San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni 3 day Tour
US$ 970 per person (based on 2 people)
On San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni 3 Day Tour you’ll embark on a private 4WD from the border. You’ll get an English speaking driver-guide along the desert, lagoons and the Salt Flats and stay at the best hotels.
On your San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Salt Flats 3 Day Tour you’ll discover the charms of natural wonders, stay at the most comfortable hotels, get the best English speaking tour guides, and live the most magical sunset on the white immensity of the largest salt desert in the world.
What you’ll do on Atacama to Uyuni 3 Day Tour (Overview)
DAY 1: You’ll be transferred on a shared vehicle from Atacama to Hito Cajón border. From here, you’ll ride off road to Hotel Tayka del Desierto with sightseeing stops at the White and Green Lagoons, Dali Desert, Polques hot springs, Sol de Mañana Geysers and have lunch at Laguna Colorada along the way.
DAY 2: Today you’ll visit the Valley of the Rock, Lost Italy, the Black Lagoon, Sora Canyon and Wetland, San Cristobal village (toilets) and make a last stop at the Train Cemetery in Uyuni town before heading to Palacio de Sal Hotel in Colchani village.
DAY 3: Your day begins with the visit of the Eye of the Salts, Dakar Statue, Playa Blanca First Salt hotel then head to Incahuasi Cactus Island. Here you’ll hike up the Cactus Island then after have lunch in the salt flats. Later, take the funniest perspective pictures and wait for the magic sunset.
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Atacama to Uyuni 3 Day Tour Features
TOUR TYPE: private (in Bolivia)
START PLACE: Atacama, Chile
START TIME: 6:00 am, first day.
END PLACE: Uyuni Town, Bolivia.
END TIME: 6:00 pm, third day.
San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni 3 day Tour Itinerary:
DAY 1: Atacama to Siloli Desert
DAY 1 2 3
If weather and time permitting, you’ll stop at:
- Paso Fronterizo Hito Cajón (Chile)
The first Chilean passport control
- Hito Cajón border (Bolivia)
Where you’ll do paper work to enter Bolivia
- Aduana Nacional
The National Customs check point to enter Bolivia
- Estación Avaroa
Entry ticket control for the national reserve
- White and Green Lagoons
The first sightseeing stop at Licancabur volcano’s foot
- Dalí Desert
Quick stop at the surreal landscape for pics
- Polques Hot Spring
Optional bath and dip
- Sol de Mañana Geysers
Field of bubbling mud and fumaroles
- Laguna Colorada
The lunch place and Flamingo habitat
- Hotel Tayka del Desierto
A simple stay with private bathroom, hot water and comfortable beds in a very secluded and unique landscape
Paso Fronterizo Hito Cajón (Chile)
Your 3 day tour adventure to Uyuni Salt Flats begins from 6:00 am with the pick up at your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. It’s more likely your Chilean driver will text you before he arrives at your hotel to avoid delays then board the shared minibus that will take you up to the border with Bolivia on a 1 hr drive through a paved road.
Once you arrive at Paso Fronterizo Hito Cajón, Chile you have to wait on the line for the exit stamp on your passport as you will see many other vehicles transporting people to the Bolivian Hito Cajón borderline up on the windy Mountain.
Hito Cajón border (Bolivia)
Following that, you’ll drive for an extra 15 minutes to the Bolivian immigration office. Upon arrival, you’ll meet up with your personal Bolivian tour guide and driver. They will assist you on the border crossing and documentation in the Bolivian immigration office.
You’ll have breakfast, provided by the Chilean transport, and proceed with your paper documentation.
NOTE: some countries and nationalities require getting Tourist Visa to enter Bolivia, make sure if you need one.
After your documentation in Bolivia immigration, you’ll be driven away for a few minutes until you reach at the National Customs check point (Aduana Nacional) for a quick check.
Your last control check point near the border will be at Estación Avaroa, which is basically entry ticket control for the national reserve.
White and Green Lagoons
Our first sightseeing stop will be at the Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verde, located at the foot of the Licancabur Volcano. We will continue to the Salvador Dali Desert.
It is a large plateau surrounded by imposing mountains that remind us of the paintings of the famous Spanish surrealist artist painter.
Polques Hot Springs
The adventure continues on to the Polques Hot Springs, where you will like this remote natural hot springs in the Bolivian High Andes, because taking a bath in the warm thermal water is a really nice and relaxing treat after the bumpy off-road ride to get there.
One of the best things about the Polques Hot Springs is the view from the thermal pools overlooking the picturesque pastel landscape of Salar de Chalviri.
Sol de Mañana Geysers
The next stop will be at the Sol de Mañana Geyser field, a great site at almost 15,000 feet (4,570 meters), only reachable through a very rocky road by expert driver and guide.
There are lots of smaller mud holes, one largish geyser as well as a smaller one, and lots of water vapor coming out of the natural burrows. It creates surreal atmosphere, unexpected and interesting feature. One thing for sure is that there will not be too many other people about to share your experience.
There is strong dour of hydrogen sulphide gas, lots of minerals and hot bubbling mud. The walk around there could be a real health issue to infirm of any sort, be cautious of the danger.
The fumaroles place is quite small and would probably need only 5 minutes to walk around. The steady streams of hot vapor are not like geysers in Iceland or Yellowstone. If you have visited them then you can pass this place!
Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon)
After a few hours travelling off road from the border of Chile, you’ll arrive to a rare natural wonder a Red Lagoon, filled with hundreds of pink flamingos. There are more flamingos during the rainy season (from December through April).
The Laguna Colorada is a shallow salt lake and contains white borax islands, whose white color contrasts with the reddish color of its waters, which is caused by red sediments and pigmentation of some algae. Curiously, the flamingos are naturally white; they look pink because the red algae stains their feathers. It spans 6000 hectares, but is less than a meter deep.
Thanks to Laguna Colorada’s abundant supply of plankton three of the world’s six species of flamingo can be found here: the Chilean, Andean and the James’ Flamingo.
James’ Flamingo is only found in the high Andean plateaus and was thought to be extinct until a small population was rediscovered in 1956.
You will have lunch at this spectacular landscape after exploring its surroundings and before heading towards your hotel located in Siloli Desert.
Hotel Tayka del Desierto
After driving for almost 01 hour 15 min you’ll arrive to your accommodation the hotel Tayka del Desierto Ojito de Perdiz, the only one in the area.
It was ideally placed for exploring the colorful lagoons, geysers, fumaroles and bizarre rock formations of the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve besides of observing Andean fauna, migrating birds, and enjoying the stargazing.
Hotel Tayka del Desierto Ojo de Perdiz is a small lodge amid one of the world’s most unique and epic landscapes. It offers basic comforts in rustic lodging on your way to Bolivia’s otherworldly Salar de Uyuni.
This simple, rustic property blends into its natural surroundings while providing shelter against the strong winds. The property was built by the local community and is very much in tune with its environment, with friendly service and local food.
This remotely located hotel accommodates 47 guests in simple, suite and triple rooms adorned with local textiles, constructed from local volcanic stone, with private bathrooms, hot water and basic amenities. There are also snug feather duvets and heaters.
There are solar panels on the roof that generate electricity and hot water in the evenings. It is limited to a few hours a day, and extra blankets and candles are available upon request.
The restaurant serves an American breakfast and a variety of local and international dishes for lunch and dinner, complemented by local wines and beers.
DAY 2: Tayka del Desierto to Palacio de Sal
DAY 1 2 3
This day you’ll stop at (if weather and time permitting):
- Stone Tree
The shape of a tree standing in the Siloli desert
- Valley of Rocks
Stone formations with particular shapes as the Camel and World Cup
- Lost Italy
You will see crazy rock formations extending across the valley
- Black Lagoon
Captivating out of this world outlandish landscape sprinkled with plants
- Sora Canyon
Appreciate more Andean flora and grazing Llamas, Vicuñas and Alpacas
- Train Graveyard
Steel giants abandoned and destroyed cemetery of old locomotives
After an early breakfast, your three-day off-roading 4WD tour continues onto Colchani’s best salt hotel near Uyuni Salt Flats.
Your first stop of the day will be at the Stone Tree (Árbol de Piedra) which will have you all in awe. This particular rock projecting out of the sand dunes of the Siloli Desert, has been whittled down into the shape of a tree over time by sand and 120km/h winds that whip across 4,000 m high Bolivian Altiplano in the colder months.
The Stone Tree is about 7 m high, its shape, particularly the thin stem, are due to strong winds carrying sand and eroding the soft sandstone.
Valley of Rocks
The road continuing after the Laguna Colorada snakes between strange rocky formations, the Valley of Rocks, in one of the most isolated areas of the region.
The Valley of Rocks would easily turn out in one of the neatest stops in the isolated nature reserve as you will see stone formations with particular shapes as the Camel, World Cup and many others.
What is amazing about these rocks, apart from all the bizarre shapes, is the extent of these stunning boulders. You can see these rocks and their crazy formations extending across the valley floor for miles wondering through endless pathways of these boulders.
It’s another amazing attraction to blow your mind. The Lost Italy, locally called Italia Perdida, is an isolated landscape with red rock formations one of the intriguing Bolivian highland Andes stone phenomena geological wind erosion under the Altiplanic blue sky in the serenity and peaceful wanderlust scenery.
The Black Lagoon is a captivating out of this world place due it’s outlandish landscape sprinkled with plants that look like rocks and rocks that seem sculptures, around an odd lake populated by Andean wild animals which makes Laguna Negra a succession of marvels, each one more impressive than the last.
Your lunch place might be at this area surrounded by llamas, in the small green valley that leads to the lagoon, and some endemic birds, making funny sounds, living in this quiet and disturbing pond.
In the meantime, while you explore the Black Lagoon, the driver will prepare the lunch for you.
From our point of view this is one of the most remarkable stops of this second day of your journey.
Your next sightseeing stop will be at the Sora canyon which is the ideal landscape to appreciate more Andean flora and grazing Llamas, Vicuñas, Alpacas and even some foxes can be seen at the place.
Train Graveyard (Uyuni)
After a brief photo opp at the massive Sora Canyon you’ll arrive at your final stop of the day: the train cemetery. Which is located on the otherwise deserted outskirts of Uyuni town, a small trading region high in the Andean plain.
Located on the otherwise deserted outskirts of Uyuni town, here steel giants have been abandoned and destroyed by salt winds becoming a CEMETERY FOR TRAINS, for locomotives. Most of the trains that can be found in the Graveyard date back to the early 20th century and were imported from Britain. There are many train cars with unique structure and occasional graffitis.
In other places in the world, the mighty steel trains would have held up better. The salt winds that blow over Uyuni, which hosts the world’s largest salt plain, have corroded all of the metal. Without guards or even a fence, these pieces were picked over and vandalized long ago.
Further north the road you’ll reach your hotel for the night, a hotel made of salt, Palacio de Sal Hotel.
DAY 3: Uyuni Salt Flats Tour
DAY 1 2 3
This day you’ll stop at (if weather and time permitting)
- Eyes of the Salt
Your first stop in the white salt flat
- Dakar Statue
In honor of the rally car race
- Playa Blanca Salt Hotel
Learn from your guide about the first Salt Hotel
- Incahuasi/Cactus Island
Stop for lunch and hiking
- Perspective Photos
Drive away for the craziest and funniest pics
- Salt Flats Sunset
Wait with a glass of wine the sun setting over the salt flat
Today is a unique and a memorable experience as you’ll be exploring the largest Salt Flats in the world and wait for a magical sunset over it. It is absolutely dazzling out on the salt flats and sunglasses are essential.
Eyes of the Salt
Eyes of the Salt, literally means “Ojos de Sal”, these are where you could see how the salt flats were formed. These bubble springs are outlets for subterranean rivers flowing under the surface of the meters thick salt.
There are warm bubbling saline springs in the area where we entered the salt flats, called the Eyes of the Salt Flats, but thereafter just salt as far as the eye can see and Fish Island marooned in the salt.
What can at times look like a snow-covered wonderland is actually several dried-up, prehistoric lakes that formed salty pentagon patterns on the surface. But beneath the crust is lithium, the precious metal element, that could potentially provide a better economic future for Bolivia.
The Salt Flat is covered with water during the rainy season after raining. Then the sun and the wind dry the surface and a layer of white crust is formed. The crust will eventually crack as the salt, which is still wet, underneath dried up and protrude to the surfacing. The end result is polygon patterns that we saw during the dry season.
After the first stop in the edge of the Salar and taking the first perspectives pictures, you’ll migrate towards the Dakar Monument.
A slat statue honoring the annual rally raid started in 1978, organized by the Amaury Sport Organization, contestants driving across South America in this off-road competition with different motor vehicles – crossing dunes, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks, and erg.
The Uyuni Salt Flat was the stage of the rally since 2014, and the dramatic terrain of the Bolivian highland and the salt flats remained one of the most awaited parts by spectators.
Playa Blanca First Salt Hotel
You’ll continue your journey and you’ll reach an old fashioned hotel in the heart of the salt flat. The Playa Blanca Salt Hotel was once in operation, but now it’s a pit spot for tourists to take pictures of the flags and have a walk inside.
The outside of the hotel has many country flags hanging on a series of poles. In fact, these flags were brought there by the tourists.
After the openings in the salt you’ll head to what they call an Island on the Salt!
12:30 pm estimated arrival time for lunch and hike the Cactus Island.
Climb the Incahuasi Island, an island full of cactuses!
Well, since it’s a salt flat, the entire area is really, just salt.
There are several “Islands” in the salt flat and the Incahuasi Island is in the center of the Salar. The island is a hilly and rocky outcrop of the land – “Incahuasi” literally means “Inca House” and the island is a giant rock that is filled with coral-like structures and gigantic cactuses.
That’s why sometimes it is called the “Cactus Island” as well. It is also a great view once you reach the top of the island. The view of the salt flat is boundless, and it looks so much more amazing if the salt flat is filled with water but is not reachable.
Drive away in the endless white layer for perspective photos with toys, llamas,
3:00 pm time for taking the craziest and funniest optical illusion pictures
The reflection of the water after the rain is the perfect setting for epic photos that allows you to show off to your friends. True, that’s probably the reason that you visit the salt flat. But in case the weather doesn’t go your way, the vast, white flatland is still very impressive.
The dry land may be even friendlier for you to take optical illusion pictures. Imagine the flatland is filled with nothing but salt as far as your eye can see. This is the perfect canvas for taking optical illusion pictures and letting your mind go wild. Play with proportions, and play with distance – the horizon will give the perspective that the objects nearer to the camera are larger than those farther away, and there is nothing else in the frame to ruin your illusion, and there is nothing else in the frame to ruin your illusion.
Uyuni Salt Flats Sunset
How the Sunset in the rainy season (from January to March) would look like.
By the late afternoon before the sun is gone, before you return to your hotel in Colchani or Uyuni town, bundle yourselves into warm jackets and go out the 4WD transport to watch the sunset over the salt flats.
The vast expanse of salt will turn pink as the sun sinks and the sky deepens to an orange glow reflecting on the ground, this would be the perfect mirror to what is above, an amazing sight which augured well for the days to come.
DAY 1: Atacama to Siloli Desert
- Atacama to Hito Cajon shared transfer
- Breakfast provided by the Chilean transport
- Bolivian English speaking tour guide
- Bolivia private driver
- 4WD private transport
- Entry tickets to Avaroa National Reserve
- Entry tickets to Polques Hot Springs
- Lunches at Laguna Colorada (or nearby)
- 01 night accommodation at Tayka del Desierto Hotel (based on Twin or King size room)
- Dinners at Tayka del Desierto
DAY 2: Tayka to Palacio
- Breakfast at Tayka del Desierto Hotel
- English speaking tour guide
- Private driver
- Private 4WD transport
- Entry tickets to the attractions
- Lunches (Picnic) on the way
- Drop-off at the salt hotel
- 01 night accommodation at Palacio de Sal (or Cristal Samaña or Luna Salada Hotel)
- Dinners at the hotel
DAY 3: Uyuni Salt Flats Tour
- Breakfast at the hotel
- English speaking tour guide
- Private driver
- Private 4WD transport
- Entry tickets to Incahuasi Island (dry season)
- Lunches (Picnic) in the Salar
- Drop-off at your hotel or bus station
DAY 3: Uyuni Salt Flats Tour
- Bus tickets
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