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Best Bolivia Salt Flats Sunset Tours

One of the most memorable moments from our three months backpacking in South America was our time spent in the Bolivia Salt Flats.

The Bolivia Salt Flats, also known as the Uyuni Salt Flats, are a breathtaking natural wonder that must be experienced to be fully appreciated. No matter what time of year you visit, whether you’re there when the ground is white and cracked, or flooded and mirrored, the Bolivia Salt Flats sunsets are truly mesmerising.

At sunset, these vast, white salt pans transform into a stunning landscape of warm hues, creating a truly unforgettable sight.

The best way to see the Bolivia Salt Flats sunsets is to take a 2 or 3-day tour of the Salt Flats in Bolivia. This way you’ll have several chances to see the sunset, sunrise and the incredible Uyuni Salt Flats at night.

If you’re planning to visit the Bolivia Salt Flats at sunset, here’s everything you need to know including the best 3-day tours of the Bolivia Salt Flats.

Where are the Salar de Uyuni?

salar de uyuni salt flats

The Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia Salt Flats) are in the southwest of Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes mountains range. The salt flats cover an area of over 10,000 square kilometres which makes them the largest salt flats in the world!

Not only are they the largest, but the Bolivian salt flats are at a very high altitude. They sit over 3,600 metres above sea level and are surrounded by the arid Andrean plateau.

This part of Bolivia is known for extreme weather conditions. During a visit to the salt flats, you can expect hot sunny days and freezing cold nights. I certainly experienced some cold Bolivia salt flats at night when we were out taking astrophotography after watching a Bolivia salt flat sunset!

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How to get to the Bolivia Salt Flats?

car driving over watery salar de uyuni salt flats at sunset

Most travellers to the salt flats in Bolivia come from the city of La Paz, the country’s capital. It’s quite a long journey and there are a few ways to go about it.

When I travelled to the salt flats we took the bus from La Paz to Uyuni overnight. This saved the costs of a night’s accommodation but I highly recommend packing a blanket or sleeping bag with you.

We arrived in Uyuni early in the morning but for some reason, the bus driver didn’t tell us and instead locked the bus and went to sleep himself. It was freezing cold and we were quite confused as to why we weren’t moving. It would’ve been a lot more comfortable with a blanket or sleeping bag!

Alternatively, you can travel to the salt flats from other Bolivian cities including Sucre and Potosi or from Chile.

Bus from La Paz to Uyuni

Uyuni is the closest town to the salt flats in Bolivia and is where most of the tours of the salt flats leave from.

Getting the bus to the Salt Flats from La Paz is the most budget-friendly way to travel. There are many companies that offer daily and overnight services from La Paz to Uyuni.

The journey takes about 9-12 hours and buses generally depart in the evening, travel overnight and arrive in Uyuni early in the morning.

If you prefer to book your travel in advance, you can book bus tickets from La Paz to Uyuni online here. Prices start at £23/$28.

Book bus tickets from La Paz to Uyuni

Flights to Uyuni

You can also fly from La Paz to Uyuni. There are a couple of flights daily, and the flight takes just under 1 hour as a direct flight. This is the most expensive option.

Skyscanner is what I use to find cheap flights.

Private tour from La Paz to Salt Flats in Bolivia

Private transfer or tour: For those who prefer more comfort and convenience, it is possible to arrange a private transfer or tour from La Paz to the salt flats. This option is more expensive, but it offers the flexibility to customize your itinerary and make the most of your time at the salt flats.

This type of transport usually includes your tour of the salt flats too. This saves you from having to book multiple trips and tours which is easier if you want to make your trip as stress-free as possible!

Best Bolivia Salt Flat sunset tours

salar de uyuni salt flats

While it is possible to visit the salt flats in Bolivia without a tour it’s more difficult to organise. You’ll also want a car to be able to visit more parts of the salt flats and, depending on your age, your rental options might be limited.

Why book a Bolivia salt flats tour?

Visiting on a tour is great as you can get all your transport, your tour guide and 4×4, accommodation, food and drinks provided in one booking.

We used a tour company that we booked once we arrived in Uyuni and it was so much easier to have them deal with everything. We stayed in the salt flats for two nights and visited the train cemetery, a salt hotel the hot springs in the Salar de Uyuni, and saw flamingos and lakes. All our accommodation was included as was the food.

Day trip: La Paz to Uyuni salt flats tour with flights

The Salt Flats Bolivia

On this Bolivia Salt Flats day trip you’ll be picked up from your hotel in La Paz and driven to the airport. Here, you’ll catch a flight from La Paz to Uyuni.

Upon arrival, you’ll enjoy a buffet breakfast and head out to the salt flats in a 4×4.

You’ll stop at some of the best things to see in the salt flats including the train cemetery, a salt processing factory and then head out to see the salt flats themselves. You’ll visit the cactus in the salt flats, see llamas, vincuñas and flamingoes and head to the foot of the Tunupa Volcano.

You’ll also be given lunch and at the end of this action-packed day, you’ll be driven back to the airport for your return flight to La Paz.

On arrival back in La Paz, you’ll be driven back to your hotel.

Book this tour of the Bolivia Salt Flats.

La Paz: 5-Day Uyuni Salt Flats by Bus

The Salt Flats Bolivia

This 5-day salt flats tour in Bolivia starts with pick up from your hotel to take you to the bus station for your night bus to Uyuni. You’ll have several nights on which to experience the sunset over the salt flats; a magical experience!

Arriving the next day in Uyuni, you’ll be provided with breakfast before heading out to the salt flats and the colourful lagoons. You’ll stop at the train cemetery to see old deserted trains, then off to a salt processing factory.

You’ll then head into the centre of the Salar de Uyuni and visit Isla Incahuasi; a natural formation of volcanic rock and giant cacti.

The following day you’ll discover the Cañapa, Stink, Chiarkota, Honda, and Ramadita lagoons. Here you’ll likely see loads of flamingos who call the Salar de Uyuni home.

Next, it’s time to go looking for geysers and the chance to watch the sun come up over the salt flats. A sunrise in the salt flats is incredible and you’ll see the sun’s rays touch down on the volcanoes which surround this area.

Your trip then continues with a visit to Laguna Colorada and off to the hot springs of Polques. Relax in the hot springs before heading back to Uyuni and then returning to La Paz by bus the following day.

Book a 5-day tour of the salt flats here.

2-day tour of the salt flats

The Salt Flats Bolivia
cactus and wildlife in the salt flats in Bolivia

This jam-packed tour of the salt flats over the course of two days picks you up and returns to your hotel in La Paz.

You’ll travel by bus to Uyuni overnight and then be provided with an American-style buffet breakfast before heading out to the salt flats.

Over the course of the day, you’ll explore the train cemetery in the Salt Flats, the salt processing factory, and experience the cacti on Incahuasi Island. From here you’ll have the chance to take some of those cool perspective-bending photos of the salt flats.

Enjoy watching a Bolivia salt flat sunset with snacks. and drinks before heading back to Uyuni and returning to La Paz.

Book a 2-day tour of the salt flats

Uyuni: Bolivia Salt Flats sunset and wine tasting tour

The Salt Flats Bolivia

Starting in Uyuni, this salt flats tour in Bolivia takes you on a tour of the best things to see in the salt flats in the morning.

You’ll then be treated to lunch and continue exploring the Salar de Uyuni before it gets to sunset.

At sunset, your guide will take you to an area flooded with water which creates a cool mirror effect. This mirror effect is even better at sunset when the colours in the sky are reflecting making it truly magical.

You’ll also be able to enjoy wine tasting and some Bolivian cocktails as the sun goes down before being taken back to your accommodation in Uyuni.

Book a day trip to the salt flats at sunset

Starlight and sunrise salt flats tours

The Salt Flats Bolivia

This unique tour of the salt flats in Bolivia starts at 3 am when you’re picked up from your hotel.

From there, you’ll travel into the heart of the Salar de Uyuni to experience the magical nighttime sky. There’s virtually no light pollution and I managed to see the Milky Way, satellites and even a shooting star on the night we stargazed in the salt flats!

Next, you’ll head out to an area where water covers the salt flats so you can soak up the sunrise colours in stunning surroundings.

Enjoy breakfast with this incredible view before heading back to Uyuni to continue your day!

Book this sunrise tour of the Uyuni

Bolivia Salt Flats at sunset

The Salt Flats Bolivia

Having the chance to experience the Bolivia Salt Flats at sunset is a truly magical and unforgettable thing.

As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the sky turns a brilliant shade of orange, pink and red which looks incredible on the brilliant white of the dry salt or reflected in the mirror of the water on the salt flats depending on what time of year you’re visiting.

At sunset, the Bolivia salt flats are at their most tranquil and peaceful. The quiet of the flats is only broken by the distant calls of the resident birdlife (flamingos!), adding to the peaceful atmosphere.

For photographers and those interested in capturing the beauty of the Bolivia Salt Flats, sunset is a particularly special time. The warm, golden light of the setting sun provides the perfect lighting for capturing the intricate patterns and textures of the salt crystals and the stunning reflections in the surrounding lakes.

Whether you’re doing a day tour or spending multiple nights in the salt flats, be sure to experience sunset in the salt flats at least once during your trip.

Given their location, the Bolivia salt flat’s sunsets are between 6 – 7 pm year round so there’s no need to stay up late.

Bolivia salt flats sunset vs sunrise

The Salt Flats Bolivia

Whether you choose to take a sunrise or a sunset tour of the salt flats in Bolivia, you’re sure to enjoy your trip.

Both times of day are magical. DuringsSunrise at the Bolivia Salt Flats, the salt flats are at their calmest, with the still waters of the surrounding lakes creating a serene and tranquil environment. The early morning light provides a soft and warm glow, making it the perfect time for photographers to capture the beauty of the salt flats.

Sunset at the Bolivia Salt Flats is also a spectacular time to visit. The sun casts a warm and golden glow over the white salt crystals. Then, the sky typically turns a brilliant shade of orange and red, casting an ethereal glow over the pristine white salt flats. If there is water on the ground when you’re visiting, the colours of the sunset become reflected which adds to the experience.

The best way to decide is to not decide and see both times of day! Taking a multi-day tour of the salt flats allows you to experience both sunrise and sunset in the salt flats. You’ll also have the chance to visit more areas of this magical landscape and capture the night sky.

FAQs about Bolivia Salt Flats sunsets

When is the best time to visit Salar de Uyuni?

Generally, the best time to visit the Salt Flats in Bolivia is from May to November, during the dry season, when the salt flats are dry, white and crystalised. The weather is warmer and sunnier during the day making exploring more fun.

However, if you want to see the famous mirror effect that occurs when the salt flats are covered in a thin layer of water, the best time to visit is between January and April in the rainy season. The rain turns the salt flats into a vast, shimmering mirror, which is super cool to see!

How was the Bolivia Salt Flats formed?

The salt flats were formed due to the evaporation of a prehistoric lake which left behind a thick layer of salt and other minerals. Today, this salt is used in a variety of industries, including food production and chemical manufacturing.

Why are there Bolivia salt flats flamingos?

The Salt Flats Bolivia

Flamingoes can be found in the Bolivia Salt Flats because the region provides an ideal habitat for these birds. The salt flats are surrounded by several high-altitude lakes, including Lake Poopó, Lake Uru Uru, and Lake Colorada all of which have plenty of algae and brine shrimp and other crustaceans which make good food for flamingos. The best time to see flamingos in the Bolivia Salt Flats is from November to February when they arrive to breed. However, you can see them at other times too. I saw flamingos in the salt flats in May!

Are the salt flats worth it Bolivia?

The salt flats are a super cool part of Bolivia to visit and well worth visiting if you’re backpacking South America. This guide has everything to know about visiting the Salt Flats in Bolivia.

What time should I go to the salt flats?

For water and the mirror effect on the salt flats visit January – April. For the cracked, dry landscape visit May to November.

What do you wear to the salt flats in Bolivia?

Though it’s often warm during the day, the salt flats get very cold at night. Make sure you wear plenty of layers including a warm sweater, a coat, thick leggings or other trousers and solid hiking boots or shoes. I recommend pacing gloves and a hat for the evening and mornings as well as some thermals or baselayers.

Last Updated on June 2, 2023 by Hannah

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