Discover Uyuni during your price guaranteed Bolivia vacation. All of our Bolivia tours have daily departures and are fully customizable.
Why travel to Uyuni
Uyuni is in many ways a bizarre and surreal place. Hot in the sun, cold in the shade, and freezing at night, the small Bolivian town could be described as climatically challenged. This isolated settlement was founded in 1889 to enable the exploitation of mineral riches hidden in the earth. In the present, the small population of just 21,000 residents is primarily employed by the government and mining companies, most of which are exclusively involved in salt extraction on the Salar de Uyuni.
Every year, thousands of ordinary travelers are also drawn to the dazzling natural wonder that is Uyuni. The salt lake is simply enormous, and standing in the middle of it, surrounded by a vast white space, is exhilarating, inspiring, and humbling.
The Uyuni Salt Flat covers 4,086 square miles (10,582 square kilometers), and the elevation varies by less than 1 meter over the whole, resulting in an incredible flatness that allows for fantastic optical effects with a camera. The surrounding highlands are yet another draw; these include the nearby Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, home to various species of pink flamingos and other interesting creatures.
A tour to Uyuni, a unique place on Earth, is like no other Bolivia excursion and truly a trip of a lifetime. Rainy season or dry, the surreal treasures of Uyuni boggle and delight the mind.
What to do in Uyuni
Stroll around town. The main thing you want to do in Uyuni is bundle up, because the sweeping winds can be bone chilling. Before heading out into the salt flats, there are a few places worth visiting in town, which was formerly a major railway junction and still serves as a distribution hub.
The Cementerio de Trenes (Train Cemetery) is an odd collection of rusting rail cars worth a gander, and about 30 minutes from town is Pulacayo, a tiny town where you can see Bolivia’s first train as well as the locomotive robbed by the infamous Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. An hour or so can also be spent at the Museo Arqueológico y Antropológico de los Andes Meridionales, a small museum with collections of local fossils, ceramics, and mummies.
Uyuni Salt Flats Tour. The real reason people come to Uyuni is to leave again to go to the Salar. It is a surreal sensation to stand in the middle of a vast expanse and to stare into the distance, unable to tell exactly where the land ends and the sky begins. This is the largest salt flat in the world, and definitely not to be missed. A 3-day tour continues into the surrounding highlands, an area of intense volcanic and geothermal activity, dotted with brilliant lagoons colored red, green, and white by microscopic algae and populated by pink flamingos. Strange rock formations are scattered throughout, including Incahuasi Island, a rocky outcrop of coral reef covered in groves of giant cacti and believed to be the remnants of a volcano that existed in the middle of a giant prehistoric lake.
When to visit Uyuni
The best time to visit Uyuni is in June and July, when the bright blue sky contrasts nicely with the blazing white ground. Note however that this is winter time, and even daytime temperatures can be icy. The dry season lasts from March until November.
Rainy season is December until March. Even though the Salar tends to become flooded and travel can be more difficult and slow-going, the rainy season is still a popular time for Uyuni tours. The principal reason why travelers flock here at this time is because the rainwater pools on the surface and transforms the salt lake into a giant mirror that reflects the heavens – the long distances to the next geographical marker seem infinite and the optical effects that can be produced with a camera are a photographer’s dream.
Peru For Less hooked us up with all the tools and plans to have an unforgettable experience. We toured Lake Titicaca, which was fascinating, especially the floating islands of Uros. The main part of Bolivia that I highly recommend is the Salt Flats of Uyuni. It's like being on another planet. We spent two days driving on and around the flats in a four runner with a guide and a driver. I couldn't recommend Peru For Less more if you're planning a trip to Peru or Bolivia.
Chris from New Orleans traveled to Bolivia in July 2011
Thank you for an excellently organized trip to Peru and Bolivia. The Bolivian experience including Lake Titicaca, and tortora boat visit to Tiwanaku ruins was a different (high altitude!) experience. The unforgettable decent from high Regal Cordilleras and the La Cumbre Pass (4,650 meters a.s.l.) to a steamy Yungas tropical rain forest at only 1,500 meters a.s.l. and a visit to small town of Coroico was very interesting. All in all, the itinerary was followed closely and punctually and all local tour guides were very professional and informative.
Ned Kljucec from Alberta, Canada, traveled to Bolivia in October 2010
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Accommodations in Uyuni are rather basic. The best options are two 3-star hostels; other options are pretty basic, with no heating. Contact your travel advisor for more information.