We knew our tour of the Salar de Uyuni would be nothing short of spectacular but really, nothing could prepare us for just how incredible it is. So many people that we met raved about it. However, as much as we thought we were prepared for its awesomeness, the Salar de Uyuni exceeded our expectations.
The Salar de Uyuni was like nothing we’d seen before. It’s the largest salt flats in the world and the enormity of this white desert is breathtaking.
It’s hard to describe places like this with words so instead, here’s a photo essay to help you appreciate why this is one of the most popular destinations in South America.
Sunset on the Salar de Uyuni
We arrived on the flats after a long day of driving from the Sajama National Park. But we made it just in time for an incredible sunset!
Fun in the Salar de Uyuni
Hexagonal salt tiles as far as the eyes can see. That’s what you’ll see most of your time on the flats. However, don’t think that this whiteness will bore you because it’s just not going to happen. You’ll have so much fun there. Not only is photographing the scenery lots of fun but wait until you start doing the trick photos. The salt flats are a great place to play with your camera and to mess around with proportions and perspectives in your shots.
Coquesa and its mummies
Human sacrifices were not just confined to Peru. At the base of the Tunupa Volcano in Coquesa, there’s a cave with a collection of bodies mummified by the arid, salty air of the Bolivian altiplano. The mummies are believed to be around 3,000 years old but as you look at them you might think they appear much, much younger! Maybe this photo won’t be appealing to some of you!
Have you ever visited an island that is not surrounded by water? No, well you can in the Salar de Uyuni. There are a few islands on the flats and we visited Isla Incahuasi which is home to many Trichocereus cactus. From the top of the hill, you can take in some of the best views of the salt flats.
The Eduardo Avaroa National Park
It’s not just about the salt flats; just wait until you get to the Eduardo Avaroa National Park! This amazing national park is full of colourful lagoons packed with flamingos, soaring volcanoes, endless dusty desert vistas, wildlife galore and powerful geysers.
Arbol de Piedra
The Andean Plateau is home to some pretty weird rock formations that were formed over millions of years through the application of wind and sand. The Arbol de Piedra, the Stone Tree is one of them.
In Laguna Colorada, you will feel like you’re on another planet…
Sol de Mañana Geysers
Bubbling mud, steaming geysers, sulphurous smells … what an incredible sight! But you’ve got to watch your step walking around!
Not even the freezing cold could stop us from standing at the top of a hill to admire this lagoon. The wind was so strong that it almost blew us away. But cold or not we stood there for a while, just taking it all in.
Staying in a salt hotel!
That’s right, we stayed a night in a hotel made from salt. Even our bed frame was built from it! Pretty cool right?
When is the best time to visit the Salar de Uyuni?
There is no perfect time to visit the salt flats. It depends on what you’re looking for. If you want the reflection photos then you need to visit in the wet season (December and April). The dry season will not offer the reflections but you will be able to explore much further onto the flats as they won’t be flooded. The best climate is between September and November.
We enjoyed seeing more of the flats but we’d also have loved to take pictures of the reflections. Either way, you can’t go wrong and we loved it so much that we’d happily go back again for more. But next time in the rainy season!
Which company should you use for your trip to the Salar de Uyuni?
Be very careful about choosing a tour company for your trip to the salt flats. Yes, some companies are very cheap, but cheap doesn’t always mean good. We’ve heard so many horror stories about the salt flats, car accidents, drunk drivers, cars breaking down etc..
Read reviews of the companies before you sign up to anything. Ask questions, especially about drivers and the condition of cars. It’s a rough environment, even for 4WD, so you want to make sure the car is in excellent condition. You need a car with working seat belts and you need a sober driver! Drunk drivers are a strangely common occurrence on the flats for some reason.
Also, the salt flats are located at 3,656 meters above sea level. A lot of people can get altitude sickness at those heights, so make sure your tour group is equipped with oxygen and that the guide/driver knows how to deal with altitude sickness.
We used Banjo Tours and while they weren’t cheap, our car was in excellent condition, our driver was sober the whole time and our tour went very smoothly; it was a breeze. We can highly recommend them.
We chose to start our tour in La Paz but many people start from Uyuni. There are hotels there to suit all budgets. You can use HotelsCombined to search across all of the major accommodation websites. We use it all the time.
A Quick Guide to La Paz, Bolivia
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