Imagine yourself looking out onto an uninterrupted horizon for as far as the eye can see. Completely flat and blindingly bright in the sun with over 10,000 square kilometers of uninterrupted landscape. Welcome to the world’s largest salt flats.
Once a prehistoric lake, all that now remains is an endless crust of salt over one meter thick at over 3600 meters above sea level. Bucket list worthy, this surreal place is visited on a 3-4 day tour that departs from either San Pedro Chile, or Uyuni in Boliva. At a cost of $150 for a three day tour with all meals, transport and lodging included, it’s one of the best and most affordable travel experiences in South America. Get your smiles and camera poses ready because you won’t be able to get enough photos in the out of this world backdrop.
While the salt flats are definitely the climax of the tour, the other two days are filled with spectacular scenery as well. From high altitude lakes and lagoons to getting up close shots of many of the local animals including flamingos, vicunas, native rabbits and foxes, there’s never a dull moment. Incredible rock fields, mountain landscapes and even a lake as red as fire due to its mineral composition are just a few of the other highlights.
The groups are small at a maximum of 6 people per tour for each 4X4 which means you’ll have lots of time to get to know you’re other travelers. Your guide likely won’t speak a word of English so be sure you’ve got at least some Spanish knowledge or someone in your group who is fluent.
Words can hardly due this place justice and with over 500 photos shot in just three days, I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. You’ve got to see it to believe it.
What You Need to Know Before you Go:
- It is cold, freezing cold at 3500 meters or above for the whole tour. Pick up some of those hand knit scarves, legwarmers and gloves before you head off.
- Pack lots of snacks – the tour provides all meals, but they can be sparse and hours apart. You’ll be grateful for those extra packs of cookies on the long drives.
- Bring water – there is no potable water on the entire tour so pack enough for the whole trip. 5L should do you.
- Charge everything and then bring extra batteries – there is no electricity on the first night (depending on where you start from), so make sure everything is fully charged before you leave.
- Accommodation is bare bones – bring a flashlight and cards for the evening time. You’ll be staying in the middle of nowhere so don’t expect luxury accommodations.