Visit South America
9am-8pm PST, Mon.- Sun. +1 (949) 299-8915

How to Uyuni in 2022? (when to go, how to get there, budgets and more)

Best ways to get to Uyuni

Discover budgets, tours, and the best ways to get to Uyuni from La Paz, Santa Cruz, or San Pedro de Atacama in 2022 with details of the COVID-19 protocols. Buses, trains, or planes. We have it all!

My name is @jeffrysoria, in 10 years working in tourism in Bolivia I have experienced all the problems that a tourist or explorer-like you may have, the absence of good information on the internet or the little that is not updated is really a big stone in the shoe for everyone, that is why I have taken the time to travel through 2022 (April and many years) and write this lines where you will able to resolve all the problems you may have by separately and choose only what you need.

This is the most comprehensive guide ever written to travel options to Uyuni from La Paz, Santa Cruz, and San Pedro de Atacama and is updated every month by our knowledgeable local Bolivian guides based on the latest news from the pandemic (yeah I know, you’re jaded already). ), I recommend you take enough time to read it in great detail or you can also contact me if you have any questions. Let’s get started!

Introduction to Uyuni & Deserts

Located southwest of Bolivia, very close to Chile and Argentina. Uyuni and the colored lagoons are the most impressive and extravagant tourist destinations not only in Latin America but in the entire world. This route is made up of the largest salt desert in the world (with 12,000 km² or 7,450 mi²), the Laguna Colorada is the most important in America for its conservation of unique flamingos in the world (around 40,000 of 3 endemic species) Geysers assets that look like Mars and Volcanoes that are so impressive and at the same time important that they are constantly visited by NASA for their extreme and dangerous conditions.

Eventually, the Salar de Uyuni becomes the largest natural mirror in the world with views that photos or videos cannot do justice to the colors. In other times, access to deserts is usually impossible, and temperatures can reach -25° C (-13°F)! Making this adventure a nightmare for its visitors. So you will have to consider the following:

Step #1

Choose when to go wisely

When is the best time to visit Uyuni and the Deserts?

Rainy season in Uyuni and the deserts

(late December to March)

Pros: Known as the magic season of Uyuni, these months the rains and diversions of rivers cause the flooding of the Salar de Uyuni, creating a layer of water (from 1cm to 50cm) that provides the mirror effect so desired by many travelers, That is why this season is usually one of the busiest and highest in Uyuni (note: prices can double or triple). Additionally, you can still find the mirror effects for the months of April to May, but it will depend on the changes in weather and the luck of nature.

Cons: The rains in the deserts are usually a serious problem for the accesses, sometimes the rivers overflow or other parts become muddy that even the best 4×4 car will get stuck on the road, when the rains are intense from January to February we don’t recommend taking routes through the deserts since you can have a bad experience (believe me, you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere). Consider twice taking a tour with a trusted operator if you are going to take the risk of visiting the lagoons and deserts. On the other hand, a lot of water in the Salar can mean that you won’t have good views with reflection, more you will see scenarios that look more like a sea than a mirror. In addition, you will not be able to visit the island of the giant cacti, like other attractions such as the Tunupa Volcano, the circuits inside the salt flat are very limited, even so, they are impressive.

Dry season in Uyuni and the deserts

(April to November)

Pros: basically the soils are hardened, this means that the access roads improve by 200%, this reduces the problems of stalling the car and helps to reach deserts and lagoons, trekking within the circuit such as Incachuasi Island, Tunupa Volcano or Mysterious lake (Qatal) can be done with ease and are worthwhile experiences!

Cons: The cold will be your enemy! The lowest temperatures are usually from June to August, this means that you have chances of snow in the deserts, cancellations due to weather or change of itinerary, and not being able to visit even 40% of the circuit. Sleeping in the desert can be the coldest experience you will ever have, since hostels, and even hotels are forced to cancel reservations due to snow or extreme weather. For all this, I recommend wearing many layers, thermal clothing, and extra patience, since those who have a worse time are the logistics of the tour operators.

Step #2

From where should I travel

How to get to the Uyuni in 2022?

How to get to Uyuni from La Paz… bus, train or plane?

How to get to Uyuni from La Paz

By bus: All public and tourist buses leave from the bus terminal in the city of La Paz, there are a variety of companies that I can recommend, certainly you can buy your tickets the same day as making the purchase online by adding a collection fee that it’s worth it. I have created a comparative table where you can see all the options and choose which one suits your travel style and budget:

CompanyPriceCosinessServiceBook Only
Titicaca Bus14$ - 25$9/10RegularYes
Todo Turismo22$ - 47$9/10PlusYes
Trans Omar14$ - 22$8/10PoorYes
Trans Illimani10$ to 18$7/10PoorNo

The buses leave from 8 pm to 9:30 pm (whether you are going to Uyuni from La Paz or vice versa). The route usually lasts between 9 and 10 hours, a very popular and cheap option. One more point in favor, the buses are very comfortable, 160 degrees, with 2 floors, clean and reliable (not all of them).

By plane: Unfortunately, thanks to the COVID-19, flights to Uyuni have been limited, in 2022 you will only be able to travel with Boliviana de Aviación, they only have flights every 3 days and with a stopover in an intermediate city called Cochabamba; This means that the prices are higher than usual and it’s normal if you find the flight full due to high demand. Prices range from $114 to $315 one way, so I recommend making your purchase a couple of months or weeks in advance.

By train: 404 Error, the train has stopped operating, however, there are plans to reopen at the end of 2022, information that will be updated soon.

How to get to Uyuni from San Pedro de Atacama?

By bus: First, we must take a bus from the San Pedro de Atacama terminal to the city of Calama, there are several buses and large vans, regardless of the company, and the costs range from $4 to $15. Once you arrive in Calama, there are only 2 buses that cross the border and take you to the town of Uyuni, these companies are:

Trans-Salvador (18 – 32$)
Cruz del Norte ($18 – $32)

The buses leave either very early or in the afternoon at approximately 3 pm. Personally, this option is not the best decision, the time lost is high and you can take advantage of it by taking a tour as I explain below, additionally, both buses are terribly uncomfortable.

Taking a tour: After visiting the Atacama for 3 or 4 days, many travelers want to jump to continue their journey to Bolivia; That is why within San Pedro you can find tours to Uyuni from Atacama that makeup 3 days if you want to finish in Uyuni or 4 days if you want to visit the deserts and Uyuni for 3 days and 1 day returning to San Pedro de Atacama. Prices range from $155 to $300 on shared tours, as well as finding private tours that have a higher budget. I definitely recommend this option, the wonders you will find along the way will be worth spending extremely cold nights and the constant dust.

How to get to Uyuni from Santa Cruz?

By plane: You have 1 flight with a stopover in the city of Cochabamba, a flight of 3 hours in total operated by Boliviana de Aviación, you only have flights every 3 days and the quotas are very limited since they are the same ones that are shared with passengers from peace; Ticket prices range from $155 to $215, however, they can increase in high season. The flights arrive at 10:30 am, the perfect time to start your tour in the Salar de Uyuni without any problem.

From Santa Cruz to Uyuni via Oruro: Perhaps the best option in terms of speed and budget, the flights leave in the morning and arrive from 11:30 am to 4 pm, there is only one direct flight and the rest are flights that have stopovers, the prices range from $55 to $100, once you arrive at the Oruro airport, you will have to take a taxi to the old bus terminal and then take a public transport service or rent a private car to go from Oruro to Uyuni ( 3.5 hours) where prices per person are 70Bs ($11) to renting a private minivan which will charge you $55. This option does not matter what time you arrive in Uyuni, it will be necessary to spend the night in Uyuni so that you can start your tour the next day.

From Santa Cruz to Uyuni via Sucre: If you want to enjoy an extra day exploring, this option will be interesting for you, in addition to being an economical option, you can take advantage of visiting the white city of Sucre. First, you must take a flight from Santa Cruz to Sucre, you can find prices from 40$ to 55$, there are direct flights of only 45min., once you arrive at the airport, the taxis to the city center will charge you about 150Bs. (22$), you will have time to visit the white city, take a walking tour, and visit the most important attractions of the place: The Main Square, Mirador San Felipe de Neri, Recoleta, and impressive colonial viewpoints. At the end of the day you can go through the Sucre bus terminal, where you will find the following 2 options:

CompanyPriceCosinessServiceBook Only
6 de Octubre11$ - 20$8/10RegularYes
Emperador10$ - 18$7/10RegularYes

Budgets to visit Uyuni: accommodation, tours and meals

Choosing a good accommodation in Uyuni

First of all, I want to let you know that the category of hotels does not match international standards, 5* hotels can be considered 4* and 4* hotels can only be 3*, it’s good to mention it so that you don’t have high expectations.

The variety of lodgings in Uyuni and Colchani (only 30 minutes away) are very diverse, a list of the best options that I have personally visited and that I can recommend are the following:

Location*Hotel NamePriceMy Experience
Uyuni4*Jardines de Uyuni75$ - 130$ DWB9/10 pool & food
Uyuni4*Almudena70$ - 95$ DWB8/10 modern
Uyu - Salt3*Casa de Sal60$ - 75$ DWB7/10 regular service
Uyu - Salt3*Nido del Flamenco45$ - 70$ DWB9/10 my fav but far
Uyu - Salt3*Kachi de Uyuni55$ - 75$ DWB8/10 good deal

Location*Hotel NamePriceMy Experience
Colchani5*Palacio de Sal180$ - 260$ DWB9/10 pool & spa
Colchani4*Luna Salada135$ - 200$ DWB8/10 good
Colchani4*Cristal Samaña135$ - 190$ DWB8/10 iglus experience
Colchani3*Sumaj Rijchariy120$ - 150$ DWB7/10 regular
LocationHotel NamePriceMy Experience
UyuniToñito70$ - 75$ DWB9/10 breakfast & pizzas
UyuniOnkel Inn30$ - 50$ DWB9/10 boutique, wagons
UyuniLe Ciel25$ - 35$ DWB7/10 cheap & good location

Remember that much of the time you are going to spend exploring the Salar de Uyuni, you will arrive very late at the hotels directly to have dinner and sleep, don’t stress too much about which hotel you are going to choose, prioritize your budget, your travel style; The important thing is not to be cold (especially in winter) and to have hot showers. Don’t look for the best location, you are not going to leave the hotel, believe me.

Choosing good places to eat in Uyuni

Let’s start with that I’m chubby, you will understand that my style of travel involves eating well, I’m sorry to inform you that you will be disappointed again and again with the food. Even with interesting tourist traffic, the food options are limited and if you extend your stay you will probably end up repeating the menus.

These are the places I recommend:

  • Tika Restaurant: Located in the Jardines de Uyuni hotel about 5 blocks from downtown, it is the only fusion option for Bolivian and international food, a nice, hot place with good service. Prices are high from $8 to $20, open for dinner only. I recommend you make your reservation in advance, the service takes time to prepare the food since it is fresh.
  • Cáctus Restaurante: Created for a Korean segment, it’s a restaurant that can offer you a comfortable environment, the attention is good, the food takes time to arrive, and the seasoning wasn’t one of my favorites but at least you will have a place to wait, drink coffee and good Wifi.
  • Pizzeria Donna Isabella: One of my favorite pizzas, it has a wide variety of flavors, and sourdough options made with quinoa among other varieties of Italian specialties, you won’t be disappointed but you won’t be surprised.
  • Toñito Pizzeria: The hidden place of Uyuni, it’s ideal when you are traveling with friends since it’s quite familiar and pleasant to be in its facilities. The place has a lot of history, I recommend it the same for the pizzas since they are very good.

That’s all! I don’t recommend eating near the Uyuni Clock, which is the center, it’s a mix of restaurants, and a Russian roulette!

How to choose a good tour to Uyuni and the Lagunas de Colores?

Just go with us! hahaha, it sounds like a joke but it’s accurate! In Uyuni, you will find hundreds of options where uncertainty, lack of trust, lack of reliable information, and lack of communication (if you don’t speak Spanish) are going to be problems that are going to lead you to extreme stress. However, I’m going to provide you with the best tips to choose a good company, a good tour according to your budget and the options you have for destinations.

Let’s get started!

Rule #1 You must understand that the Salar de Uyuni is not the main destination, since it’s only a small part of the deserts of Potosí (the department where it is located), I personally believe that the Lagunas de Colores and deserts are by far more impressive than the salt flats itself, so consider taking tours of 3 to 5 days, unless you are short on time or budget.

Rule #2 ALL tours are done in old 4WD cars (from 1990′ to 2006), usually, Toyota Landcruisers and Nissan Patrols that their parents or even grandparents drove, but why?… The Salar de Uyuni is made up of corrosive chemical components, charged with energy that destroys the entire electrical system of the car, that’s why if we drive a brand new car, we are only going to kill it since if a little salt enters the engine it can completely kill the car. Therefore, all tours are handled like this so don’t have high expectations of comfort on the tour.

Rule #3 Since 4WD cars are used, the spaces are usually small, where up to 4 tourists can comfortably enter and a maximum of 6 tourists can enter per vehicle (according to Uyuni regulations), prices are prorated and divided into how many people are inside of the adventure The key to success is traveling in groups of 4 to 6 people, not less or more to find good prices with quality service.

Rule #4 There are 2 types of traditional tours, let’s see which ones and their prices!

Pros of taking a private tour to Uyuni

Personalized, more expensive, and a better experience. These tours are what they call “dream trips”, since you can customize the itinerary, avoid the masses and visit places where they can be exclusive. Aimed at couples, families, and large groups, they are tailor-made trips where Uyuni and the deserts are visited from 1 to 5 days, usually, these tours can include sleeping in Colchani salt hotels (which we saw above) with experiences that they will blow your mind.

Cons of taking a private tour to Uyuni

First, it’s expensive, second, the more you want to personalize the service, the costs will increase, third, usually, the best way is to travel with a group of friends, families, or couples of 4 to 5 people maximum, so you can adjust to a better budget.

DurationTypePrice per carGroup sizeDestinations
4 hrs.private150$ - 300$1-5Sunset / Sunrise
1 dayprivate220$ - 400$1-5Salt Flats only
2 daysprivate390$ - 700$1-5Sal Flats + Tunupa
3 daysprivate680$ - 1200$1-5Salt Flats + Laguna Colorada + Laguna Verde + Geysers + Hot Springs
4 daysprivate890$ - 1450$1-5Salt Flats + Laguna Colorada + Laguna Verde + Geysers + Hot Springs

Are you ready for your next adventure? Let your travel amigos at Visit South America show you the best there is to see on this beautiful continent. We have year ‘round departure dates and tours to fit every travel style. Start packing your bags – click here to see our small group trips!

Categories :

Leave a Reply

Need help?