We look forward to talking to you about the Salar de Uyuni and Sud Lípez in Bolivia. From the very beginning of our trip, we had already in mind the famous images of the Salar d’Uyuni. And then along the way, we met travellers who described to us with dozens of superlatives and many stars in their eyes their unforgettable experiences. We, in turn, longed to get to know this extraordinary place. This excursion was for us a concentrate of adventures (and I am weighing my words!) and landscape discoveries. Striking contrasts and colours, abundant fauna, mountains to monumental peaks, during this expedition you can see everything in a big way!
However, this adventure requires a little organization, preparation and for most of us, to contact an agency to realize a tour over several days. We have to admit that for us, small rather independent backpackers, going through an agency and therefore going in a mini group was a source of concern. If you feel as helpless as we were in organizing your stay at the Salar, you’ve come to the right place! Which agency to choose to tour Uyuni and South Lípez? When to visit the Uyuni Desert? Should I leave Tupiza or Uyuni? We try to answer all your questions! Or do you simply want to travel and are curious to see what the world’s largest salt desert looks like?
WHEN TO GO TO UYUNI’S SALAR?
If we reversed the logic by “How do I want to see the Salar of Uyuni?”. Do you want to see the Salar when it becomes the biggest mirror in the world? Visit it during the rainy season! The trick is not to go too early in the season, that is, in January. Unless there has been very heavy rain and this in an abnormal way, the mirror will not be perfect, or even barely formed. You may see a few puddles here and there that partially reflect the sky and the surrounding mountains.
Good attention, that doesn’t mean it’s ugly! You’ve been warned, that’s all! On the contrary, you can see both versions of the salt desert at the same time: half covered with water, half dry. Wait until March, the end of the rainy season, if you want a sensational reflection on the Salar d’Uyuni.
Of course, this is theoretical information that fluctuates slightly every year, but this is the general trend. If you are on site, travelling medium/long short, take this criterion into account to be flexible on your itinerary! In addition, during the months of January, February and March, it should be noted that the possibilities of excursions are limited.
This is obviously due to the presence of water, which makes it difficult to reach the salt desert and southern Lípez. To top it all off, the sky is often grey, like a very threatening one. As the light is low, the colours of the mountains and water bodies do not have the same splendour as usual. Shoe tip: rinse your shoes quickly after your trip. The salt attacks the shoes very strongly!
If you want to see the Salar and its salt crusts in the shape of polygons, wait until April. You will have access to the classic excursions.
DO I HAVE TO LEAVE UYUNI, TUPIZA OR SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA?
The ULTIMATE question from the readers of this article. Basically, we had to do the excursion from San Pedro de Atacama, because we were from Chile. Except that the roads to Bolivia were impassable due to heavy snowfall. The border was still closed for almost two weeks. We were forced to cross a border further north in Chile. We then made the choice to leave from Tupiza instead of Uyuni.
We had based ourselves on the opinions we had heard or read on blogs and travel forums. Is it better to leave from Tupiza than from Uyuni? Honestly, we are unable to answer this question because (as most people who talk about it by the way…) we didn’t test both excursions! We are not going to leave you in the lurch and we are giving you some information that will weigh for the pros and cons.
Yes, that’s right. Nevertheless, I would like to qualify this point. For the first two days, it is true that only 2 or even 3 vehicles maximum were meeting each other. It wasn’t embarrassing as we were only passing each other and we weren’t exactly at the same time in the same place (except for some meals). On the other hand, the following days we were with dozens of other vehicles from Uyuni on the same spots. The difference in tourist flows is obvious! Click this link for more guide on other countries.