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7 BEST Salt Flats Tours from La Paz +Tips Before Booking (2024 Guide!)

7 BEST Salt Flats Tours from La Paz +Tips Before Booking (2024 Guide!)

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The Salt Flats in Bolivia are one of the most incredible places that we’ve ever visited. To be honest, I think that they have a spot on most travelers’ bucket lists, and deservedly so. Visiting this salt desert makes you feel like you’ve traveled to another planet, and you can’t miss the chance to visit while you’re in Bolivia. 

La Paz is definitely not the closest city to the Salt Flats, but if that’s the only place you’re going in Bolivia, you can still take a fairly quick trip. It’s a pretty long way, but there are plenty of multi-day tours that will ensure you get a fantastic experience at the famous Salt Flats, with no stress or planning involved.  

And trust us, no matter where you’re coming from, it’s always best to visit the Salt Flats with a reputable tour company. It’s a very remote and wild area with a landscape that’s completely unlike any other you’ve encountered before, so it pays to go with an experienced guide. 

So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 best Salt Flats tours from La Paz. 

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our absolute favorite Salt Flats tours from La Paz include:

  1. For those short on time, try this private 1-day Salt Flats tour with flights included.
  2. As a budget-friendly option, we like this Salt Flats tour by overnight bus.
  3. For the full experience, our top recommendation is this multi-day tour with a stay in a Salt Hostel overnight.

About the Salt Flats in Bolivia

Bailey and Daniel pose for a photo on the Uyuni Salt Flat
The shallow water creates amazing reflections!
A small child at a salt mining town on the Uyuni Salt Flat
A girl from one of the salt mining towns!

The Salt Flats in Bolivia are just as the name suggests, a huge area where the ground is entirely salt! By “huge”, I mean HUGE! The area of the Bolivia Salt Flats is a whopping 10,000 square kilometers (3,900 square miles) making it the largest salt flats in the whole world.

Because of the size, the best way to visit the Salt Flats in Bolivia is on a multi-day tour. Most tours depart from the city of Uyuni and tour around the Salt Flats for 3 days (2 nights) before returning to Uyuni. With that said there are some variations to this classic 3-day tour that actually depart from La Paz, and I’ll tell you all about the different options further in this blog.

The Salt Flats were created by prehistoric lakes that evaporated, leaving behind the salt. The salt is thick, and pretty much completely flat across the entire area. In fact, the Bolivia Salt Flats are said to be the flattest place on earth! This large flat surface gives you the opportunity to take those funny dinosaur photos you see everywhere, and during the right time of year, the chance to take beautiful reflection photos when water covers the salt.

It’s safe to say the Bolivia Salt Flats are an incredible phenomenon, and well worth visiting. Once you explore the Salt Flats for yourself, I’m sure you’ll understand why they are the single most popular tourist attraction in Bolivia.

Best Salt Flats Tours from La Paz

1. Private 1-day, 1-night Trip from La Paz to Uyuni Salt Flats by Air

Bailey uses the Uyuni Salt Flat to take a funny photo that looks like she is stepping on Daniel
A classic photo!

If you’re short on time, then this private tour is the best way to visit the Salt Flats from La Paz. It takes a long time to get here if you’re driving from La Paz, but this tour includes flights, which is not only faster, but also means that you get amazing views of the landscape as you arrive. 

Once you’ve touched down in Uyuni, you’ll be picked up by a private driver who will spend the day showing you some of the coolest things that the salt desert has to offer, including the train graveyard, which is exactly what it sounds like! You’ll see lots of 20th-century trains rusting away here, and you can even explore inside some of the cars. 

an Island on the Uyuni Salt Flat that is visited on tours
Isla Incahuasi

You’ll also visit Isla Incahuasi, which was one of my favorite places in the Salt Flats. It’s a small rocky island covered with cacti, and it sits in stark contrast to all of the surrounding salt. 

In the afternoon, you’ll also explore the Tunupa Volcano, which sits between two huge salt flats. This is one of the best places to see some of the wildlife around here and enjoy amazing views over the area. 

Your day will end on the Salt Flats, where you’ll enjoy a glass of champagne as the sun sets. Watching the sun go down over this insane landscape is an incredible experience so you really will end your exploration of the salt desert on a high. 

Then, you’ll spend a night in a hotel in Uyuni City, which is definitely one of the more comfortable options around. In the morning, you’ll fly back to La Paz and be dropped off back at your hotel, ready to spend another day in the Bolivian capital! 

You can reserve this tour for $850 USD per person which, while not cheap, is totally worth it if this is your only chance to see the Salt Flats. It saves you so much time and ensures that you don’t have to miss out on seeing one of the most incredible places in the whole of South America, which really would be a shame. It’s only available on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so do bear that in mind when planning your trip! 

2. Luxury 2-Day Trip from La Paz to Uyuni Salt Flats by Flight

A tour group walks along the Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia on a tour
It’s a vast space!

If you’ve got just a little more time, then it’s worth considering doing a 2-day tour to the Salt Flats from La Paz instead. This tour still flies you in and out of Uyuni so that you can keep it quick, but you get more time to explore this incredible salt desert. 

You’ll catch an early morning flight to the Salt Flats and be picked up for a private day tour when you arrive. You’ll visit the train cemetery and spend some time in the town of Colchani, which is a salt processing town on the edge of the flats. We found it so fascinating to learn what life is like in such a unique part of the world. 

You’ll also visit Isla Incahuasi, one of my favorite spots, and be able to walk to the top of this cactus-covered island for an incredible panoramic view of the landscape.

The first day also includes a picnic lunch in the middle of the salt flats, which is a pretty insane experience, and you’ll enjoy a champagne sunset out on the salt flats, too. Then, at night, you get to enjoy a stargazing tour. As you can imagine, there’s hardly any artificial light for miles around here, so the stars look incredible. 

One of our favorite things about this tour, though, is that on your first night, you’ll also be staying in a “salt hotel.” And yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like – a hotel built entirely of salt blocks! There are quite a few of these around the Salt Flats, but on this tour, you’ll get to enjoy a salt hotel of the 5-star variety! 

You’ll spend the second day of the trip exploring the Tunupa Volcano, where you’ll see yet more incredible landscapes as well as spotting creatures like flamingos, llamas, and maybe even some Andean foxes. You also get to explore a cave with several mummies inside, and you’ll hear lots of myths and legends about the salt desert. As you can imagine, some of them are pretty wild! 

Bailey poses for a photo at the Uyuni Salt Flat
It’s not just salt you see!

Later on, you’ll visit Coquesa, a tiny village that only has around 100 residents, and see the surrounding wetlands. There are a lot of quinoa plantations around here as well, and it really drives home just how varied this area is, even though it’s mostly just known for never-ending stretches of salt. 

Then, after a second day of adventure, you’ll spend the night in a boutique hotel in Uyuni, ready to fly back to La Paz in the morning. 

This tour costs $1,250 USD per person, although it does get cheaper if you book for a bigger group. In fact, it would be $667 USD each for a group of 8, so it’s much less expensive if you’re traveling with a few friends. It’s only available on Wednesdays and Fridays, so plan accordingly. You can reserve this tour in advance online here!

Related Read: It’s known as Bolivia’s “Little Switzerland” – here are all the reasons why you need to visit the small town of Samaipata, Bolivia.

3. Uyuni Salt Flats from La Paz City 3-Day Tour

Bailey overlooks the Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia from a small island
Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Okay, so we know that the Salt Flats tours we’ve mentioned so far have been pretty pricey, but this 3-day tour is much cheaper at $190 USD. That’s because you take an overnight bus there and back, and then get one full day on the Salt Flats. 

To be honest, it’s going to be pretty tiring, but if you don’t have a lot of time to see the Salt Flats and are working with a tight budget, then it’s definitely your best option. 

Plus, this tour is super well organized so you don’t waste any time, and the overnight bus you’ll take to and from the Salt Flats is comfortable, with toilets and heating on board. You also don’t need to stress about missing the bus back, getting lost, or anything like that, which I know all too well can be a real worry when you’re trying to do something like this! 

On your first night, you’ll catch an overnight bus to Uyuni and arrive there nice and early, ready for a full-day tour of the Salt Flats. You’ll have a few hours of free time in the city of Uyuni to grab breakfast, and then the guided tour of the salt desert starts at 10:30 am at the tour company’s office.

A young child at one of the salst mining towns in the Salt Flats of Bolivia
So cute!

You’ll visit the train graveyard, the salt mining village of Colchani, check out a salt museum, see the “Eyes of the Salt Flat” subterranean rivers, and hike to the top of Isla Incahuasi. And of course, there will be lots of time to take fun, proportion-distorted photos on the salt flats, so you can pretend to be stomping on your friends or running away from a dinosaur. 

You end your day watching the sunset over the salt flats with a glass of wine in hand, and then you head back to Uyuni. You’ll have a few hours to grab dinner in the city before catching the overnight bus back to La Paz at 9:30 pm. You’ll be back in the capital just before 7 am the following morning. 

This is a true backpacker-style experience. You’ll have an amazing day out on the Salt Flats and at $190 USD, this tour is a very budget-friendly way to visit them from La Paz. There are a limited number of spots on each tour, so be sure to book your spot online in advance here.

4. 4-Day 3-Night Salar de Uyuni by Air from La Paz

A gian lizard apears to chase a group of people on the Uyuni Salt Flat
Don’t forget to take some cool photos!

If possible, we recommend spending three full days at the Salt Flats, and this multi-day tour allows you to do exactly that while visiting from La Paz.

The tour includes flights, rather than overnight buses, and three nights of accommodation. You’ll arrive in Uyuni around mid-morning on the first day of the tour and stay for three nights before flying back to La Paz on day four. This means you get three whole days to explore the salt desert, and when we went, we found that this was the perfect amount of time. 

On the first day, you’ll visit the classic stops like the train cemetery, Isla Incahuasi, and the small salt mining village of Colchani before staying overnight in a Salt Hostel, although you’ll have a private room. Saying that, if you’re a solo traveler you’ll probably end up sharing with someone else, but you won’t be in a huge dorm room with 12 strangers.

Then on day two, you’ll explore some of the desert’s lagoons, which are super cool to see, especially as they’re home to lots of flamingos and other Andean birds. Then, as you head towards your home for the night, you’ll travel through the Siloli Desert, which is known for its red sands and unique rock formations. In fact, you’ll even get to see the Arbol de Piedra, which is a sandstone rock formation that looks like a stunted tree. 

A small spring runs through the Uyuni Salt Flat which brings life to the desert
A small spring runs through the Uyuni Salt Flat which brings life to the desert

Day two ends at Laguna Colorada, which is a striking red lagoon close to the border with Chile. You can enjoy watching the sunset over the water, which is pretty incredible to see. 

Then, on day three, you’ll be up early to watch geysers erupting at sunrise. At this point in your tour, you’ll be at a pretty high elevation and the temperatures will be cold, but the good news is that you’ll also get to bathe in the Termas de Polques hot springs. This was one of the highlights of our time at the Salt Flats, and what’s even better is that you get to enjoy breakfast at this scenic spot, too. 

You’ll also explore the Salvador Dali desert, which is so-named because of its resemblance to the artist’s distinctive style, and visit the vibrant Laguna Verde. You’ll enjoy one last sunset here before heading out of the desert and back into the city of Uyuni, where you’ll spend the night in a comfy hotel before flying back to La Paz the next day. 

If you have enough time to fit it in, we really feel like this tour gives you the full Salt Flats experience. It costs $980 USD per person, which includes flights, accommodation, and hotel pickup and drop-off in La Paz. However, you will still need to pay for your food and entry fees to a few of the attractions you visit, such as the train graveyard and some of the lagoons.

This tour only departs on Sundays, so do bear that in mind. It does also tend to book up pretty far in advance, so reserve your place early here if you can, especially if you’re traveling in a bigger group. 

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

5. Uyuni Salt Flats Full Day from La Paz City

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo in the Uyuni Salt Flat area
It’s a desert!

This full-day tour is another overnight bus tour from La Paz. You’ll leave the Bolivian capital at around 9:30 pm and travel through the night to Uyuni, where you’ll be picked up for your Salt Flats tour in the morning. 

You get a whole day on the Salt Flats, and while we do recommend staying longer if you can, this is definitely long enough to get a taste of what this desert is all about and of course snap some awesome photos out on the salt plains. 

This tour ensures that you get to tick off all of the quintessential Salt Flats experiences, like visiting the Train Graveyard to say RIP to those old-school locomotives, exploring Colchani and checking out the local llama and alpaca textile art, and hiking to the top of Isla Incahuasi for some of the best views the Salt Flats have to offer. 

Since you won’t be staying overnight in the Salt Flats as part of this tour, you won’t get the experience of staying in a salt hotel, but you will be able to visit the Museum of Salt. Here, you’ll be able to see llama statues made of locally harvested salt and grab a couple of souvenirs from the vendors outside. 

The day finishes with the quintessential Salt Flat sunset, which you’ll enjoy with a complimentary glass of wine. 

You can book this tour in advance for $185 USD per person, which is pretty cheap, especially since the overnight buses mean that you save money on two nights’ worth of accommodation. Bear in mind that entry to sites like Isla Incahuasi isn’t included, which costs around 30 BOB ($4.50 USD). Lunch is included but you’ll also need to buy your own dinner and stock up with snacks for the bus rides. 

Related Read: If your next stop is Brazil, read our border crossing guide on how to get from Bolivia to Brazil!

6. Visit to Uyuni Salt Flats from La Paz Bolivia by Bus

A toy Godzilla looks like it is chasing Bailey on the Uyuni Salt Flat
Run Bailey!

This is another tour from La Paz that transports you to and from the Salt Flats on an overnight bus. It’s ideal for those who are short on time and it’s definitely still a good budget option, but will deliver a bit more of a comfortable experience overall. 

For example, one thing that we love about this tour is that when you arrive in Uyuni in the morning, you’ll be taken to a hotel to enjoy a hot shower and some breakfast. This will definitely help to perk you up after a night on a bus so that you’re ready for a day of adventure. 

During the day, you’ll get to visit Colchani, Isla Inchahausi, the Train Cemetery, and visit the small village of Coquesa at the base of the Tunupa Volcano. Here, you’ll visit the mummy-filled caves and hear some local folklore, as well as enjoy gorgeous views of the Salt Flats. 

You’ll see the sunset next to a lagoon on your way back to Uyuni with drinks and snacks, and then you’ll be able to stop off at the hotel again to freshen up and change your clothes before the bus journey back to La Paz. 

You can also choose whether you want to do the Salt Flats tour in a shared or private 4WD. For two people, the tour costs $219 USD per person for the shared option, or $249 USD if you’d prefer a private experience. It’s even cheaper the more people you book for. The tour is also available every day of the week, so it’s easy to fit in with your plans.

This tour is a bit more expensive than some of the other overnight bus tours to the Salt Flats, but to be honest, we think it’s worth it because you get a more comfortable experience. Not only do you get to stop at a hotel to eat, shower, and change along the way (rather than just ambling around Uyuni), you also get hotel pickup and dropoff in La Paz, so you don’t even need to worry about finding the bus terminal. 

You can book this tour online in advance to make sure you get a spot.

7. 4-Day Tour Uyuni Salt Flats ending in San Pedro de Atacama Chile

Tour group explores the Uyuni Salt Flat on a tour from La Paz
At around 4,000 meters!
Daniel climbs inside a train at the Train Graveyard at Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia
The train graveyard!

Just because you’re visiting the Salt Flats from La Paz doesn’t necessarily mean you want to end up back there. If Chile is your next stop, then this multi-day tour can take you to the village of San Pedro in the Atacama desert and you can continue your travels from there. 

To be honest, if you’re planning to visit both La Paz and San Pedro de Atacama, then it makes sense to explore the Salt Flats on the way. It’s sure to be one heck of a road trip. 

You’ll be picked up from your hotel in La Paz and taken to the bus terminal, where you’ll board the overnight bus to Uyuni. When you arrive, you’ll spend 2.5 glorious days exploring the Salt Flats. You’ll take tons of photos on the salt plains, explore all the top sights like the Train Graveyard and Isla Incahausi, and explore the desert’s lagoons, including the famous Laguna Colorada, which is known for its bright red hue. 

On your final morning, you’ll also get to visit the Termas de Polques hot springs, drive through the Salvador Dali desert, and see the Green Lagoon before you head to San Pedro. You’ll get there at around 2 pm, and remember to bring your passport because you’ll be crossing over the border! 

This tour costs $420 USD per person, which includes hotel pickup in La Paz, your overnight bus to Uyuni, 2.5 days of exploring the Salt Flats in a 4×4, two nights of accommodation in the desert, all meals, and your bus to San Pedro de Atacama. Basically, everything is taken care of, except for the typical attraction fees along the way, which is the case with pretty much every tour as you have to pay in cash. 

We think it’s good value given everything that is included, and it’s also super convenient if you’re planning to visit San Pedro anyway – which you should as it’s one of the best places to see in Chile! You can book this 3-day tour online in advance here.

When is the best time to visit the Salt Flats?

A 4wd at sunset on the reflective plains of the Uyuni Salt Flat while water is still on the ground
The famous reflections!

You can visit the salt flats in Bolivia all year round. But depending on when you go, you’ll get a different experience.

If you visit between January and March, much of the salt flats are closed due to flooding. Of course, there are exceptions especially if you go in early January but for the most part, this is the worst time to visit.

If you visit during the driest months from June to December you won’t have to worry about rain. However, this is also winter, and temperatures at night can get to -15°C (5°F). That’s pretty cold and it can make exploring the salt flats uncomfortable.

That leads us to the question, when is the best time to visit the salt flats? Well, April and May are the best months!

The weather during this time is dry, but water from the rainy season will still be around in some parts of the salt flats (so you can still enjoy the stunning reflections). You’ll also experience all-around warmer weather and avoid any closures.

This is when I visited and based on what our guide said, this is the best time to explore the salt flats in Bolivia!

Where to Stay in La Paz, Bolivia

Hotel Europa Bolivia
Photo credit: Hotel Europa Bolivia

You’ll need somewhere comfortable to stay in La Paz before and after your visit to the salt flats. Below are my suggestions for where to stay in La Paz based on my own experience and what I’ve heard personally from others!

Budget – Selina La Paz

There are quite a few backpacker hostels around La Paz, but a lot of them aren’t very nice. Selina is a well-known name for hostels around the world and the Selina La Paz is a great option if you’re backpacking on a budget.

The rooms are nice and clean and most of the main attractions in La Paz are within walking distance. A huge plus for us was the great co-working space with reliable internet – something that can be harder to find in La Paz!

A bed in a dorm goes for about $15 USD or there are private rooms under $50 USD. You can check for the best rates on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Mid-range – Las Brisas

When it comes to location, Las Brisas is an excellent pick! This hotel is right in the center of La Paz, so you have easy access to the main sights. There’s a lovely rooftop patio area and the daily free breakfast is fabulous with great views of the city while you eat!

The rooms are basic, but clean and comfortable. It’s also really budget-friendly for the location at $30-$60 USD per night depending on the room you choose. You can secure your room at Las Brisas on Booking.com.

Luxury – Hotel Europa

Hotel Europa is easily the best place to stay in La Paz, Bolivia! You’ll find rooms with a sofa, fridge, balcony, and spa bathtubs. There is also a heated pool, dry sauna, and fitness center onsite.

They have impeccable reviews and to me, the hotel is really reasonably priced starting at $120 USD per night considering it’s a 5-star hotel! You can book Hotel Europa online in advance on Booking.com.

You can compare the prices and availability of all hotels in La Paz online in advance!

Thanks for reading!

Daniela and Bailey take a selfie on the Uyuni Salt Flat
Thanks for reading!

Hopefully, our guide to the best Salt Flat tours from La Paz helped you pick out the perfect way to see one of the most incredible natural features in Bolivia and all of South America! If you have any questions about touring the Bolivia Salt Flats, leave them in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you.

Also, if you found this blog helpful, I’m sure you’ll enjoy our other Bolivia travel blogs or even just a few related ones below:

Sucre Spanish School – Guide to learning Spanish in Sucre, Bolivia

10 Best Cities in Latin America (That You Need to Check Out!)

11 BEST Things to do in Santa Cruz, Bolivia