Bolivia Salt Flats Q&A
The Bolivia Salt Flats make up the largest and highest salt desert in the world. Situated in the Potosi region in southwest Bolivia (South America), the Bolivia Salt Flats, also known as the Uyuni Salt Flats, attract many visitors for their remarkable topography and otherworldly charm. Here are some answers to the most frequent travel questions.
WHY SHOULD I VISIT THE BOLIVIA SALT FLATS?
A Paradise for Photography:
At nearly 12,000 square kilometers in size, and an extraordinary flatness, the Bolivia Salt Flats provide an endless horizon, which allows photographers to experiment with perspective and proportion. The results yield very creative and fun pictures that will surely go up on your walls.
The endless horizon is perfect for playing with perspective & proportion
In addition, during the rainy season, the salt flats are covered with a thin layer of water, which creates an amazing mirror effect for truly breathtaking pictures. The effect is one of floating among the clouds!
At over 3,650 meters above seal level (nearly 12,000 ft.), the Bolivia salt flats can prove to be a challenging environment. The journey through the flats requires experienced drivers who also play the role of mechanics, as it is not uncommon for vehicles to break down. Only rugged, mechanical 4×4 vehicles are allowed in the salt desert because of the inhospitable environment. Also, it is very easy to get lost in such an expansive landscape, so it is important to hire good quality guides from a reputable tour company who know their way around. Finally, you can satisfy your inner explorer and visit beautiful caves, lakes and islands in the surroundings.
Spend the night in a Salt Hotel:
Believe it or not, the Bolivia Salt Flats are home to several salt hotels that have sprung in the last few decades to accommodate the growing number of tourists. And they are not as rugged as people might think. Many offer great amenities, such as hot water, spacious rooms and even Internet service. The experience of sleeping in a salt hotel is definitely worth putting on your bucket list.
WHEN SHOULD I VISIT?
The region has two marked seasons: wet and dry. The rainy or wet season usually begins at the end of November and lasts through March. The dry season is typically from April to November. Both seasons offer unique experiences of the Uyuni Salt Flats, so you should plan your trip based on what you want to do.
During the rainy season, the Bolivia salt flats are covered in water. As such, travelers can capture amazing pictures of the Salar’s mirror effect but access to certain areas is limited. In addition, excessive rain may cause some tours to cancel. On the other hand, during the dry season, temperatures drop and the salt ground hardens. As such, visitors can explore the iconic Incahuasi Island, and other areas, usually inaccessible during the wet season.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Because the Uyuni Salt Flats are located in southwestern Bolivia, travelers can cross the border in Chile and Argentina. They can enter Bolivia through the San Pedro de Atacama desert in Chile or through the town of Quiaca in Argentina. From here, it will be two to three days before you reach the flats, however, the voyage is amazing as you’ll explore colorful high-altitude lakes, geysers, rock valleys and more. The scenery of the Bolivian plateaus are spectacular and a final visit to the Salar will be icing on the cake.
If you are looking for a quicker trip to the Bolivia salt flats, simply book a flight to either La Paz or Santa Cruz, Bolivia from where you can take a short flight to the town of Uyuni where the flats are located. In addition, other forms of transportation to Uyuni are available within Bolivia, such as buses (from La Paz) and trains (from Oruro). However, these can take long hours, which leaves less time to visit the country.
TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE HIGHLANDS: (La Paz, Tiwanaku, Copacabana, Lake Titicaca, Uyuni)
- If you are flying to La Paz, we recommend you rest for at least 3 hours; do not eat much, as digesting food might be a bit slow during your first day due to the altitude. Also, you can drink coca tea (except those who suffer from high blood pressure and heart problems).
- Wear comfortable footwear and clothes (dress in layers).
- Drink water, wear sunglasses, sunscreen and sun cap.
- Bring moisturizing cream and a small backpack for excursions.
- Do not forget a camera or videocamera to capture the amazing places you’ll visit.
- We recommend bringing abundant contact lens solution or an additional pair of glasses.