Have you thought about taking advantage of your tour in Chile to organize a multi country trip and include Bolivia to your bucketlist? Specifically, you could add to your trip to Atacama Desert a tour to Uyuni Salt flats in Bolivia, one of the most popular highlights of South America. If you have not heard about this amazing place yet, our travel guide will be of great interest for you.
Ideally located not too far from the Chilean border, Uyuni salt flat is a natural wonder: a perfect flat expanse of white. It is the largest continuous salt desert in the world, with an area of 12,000 km2 (or 4633 sq mi). It is located 12.000 feet above sea level, in the southwest of Bolivia, in Potosi department. Uyuni salt is one of the largest lithium reserves in the world and it also contains significant amounts of potassium, boron and magnesium.
We have written a detailed post including all you need to know for visiting Bolivian salt flats on our blog.
This national reserve is located on the high plains of Bolivia and aims at protecting fauna, wildlife and indigenous people. It hosts striking landscapes such as Salvador Dali’s desert and White Green Lagoon. This is one of the most popular national reserve of the country. The reserve is located near to the Chilean border (called Hito Cajon) and at the base of Licancabur volcano.
Ideal spot for climbing, it’s also a beautiful panorama! These rock formations are the result of volcanic eruptions. They have original shapes, and by using your imagination, you can observe a camel and a World Cup.
The Black Lagoon (also known as Misteriosa) is one of our favorites, because it comes as a surprise. After passing by many spectacular lagoons, located in huge landscapes, this one is rather a secret place. After a short walk, you will arrive in this mysterious place, a bit hidden from the massive touristic spot but very charming. Besides, it is one of the best place to take pictures of lamas! Nearby, Anaconda Canyon is also worth a visit.
From Chile, it is very easy to add a tour to Uyuni salt flats to your trip. That is the perfect opportunity to go visiting the world’s biggest and most popular salt flats and to visit Bolivia. Specifically, we advise you to add this tour (about 4 days) after spending a few days in Atacama Desert. Indeed, it is easy to connect Salar de Uyuni from San Pedro de Atacama.
To all those who wonder what is the best between Uyuni salt flats or San Pedro de Atacama, we suggest visiting both! And yes, tours in Salar de Uyuni often exceeds 13.000 ft high elevation. Therefore, we recommend to go through an acclimatization process in Chile, while visiting San Pedro de Atacama and its surroundings.
Now let’s move on to Salar de Uyuni. In fact, this 4-day tour not only includes a visit to the impressive salt desert, but also includes many visits in South Lipez and the fabulous Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve.
Salar de Uyuni has the advantage of being accessible all year round. However, you have to take into account temperatures, and seasonality to choose the best period for your trip to Bolivia. Indeed, there are two seasons: the dry season (which runs from April to November) and the rainy season which can start in December and last until March (the greatest rainfall is usually observed in February). During the rainy season,the salar turns into a real mirror.
Maximum temperatures fluctuate year-round between 14 and 18°C. At night they can go down to -25 °C in winter (from June to August). The sunshine is more or less constant all year round, and the most pleasant temperatures are between September and April. Keep in mind that the weather can change quickly.
Once a year occurs a phenomenon conducive to the most unlikely optical effects. When rains flood the salar, it is covered with a thin film of water. In general, it happens in February, that is the month when you will have the best chance of observing the mirror effect in Uyuni salt flat. However, it must be taken into account that during this period, several parts of the salar are not accessible, resulting in a change in visits .
In general, thanks to an acclimatization process, altitude is not a problem. However, it is not recommended to climb a high level for some people at risk,such as pregnant women and people with heart problems, high blood pressure or severe asthma. If in doubt, you must to consult your GP.
We recommend you avoiding drinking alcohol the day before departure, as well as during the tour. Infusions with coca leaves will be offered, which is a natural way to help the body withstand the effects of altitude. During excursions, we advise you to walk slowly,and drink plenty of water. Comfortable accommodations (hotel) have oxygen available at the reception. Beware, rudimentary accommodations are devoid of such infrastructure.
Keep in mind that the tour takes place in an extreme environment. The tracks are in poor conditions and very stony. The villages are very isolated and poorly urbanized.