Select Page

Bolivia is famous for its activities that thrill adrenaline junkies: You can cycle the aptly-named Death Road, search for underwater ruins at Lake Titicaca and even summit Mount Illimani if you’re a seasoned mountaineer. But chances are, at the top of your Bolivia bucket list is a visit the world’s largest salt flat. Salar de Uyuni, or the Uyuni Salt Flat, is thought to have similar origins to the salt flats surrounding the Great Salt Lake in Utah. A grand prehistoric lake is thought to have dried and left behind a vast, barren salt flat for future generations (and Instagram fanatics) to enjoy. It’s a seemingly endless (4,086 sq. miles to be exact), bleached expanse featuring honeycomb salt formations, piles of salt deposits and braided flow patterns reminiscent of ancient rivers. Sounds enticing, right? But how exactly do you get there, when is a good time to go and where can you stay?

RELATED: Everything you need to know for the perfect Monument Valley adventure

Bolivia Salt Flats

As for transportation, you have a couple of options. You actually can fly directly to the city of Uyuni which dumps you just a couple kilometers from the edge of the salt flat. From there, you can book a multi-day or full day tour to Salar de Uyuni; They’ll even pick you up from the airport. For an additional side-trip to visit Andean flamingos at a few thermal lagoons, try this luxury three-day tour.

When you return to Uyuni city, you’ll probably be wanting a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast in the morning. Stay at Hotel Jardines de Uyuni; they have single rooms available for less than $100 nightly and the property is within walking distance to several Uyuni attractions such as the clock tower Plaza Arce, and the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum of the Southern Andes. On top of that, this hotel is right next to the airport for easy transit.

If you fly to Uyuni, you’ll likely have to connect through La Paz, although plenty of tours to Salar de Uyuni run directly from the capital. Because of this, flying to Uyuni on your own ticket isn’t necessary if you’d rather take a tour from La Paz. Some tours, like this two-day excursion, includes wine, as well as your flight and all transportation. For a La Paz budget option, take this 3-day tour that includes a day on the salt flats and surrounding attractions, sandwiched between two trips with a night bus.

Bolivia Salt Flats 2

Located south of central La Paz and near the “Sector A” Alto Obrajes district, Qhini Hotel Boutique offers a bright and sunny accommodation option for less than $70 per night. Breakfast and WiFi are included, and you can enjoy a lovely balcony view of the surrounding mountains. If you’d rather be closer to the center of town, head to the Rosario neighborhood and stay at Sol Andino Hostal. This property also features breakfast and WiFi, but there are laundry facilities, as well. From here, you can easily walk to Plaza Mayor de San Francisco, the Coca Museum and the Witches’ Market.

Like most South American adventures, it really does matter what time of year you choose to visit Salar de Uyuni. Your experience will be dramatically impacted by the regional climate. If you visit during the dry season, you can expect better weather in terms of sunshine and much drier salt. During the rainy season, however, water retention on the salt flat is much higher and with a thin film of water, you can get that really cool Insta-famous mirror effect on the surface. If you’re willing to gamble with the rainy season to capture this neat effect, book your trip then. Otherwise, make sure you book for the dry season.

Bolivia Salt Flats

Once everything is booked and planned, you’ll need to think about the kinds of pictures you’d like to take on the salt flats. Play with size, dimension, and perspective; you can easily make it look like you’re balancing your travel buddy on your shoulder, or that you and all of your friends are running out of a “giant” canister of chips or being attacked by an “enormous” version of your favorite stuffed animal. Whatever you decide, visiting Salar de Uyuni is an unforgettable experience that should definitely be on your South America bucket list.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

Pin It on Pinterest