Three Day Bolivia Salt Flats Tour

Salt flats

Traveling to South America? If a trip to the Bolivian salt flats isn’t on the agenda then you’re sorely missing out! Located well off most travelers typical route, more and more people are going out of their way to visit this amazing feat of nature. After doing some research we chose to go with the company Red Planet for our Salar de Uyuni tour. Red Planet was a little more expensive than some other operators, but we have learned the hard way that it’s often worth it to spend a little extra. We hope you enjoy our experience exploring the incredible salt flats in Bolivia! 

Day One: Starting our Bolivia Salt Flats Tour

Arriving via night bus from La Paz, we traveled with the bus company Todo Turismo. As the name indicates, it was safely filled with tourists and backpackers. Daily direct transfers leave from La Paz to Uyuni leave around 9pm, and have you there by 8:30am. The road is bumpy and you’ll pay a little more than the public bus, but it gets you in early. We recommend starting your tour that day as there is next to nothing to do in the actual town of Uyuni.

*If you do end up staying in Uyuni check out the latest hotel prices here!

Having reserved a spot with Red Planet for the three day Bolivia salt flats tour, they picked us up from the bus station and even accommodated other travelers who had nothing booked. Just a few hours later after filling out paperwork and packing up the cars, we were on our way! Our wheels for the journey would be these sweet 7 seater Land Rovers!

Bolivian salt flats Red Planet Tour

Train Graveyard

First stop on the Salar de Iyuni tour was the train graveyard. We thought the information and story behind the silver mines was more impressive than the actual trains. Either way, it was still a cool place to visit!

Train salt flats

Bolivia Salt Mine Village

This small village before the Bolivia salt flats gives you a behind the scenes look at how the salt is manufactured. It’s actually a very small operation that only distributes to the local villages. This blew out minds… Wouldn’t everyone want to buy salt from Bolivia? It’s the largest salt flat in the world after all! Strangely enough, they just supply enough for local consumption. For 1 boliviano (or about .14 cents) you can even buy your own bag of Bolivia salt.

Bolivia Salt flats village

Bolivian Salt Flats

Now the real fun begins! Entering the Bolivia salt flats is a surreal feeling. Nothing but white as far as you can see. Driving on it feels like being on ice over a lake, where at any moment you can break through.  Depending on when you visit, the salt will either be glazed over from recant rain, or hardened into hexagon forms from the dry weather. The area of the salt is so large that pictures taken close to the ground will even show the curve of the planet!

Bolivian Salt flats

Salt Hotel

After a short drive you will arrive at the Salt hotel for lunch. I hope you like chicken, because you’ll be eating a lot of it! As the only building for miles, what was once was a spooky desert hotel has now been turned into a pit stop for tours crossing the flats. As always, our tour guides from Red Plant did a great job explaining the history of wherever we were!

Bolivian salt flats

Picture Time in Salar de Uyuni

So at this point we are in the middle of nowhere with miles and miles of white salt surrounding us. You can’t tell if a passing car is 500 feet, or 5 miles away! With the help of our tour guides we got all the crazy Bolivian salt flat photos we could have ever imagined. We took photos for hours, so make sure to bring plenty of funny props with you. I mean let’s be honest, this is one of the reasons everyone visits to the salt flats in Bolivia… Right?

Bolivian Salt flats
Bolivian Salt flats
Bolivian Salt flatsBolivian Salt flats

Unfortunately, just as we were leaving our photo shoot one of the three SUVs in our group broke down. We found out this is quite common on these tours, especially since most of the vehicles are pretty old. The only thing that surprised us was that our tour guides told people to leave all of their belongings in the car…. In the middle of the desert… And the people did!

Passports, money, laptops, etc… were all left in the salt flats. Luckily, everyone did eventually get there stuff back (around midnight), but they were sweating it out instead of enjoying their delicious local Bolivian dinner. Lesson learned! No matter what happens in the Bolivia salt flats, don’t leave your valuables behind.

Salt Hotel

After a long day we made it to our very own salt hotel. It was basic, but nicer than expected. The rooms consisted of two person rooms with walls and floors made from actual salt! As you can imagine this was pretty wild. Dinner was prepared by the family that owned the hotel, and a relaxing night was followed by an early 6am morning start.

Bolivia Salt flats tour

Day Two: Bolivian Salt Flats Tour

Get ready for a long day in the car. Normally were not too excited about being stuck in the car all day. However, this really turned into an amazing adventure. Over the course of 11 hours we experienced more landscapes and beautiful scenery than we could have ever imagined! Below is just some of what you’ll see after the Bolivan salt flats. 

Deep Valleys

Bolivia Salt flats tour

Llama Pastures

Bolivia salt flats tour

What the locals describe as “The Moon”

Bolivia salt flats tour

The Green Lagoon

Green lagoon Bolivia

The Desert

Bolivia salt flats tour

Crazy Rock Formations

Bolivia Salt flats tour

The Red Lagoon

Red lagoon Bolivia

Active Volcanoes

Bolivia salt flats tour

After Salar de Uyuni

Looking back, I can’t believe this part of the Bolivia salt flats tour was all one day! After seeing the volcano we headed to our “Eco lodge” for the night. What qualifies this as an Eco lodge you say? No running water, two outhouses, and no power after 9pm. Perfect…

Now after two days of seeing breathtaking new things, it was time for the icing on the cake. The thermal springs!! Red Planet is the ONLY tour company who stays at this hotel, and has access to the hot springs at night. Now it is extremely cold when the sun goes down, and that’s saying a hell of a lot if you’ve ever been to Boston in the winter. So make sure to pack your llama sweaters for this trip.

Just after dinner when you dip into the hot springs, with the moon shining and the Milky Way right above you, it will be heaven on earth! I like to think of myself as somewhat of a hot spring connoisseur, and this one absolutely blew me away. The nature, stars, and the simplicity of everything, these hot springs really made made our Bolivia salt flats trip something to remember.

Hot spring bolivia

We loved it so much, we actually woke up and jumped in at 6am to watch the sun rise the next morning. If we could be laying in it right now we would! Around 6:30pm the other tour groups came and got in the way of my spa vibe, but that’s when I felt the luckiest. How awesome is it that we had private access to this magical place the night before? Thanks Red Planet!

Bolivia hot springs

Day Three: Bolivia Salt Flats Tour

On the third day we visited one more amazing lagoon before finishing the tour. Some people transferred to the Chile border, while others started the 8 hour journey back to Uyuni.

Should you do a Bolivian salt flat tour? YES 100%!!! It definitely exceeded our expectations. We would recommend it even more if you’re planning on heading to Chile after. Most companies include the transfer over the border, and even help with the crossing.

Would we recommend Red Planet? We had an amazing experience and would recommend using Red Planet. Go into the tour with an open mind, and try not to get stressed about the little things. You shouldn’t plan on a daily showers and there are VERY basic accommodations. Yet that’s all part of the adventure! Red Planet does a great job making you feel safe and at home along the Salar de Uyuni tour.

Cost of Salar de Uyuni Tour with Red Planet

  • 190 US dollars for the tour
  • 150 Bolivianos: park entrance
  • 30 Bolivianos: cactus island
  • 10 Bolivianos: if you want hot shower
  • 20 Bolivianos: bathrooms throughout
  • 3 Bolivianos: hot spring
  • 5 Bolivianos: tour of salt process

Right now it’s about 7 bolivianos to the US dollar so in total it should cost around $210.

Packing list for Salar de Uyuni Tour:

  • Sunglasses: The white reflection from the Bolivia salt flats is very powerful.
  • Lotion: Your skin will be sucked dry, so bring extra lotion.
  • Chapstick: I don’t know if you’ll survive without this! Between the salt and desert air, your lips will be begging for some chapstick. This was honestly the most important thing I packed on our Salar de Uyuni tour.
  • Toilet Paper: Don’t be stuck without it….
  • Bathing Suit: For the hot springs.
  • Layers: Bring lots of warm clothing for the second day. Even though it can be hot during the day, Jacket, pants, and gloves are necessary for when the sun goes down.

Have any questions about the Bolivia salt flats, or our Salar de Uyuni tour with Red Planet? Comment below and let us know!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

*We receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. This allows us to continue our travels and keep providing great content to our readers! Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *