fantastic deserts gather all kinds of colors such as browns, reds, oranges, brass and beige which are successively shown at every curve of the trip. And it is in this area where you will be spending the night at the Takya Desert hotel (4500 m).
Day 3 COLOURED LAGOONS AND VALLEY OF THE LADIES DESERT (B, L)
Early this morning we will get ready to enter the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve. We will visit the Stone Tree (Arbol de Piedra) which is a tree shaped geological structure, and the Red lagoon (Laguna Colorada).
Afterwards we will arrive at the Geysers of Sol de Mañana. It is at this time of day in which the Geysers are most active. At this point we will be at the highest altitude of the trip (5000 meters above sea level). The cold here is very intense. We will have a walk between the geysers which produce noisy vapor springs and many stewpots where red and grey mud boils like water.
The desert and Salar of Chalviri offers us a landscape combining the white of the snow and the red brown of the desert together with the blue of the water. You will have the opportunity to take a swim in the Hot Springs of Polques.
Afterwards we will approach another amazing place: the Valley of the Ladies desert, which is a geologic wonderland created by the winds. The columns of stones sculpted by the wind show fantastic colors. After visiting this valley we will continue towards another reserve’s gem: the Green Lagoon (Laguna Verde), located at the foot of the Licancabur Volcano. We will arrive there by lunch time, which is the best time to see how its waters change colours from emerald green to a deeper green.
From this point we will then continue towards the Chilean border and travel back to San Pedro de Atacama. After we cross we will change vehicles and continue up until your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile (approx. 2 hours ride).
IMPORTANT! Due to weather and road conditions the routes and hotel reservations can sometimes be changed without notice. This is the 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 some parts of the route to temporarily become impassable and may oblige us to make changes in the itinerary. But take 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 season is roughly from January to April (subject to change). During this period parts of the Salar may be covered with water. This means that even though it will still be possible to do the trip and to visit the Salar with its beautiful lagoons, as well as the highlights of the trip, the water on the Salar may prevent us from being able to cross it for several hours like you would do during the dry season. You will therefore not be able to get to Isla Incahuasi / Fish Island. Also the Tayka Salt Hotel in Tahua can often not be reached during the rainy season and we will therefore either use the salt hotel like Luna Salada, Palacio de Sal instead. When the Salar is covered with a little bit of water it also becomes one big mirror which is a beautiful setting for pictures. Many photographers even specifically visit the Salar during this rainy season in order to capture beautiful pictures. With too much water however the mirror-effect is gone. Needless to say we cannot predict whether or not it will rain before or during your trip, it’s up to Mother Nature.
- Overnight stay in comfortable Tayka hotels.
- Transport in a 4X4 (with satellite phone and oxygen tube)
- Spanish speaking driver
Tours do not include:
- Entrance fees
- Alcoholic drinks, personal snacks and tips.
- Bus tickets to Sucre, Potosi or La Paz
- Hotel reservations in Uyuni after the tour has finished
- (Bilingual) guide
- Private transport to or from either Calama in Chile, or Sucre, Potosi and La Paz in Bolivia.
What we recommend you to take with you:
The route to the salt lake is cold, windy and with high solar radiation. During the day it is generally sunny and the weather is pleasant. Our recommendations on what to bring with you are:
- Warm clothes.
- Woolen socks.
- Hat that covers your ears and protects you from the sun.
- Swimming suit.
- Lip moisturizer.
- Sun block 30+.
- Sun glasses.
- Raincoat (From December to March).
- Extra water.
- Passport (and visa).
Note: Don’t forget to bring a copy of your passport.
We also offer the following salt flats tours:
- Uyuni – San Pedro de Atacama
- San Pedro de Atacama – Uyuni
- Tupiza – Uyuni
- San Pedro – Uyuni – Tupiza
- Tupiza – Uyuni – San Pedro
- Uyuni stargazing tour
- 3 day comfortable Uyuni – Uyuni tour and a cheaper basic tour on the Salar de Uyuni, with basic hostels and private transport only.
- A luxurious option: camping in style at Kachi lodge.
- 1 Full day tour Uyuni – Uyuni
- 2 day tour Uyuni-Uyuni
Check our pages about:
More info about this tour, check out the following travel blogs (in Portugues):
Other travel blogs in English:
Please in advance so we can check availability in the hotels.
´Nos han gustado mucho los dos tours. Los chóferes y guías muy bien en ambos casos. Los hoteles nos gustaron mucho y todo ha salido muy bien. El Salar y Lagunas espectacular. En general muy bien todo. Muchas gracias!'
´Gijs, the trip to Uyuni was very good thanks. We were impressed with the overall package and would not hesitate to use your services again. Many Thanks.´
´It was absolutely fabolous! Excellent driver and guide! And transport to Chile! Loved all we saw! Thanks for organising the trip and for answering all my questions!´
´We had a wonderful trip for 3 days and the weather was nice apart from some snow and hail on the last day which made it kind of special. ´
´Hi Gijs, I just wanted to say that we had a wonderful trip. The organisation was perfect - thank you for sorting it all for us. Best regards, Mike´
´Dear Gijs, I just wanted to thank you for an incredible experience in the Salar of Uyuni earlier this year. The nature and the people were unforgettable. Ottavio was a great enthusiastic guide. It could not have been better. All the best from Germany, Chris´
´Dear Gijs, we would like to thank you for organising such a fantastic tour for us. We had an amazing time. Wilson was a great driver, very professional yet a lot of fun too. We had heard many stories of people having bad experiences so were a little wary about booking a tour. The food was great and the vehicle was very comfortable. If any of our friends head this way, we'll be passing on your details. Thanks again. Regards John and Paul´
´Dear Gijs, Thank you very much for following through with everything and making this part of our trip to South America go so smooothly. We have had several hassles with other bookings - people not turning up, or no name cards or wrong information etc. It is so refreshing to have everything go right. I shall have no hesitation in recommending you to any of our acquaintances. Regards, Carmen Wells´