Organising the Salar de Uyuni Tour

By Jonny Blair

On a mega trip to South America make sure you don't miss the Salar de Uyuni, this is an amazing tour. You get in a jeep and do the entire sight seeing round salt flats, deserts, mountains, valleys. It's a feast for the eye of a traveller, here are my tips on preparing for it.

With the Salar, my first bit of advice is don't book it in advance - there is no need to do that. The best place to book it is in Uyuni, though you can also book it in Potosi or La Paz. Don't book it before you get to Bolivia.

I did the Salar de Uyuni tour from the town of Uyuni, so this is my experience of it. I met other travellers who booked their trip in Chile, but I didn't so here's my guide on how to book the Salar de Uyuni tour!!

How to book the Salar de Uyuni Tour:

- Ask at reception in your hostel in Bolivia if they can organise a 3 day tour (I really recommend the 3 day tour, unless you are really pushed for time of course).

- Get a price for it, then shop around for the cheapest option (prices really do vary a lot, but I paid around $80 US for my 3 day tour back in 2010 - all inclusive).

- Allow for flexibility with dates you go - don't be strict with it - sometimes you can ask at 9am that morning and end up on the tour that same day.

- Make sure the cost includes getting picked up from your hostel and 3 days of food.

- Ask where the start and finish point of the tour will be so you can prepare and book a hostel/bus for the third night after the tour ends.

- Ask what extra costs there will be (for example the cost of our tour included the guided tour of the Salt Refinery, but didn't include the entrance fee to Laguna Colorada National Park).

- Get a receipt for the tour (you will pay up front in almost all cases).

How to prepare for the Salar de Uyuni tour:

- Check the passport situation as if you head for Chile you will probably have to get your Bolivian exit stamp before the tour starts in Uyuni.

- Take a lot of water with you - around 4 litres should be fine. It's a desert you are visiting and although they provide drinks at mealtimes, they don't provide water.

- Take a few beers as at night there is no alcohol available (at least in the places we stayed). This is a good way to bond and chat with your tour mates.

- Take plenty of sun cream and insect repellent.

- If you need to contact friends or family, e-mail them before you head on the tour and tell them you'll be offline for about 3 days. There is no internet available on the tour, and you wouldn't want it anyway!

- You might be able to leave your bags with a hostel in Uyuni if you're heading back there (check beforehand).

- Bring your passport just in case you decide to spontaneously head across the border to Chile.

- Get your cameras, iPods etc. batteries all charged beforehand as the places you stay may not have sockets or electricity.

So that's your guide folks! Get out there and see this impressive wilderness part of Bolivia. I totally LOVED it. For the record, I booked my Salar de Uyuni tour in La Paz with Extreme Expeditions, and everything went well so I'd have to recommend them! I left La Paz for a day in Potosi then headed onwards to Uyuni to begin the tour. It was an incredible few days of travel!

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