The salt flats in Bolivia have been on my bucket list since 2012 so when i arrived in Northern Chile and it was time to head off on the trip i was very excited and it was just as amazing as i had imagined!
Booking the trip:
As soon as I arrived in San Pedro de Atacama I headed into the town centre to get my Bolivia trip booked. The streets are full of companies selling the tour so it was a bit overwhelming at first with thinking who I should book with, then I remembered I had print screened a recommended company while I was still at home from a travel blogger I follow so I went to find their office. The company was Estrella Del Sur and after doing the tour with them I would highly recommend them too!
The trip cost me 100,000CLP/£104 and I was happy with this price. I believe if you book the trip from Bolivia into Chile it’s a bit cheaper but unless you’re going that way this is the best price you’ll get with a good company and it includes all you need for 2 nights and 3 days (minus some park fees).
I got picked up from my hostel by a mini bus at 7.45am and w
e headed to the Chilean border which was just 10 minutes away, as usual with South America there weren’t enough people working and they weren’t in a rush when stamping passports so we had to queue for nearly an hour but it was a good chance to have a chat to my fellow tour friends. Next we drove to the Bolivian border about 15 minutes away, the immigration office here was the funniest thing I’ve seen- literally a shed in the middle of an open space surrounded my mountains, we got out the bus to a very chilly temperature (already I was glad of the wooly hat and gloves I had brought) and queued to get into the immigration office/shed and get our passports stamped for Bolivia! This was surprisingly quick and then we headed back to our bus where the driver was making us breakfast. This gave us all a chance to have a chat before we were allocated a 4×4 jeep and driver and off we went!
The Bolivian Border
The following few hours consisted of seeing the most incredible landscape. We stopped at 2 laguna’s to start with- Laguna Verde and Laguna Blanca, we then headed to a lake with a hot spring (again I didn’t get in! I’m such a wimp!) followed by some Geisers and more lakes and some with flamingos and the whole time we were surrounded by the most amazing snow-capped mountains!
We had plenty of chances to stop and take photos.
The altitude was pretty high too so the driver encouraged us to chew some coca leaves which definitely helped relieve the headache that the altitude brought on.
We ended the day stopping at a hostel/guesthouse where we spent the evening. This was right by a huge lake which in some parts was really pink so we got to go for a walk before having some dinner and calling it a night. This hostel was very basic, i.e no showers but I was warned of this when I booked so it was ok!
After a breakfast of Mate tea and pancakes we headed off in the jeeps again and today was where we had to cover a lot of ground to end right near the salt flats. I got front seat on day 1 but today I was right in the back.
We stopped off at some random rock formations in the middle of what seemed like a desert, we drove through a canyon, past some volcanos and more incredible lakes and Laguna’s with even more flamingos (honestly the Laguna’s and mountains from both days have all mixed into one for me. But still so amazing!).
The highlight of Day 2 for me is where we had lunch, we were perched right on top of a hill looking over a lake and snow-capped mountain. Talk about lunch with a view!
Lunch with a view!
During the afternoon we mainly just drove to our accommodation which was a salt hostel right by the salt flats. From the outside it looked pretty shocking but once inside it was really decent for accommodation in a package tour and we had some food, a warm shower (much needed) and an early night.
So this is the day I had been waiting for since.. Umm about 2012 when I first heard of and saw pictures of the salt flats from a friend who travellers here so it’s safe to say I was pretty excited!
We got up at 5am, watched an amazing sun rise and then headed off. It’s rainy season
in Bolivia in February so when we got onto the flats it was initially really wet however this gives an amazing reflection and at points you literally can’t see where the salt ends and the sky and clouds begin.
After about 40minutes we reached the dry salt flats and got straight out to take some of the amazing, funny and iconic pictures that everyone takes. I couldn’t get over just how vast the flats were. We had a group of 3 jeeps with us and at one point we could see another jeep and a few people but they were just a tiny spec in the distance.
After about an hour of taking photos we drove off to where the original salt hotel is and where there’s also a place with lots of flags, this gave us more time to take photos before we headed off the flats and into the town of Uyuni. Before the trip completely ended we drove to a (very random) ‘train memorial’ to take more photos and have lunch.
We finished the trip in Uyuni at about 2pm. I stayed
the night in Uyuni with some people I met on the trip before getting the bus to Sucre the following day.
All in all I LOVED this trip! The salt flats are one of the most amazing things I have ever seen and the rest of the trip has equally incredible landscape and what amazed me most is how quickly it all changed.
I really liked the company I went with- Estrella Del Sur, the guide was nice and drove really well and the food and accommodation were decent for what we paid.
So what are you waiting for.. Go and book a trip to Bolivia!