Bolivian Salt Flats Adventure
Experience the surreal beauty and overwhelmingly vast expanse of Salar de Uyuni on this journey to one of South America’s most striking natural landscapes. This is a place where things are put in perspective; where the enormity of the scene highlights the fragility of everything else, where harsh is beautiful, time is obscured and reality seems more like a dream.
Start: La Paz
Finish: La Paz
Ages: 15 - 99
Accommodation: Hotel (2 nights)
Destination: La Paz
Kamisaki! Welcome to Bolivia. Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned until an important welcome meeting at 6 pm.Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
This morning you will catch a flight to Uyuni. The remote town of Uyuni sits on the edge of the high altiplano, which extends towards the border with Argentina and Chile. Your first stop will be at the Train Cemetery. Uyuni was once a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals on their way to Pacific Ocean ports. In the 1940s the mining industry collapsed and many trains were abandoned. Next, visit the small town of Colchani, where you'll see how the locals farm and process salt from the Salar. Finally it’s time for highlight of this trip: the Uyuni's salt flats. The flats are a 12,000-square-kilometre expanse of perfectly flat salt. Spend a full day exploring the lake by 4WD. Make sure you snap some classic perspective-bending photographs with your group. Discover the cacti and coral-like structures on the rocky island of Isla Inca Wasi. Weather depending, you will be at the flats well into the evening to watch the sun set over the Salar, before heading back to your hotel in Uyuni Town.
This morning you'll take a flight back to La Paz airport, where sadly your adventure comes to an end. If you are booking a departure flight from La Paz for this day please ensure it's no earlier than 2pm. Alternatively please check with us within 30 days from departure and we can advise you what time your flight from Uyuni is due to arrive in La Paz. If you need additional accommodation in La Paz and/or a transfer into the city, we'd be happy to help. Just have a chat with your booking agent.
Illampu No. 740, La Paz – Bolivia
El Alto Airport La Paz, Bolivia
Phone: 5912 2157300
1. This trip ends at the airport upon arrival from Uyuni on day 3 and it does not include a transfer into town. Should you wish to book additional accommodation or a transfer please speak with your booking agent.
2. If you are booking a departure flight from La Paz for this day please ensure it's no earlier than 2pm. Alternatively please check with us within 30 days from departure and we can advise you what time your flight from Uyuni is due to arrive in La Paz.
3. Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase flights. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.
4. As parts of your trip are at high altitude, altitude sickness may affect you. Please ensure you are familiar with the symptoms and seek advice from your doctor before travelling.
All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
BOLIVIA: Political tensions in Bolivia mean that demonstrations, unrest and protests are frequent and may turn violent. These can occur without notice and make travel in certain areas difficult. Avoid all large public gatherings or demonstrations. Petty crime is common in central La Paz and other popular tourist destinations like Sagarnaga Street, on buses and in other crowded areas. Carry only what you need and avoid drawing attention to yourself by wearing expensive jewellery, or carrying cameras or electronics. Be alert to attempts to distract your attention away from your belongings. Don't hail taxis off the streets and only use reputable, official companies. The Tourist Police toll-free number is 800-14-0081.
WhatsApp is a popular way to communicate in Latin America. We recommended downloading WhatsApp prior to departure to communicate with by text with your leader and group members during the tour. Once downloaded, please validate your phone number before leaving home as you will not be able to do this once you arrive, unless you have international roaming enabled. Connections for making phone calls through WhatsApp are not reliable, so please do not use this app to make calls to our emergency phone line.
If you receive an immigration card upon entry, please ensure you keep this safe as it may be requested at point of exit. For further information regarding country entry and exit fees, please refer to the 'Money Matters' section of this document.
Nationals from the United States and South Africa need a visa to enter Bolivia and you we highly recommend you obtain this visa in advance from your nearest Bolivian consulate or Embassy. Not obtaining the visa in advance is likely to cause long delays at the border. This visa has a validity of 30 days from first day of entry.
In order to apply for this visa, you will need to provide the following documentation:
A. Original passport valid for a minimum of 6 months.
B. One passport photo (color, 5cm x 5cm / 2" x 2")
C. Evidence of a hotel reservation in Spanish (Intrepid can provide this upon request)
D. A copy of the voucher and trip notes that you receive after purchasing this trip.
E. Proof of economic solvency (credit card, cash, or a current bank statement)
F. International Vaccination Certificate for yellow fever
This Visa can be obtained in Peru (Lima or Cusco) and is usually processed within the day, providing all paper work as mentioned above is in order and payment has been made. We only recommend this option if you simply don't have enough time to get the visa prior to leaving home.
For more information please visit the following website:
At the time of writing, Australian, Belgians, British, Canadians, Dutch, Germans and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Bolivia. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa or entry requirements with the Bolivian consulate in your home country or check via the below website:
Why we love it
Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt lake. Cross the perspective-bending white expanse in a 4WD with a local guide, making several fascinating stops along the way
Uyuni was once a distribution centre for trains carrying minerals to the Pacific. Walk among rusty, abandoned trains in the old Train Cemetery
As you explore the rocky island of Isla Wasi, rising from the salt pans and covered with flowering cacti, you might feel like you've stepped inside a surrealist painting
Is this trip right for you
While this is a 3 day trip, the main highlight of this trip are the salt flats visited on day 2. The rest of the time is spent travelling to and from. For a more in-depth experience, consider our Bolivian Salt Flats & The Andean Desert (GGAD) or the Bolivian Highlights (GGSV) trips.
Reality check. The south of Bolivia is just about the most challenging region to operate trips in South America. It’s remote, isolated and the travel industry and infrastructure are still in its infancy. Sometimes things don't go to plan. For example, an attraction may be closed for the day with no notice or reason. If the possibility of something going wrong or last-minute changes are not an option for you, this may not be the right trip for you.
You'll be spending a lot of time crossing some bumpy surfaces. This is the best way to see the sights in and around Uyuni and is all part of the adventure.
This trip travels to some remote places, as well as locations at high altitude (La Paz is the highest city in the world!). As such, some people can suffer from altitude sickness. If you are, drinking plenty of water and not pushing yourself too hard can help. Please inform your local representative if symptoms don't improve within 24 hours. If possible, arrive into La Paz a few days early to allow yourself time to acclimatise. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip information (ETI) for more important information about altitude sickness.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip:
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip.
While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
Some regions of Central & South America can experience outbreaks of dengue fever.There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. If you have a fever or feel unwell, please let your leader know right away. Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria by taking measures to avoid insect bites.
There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home. It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts.
Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stalls, markets, etc.
More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, coeliac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend that, if possible, to bring your own supply of snacks with you.
For those on strict Kosher or Halal diets we understand your dietary requirements are important, however, sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are travelling. Your guide will do their best to assist you in translating your needs when eating out, but please be aware that these diets are almost unheard of in much of the continent and the best they may be able to accommodate is no pork and shellfish. If this will be a concern for you you may need to consider opting for vegetarian or vegan meals for the included meals in your itinerary. We recommend researching kosher or halal options in your destination country prior to travel to see if you are able to buy snacks once there, otherwise consider bringing some from home.
It's important to note that the 'standard' of meals may not be as you would find in major cities like La Paz as people eat a very simple diet here. Please expect meals to be quite basic in this remote part of the world.
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document).
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to the equivalent of an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
MEALS NOT INCLUDED:
For this trip we recommend between USD 25 to 50 per day. How do we work this out?
Breakfast - If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café.
Lunch - If you are happy with a quick snack on the go, you may get away with as little as USD5 to USD10 for a set menu at a local eatery or a sandwich and a drink at a café. On the other hand, a lunch meal at a more tourist restaurant can cost between USD10 to USD15.
Dinner - At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD12 to USD25 for a main.
These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget, are happy to eat just local food and are not afraid of an upset tummy every now and then, you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.
CREDIT CARDS & ATMs:
ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities across Latin America. Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only.
Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to and what their fees and charges are. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. If bringing over cash, please note USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
Gratuities aren’t compulsory on your trip, but they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. We suggest carrying small notes of local currency around as you go. It’ll make tipping easier.
Usually around USD5 – USD10 a day to cover tips is fine, but your leader might raise the idea of a group tip kitty. Each traveller contributes an equal amount to the pool, and your leader can pay the tips as you go.
To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. The recommended tipping amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground.
- Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest USD1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
- Local guides: There might be times during the trip where you’ll have a specialist local guide alongside your trip leader. We suggest tipping these guides about USD2 – USD3 per day.
- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest USD1-USD2 per day for drivers.
- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD2-USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
BOLIVIA AIRPORT TAX
Travellers departing from Bolivia are required to pay an airport tax as follows: BOB 14 (Domestic flights), USD 24 (International flights)
What to take
Most travellers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in our private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible. You'll also need a day pack/bag for activities and day trips. In terms of weight, airlines generally allow a maximum of 20kg for check in luggage. Other than the items and clothing you always need on a trip, below we have listed packing suggestions specific for this trip:
RECOMMENDED: - Soft and/or hard copies of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the hard copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a copy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary - Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments - Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com) - Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and band-aids. - Insect repellent - Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both - Swimwear -Sleeping bag: Night time temperatures are often well into the minuses it can often get as cold as -5 degrees. Blankets are provided however due to the extreme weather conditions we strongly recommend that you either rent or bring your own sleeping bag. Sleeping bags can be rented in Uyuni for the 3-day tour for about 10 USD (total cost, not per day). - Warm clothes: Thermal underclothes, being small and light, a light water and windproof jacket -Toilet Paper: At least 2 rolls of toilet paper for the time in Uyuni and the desert. This can be arranged in La Paz before travelling to Uyuni. -Travel Towel: We recommend bringing a travel towel for the Uyuni part of this trip as we can't always guarantee towels will be provided at your stay in the basic accommodation. OPTIONAL: - Ear plugs to guard against a potential snoring room-mate - Phrase book VALUABLES: Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. LAUNDRY Laundry is available at many hotels and towns during this trip, although you might need to wait for a two-night stop in order to make sure you get it back in time. While laundry at hotels is usually charged by the item, laundromats usually charge by the kilo, which is generally inexpensive (about USD 2 per kilo)
Climate and seasonal
The rainy season is from November to March, when landslides in mountainous areas are common as are blocked roads and flooding. Transport can be disrupted during this time, including airport closures.
WINTER IN UYUNI
Night time temperatures during winter (May to August) on the Bolivian Salt Flats are very cold and can drop to -6 C/-22 F.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below:
Intrepid's Local Operator: +51 996055559
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
WET SEASON ITINERARY ALTERNATION
From December to March during the wet season it’s likely we will not be able to cross the Salt Lake due to flooding, therefore your itinerary will be altered slightly and alternative activities will be scheduled.
During this time there are countless photo opportunities. The water covering the slat lakes creates a mirror effect.The mirroring effect of the water results in the striking illusion of there being two skies, two sunsets and two sunrises.
You will still have a full day on the salt lake and it will be mainly spent driving around searching for best photos.
The night usually spent in the Salt Lake hotel will instead be spent in the hotel in Uyuni town
Flight from La Paz to Uyuni:
This itinerary outlined in the Essential information is designed around having an early morning flight from La Paz to Uyuni on day 2 of the tour. On occasions due to avalability we may not be able to secure an early morning flight or alternatively the airline may cancel flights, which of course is out of our control. Should this occur on the date you are confirmed on, we will confirm an afternoon flight to Uyuni for you and the program will be moved one day forward.
Day 2 - Upon arrival to Uyuni, transfer to hotel. No activities on this day.
Day 3 - Full day program (usually on day 2) This day includes a sunset on the salt flats. We will do our very best to book a late enough flight back to La Paz so you can enjoy the sunset, however on occasion and expecially during the summer months when the sun sets later, it may not be possible.
Hotel (2 nights)
More from Bolivia
3 Days from$990
START: La Paz
FINISH: La Paz