Hola! I'm back to Finland once again with so many memories and new experiences richer than when I left in the beginning of the summer. I can't describe how amazing my trip was and how well everything went. I'd lie if everything was easy and went how it was supposed to go because certainly it didn't but hey I am not complaining. Those were the moments I learned the most.
This post, however, isn't about that, but I decided to put together a little guide for Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Uyuni is a small town located in the Southern Bolivia in the state of Potosí. Close by the town lies for sure one of the best natural wonders of the world, Salar de Uyuni.
Salar de Uyuni, is the biggest salt flats in the world, meaning there's no place like this anywhere else. It is located in the Bolivian altiplano in the altitude of 3650m. This humongous salt flat was once a lake called Minchin thousands of years ago. Nowadays there are 100s of kilometres of salt and 32 gorgeous and unique islands. But how to get there? Don't worry, I got you covered. Here are my tips for visiting Uyuni.
There are many ways to get there depending where you are. I took a night bus from La Paz in the evening around 20.30 and arrived at Uyuni in the morning around 7 am. There are cama and semi-cama buses available, meaning you either get a bed place or a half bed place. Most buses have wifi, heater, blankets and toilet in them. Just make sure to do some price comparing at the bus station. I highly recommend booking the buses from the bus station, as the prices are ridiculously high when booked online. However, go get the tickets a day or two in advance as the prices rise up in the afternoon of the previous day of the trip.
I paid 100 Bolivianos for a cama-bed night bus to Uyuni.
You can also travel to Uyuni from cities like Potosi, Oruro, Sucre and Tupiza in Bolivia and from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. There are also flights from La Paz to Uyuni.
Most buses arrive at Uyuni very early around 6-7 am. Especially in winter months, June & July, it can get pretty chilly, even under zero degrees, so that you might want to have a plan on where you'll wait for your tour to begin. What we did was, we went to one cafe called Nonis, which was located just next to the tour operators and had a (pricey) breakfast there. However, the service, food and the heater (thank god!) were all excellent.
Once we arrived at Uyuni in the morning we started to go around the tour operators near the train station. We didn't have any plans whatsoever except we were looking for a 2-day tour. However, we decided taking the one day tour as the 2-day tours included mountain hiking in elevation that our insurance didn't cover. The three-day tour was a bit too pricey and we were short of time. (Some companies offer even four-day tours)
Just keep in mind that tour operators take in bookings only until 9 as they need to prepare for the tour in advance. Usually, it is possible to find tours the same morning, but if you arrive Uyuni the day before, it is always more secure. However, I would not advise booking tours online as the prices are insanely more expensive. Many of my travelling friends also advised booking the accommodation when you are in Uyuni, that way you get to see the place and you'll save a lot of money.
Here's an example of what our tour included;
- Cemetery of trains - A visit to the locals' handicraft market - Salt flats - Salt hotel and a lunch there - Mountain view - Isla Pescada, the cactus island (didn't include the entrance ticket) - Watching the sunset
The tours start approximately at 10- 10.30 in the morning. There were 7 people and the driver in the jeep car, which we used to the tour. If you don't know any Spanish and you are wishing to have an English guide, make sure to ask about it before you book. Our guide didn't speak any English and a few fellow travellers didn't speak any Spanish so we had to work as translators quite a bit.
Overall the tour was successful and we got to see surprisingly much in just one day. Everything went smoothly and we had blast! The only downside was that there were three of us sitting in the backseat which was not spacious at all and the windows were darkened so it was a bit annoying as we wanted to watch the view. But other than that, I'd recommend this tour. Find on Facebook.
◇ Easily changeable clothes, it is cold in the morning and evenings but it can get hot in the day time. ◇ Good walking shoes (especially longer tours) ◇ Water - there are no shops or water points ◇ Camera (and a toy for taking funny perspective pictures - we had an alpaca!) ◇ Sunglasses (The salt shines bright!) ◇ Sleeping bag (for overnight tours - though you can rent one too)