Depending on where you are, there are several ways to get to this amazing spot high up in the Bolivian Altiplano (highland region).
If you are on a budget you can reach Uyuni easily by bus from most mayor Bolivian towns such as La Paz, Oruro, Potosi. Be aware that traveling in this part of the world takes usually many hours and roads are sometimes not in the best state. This holds especially true if you are coming from Chile (there is a daily connection to/from San Pedro de Atacama and Calama which takes approximately 11 hours). Be sure to bring warm clothes as the temperature on the bus can get close to freezing due to the high altitude.
View from plane over the Uyuni Salt Flats
A more comfortable way it to arrive is by plane. Uyuni's small airport is just a few kilometers out of town and offers connections to/from La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. Fares are usually not the cheapest but you may be able to find a good deal if you plan well ahead.
There are currently no direct international flights to Uyuni.
Once you reach Uyuni make sure to take it easy and drink lots of water since altitude sickness is not uncommon here (the city lies at approximately 3700 meters above sea level).
If you are short on time I recommend you still stay two nights in Uyuni so you can get some rest before heading to the stunning salt flats on the first morning.
There are plenty of accommodation options in town. My recommendation is to choose a warm place since night temperatures can get below freezing.
The salt flats are just a few kilometers away from town and the most common entry point is via the little village of Colchani. While it is possible to access the salt flats in your own vehicle (and for free - there are currently no entrance fees), I would not recommend that option as you can get lost very easily. The salt flats are huge and once you are on them orientation can get quite difficult especially after dusk which, however, is a time you don't want to miss due its magical interplay of light and atmosphere.
My recommendation is to choose one of day tours that are offered by the countless agencies located in Uyuni. There is no need to reserve them in advance and by contracting the tour locally and skipping potential intermediaries you are also able to save a few bucks. All tours are basically the same and cost around 150 Bolivianos per person (about 22 USD). They usually include the following:
Cementerio de Trenes
Once on the salt flats you can enjoy the incredible views over the endless white desert type scenery and of course take many pictures. A popular way of doing that is by playing around with the optical illusions this unique setting has to offer. Many objects appear larger or smaller than they actually are and during sunset you can also appreciate the giant mirror effect of the wet areas of the lake.
Optical illusions on the salt flats
Surreal atmosphere at sunset
During the tour, Incahuasi Island is definitely one of the most memorable spots. Surrounded by kilometers of salt, it is located right in the center of the Salt Flats and provides impressive 360 degree panoramic views. Isla Incahuasi is covered with enormous cactuses and you may hike around the island for a 30 Bolivianos entrance fee (about 4.20 USD) or you may just walk around it for free (takes approximately 30min).
Views from Incahuasi Island
After a long day out on the salt flats you can either rest one more night in Uyuni or catch one of the late evening buses to other parts of the country and/or Chile.
“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
– gustave flaubert
Hi! I am Max and in 2022, after almost 12 years in the corporate world, I decided to fully focus on my passion for exploring new countries and cultures, hoping to inspire other fellow travelers and also to provide helpful tips and insights to those currently preparing for their next adventure.