Exploring the Salt Flats of Bolivia

***Video clip at the end of the post***

Salar de Uyuni (which is Spanish for Salt Flat Uyuni) is by far the world’s largest salt flat, measuring in at a mind-boggling 10,582 square kilometers or 4,086 square miles. Formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes, the area is now covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average altitude variations within one meter over its entire area.

salf flats uyuni

This crust serves as a source of salt and overs a pool of brine, which is extremely rich in lithium. In fact, this area contains 50 – 70% of the world’s lithium reserves, which is currently being extracted.

salt flats

Located just outside of the small town of Uyuni, the Bolivian Salt Flats was somewhere that we both were SUPER excited about visiting. The sheer vastness of the area and photo opportunities made this place quite high on our “To See” list.

Salt Flats

 

Many people had warned us of tour companies in Uyuni that scam tourists by giving them false tour details, overcharging them and not following through on all that they promised. Having looked on the Internet and asked around for recommendations, two companies were repeated over and over again – Red Planet Tours in Uyuni and Brisa Tours.

Each of these companies had very good reviews on Tripadvisor which was a good enough of a reason to choose one of these two companies.

We decided to go with the latter – no particular reason why; we just found this office first before the Red Planet one.

salt flats

Many people do a 3-day/2-night tour but not us!

We were quite happy to just do the one day Salt Flat tour, as we had quite a lot of work to catch up with online and being offline for that period of time would only cause things to build up on us even more.

Anyway, we were happy as long as we got to see the salt flats, get some cool photos and experience the vastness of it.

 

Salt Flats

 

Salt Flats

We planned to do the tour on a Friday and booked our ticket the day before. The lady who we spoke to in Brisas office was very informative and helpful and she spoke perfect English too (which is always a great thing for us “basic Spanish” travellers).

Salt Flats

 

She told us that they had availability for the one-day tour, which was great considering we were only booking it the day before.

The planned itinerary included a stop at the Train Graveyard, a local market, the Salt Hotel which is now a museum, lunch on the Salt Flats, a stop at Fish Island and we would finish the day off by taking in the sunset on an area of the salt flats that has water on the surface (which is where all them amazing reflection pictures are taken).

salt flats (30) salt flats

It all sounded good to us as the itinerary had all the stops that we had hoped to make. What was even better than the itinerary was the price of the tour, which was 180 Bolivianos or $26 each – what a bargain!

We had heard that the tours were quite expensive and were a little apprehensive as to why this tour was priced so cheap, but we booked it anyway in the hope that it would meet our expectations.

salt flats

It didn’t meet our expectations – it exceeded them.

Our one-day tour to the Salt Flats with Brisa Tours was one of the best days we have had on our South American trip to date.

Our guide, Johnny, was helpful, friendly and did a great job of taking our perspective pics at the Salt Flats – all credits go to him for the photos you see on this page. Lunch was quite tasty and consisted of pasta, chicken, veg and potatoes. It was an experience in itself to be sitting in the middle of this vast landscape enjoying some of my favourite foods.

Salt Flats

The tour started at 10:30 am and we were back in Uyuni at 7:15 pm with a memory card full of awesome pics and a smile on our faces.

Note: If the water reflection is something that you want to see, there are only two companies that make this stop – Brisa Tours and one other (not sure of the name).

If you plan on traveling to South America, do not miss the Salt Flats in Bolivia. Even if you don’t have much time, make the effort to squeeze in a one day tour as you’ll not be disappointed.

salt flats

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About the Author


Florence has relocated herself to S.E Asia to pursue her life-long dream of travelling and working around the world. She's currently working as a freelance writer and enjoys the travel lifestyle. She blogs in her free time - which she now has a lot of!! Her favourite things about travelling are meeting new people, interacting with the locals in a new country, sampling new foods and embarking on long bus/plane/train journeys!!

20 Responses to “Exploring the Salt Flats of Bolivia”

  1. Ray says:

    That’s pretty cool that you got to see all of that in one day for only $26! What makes the 3 day/2 night tours that much more different then?

    • Carlo says:

      Hey Ray. On the 2/3 day tours you get to see pink flamengoes and other sites we were told. Honestly though, for us the 1 day was more than enough. Sometimes we get pretty bored on longer tours where the terrain doesn’t change at all.

      But the salt flats are definitely worth seeing for sure.

  2. Sheralyn says:

    This is on my bucket list! I was trying to remember the other day where I could go to see salt flats (seriously, I really was!), and lo and behold, here is your post about it! 🙂

    • Carlo says:

      haha. Yeah it’s an epic place to see that’s for sure Sheralyn.

      Definitely go there when you get the chance. Bolivia is really cool overall too.

  3. Caitlin says:

    The Salt Flats are high up on my bucket list. I’ve heard mixed reports on how long to go for so it’s interesting to hear you had such a great experience in just one day.

    • Florence Murphy says:

      Hi Caitlin,

      You must visit – even though we went for just one day, we had an absolute blast there. Many people said that we were crazy to just go for one day but with our time constraints, we had no other option. It actually worked out really well and we kind of felt that three days would be just overkill, but it’s all down to personal preference I guess. We’d prefer to enjoy our time in a place 100% rather than start to feel a little bored of it, which I feel would have been the case had we spent three days on the Salt Flats.

      Have fun whatever you decide to do (and take some props with you!) 🙂

  4. Rachel says:

    So glad to hear there’s a one day option! Why would you NOT do this? Every time I read about these tours of the salt flats, the scenery sounds incredible, but I always think that 3-4 days of hours on end riding packed in car sounds terrible! I just wanna see the salt flats!

    • Florence Murphy says:

      That’s exactly how we felt Rachel and doing the one day tour was enough for us. We got in there, got to see the highlights, got some cool pics and got out! We’re always afraid that if we do extended tours we’ll get bored of driving around looking at the same thing which is why short tours are ideal for us 🙂 It was such a cool experience so check it out if you ever get the chance to 🙂

      • Michelle says:

        Hi

        We are like you and wanting to do a 1 day trip in November. We are just looking up flights into and out of Uyuni (from Cuzco, via La Paz) now. Did you fly in the day before and then fly out the day after the tour? Where did you stay on those nights? There doesn’t seem to be too many flights with Amazonas and a lot are restricted to nationals. Can we reserve with Brista beforehand?

        Many thanks,

        Michelle

        • Florence Murphy says:

          Hi Michelle,

          We got the bus from San Pedro in Chile down to Uyuni so I don’t know about flights. We arrived the day before the tour and flew out the day after. Even though we booked our tour last minute, I’m sure you could book with Brista beforehand.

          Do you need me to get their contact details for you?

          We stayed in the Tonito Hotel and I’d highly recommend it as it’s the nicest budget friendly place to stay in town.

          Here is a link to some info on it http://nextstopwhoknows.com/tonito-hotel-real-delight-uyuni-bolivia/ and even if you don’t stay there for some reason, don’t miss the restaurant as the food is amazing.

          Happy Travels! 🙂

  5. This is one of the top travel experiences on my to-do list! Glad you guys endorse it.

  6. Amy says:

    Hi guys,
    We are on a very tight schedule, arriving in Uyuni the morning we intend to do the tour, then leaving the following morning. I’m having trouble getting in touch with Brisa tours – are you able to provide their details?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Florence Murphy says:

      Hi Amy,

      I’ve just done a bit of Googling for you and I can’t find any details. Their FB page is very inactive, and I’ve read reports that their communication is terrible.

      Perhaps you could get your hotel/hostel to get their number and give them a call? Or just pop into them very early in the morning as soon as they open to book you guys in.

      Sorry I’m not more help to you Amy but we just walked in off the street and booked our tour so I’ve no contact details for them.

      I hope it all works out for you and have fun – the Salt Flats are amazing and the tour is so enjoyable. 🙂

      Florence

    • Ve says:

      Hi Amy,
      I’ll be in the same situation as you. We are going in July and arriving at 9am by plane. We also wanted to book with them in advance. How did you go with them? Thanks.

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