Interested in a 3 day, 2 night Salar de Uyuni tour but unsure what it consists of? I spill the beans on the good, the bad… and the shower that electrocuted me.
While the tourist bus was definitely more expensive than the regular bus ($37US versus under $30), it was rumored to be safer (Todo Turismo breathalyzes drivers!) and more comfortable.
Was it worth the extra spend? Well, the bus was decently comfortable for a night’s sleep on the journey to our much anticipated Salar de Uyuni adventure. The food definitely wasn’t anything to write home about. My vegetarian faux meat looked EXACTLY like Lavi’s real meat and we spent a weird few minutes trying to figure out if mine was actually vegetarian, or hers was just insanely bland [Lavi’s taste test conclusion: the real meat was just insanely bland].
We had signed up for our Salar de Uyuni tour in advance (one of my many tips for booking a Salar de Uyuni tour), a 3 day 2 night adventure with an English-speaking guide through Quechua Connection. It actually worked out perfectly, as the Todo Turismo bus stopped just a block from the Quechua Connection office. We were able to go find some ridiculously ragged wifi and eat a sandwich (or, attempt to eat a sandwich as we both lost our appetites over the raw chicken Lavi was served).
The Quechua Connection guys were kind enough to let us hop on their surprisingly fast wifi, leave our bags in their office, and use the bathroom next door to clean ourselves up a bit, brush our teeth, and change our clothes after the overnight bus ride. It felt SO good to put on fresh clothes and feel just a bit clean.
Quechua Connection was operating 2 Salar de Uyuni tour groups at the same time, where we each had our own Jeep and driver, but would be sharing an English-speaking guide. We were assigned into groups, ours consisting of Lavi and I, a trio of friends from Spain, and a driver. After loading up our stuff (big bags strapped into the top, small daypacks and water with us in the Jeep), we were off!
view from the back of our Jeep
3 Day 2 Night Salar de Uyuni Tour Day 1
After a little drive through pretty unimpressive scenery, we came to the train graveyard. The place was decently interesting (old rusty trains) but FULL of tourists.
While the weather was much hotter than expected, I wasn’t suffering. I had, by chance, heard that it could get warm on the Salt Flats, and dressed in layers. I stripped down to my tank top and shorts (for the only time on my entire Bolivian trip) and felt totally fine!
Lavi and I (and our new friend Stephanie, part of the other Quechua Connection group) looked for some photo opportunities,
impatiently waiting for other tourists to move. We scored a few…
From the (slightly disappointing) train cemetery, we arrived at the actual salt desert of Salar de Uyuni. I know it is common sense, but the salt flats are REALLY REALLY salty. It’s just pure salt.
We had the opportunity to see the salt manufacturing process (is that what it’s called if it’s really just somehow “purified” and packaged?) and do a bit of shopping before setting off again. I purchased a scarf for myself (best purchase ever and turned out to surprisingly be the cheapest of any market I found in Bolivia), along with some hats for friends.
We played around with photos, tried tasting the salt, and I was surprised at how quickly absolutely everything got covered in salt – especially my shoes (beware: any razor nicks on your legs are in for some hurting).
Our play session was broken by the call for lunch. I’ll admit I was a bit anxious for this first meal, as I LOVE food and had only heard bad things about the Salar de Uyuni tour comida.
I was very pleasantly surprised. Plenty of food was available, and the quinoa and salad was more than sufficient and appreciated by this vegetarian. My compatriots feasted on llama/alpaca.
what I ate
what everyone else ate
While I had sworn off riding bikes for the rest of the year after our Death Road experience the day before, we were presented with bikes and instructed to bike across the flats to the salt hotel. It was painful (I think my butt took at least a week to fully recover), but made for some fun photos and it was admittedly nice to get in some exercise after being entirely sedentary on the bus the night before.
the cool and colorful flags at the Salt Hotel
We had to wait a bit at the somewhat grungy salt hotel for our other group (turns out they had some Jeep trouble – this is why it’s important to choose an operator with a backup plans, like ours) before our guide came and helped us do the forced-perspective photos for which Salar de Uyuni is so famous for!
After that highlight, we made our way to Fish Island, where we did some light hiking and admired the incredibly beautiful (and incredibly weird) views, including llamas, cacti, and some sweet salt desert dogs.
As the Jeep raced along the salt flats, the sun was already setting, and it seemed as though we’d be missing the sunset. We were getting super bummed as it seemed the sun had all but disappeared, when suddenly we stopped.
We definitely weren’t missing the sunset!
By this point, I was exhausted (and cold!), so I was beyond thankful when we were brought to our accommodation for dinner and then sleep. We were set to spend the night in WAY nicer digs than I was expecting. It definitely wasn’t the crusty old salt hotel. While no wifi, there was electricity to charge up our depleted cameras and even hot water!
Or, there should have been hot water. We could get the water to go boiling hot, or freezing cold, but when we tried to mess with the settings, I received a minor electrocution.
Well, you can’t have everything!
3 Day 2 Night Salar de Uyuni Tour Day 2
After a less-than-healthy breakfast of carbs and sugar, the day started absolutely freezing. I did NOT prepare properly for this kind of weather.
Our first stop was in some rocky moon-like valley. We wandered around for a bit, got some photos, before setting off to an old set of train tracks. What looks like snow on the ground was actually just salt!
By the time we arrived to yet another alienesque landscape, I REALLY had to use the “natural toilet”. While it’s pretty weird “going” in almost total openness… a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. At least I got to admire some beautiful surroundings.
oh hey, I peed over there
After that awkwardness, we jumped back in the jeep and headed to see flamingoes and chow down on lunch (again, a nice mix of salad and quinoa).
On the way to our next stop, we passed a wild fox – the first I’ve ever seen, anywhere in the world. He actually seemed interested in what we were up to!
While the Green Pond was pretty cool, I think I was starting to be on sight overload. And I was still really pumped from seeing the fox.
Potato Chip rock wasn’t too impressive, and to get this shot I had to very strategically crop out about 20 other tourists. I MUCH prefer more isolated locations.
the much-talked-of Potato Chip rock. I don’t get the appeal.
From here, we headed to our last stop of the day. The Pink Pond, complete with more flamingoes, and much more wind (my poor little ears!), was a perfect end to a jam-packed day.
Our accommodation for Day 2 was certainly of a lower standard than Day 1. Limited electricity (no outlets), disgusting bathrooms (we brushed our teeth outside), and beds with sheets of questionable hygiene. I would definitely have preferred to stay in Day 1’s hotel again, even if my shower was Old Sparky.
We had a bit of time for relaxation before dinner (complete with wine!!!) was served.
Over dinner that night, a honeymooning Irish couple told us about spectacular star-watching “igloo” style huts in the Atacama desert. But not only were these huts perfect for seeing the famously clear night skies, they were also ridiculously cheap (somewhere around $30 a night). Due to the lack of wifi, we couldn’t check out the information or make a booking… but after a bit of convincing from Lavi we decided to roll with it and continue into Chile! We made the change with our tour guide, and went to bed looking forward to spending at least another week together, instead of having to part ways the next day – far too soon for either of our liking.
3 Day 2 Night Salar de Uyuni Tour Day 3
Breakfast was again carbs and sugar, and we again brushed our teeth outside after, in the dark.
If yesterday was cold, Day 3 was Antarctica.
The first stop was a weird set of hot steam geysers. Is that what they’re called?
Lavi and I
It was otherworldly, and very beautiful to see the sun come up over them. But they smelled like farts. Seriously like farts. But I didn’t even mind, I was so cold that I would have gladly smelled like fart steam all day – if it would keep me warm.
Though I luckily had a heavy winter jacket, lots of layers, and had fortunately purchased a thick scarf the day before – my feet and legs were freezing. I was wearing thin Vibrams (which I normally love in all occasions especially because I don’t need to wear socks), but for this kind of cold, it felt like the freeze was seeping straight from the ground and into my bones. I would change out of my shoes and into thick wool socks while sitting in the car. I also only had one pair of leggings, which were fairly thin and the wind cut right through.
The severe cold, biting pain of the wind, and serious concern for potential frost bite kept me in the car and from trying out the hot springs. Do I regret it? Yes, a bit. I don’t like to miss out on cool activities. But at the time, I really couldn’t handle the intense cold and pain of my feet. I should’ve brought boots!
I also only took about 10 photos on day 3. Not cool, Steph, not cool.
the very last of 10 photos I took on Day 3
But life goes on. After a short ride, Lavi and I were dropped off at the Chilean border (as we’d decided last minute the night before), and our guide kindly helped us to arrange a ride into San Pedro de Atacama. The exit process was entirely painless, and we arrived in Chile faster than expected.
Goodbye Bolivia and Hello Chile!
Salar de Uyuni was a wonderful, sometimes chilly, adventure that constantly kept me in awe of nature and this wonderful world that we live in. It was also 3 days that I got to spend with one of my very best friends…
Pin it For Later