One of the most extreme and remarkable vistas in South America, the Bolivian Salt Flats, popularly known as Salar de Uyuni, are one of the best places to visit on our map. It is the world’s largest Salt Flat, home also to the world’s first Salt Hotel. The Salar de Uyuni takes credit for transforming the land into a reflection of the sky, and promises its visitors some of the most memorable experiences of all time.
Best Time to Visit Bolivian Salt Flats
The best time to visit the Bolivian Salt Flats is the rainy season period (December to April), when Salar’s breath-taking mirror effect can be witnessed. June through August are considered to be peak season, when accommodation and travel are expensive. However, the dry season (May to November) is suitable for those wishing to travel into the deeper, inaccessible areas of the Salt Flats, which might otherwise be inaccessible during the rainy season. The dry months witness a colder, harder ground and windier weather.
Places to Visit in Bolivian Salt Flats
The logistics of travelling to the Bolivian Salt Flats depend on the place where you’re coming from; however, tours generally commence from three well-known spots:
1. Uyuni, Bolivia
Uyuni is a dusty little town lying so close to the Salt Flats, one can simply book a day tour to visit them if they’re staying at Uyuni. The Plaza Arce, centre of Uyuni, is where agencies for booking trips to the Salt Flats are located. Flights can be taken from La Paz to Uyuni, and overnight buses are also an option.
2. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Relatively far from the Salt Flats than Uyuni, those commuting from Chile take a three-day tour to reach the Flats. Usually, agencies drive tourists to the Uyuni border, from where they are escorted to Salar de Uyuni.
3. Tupiza, Bolivia
This is a common spot for those travelling from Argentina, who generally organize a four-day tour, reaching the Salt Flats on the final day.
How to Take Perfect Photographs at Bolivian Salt Flats
Bolivian Salt Flats have an endless horizon, which allows visitors to take pictures which toy with depth of field and perspective. One can carry props or toys to formulate scenes for taking the perfect creative photograph. The key to taking a good photograph is keeping your camera on the ground, as close to your prop as possible. Keep the distance between the camera and the subject minimal; if the distance is too much, it will be difficult for the photographer to keep everything in focus.
Choosing the Perfect Tour for Bolivian Salt Flats
Located in the Altiplano region, the perfect tour of Bolivian Salt Flats usually comprises of other locations, since the Salt Flats are only one attraction located in the entire region. The most popular tour is the one having a duration of three days, including deserts, hot springs, volcanoes, geysers and so on.
Two types of tours are offered:
Shared (Group) Tours
Though cheaper and standardised, shared tours generally provide Spanish-speaking guides, who also work as chefs as well as the driver. The itinerary, in this case, is generally rigid, with the tourists expected to do the activities as per schedule. Most of these do not accommodate with individual requests.
These tours are relatively more expensive and tailor-made for the visitor. There is no necessity to follow a particular schedule; one can easily go off the beaten path to visit a newly-discovered volcano found on the way, or stop to enjoy the sunrise or sunset. The vehicle in this tour is more comfortable, the guide generally speaks English and a chef is also available.
What to Ensure While Visiting Bolivian Salt Flats
There is primary need to ensure that while visiting the Bolivian Salt Flats, one must have medications or provisions certified by a doctor which will help in tackling altitude sickness. This is because the Salt Flats are located nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, and it might be difficult for visitors to properly acclimatize to the environment. One may suffer from nausea, headaches, insomnia or other side-effects. A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is also a must-have for entering Bolivia.
Places to Stay in Bolivian Salt Flats
The Salt Flats offer numerous excellent hotels for visitors to stay in, most importantly the famous Salt Hotel. The following hotels can be found in Uyuni:
Salt Hotel: Every single item at this hotel, including the chairs, tables and beds, are made completely out of salt; even the building itself! The place is clean and nice, and has only adequate amenities. A one-day visit to this hotel can be planned, as a refuge (since it is located over 4,000m altitude). Get ready to be enthralled!
Cristales Joyas De Sal: A luxury hotel, it provides 4-star amenities with great decor and facilities.
Casa Andina Salt Hotel: Each room in this luxury salt hotel is fitted with a private bathroom, a sitting and dining area. The hotel is made of salt, and has beautiful décor details.
Hostal Quinua Dorada: This hotel is suited for those looking for middle-priced accommodation, with friendly staff and clean environment.
Las Tholas Hotel: A 3-Star Hotel, it has tidy rooms with private bathrooms and all the required amenities for a comfortable stay.
KW Hotel and Onkel Inn Wagon Sleepbox Uyuni: These two are budget hotels, which provide a good buffet, flat-screen TV and private bathrooms. These are good options for relaxing and unwinding, perfect for those who only need a hotel room after an exhausting tour day.
The Bolivian Salt Flats, be it from their world-famous Salt Hotels, or the fact that they are located at a point where the earth meets the sky, fulfil our dreams of having a perfect vacation. The location not only has great hotels for every budget, but also provides tailor-made tours for one and all. Now, all you need is a great camera to capture all the beauty, and you are good to go!