In this article, I give you the tips and things to know to prepare your trip to Salar Uyuni ready to thoroughly enjoy this fascinating experience! It is important to have at least some of this information in mind, especially since Bolivians have a very strong tendency to take tourists backward to make them pay more.

  1. The city of Uyuni itself is of no interest

Except that she is the door on the Salar of Uyuni of course. You should know that Uyuni is a desert town, tiny, where there is absolutely nothing to do: the main street is a succession of tourist agencies for the salary.

Consider this when thinking about accommodations, if you choose to stay around the Salar. It is important to know this also for the next point.

  1. From La Paz, by night bus, you arrive at 4 am in Uyuni

These are the bus schedules departing from La Paz, and perhaps other cities. In the middle of the night, there is a good chance that you do not know where to go, the tourist agencies only open their doors around 8 am. This is what happened to me.

In this case, follow the few people waiting to get off the bus. They are locals who will show you cafes open at night, belonging to their friends or families, or to themselves: there you can have a good breakfast and potentially, have wifi (a problem Bolivia). Even if you have the impression of an organized trap, I recommend it because there is no bus terminal to wait and the day at the Salar will be long and intense.

  1. You can visit the Salar of Uyuni only in 4 × 4 and organized the tour

The 4 × 4 can hold up to 7 passengers and this is usually what agencies offer. Some vehicles can take only 4 passengers, which is then more expensive. The agencies offer organized tours whose circuit can vary from one agency to another.

To know: You will spend the day with your driver, who will also cook for lunch (included in the tour, normally). Make sure that he is sober before taking the road and report it if it is not the case.

  1. You can visit the Salar of Uyuni only in 4 × 4 and organized a tour

The 4 × 4 can hold up to 7 passengers and this is usually what agencies offer. Some vehicles can take only 4 passengers, which is then more expensive. The agencies offer organized tours whose circuit can vary from one agency to another.

To know: You will spend the day with your driver, who will also cook for lunch (included in the tour, normally). Make sure that he is sober before taking the road and report it if it is not the case.

  1. The salary is not always a mirror of water (then: when to go to the Salar of Uyuni?)

It is often believed that the salary is a mirror of water all year round. This is not the case: its condition depends on the season in which it is crossed. In summer, during the rainy season (November to March), it is likely to be flooded. It sometimes becomes impracticable. But the rest of the time, it is not the case: it is white and you can admire its grid pattern – which looks like a turtle shell! In both cases, it’s beautiful.

  1. It is not necessary to buy a complete tour in La Paz …

… or in any other city where you would stay before your visit to the Salar. You will see everywhere organized tours for the Salar of Uyuni which include transportation to Uyuni by night bus then the visit itself. Each of these elements is purchasable separately, which will save you the commission to the agency and leave you free of the turn that you wish to make on the spot.

  1. The 3-day tour (Salar d’Uyuni / Sud Lipez) is not always more interesting than the 1-day tour

You have to count 4 days to complete the 3-day tour in reality, because the last day is to go back in 4 × 4 from the extreme south Lipez to Uyuni. Just to say that taking a night bus to go to another city, after 3 full days of the car, is a challenge! This would require you to stay one more day (the next day) in Uyuni – which, let’s remember it, is desert – to take a bus the next night, or to lose some or all day on the bus the next morning.

Of course, however, the South Lipez is beautiful and such a tour can discover landscapes as grandiose as the desert salt. Camille, from the blog The Pink Bird, tells this story very well from Tupiza in his article: Salar d’Uyuni: everything you need to know for a successful trip.

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