The Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats, sometimes referred to simply as the Bolivia Salt Flats, is a place unlike any other you’ll ever experience as a traveler. Best known for perfectly reflecting the sky during the rainy season and creating the world’s largest mirror), the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats earns its spot atop many a traveler’s bucket list.
While visiting the Salar de Uyuni is one of Bolivia’s most popular attractions, visiting this remote and desolate is challenging. In this ultimate guide to the best Salar de Uyuni tours, we share the very best ways to experience the Bolivia Salt Flats, plus Salt Flats tour options from cities like Uyuni, La Paz, Tupiza, and even San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
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Salar de Uyuni Tours
Located in one of the most desolate areas on Earth, the Bolivia Salt Flats
While Salar de Uyuni tours of the Salt Flats draw visitors here first, the Salt Flats are not the only things to see in this area. The entire surrounding area of southwest Bolivia is home to some of the most beautiful, remote scenery you’ll find anywhere.
You’ll find stunning mountains, technicolor lakes and lagoons, desert landscapes, roaming alpacas, and jagged red mountains. It is absolutely worth a trip, and well worth carving out a few days in your Bolivia itinerary to experience. There is no place like it!
What is Salar de Uyuni?
The Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats is the world’s largest salt flat and Bolivia’s most popular destination with travelers. Located in southwestern Bolivia, this massive salt flat is nearly 3,900 square miles (10,000 square kilometers) in size.
The Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats were formed by prehistoric lakes leaving the salt behind. Now, the entire area is covered meters deep in salt. The entire area is both extremely flat and at an extremely high elevation. This creates some incredible perspectives and optical illusions, for which Salar de Uyuni is well known.
A small town located just on the edge of the salt flats, all visitors to the Salt Flats will make their way through Uyuni, either as the starting or ending point of Salar de Uyuni tours.
While there isn’t much to this town, it offers a range of hotel and hostel options, restaurants, and of course, tour companies for trips to the salt flats and beyond. Overall, it’s a great starting and ending point for Salar de Uyuni tours, offering everything you could need for your excursion.
Accommodations in Uyuni
One of the most popular forms of accommodation in Uyuni is the famed “salt hotel” – these are hotels built entirely out of giant salt blocks cut from the salt flats! If you’re looking for an affordable yet comfortable salt hotel stay, make sure to check out Casa de Sal Salt Hotel for your overnight stay in town. The building’s walls and furniture like bed frames are made from salt bricks.
For a more luxurious option, consider the Hotel Palacio de Sal. This stunning hotel was the first salt hotel on the Salt Flats and is one of the nicest. It’s complete with a lovely restaurant and luxurious spa, which has plenty of salt-centric spa treatments, of course.
Bolivia Salt Flats Tours
There are nearly infinite options for Bolivia Salt Flats tours, with everything from short day trips across the Salt Flats to longer, multi-day trips. The most popular Salar de Uyuni tours are multi-day 4X4 jeep tour that explores the Salt Flats and surrounding natural wonders of the area!
Multi-day Bolivia Salt Flats tours in jeeps take you further beyond as well, into the nearby high plains, which have some of South America’s most incredible natural sights – I can’t recommend this option enough if your schedule allows for it!
The majority of tours of the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats depart from the town of Uyuni, as most travelers visiting the Salt Flats stay here. Many companies offer full-day or half-day Salar de Uyuni tours, which offer travelers the opportunity to see the best of the best of the salt flats.
What to Pack for Salar de Uyuni
Check out our Ultimate Salar de Uyuni Packing List for our tried and tested packing list. Don’t repeat our mistakes on your Laguna Colorada and Salar de Uyuni adventure!
Best Salar de Uyuni Tours From Uyuni
One-Day Salar de Uyuni Tours From Uyuni
- Best One-Day Salar de Uyuni Group Tour from Uyuni: 1-Day Group Tour Salar de Uyuni
- Best One-Day Salar de Uyuni Private Tour from Uyuni: 1-Day Private Tour Salar de Uyuni
One-day Salar de Uyuni tours depart from Uyuni and allow you to spend the day exploring the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats and the surrounding area. These are some of the most popular Salar de Uyuni tours, and the most affordable, perfect if you just have a day or two in the area.
Day tours of the Salt Flats include all the highlights on the Salt Flats, including the train cemetery, Dakar monument, Incahuasi Island, and sunset over the Salt Flats. Andes Salt Expeditions has the most comprehensive and well-done one-day group tour in Uyuni. This is definitely my recommendation for budget travelers looking for a great Uyuni tour experience!
- Reviews and Bookings: 1-Day Group Tour Salar de Uyuni
- Reviews and Bookings: 1-Day Private Tour Salar de Uyuni
Two-Day Salar de Uyuni Tours from Uyuni
- Best 2-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from Uyuni: 2-Day Salar de Uyuni and Surrounds Tour
2-day, 1-night tours from Uyuni tend to stick to the Uyuni area and Salt Flats – while you’ll see much, much more of the area, including surrounding volcanos, you generally won’t get to see those colorful lakes (Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, and more!) you’ll see on a three-day tour.
Joker Expeditions – one of Uyuni’s most well-respected tour companies – offers two-day tours of Salar de Uyuni and Laguna Colorada. These are popular, though a bit more expensive than a standard two-day tour. However, seeing Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, and all the incredible surrounding scenery is well worth it!
- Reviews and Bookings: 2-Day Salar de Uyuni and Surrounds Tour
Three-Day Salar de Uyuni Tours from Uyuni
- Best 3-Day Salar de Uyuni Group Tour from Uyuni: 3-Days Salar de Uyuni + Lagunas Group Tour
- Best 3-Day Salar de Uyuni Private Tour from Uyuni: 3-Days Salar de Uyuni + Lagunas Private Tour
Most multi-day tours from Uyuni are the 3-day and 2-night tours that are considered a full tour of the region. Once you select a 3-day tour over a 2-day tour, your itinerary is almost guaranteed to include some of the most beautiful attractions further from Uyuni, including Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, and incredible sights to the south.
I highly recommend carving out space in your itinerary for a three-day Salar de Uyuni tour. This was one of my favorite travel experiences EVER. The scenery is gorgeous, and it’s absolutely worth finding the time for the full Salar de Uyuni tour done right.
- Reviews and Bookings: 3-Days Salar de Uyuni + Lagunas Group Tour
- Reviews and Bookings: 3-Days Salar de Uyuni + Lagunas Private Tour
Best Salar de Uyuni Tours From La Paz
One-Day Salar de Uyuni Tours From La Paz
- Best One-Day Tours By Bus from La Paz: One-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz by Bus
- Best One-Day Tours By Air from La Paz: One-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz by Air
One-day Uyuni tours from La Paz by bus and even one-day Uyuni tours from La Paz by plane are great for travelers on a short itinerary. You’ll make it to this unmissable destination with the time you have.
However, if you can carve out more time in your itinerary, I highly recommend spending more time in Uyuni if you’re traveling here from La Paz – no matter how you plan to travel.
Multi-Day Salar de Uyuni Tours From La Paz
- Best 3-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz: 3-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz
- Best 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz: 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz
- Best 5-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz: 5-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz
Spending at least three days in Salar de Uyuni from La Paz is the best of both worlds: you’ll have your transportation easily and conveniently organized for you while still enjoying the very best of the full tour of the Salt Flats. This is a great option, just marginally more expensive than a standard tour departing from the town of Uyuni.
The five-day Salar de Uyuni tour from La Paz is the best way to see the Salt Flats from La Paz without being rushed. You’ll see the best of the best of the area, including the colorful lagoons Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde, and have the most memorable trip you can imagine. Highly recommended!
Best Salar de Uyuni Tours From Tupiza
- Best Salar de Uyuni Tour from Tupiza: 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats and Lagunas Route from Tupiza
One of the nearby towns to Uyuni – just a few hours south – many travelers also start their journey to the Salt Flats from Tupiza Bolivia. Starting an Uyuni tour from Tupiza is particularly popular with travelers heading through Bolivia from northern Argentina.
While Tupiza may not seem like a logical first starting point, starting a Bolivian Salt Flats tour from Tupiza Bolivia is like doing the 4-day and 3-night loop from Uyuni in reverse, meaning you’ll be visiting the sites when they’re a lot less crowded.
You save a visit to the Salt Flats for the last day of the tour, which makes the tour end with a major bang!
When ending a Salar de Uyuni tour from Tupiza in Uyuni, you can choose to return with the guides to Tupiza if you’ll continue traveling from there or remain in Uyuni and travel onward. This means that no matter where you’re headed next, you’ve got an easy way to get there.
- Reviews and Bookings: 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats and Lagunas Route from Tupiza
Best Salar de Uyuni Tours From San Pedro de Atacama
- Best 3-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from San Pedro: 3-Days Salar de Uyuni Tour from San Pedro
- Best 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from San Pedro: 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from San Pedro
San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile is a very popular destination for travelers as a hub within the Atacama desert, and it is another hub for travelers looking to visit the Salt Flats. There are plenty of San Pedro de Atacama tours, especially multi-day Atacama to Bolivia Salt Flats tours that start and end in San Pedro de Atacama.
If you’re looking for a tour that starts from and ends in San Pedro de Atacama, check out Howlanders! Howlanders is a tour company that offers an extremely popular 4-day and 3-night tour from San Pedro de Atacama that I’ve heard rave reviews of from a fellow travel blogger.
- Reviews and Bookings: 3-Days Salar de Uyuni Tour from San Pedro
- Reviews and Bookings: 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from San Pedro
Things To See Near Salar de Uyuni
Of course, the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats are rightfully the biggest and best attraction here! Spend time taking in the incredible, other-worldly scenery here. In addition, you’ll want to visit these awesome locations, too!
Formerly an island within the middle of the prehistoric lake that formed the salt flats, this rocky outcropping in the middle of the salt flats is a popular stop on tours.
It is home to towering cacti, some nearly 30 feet (10 meters) tall. Not only a beautiful spot itself, but this island also makes for a beautiful panoramic view over the salt flats – included in nearly all Salar de Uyuni tours!
Plaza of Flags & Dakar Monument
A rare break from the empty salt flats, the Plaza of Flags is a beautiful circle of flags left behind by visitors – bring your own and contribute if your flag isn’t there yet! The colors of the flags are beautiful against the white salt and blue sky backdrop.
The nearby monument celebrates the famed Dakar Rally race that passed through Bolivia and neighboring countries.
Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina – Eduardo Avaroa
The Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve of Andean Fauna is a protected area bordering Chile and Argentina and is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the area, including the Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, and other colorful lakes and soaring mountains.
You’ll get to spend plenty of time here on multi-day Bolivian Salt Flats tours exploring this beautiful national park and reserve.
By far one of the most stunning features in the area, the Laguna Colorada is a bright red lake surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains.
The intense red color is due to the colors of algae and sediments, creating an unforgettable view. This lagoon is also home to flocks of Andean flamingos, making the scene even more impressive.
Relatively close to the stunning Laguna Colorada, you’ll find the less well-known but equally stunning Laguna Verde. This aquamarine lagoon is a beautiful sight against blue skies and dark volcanoes behind it.
Polques Hot Springs
These hot springs are the result of the nearby Polques volcano and make a perfect escape from the usually cold climate in Bolivia’s high plains. Bring a travel towel and swimsuit despite how cold it is, the springs are so warm you won’t regret it!
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.