What to Expect On The 3 Day Uyuni Salt Flats Tour in Bolivia

Thinking about doing the 3 day Bolivia Salt Flats Tour? I went to Bolivia just for the Salt flats so I’m here to share with you our 3 day Bolivia Salt Flats experience. In this guide I will show you what you will see and eat on the Salt Flat and other important logistical information for your trip.

Uyuni Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni) in Bolivia is one of the bucket items I had for a long time. The mirror reflection on the Uyuni Salt Flats looks almost unreal and that was what initially drew me to visit.

During our 2 week trip to Peru and Bolivia, we got the chance to take a 3 day Uyuni Salt Flats tour to explore this amazing landscape and thr surrounding areas in Bolivia. Unfortunately we went during the dry season so there was no reflection. But even without the reflection, Uyuni salt flats still looked incredible.

This 3 day Uyuni Salt Flats guide will show you what to expect when visiting, including what tour to book, how much it costs, what to see on each day (spoiler: you only spend one day on the Salt Flats), and other practical things to know.

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Where is the Uyuni Salt Flat in Boliva

The Uyuni Salt Flat is located in Southwestern Bolivia, near the city of Uyuni. It is close to the Chilean border, but can also be accessed from southern Peru and northern Argentina.

The Uyuni Salt Flat, otherwise known as Salar de Uyuni, is the world’s largest salt flat. It stretches for more than 4,050 square miles and it is what was left behind of a prehistoric lake from over 40,000 years ago.

How to Get To Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia

Due to its location near Chile, Peru, and Argentina, you can easily take an overnight bus from all three countries to reach Uyuni Salt Flat.

The fastest way to get to Uyuni is by flying. The flight from La Paz to Uyuni only takes about an hour. We took Amaszonas but that flight doesn’t seem to be offered anymore. Now the best flight is to take BoA from La Paz to Uyuni.

Depending on the tour you take, some tour companies will pick you up from the airport the night before.

If you want to take overnight buses (like from La Paz to Uyuni), the bus ride takes 9-10 hours. I didn’t do this route but my friends did on a separate trip and it was not the most comfortable. If you are not on a budget I would recommend that you fly and so you can actually get a good night of sleep.

If you want to take the bus, you can book bus tickets here. This site if very reliable for bus tickets in South America.

Best Time to Visit the Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia

There is a dry season and rainy season on the Bolivia Salt Flats:

  • Rainy Season in Uyuni: November to April
  • Dry season: April to October

If you want the cool mirror effect on the Uyuni Salt Flats, then the best time to go to the Salar de Uyuni is during rainy season or by June before water evaporates.

You should wear waterproof shoes if you are going during rain season since the Salt Flats is covered with water and your feet will get web. Also keep in mind that July is extremely windy on the Salt Flats. Since Bolivia is in the southern hemisphere, July is winter there, so you will want to dress warmly (also due to its high altitude).

Bolivia Uyuni Salt Flat Tour Options

There are 2 types of tours that you can take to see the Uyuni Salt Flats.

One day Salt Flats tour: This one day tour takes you to some places on the Salar the 3 day tour doesn’t, and you may find areas with water to take the cool reflection shot even during dry season. If you are short on time then I would recommend this tour.

3 day 2 night Salt flats tour: This 3 day tour allows you to spend one day on the salt flat and the other 2 days visiting Eduardo Avaroa National Park as well as other cool landscapes such as lagoons, geysers, hot springs, and the desert. You practically spend the third day driving back to Uyuni from the Chile/Bolivia border.

Therefore if your goal is to just see the Salt Flat, the one day tour might be a better option for you. But if you want to see different things near the Salt Flat, then you should consider the 3 day tour.

Best 3 Day Uyuni Salt Flats Tour Operators

While searching for reviews on Tripadvisor, three reputable Uyuni Salt Flats tour companies came up: Red Planet, Quechua Connection and Salty Desert Aventours.

I personally ended up choosing Quechua Connection because my friends went with them before and they have really good reviews on Tripadvisor (this is NOT a sponsored post so all opinions are mine).

I enjoyed my tour with them and have absolutely no complaints. After comparing to my other friend who used Red Planet, a few noticeable differences (and similarities):

Quechua Connection is the only company that offers you bikes to ride across the Bolivia salt flats on the first day. This may have changed now it’s been a while so check with the different tour operators.

Different 3 day Uyuni Salt Flats tours stop at different spots for the night; Quechua Connection & Red Planet both stop at hostels right next to the hot spring on the 2nd night.

This means you can visit the hot spring at sunset or under the Milky Way at night while other tours have to get up at 5am to drive to the hot spring the next morning. Definitely a plus to have the hot spring to yourself under the stars!

Our salt flats tour company tried its best to accommodate tourists with dietary restrictions and the guides have altitude sickness pills as well as oxygen tanks for emergency situation

I’m not sure sure about other companies but I heard horror stories of drivers drink and drive on the salt flats; didn’t see any of that on our tour with Quechua Connection.

Pinterest Pin: 3 day Uyuni Salt Flat Tour

What To Pack For the 3 Day Uyuni Salt Flats Tour

Similar to the Inca Trail, you need to pack a lot of things as if you are going on a camping trip as there is no luxury accommodation during the 3 day Uyuni Salt Flats Tour.

Below is the list of necessary things that you should pack for the Uyuni Salt Flats, as you cannot really purchase anything while you are there.

Travel Document & Money

  • Passport: always have your passport with you
  • Cash: bring cash to pay for the Salt Flats tour, water, and snacks, small changes for bathroom, entrance fees to sights and tips for the driver and guide. I would recommend to bring at least 400 Bolivianos (~60 USD).
  • Cash for Uyuni airport departure fee. There is a US$25 departure tax for international flights and a 15 Bolivianos departure fee for domestic flights.

Medication For the Salt Flats

  • Altitude sickness pill: If you are not acclimated, you should have the altitude sickness pill with you. The Salar in Bolivia is at around 3700m (~1200ft) and during the 2nd day you will be at around 5000m (~16400ft)
  • Food related sickness pills: Bring it just in case you get upset stomach. There is no pharmacy on the Salt Flats tour

Attires & Accessories

  • Winter clothes & layers: It gets extremely cold at night even during the summer months on the salt flats in Bolivia due to high altitude
  • Hat, scarf, and gloves are extremely important
  • Sunglasses: the sun can be very strong at such high altitude. Reflection from the salt flats can seriously burn your retina.
  • Swimsuit: EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!! If you want to be able to enjoy the outdoor hot spring during the Salt Flats tour on Day 2 (or 3)
  • Towel & Hanger: Accommodations do not offer towels. If you plan to go into the hot spring, make sure to bring a towel and a hanger. We didn’t have a hanger but someone on our tour did, it was such a smart idea

Toiletry & Other Things

  • Body wipes: there is no hot shower during the 1st night and no shower at all during the 2nd night of the 3 day Bolivia Salt Flats tour. I got these wipes for both Bolivia and the Inca Trail and they were super useful.
  • Toilet paper: there is none during the 2nd night (at least when I went); if you pay for the bathrooms during the tour, there is generally toilet paper except a couple of places
  • Sunscreen: it’s easy to get sunburned at this high altitude. I highly recommend this lightweight mineral sunscreen
  • Lotion: I didn’t realize how dry it is on the Salar and my eczema was acting up. Bring body location to properly hydrate your skin
  • Dry Shampoo: No shower is available during the 3 day tour of Uyuni Salt Flats
  • Extra batteries: there is no electricity to charge your phone/camera on the 2nd night
  • Tripod: if you are into photography then don’t miss the opportunities to take amazing shots of the Milky Way from the salt flats. It’s higher and less polluted so the stars are brighter and easier to see
  • Headlamp: there was no lights in our bathroom during the 2nd night
  • Sleeping bag liner: you are provided with a sleeping bag but it gets mixed up the following day, so if you want to be clean, bring your own sleeping bag liner
  • Ear Plugs: necessary since you will be in a 6 person dorm room on Night 2 of the Salt Flats tour

What To Expect During the 3 Day Uyuni Salt Flats Tour in Bolivia

Booking the 3 Day Bolivia Salt Flats Tour

After reading reviews online and getting recommendations from my friends, we emailed Quechua Connection to make the booking a few months in advance (you probably don’t need to do it that far in advance like we did).

They can communicate with you via Email or Whatsapp and to make the bookings we had to provide the company with our names and passport number. There was no deposits and we paid everything in full in cash (Bolivianos or USD) in person the night before the tour.

Price of 3 day Uyuni Salt Flats Tour

Our 3 day tour of Uyuni Salt Flats was 180 USD excluding some park entrance fee and tips. We had to pay about 200 Bolivianos extra for entrance fee costs.

If you want to get dropped off in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, you can pay more.

Food during the 3 Day Uyuni Salt Flats Tour

Drinks are provided at meal time but you need to bring extra water for yourself for 3 days. There are shops on the tour (especially day 1) so buy some snacks with you.

The tour company accommodates people with dietary restrictions as much as they can. We had 2 people in our group with severe food allergies to gluten and certain fruits and they were given food they could eat so thumbs up to the company.

Breakfast: usually pancakes or bread, jam, fruits, coffee/tea

Lunch & dinner: rice or pasta, vegetable, protein (llama steak or chicken or canned tuna) & dessert (mango pudding or fruits or cake), coffee/tea/soda/water

Complete 3 Day Tour of Uyuni Salt Flats Itinerary

Day 0 – Arrival to Uyuni & Where to Stay in Uyuni

We took the last flight out of La Paz to Uyuni the night before our 3 Day Salt Flats tour. It was a short flight (~1 hour) and our tour operator picked us up from the Uyuni airport.

After landing in Uyuni, our tour company picked us up from the airport and we were driven to the Quechua Connection’s office to make our payments in cash. We were told that drinks is only provided during meals so we bought our own (a few liters of water to be exact).

For payment, they accept both USD and Bolivianos. If you plan to do a tour in Uyuni, make sure to check with your tour operator on what currency they accept.

Where to Stay in Uyuni

The salt flats tour company dropped us off at our hotel (Hotel de Sal Casa Andina) which was amazing and super spacious. It was actually the best hotel we stayed at during our 2 week trip of Peru and Bolivia.

Uyuni Salt Flat Tour

The hotel even had free coffee and fruit juice in the cafeteria at night. There was also free breakfast with our stay. They also offer a 3 person room which was what we needed.

The only thing I didn’t like was that the windows all face towards the hallway so if anyone is talking in the hall way you can hear everything.

Uyuni hotel

Day 1 of 3 Day Bolivia Salt Flats Tour – Train Graveyard, Salt Flats, Islands, Sunset

We were picked up from our hotel by 10:30am and taken to the main tour office. There we waited for other travelers before we were assigned to one of the 4 jeeps they had. The drivers tied up gas tank, our luggage and water and sleeping bags on the top of the jeep and we started off towards our first stop: Train graveyard.

We got to the train graveyard outside of Uyuni about 20 minutes after leaving the tour office and were given about 20 minutes there to climb up the abandoned trains and take photos. There was a portable bathroom there but unfortunately it was locked.

3 Day tour of Uyuni Salt Flat

We continued onward to a town where we visited Colchani Salt processing “factory”. I walked around a bit and found this really cute pair of alpaca leg warmers for 25 Bolivianos (~4 USD).

After another short drive, we finally arrived at the Uyuni Salt Flats. It was quite amazing to be surrounded by nothing but salt (and whiteness).

It looked like it came straight out of a science fiction. Unfortunately since we were there during the dry season, there was not enough water on the surface to reflect the sky. Hopefully someday I will be back during wet season.

Uyuni Salt Flat Tour

Our guide gave us each a bike to bike across the Salt Flats to the lunch spot, which was 3km away. I heard our tour is the only tour that offers bikes, so that was pretty cool ๐Ÿ˜€ Although I have to say it was not easy to ride bikes across the salt flats because the ground is not 100% flat.

One thing I did not know was that our guide was REALLY good at taking photos and helping us pose on the salt flats. He did a lot of funny videos and photos for us (and for the group) due to the lack of depth perception on the salar. Also, apparently the trick is to lie flat on the salt flats (or as low as possible) to get the coolest perspective.

Uyuni Salt Flat Perspective Shot

Uyuni Salt Flat
What it takes to take a good photo

Uyuni Salt Flat itinerary

We spent over an hour on the Salt Flats just taking photos and walking around in crazy windy conditions but it was totally worth it! I wish we had stayed longer but we had to move onto the next cool spot: Incawasi Island.

Little did I know that there is an island full of huge cactus in the middle of the Uyuni salt flats where nothing else grows.

We had to pay an entrance (and bathroom) fee of 30B (~4.5 USD) to get in. Once you are in, you are free to roam around and climb to the top for a better view of the Salt Flats if you don’t mind walking up with the high altitude.

Uyuni Salt Flat Cactus island

Uyuni Salt Flat Cactus

We spent about 40 minutes here before we set off for another island on the salt flats, this time a cave called Pia Pia Island. I never thought I cared about caves until this particular cave. It helped that our guide was an amazing photographer. I heard that in the past, people stayed in the cave to watch sunset. But we didn’t do it this time.

Pia Pia island Uyuni Salt Flat

We continued on driving until we found a random spot to watch the magnificent sunset on the salt flats. It was one of the most colorful sunset I’ve ever seen but oh boy it was freezing cold!!

Our guide was really excited for this sunset, apparently because usually there is clouds in the horizon but this time it was completely clear.

Uyuni Salt Flat sunset tour

Uyuni Salt Flat Sunset

Uyuni Salt Flat SUnset

Our first night hotel on the Salt Flats was called Manica Hostel, which wasn’t too bad. We had a 3 person private room with our own bathroom and electricity so we could charge our phone and camera (yes electricity is luxury item here). Unfortunately there was no hot water in the bathroom so no shower night no.1!

Day 2 – Coral Valley, Lagoons, Stone Tree, Geysers, Hot Spring

Little did I know that the 3 day Uyuni Salar tour is actually only 1 day on the salt flats. We officially left the Uyuni salt flats the night before. Day 2 of the 3 day Salt Flats tour started bright and early at 6am in the morning. We left the hostel by 7am to visit the first stop: coral valley.

Uyuni Salt Flat Tour Coral Valley
Getting up before sunrise
Uyuni Salt Flat Tour

Day 2 of the 3 day tour of Uyuni salt flats was a lot of driving in a desert landscape. It’s actually quite amazing how the landscape changes every 30 minute to an hour on this day. We drove by deserts, coral valleys; we saw volcanoes followed by lush green and random villages.

We also entered the Eduardo Avaroa National Park and had to pay 150Bs for entrance fee so make sure you bring enough cash and your passport with you.

Uyuni Salt Flat Altiplanic Lagoon
Altiplanic Lagoon

One of the cool things we saw along the way were 2 lagoons with flamingos. Did you know that flamingos are not born pink? They get the pink color from eating algae. Most people also wouldn’t expect to find volcano flamingos hidden away and thriving in the Andes. They have adapted the harsh weather as well as the high altitude.

Eduardo Avaroa National Park Flamingo

Eduardo Avaroa National Park

Eduardo Avaroa National Park

A few other cool things we saw during Day 2 included the Stone Tree, the Red Lagoon, and a geyser. This was totally unexpected but also really cool to see.

Stone Tree Uyuni Salt Flat
Arbol de Piedra (Stone Tree)
Uyuni Laguna Colorada
Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon) with flamingos in it
Sol de manana geyser
Sol de manana geyser

One word about the accommodation on the Salt Flats, since it’s in such a remote location, all the accommodations were hostels with no showers and electricity. Each car stays in the same dorm with a private bathroom, but there is no heating in the hostel so make sure to wear layers to bed.

Uyuni Salt Flat Hostel
Rocky floors + bed made of stones

The highlight of the day was the hot spring. Since we stayed about 6 minute walking distance to the hot spring, we could go anytime we wanted.

Our group ended up going around sunset after we checked into our hostel. Since only our group and Red Planet are staying near the hot spring, we ended up having the place all to ourselves for sunset.

The entrance fee for the hot spring is 5Bs. If you just want to dip your feet in, then it’s free. There is a changing room at the hot spring, but there is no lights in the changing room so bring flashlight or head lamp and towel. This is also where having a hanger was extremely helpful to dry the wet swimsuit and towel.

Uyuni Salt Flat tour hotspring
Hotspring at sunset
Uyuni Salt Flat Sunset Hotspring

I think this sunset in Bolivia was even more stunning than the one the day before. Similarly, the Milky Way was more clear today since we were at an even higher altitude on the salt flats. It was well worth the sub freezing temperature to capture this.

Uyuni Salt Flat milky way
Milky Way

Day 3 – Dali Desert, Chilean Border, Green Lagoon

We actually spent most of Day 3 of the salt flats tour driving back to Uyuni.

If you are not short on time, it’s actually a better option to get dropped off at the Chilean border and cross into Chile. It’s a lot more efficient and you are not wasting the whole day driving back. Meanwhile for the rest of us, we saw the Salvador Dali desert and lagoons.

Uyuni Salt Flat Tour

Uyuni Salt Flat Tour

The highlight (and a surprise) came in the afternoon about 2 hours from Uyuni. Our guide took us into this secret valley that had an incredible landscape.

Uyuni Salt flat Tour

2 week Peru and Bolivia Itinerary

After this last stop, we drove about an hour to a tourist stop for bathroom and snacks then headed back to Uyuni to catch our flight to La Paz.

Things To Know Before You Go To Uyuni Salt Flats

Can I see the reflection on the Uyuni Salt Flats? 

This is a tricky one. If you visit the Bolivia Salt Flats during rainy season, then it’s more than likely you will be able to take the reflective photos on the salt flat.

However during the dry season, some day tours can take you to a spot that “always” has water so you can take the reflection shots on the salt flat. Our 3 day tour was not able to take us.

What’s the altitude of Salar de Uyuni?

The Uyuni Salt Flats is about 4000m above sea level and during Day 2 of the 3 Day tour of Uyuni Salt Flats, the altitude can reach above 5000m (16400ft).

Therefore if you are prone to getting altitude sickness, you should take some altitude sickness pills with you. I would recommend acclimate in La Paz or somewhere lower for a couple of days before doing the Uyuni salt flats tour.

However the guides usually have oxygen tank with them for emergency use. But unless you are on the verge of death, they tend not to use it even if you get altitude sickness.

Is there Vegan or Vegetarian Food On the Salt Flats Tour?

Yes! The tour companies are very good at accommodating food preferences on the Salt Flats.

How Much Cash Should I Bring To the 3 Day Bolivia Salt Flats Tour?

Bring at least 400 Bolivianos besides the money to pay for your salar de Uyuni tour.  You need the cash to pay for water, bathroom, snacks, entrance fee, airport departure fee in Uyuni, etc.

If you are flying out of Uyuni to La Paz after the tour, have 15 Bolivianos (~1.5 USD) to pay airport departure tax. You don’t have to worry about this when you take a flight from La Paz airport. This departure fee only applies to Uyuni Airport departure

Is there shower on the 3 day Bolivia Salt Flats Tour?

For our tour there was a cold shower the first evening but no shower the second evening.

Is the Uyuni Salt Flats Tour safe for Female solo travelers?

YES! There were many solo travelers on our Salt Flats Tour and the guides are very professional. You will feel safe and comfortable traveling by yourself to the Salt Flats.

What is the accommodation like on the 3 Day Bolivia Salt Flats Tour?

Accommodation depends on the tour you take. For our tour, the first night we stayed in a private room with bathroom and cold shower. The 2nd night we stayed in a 5-6 person dorm sleeping on stone beds with no shower and no toilet paper. The tour will give you sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner but it can be really cold at night.

Is there bathroom on the Uyuni Salt Flats?

There are many rest stops on your Salts Flat tour but you have to pay at least 5 Bolivianos every time you use the bathroom unless it’s at your hostel.

Is the Bolivia Uyuni Salt Flats Worth It?

If you want to see unique landscapes, the largest salt flats in the world, and have a once in a life time experience, then the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia is totally worth it. The price is not too expensive for a 3 day all inclusive tour.

However if your only goal of visiting Uyuni Salt Flats is to take the mirror-like reflection, then you may be disappointed. Even during rainy season it is not guaranteed for you to see it, and you most likely won’t see it during the dry season.

In addition, if you only want to see the salt flats and nothing else, you should not take a 3 day tour, instead, take the one day tour and save yourself some time.

One last thing to note is that there is a similar (but smaller) salt flats in Utah. So if you are from the US, you may not need to fly all the way to Uyuni to see this.

Final Thoughts on the Bolivia 3 Day Salar de Uyuni Tour

I really thought the 3 day salt flats tour was amazing since you are literally so remote from civilization you really feel disconnected. The landscape changes drastically from place to place and I think it’s definitely an unique experience.

Regardless of whether you do a one day tour or a 3 day tour, you will love the experience as long as you are well prepared.

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