How to get to Uyuni and when to go
Following the different route options:
La Paz to Uyuni
To get to Uyuni from La Paz city, take a bus. The trip takes approximately 12 to 15 hours. The suggested bus companies to Uyuni from La Paz are:
- Todo Turismo with daily departures at 20:30, highly recommended.
- Trans Omar
- Trans Panamerican
The highway from La Paz to Oruro is paved till Challapata town. From there the road is a dirt road, which means that during the rainy season the transit is difficult.
Oruro to Uyuni
The trip from Oruro to Uyuni can be made by bus or train:
By bus: Trans Azul buses make daily departures at 18:30
To get to Uyuni by train there are two alternatives:
- Expreso Sur with departures on Tuesdays and Fridays at 15:30
- Wara Wara with departures on Wednesdays and Sundays at 19:00
Potosi to Uyuni (230 km)
The trip from Potosi to Uyuni can be made by land and takes approximately 7 hours by bus.
The bus companies that travel by these routes are:
- Diana Tours with daily departures two times a day at 11:00 and at 18:38 p.m.
- Emperador Bus with daily departures twice a day at 12:00 p.m. and at 19:00 p.m.
Villazon to Uyuni
The trip from Villazon to Uyuni can be made by train on the Expreso Sur which departs on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 15:30.
The trip can also be made by train of the Wara Wara company with departures on Mondays and Thursdays at 15:30
- Other suggested routes are from La Paz to Sucre by air, then by land to Potosi and from there by bus to Uyuni.
- The travelers can take the train from Villazon, Tupiza, Uyuni and Oruro.
Getting to Uyuni from Chile
To get to Uyuni from Chile, take the paved highway from Iquique, passing through Calama till San Pedro de Atacama and arriving at Hito Cajones.
Getting to Uyuni from Argentina
In order to get to Uyuni from Argentina, I recommend Aerolineas Argentinas to San Salvador de Jujuy. From there go by road to La Quiaca. Cross to Villazon and from that town it is possible to take a train to Uyuni - the journey takes about 9 hours.
Another option is to take a flight from Buenos Aires to Cochabamba, go from this city to Oruro by bus and from there to Uyuni by train.
When to visit the Uyuni Salt Flat
The Uyuni Salt Flat in Potosi, Bolivia, can be visited all year long - even though the majority of the tour operators in the area strongly recommend the dry season of the year between April and October.
Rainy season (November to March)
During the rainy season the Uyuni Salt Flat is covered by about 20 cm of water and as a result it becomes a huge mirror reflecting the sky. Without doubt this is an amazing landscape worth to be appreciated and photographed. Another advantage of a visit during the rainy season is the presence of at least 25000 pink flamingos and other birds at the Colored Lagoon (Laguna Colorada).
The disadvantage of travelling during the rainy season is that the Galaxies cave and the Fish Island are covered by water, making it impossible to visit these attractions.
During the rainy season the roads are muddy and some vehicles experience technical problems.
Dry season (April to October)
The dry season is the most recommended period for a visit to the Uyuni Salt Flat. The octagonal salt formations can be appreciated in full and all the attractions of the area can be visited. June and July are considered to be the high season. Expect more tourist presence during this period.
- The best hours to visit and photograph the Colored Lagoon are between 11: 00 and 14:00 hours. During these hours the temperatures are higher and the sunlight is stronger - therefore the colors are more intense.
- The month of December is when the Flamingos appear, so it is possible to observe large quantities of these beautiful birds bathing and feeding at the Colored Lagoon.
- Do not forget to bring warm clothes during the dry season, as temperatures can get rather low during this period. Perhaps even an extra blanket or sleeping bag will be necessary, as some of the hostels and hotels are known for a bit of cold at night. Make sure that you have clothes that you can layer, as this will make it easier to stay comfortable in case you get too warm during a hike. Also, be sure to bring plenty of water - always bring more than you think you will need. Sun block is a good idea as well, since the sun in the desert can burn you even though it might feel quite chilly outside.
- Choose your tour carefully. It is often best to opt for a three to four day tour and visit all the attractions of the Salt Flat.
- Besides the Salt Desert, there are many more tourist attractions in the area that are worth visiting: the Village of Four Names, the Thunupa volcano and the mummies of Colquesa are just a few examples.