Bolivia was, technically, the first Latin-American nation to declare its independence. This took place on 16th July 1809 in La Paz where insurgent and revolutionary Pedro Domingo Murillo took arms, somewhere around where the current Plaza Murillo stands today. However, this lasted about 6 months until the Spaniards took back the control of the capital and the country. Bolivia waited another 16 years to be independent again, on 6 August 1825.
This is why, July is a very special month for all paceños and the best time to visit Bolivia. The city is known to celebrate with concerts, theater and dance. Most of the celebration is held on the evening of the 15th, during what is called verbana. People celebrate in the streets of La Paz while drinking hot drinks such as sucumbe. Sucumbe is a tradition on its own, only available around this time of year. It is a Bolivian version of the eggnog with milk, eggs and singani, the Bolivian grape-base liqueur.
During the verbana, there isa huge street party at Plaza San Francisco where people can eat, drink and enjoy free concerts. Thus, tourists in La Paz will be able to enjoy much more than the usual breathtaking sights, cable car rides across the city and towering mountains.
The celebrations include cultural events, with art and photography shows, food festivals, folklore and poetry readings. On the 16th there is a parade and the day is a local bank holiday.
But festivities don’t stop here. Since 1988, every year between July and August takes place the Entrada Folklórica Universitaria, it is a dancing celebration organised by the Unversidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA) in La Paz to honor local traditions. University departments all dance in a long parade that starts at about 8:30 in the morning and lasts all day turning eventually into a party.
Tourists and locals can enjoy watching traditional dances performed by the students in folkloric outfits: Suri Sikuris, Salaque, Tinku, Doctorcitos and the Morenada, Diablada and Caporales.
Usually this event is on the last Saturday of July. This year it will be held on August 3rd.
Because National Independence Day is on August 6th, the month of July and August are celebratory months, the streets are decorated with the colors of the department of La Paz (green and red), giving it almost a Christmas-y feel.
Here you will find a complete guide which will provide all the information you need to book your transport to Uyuni, what to do you when you arrive in Uyuni, how to get around, and how to plan for your salts flat tour, as well as information for after your tour.
If you’re traveling through South America, you surely do not want to miss these two destinations: Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flats on Earth with 12,000 km2 of salt extending in all visible directions.
This guide will cover the following:
How to get to Uyuni from La Paz
What to do in Uyuni
How to book your Uyuni salt flats tour
How to choose the right tour for you
Other useful general information
1. How to get to Uyuni
There are 3 ways to travel from La Paz to Uyuni:
Making a direct trip by bus.
Going by bus from La Paz to Oruro and then from Oruro to Uyuni by train.
By plane (direct flight).
Bus from La Paz to Uyuni
There are many La Paz to Uyuni bus options. Tickets Bolivia works with Panasur, Trans Omar, Cruz del Norte and Trans Titicaca, all trustworthy and reliable companies that offer clients good quality services. Their schedules are the following. All these buses are night bus:
These companies don’t offer food or refreshment during the trip. Sometimes they will take sellers on board offering drinks or food, this is a common custom for buses in Bolivia. Sometimes they will also stop to pick passengers or packages along the way.
Buses should come with heating and blankets as the journey gets cold at night on the altiplano but it is better to always come prepared. It will also be very cold (whatever the time of year) when arriving in Uyuni at 5:30-6:00 so better have warm layers.
There are other bus companies doing this route, another very good company that offers a more tourist bus experience is Todo Turismo with buses leaving at 21:00 every day and tickets costing about 37 us$.
Train from La Paz to Uyuni (via Oruro)
With this option, passengers have to travel first from La Paz to Oruro by bus (the cost is around 5 US$) and then take the train to Uyuni.
1- Buses depart from La Paz to Oruro every 30 minutes from the bus terminal of La Paz (see map above). The trip lasts around four hours and the buses arrive at the bus terminal of Oruro, located on Gregorio Reynolds Av. The cost of the bus should be about 30-35 bolivianos. Here is the map: https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_oruro.php
2 -Once you are in Oruro, you must take a taxi to the train station, located on Avenida Velasco Galvarro.
The trains that travel from Oruro to Uyuni are Wara Wara del Sur and Expreso del Sur, they are both owned by Ferroviaria Andina and people can choose between two different classes: 2nd class and Executive.
Wara Wara del Sur leaves on Wednesdays and Sundays at 19:00, arriving in Uyuni at 02:20 in the morning. Expreso del Sur leaves on Tuesdays and Fridays at 14:00, arriving in Uyuni at 21:20.
This option allows the traveler to enjoy the trip by train and to travel during the day so to enjoy the views of the altiplano. It is a longer journey but it also allows passengers to rest the night before their tour. The trains also have a restaurant wagon where they can purchase drink and food during their journey.
Flights from La Paz to Uyuni
There are two Bolivian airlines doing this route with the following departure times:
The flight lasts about an hour and departure are in the mornings and the evenings. The prices start at about 95 US$ and up to 170 US$ for one way. Flying has the advantage of being the fastest option. Flights are scheduled early and later in the day so travelers can catch their tour the same day and return the same day after the tour ends. See below more information on the Uyuni tours.
2. What to do in Uyuni
Buses arrive early in the morning – the first buses usually arrive at around 5:30 but it can be earlier. Passengers have time to charge their phones, eat something and buy whatever is needed before the tour, or book a tour if they haven’t done it. Agencies open at around 7:00 and tours leave at around 10:00. Until then there are options of coffee shops with Wi-Fi and hot drinks/food open from 5:00 to accommodate early arrivals.
The train arrives later at night (Trains arrive either at 21:20 or 2:20 in the morning) so it is recommended to book accommodation before hand. The train station is located in the center of Uyuni so you can easily book a hotel nearby.
The airport is located very near the town, most tour agencies will pick up passengers at the airport directly before the tour and drop them off there after. Otherwise there will be ways of transportation available to take you to your accommodation.
Here are some good food options if you are in Uyuni and are looking for a place to eat while you wait for your next bus/train/flight:
Breakfast Nonis: Opens early in the morning so you can go straight here after the long bus ride and warm with a hot drink and some simple food. The WiFi works well and there are plugs to charge your phone.
Minuteman Revolutionary Pizza: Located inside a hotel in the center of Uyuni, this pizza place is the perfect stop after your tour while waiting for your bus. It has a good selection of pizzas which also happen to be very good.
Lliphi: This is another very good option to wait during the afternoon. This restaurant/cafe-bistro has food, music, drinks and board games which will keep you occupied while you wait.
Tika: A more upscale option, this restaurant has a nice atmosphere and good-quality dishes.
Extreme Fun Pub: Like its name, this is a fun place meet fellow travelers if you happen to spend the night in Uyuni and are looking for a party and good drinks.
3. How to book your Uyuni salt flats tour
Tours can be booked online, in La Paz or directly in Uyuni when arriving in the morning. When in Uyuni, from as early as 5:00, tour agents will come forward trying to sell you a tour. It’s best to have an idea of which tour agencies you want to go to and go there directly to inquire for availability and prices.
But first, should you book your tour in advance? You can book your tour online or in La Paz or any travel agency in the country. If you want to have your trip planned and not worry about it, it is the best option. It is also recommended to book ahead if traveling in a large group. (Cars can carry up to 6 passengers – not including the driver). If you are travelling solo or with one other person, you can easily find space directly in Uyuni as agencies will be trying to fill their cars and bargain the prices due to the high competition.
In the case that you haven’t booked a tour yet, there are over 100 tour agencies and it can be overwhelming to have to choose between all the choices. Here are some tips to help you choose which company to travel with in Uyuni:
Do some research about the tour agencies online, TripAdvisor is a reliable source of information as well as other traveler’s forums. When you have found some options go around and check for prices, tour descriptions and availability, compare the different operators before making a decision. If you are in Uyuni, tours will leave around 10:00 so there is plenty of time to choose. Don’t feel rushed to decide on the spot.
The average price for a shared 3-day tour with a Spanish-speaking driver is about 750-800 bolivianos (115 US$). It is not recommended to go for a cheaper option as this could mean unsafe travel conditions. If you are paying for a more expensive tour make sure to know what are the added extras (usually English-speaking driver and private rooms). Paying more could just mean slightly better food and a bottle of wine in the evening so make sure to know exactly what you are paying for and decide if it’s worth it.
You will need to have water, good sunglasses, a hat, warm clothing, a sleeping bag which can usually be rented with your tour agent.
Car can carry 7 people maximum (including the driver). Do not pick a tour agency that says otherwise and who is willing take more people.
Bring cash with you as ATMs don’t always work in Uyuni and there is no place to exchange money. Tour agencies will accept US dollars and Bolivianos but the exchange rate may not be as good as in La Paz.
4. How to choose the right tour for you
There are about 4 different options for your Uyuni tour.
1 – One-day tour
First, and a very popular option is the one-day tour that can come with variations depending on the season with sunrise or sunset and even stargazing options. I would recommend this option only if your time/budget is limited and you absolutely have no other option. Tours will start at around 10:00 in the morning and return right after sunset. Most tours will take you to the train cemetery, Colchani, and then head to the salar for lunch. The afternoon is dedicated to taking the traditional fun pictures and a visit to the Tunupa volcano where there are good viewpoints and archaeological sites to explore.
2 – Three-day tour
The most popular option is the three-day tour. The tours follow the same route with small variations. On the first day you will go to the salt flats and spend most of the afternoon there before heading to your accommodation right after sunset. The first night is spent in a salt hostel at the edge of the salar with amenities varying depending on the tour booked.
The second is a lot of driving towards the National Reserve Eduardo Abaroa, you will see active volcanoes, lagoons and beautiful landscapes. The highlight of that day is the Laguna Colorada where tours stop the longest. This is usually the last stop of the day and accommodation the second is usually more rustic and at an higher altitude (around 4.700 meters above sea level) making it the coldest night of the trip.
On the third day you will most likely head before down to the geysers and then go to the hot springs where you can bathe, have breakfast and rest before the last stop of the tour. At Laguna Verde located very near the border with Chile the groups split; those wanting to continue to Chile will cross the border and the others will return to Uyuni. The rest of the day is mostly drive with stops for lunch and special sights. The cars take a different route to go back. Tours return to Uyuni at around 16:30-17:00.
3 – Two-day and four-day tours
These options are not always offered by agencies as a shared tour. If you are traveling in a group of 6, you can easily arrange a private tour and select what you want to see and do.
If you can’t afford a private tour, some companies do offer these as shared tours. You can find some of these options here. If you are interested in these options it is better to do some research beforehand and book it before getting to Uyuni as you may not be able to find what you want on the day.
Also please note that there are 4-day tours from Tupiza (instead of Uyuni) which are also a good alternative for those who want a slightly different and more complete experience. These tours are slightly more expensive since they can only accommodate groups of 5 per car. The tour comes with a driver/guide and a cook. Also because they are less popular, fewer agencies operate them but they are of generally good quality. They also have the advantage to hit all the touristic stops at a different time than the tours coming from Uyuni or San Pedro de Atacama, which means that you can enjoy them with significantly less people.
5. Other useful general information
The high season is in December-January and July-August. Prices can be higher due to the high affluence of tourists during these months.
Temperatures get really cold during the tour, especially if you do the 3-day tour on the second night. July and August are winter month and temperatures can drop to -20°C or -4°F. Tours can rent you a sleeping bag but bring warm layers.
You will be affected by the altitude, especially for those who recently arrived in Bolivia and didn’t adjust properly. On the second and third day, tours go up to 5,000 meters above sea level. This affects the body on different levels, starting with headaches and trouble digesting. It is all completely normal but to avoid getting sick during the tour it is recommended to eat light, drink a lot and avoid alcohol.
Bring protection from the sun, sunglasses are indispensable but also protect your head and skin.
Five liters of water are recommended per person for a three-day tour.
You can start the tour from Uyuni, Tupiza or San Pedro de Atacama. Tours from San Pedro de Atacama follow the same itinerary as the tours from Uyuni, except in the reverse order: the last day is spent on the salt flats and transfer is possible to Uyuni.
During the rainy season (November to April/May), parts of the salt flats can be flooded causing changes to the itinerary as it is impossible to access some sites. However, the rainy season has the advantage to have the mirror effect happen where the sky reflects on the inundated white surface.
The bus from Sucre to Uyuni takes about 8 hours covering a distance of 359 km. You can take a direct bus from Sucre to Uyuni or you can stop in Potosi.
If you are interested in visiting the Uyuni salt flats, you will be a stone-throw away from the amazing cities of Sucre and Potosi, both named Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO due to their rich history and well-kept colonial architecture. Walking the streets of Sucre and Potosi is like stepping into another time, just as a walk through the Uyuni salt flats is like a stroll on another planet.
If you want to get to know all three destinations, you can first go from Sucre to Potosi, and from there to Uyuni. Find here the bus time tables and all the information you need to know to travel by bus from Sucre to Uyuni, from Sucre to Potosi, and from Potosi to Uyuni.
From Sucre to Potosi by bus
Sucre is the capital of Bolivia, where the Constitution was signed, although the seat of government was moved to La Paz in the 18th century. Today, the city is one of Bolivia’s main tourist destinations due to its white walls and red rooftops. You can visit colonial churches and convents and enjoy a mild, sunny weather. Sucre is considered one of the most beautiful colonial cities in South America.
The distance between Sucre and Potosi is 156 kilometers and it takes around 3 hours in bus to travel from Sucre to Potosi.
Departures are available all day as buses leave once every hour between 06:00 am and 19:00 every day. In order to travel from Sucre to Potosi, take a bus from the main bus terminal in Sucre, located on Avenida Ostria Gutierrez. You will need to pay a small fee called Uso de Terminal (Terminal fee), which costs 2.5 Bs. The buses from Sucre arrive at the “new” bus station in Potosi, located on Avenida Las Banderas.
Potosi is an important mining center, famous for the Cerro Rico. This mountain provided silver to the Spanish Colony during centuries. The silver coins were minted in Potosi for the entire Spanish Empire. The city has preserved its colonial architecture and tourists can visit the Casa de la Moneda museum, as well as the remaining silver mines.
From Potosi to Uyuni by bus
After spending a few hours/days in Potosi, you can easily continue to Uyuni. Uyuni is located 204 km from Potosi. This trip is 4 hour-long by bus.
The buses leave at 9:30, 16:30 and 17:30 in semi lie-flat buses with the company Expreso 11 de Julio. You will have to pay a small fee of 2.5 B.s before boarding the bus.
Please note that Potosi has two bus terminals, one for regional trip, which includes Uyuni, and another for national trips (La Paz, Sucre, etc.)
From Sucre to Uyuni by bus
You can also go to Uyuni directly from Sucre. The journey takes around 8 hours covering a distance of 360 kilometers. There are three daily departures from Sucre: at 9:30, 20:00 and 20:30.
The bus companies doing this route are 6 de Octubre or Exp. 11 de Julio.
Uyuni is the most popular tourist destination in Bolivia, and deservedly so. The Uyuni salt flats is a 12.0000 square kilometers desert of salt in the middle of the Bolivian altiplano. There are different types of tours (1-day, 2-day, 3-day and 4-day tours) with possibility to transfer to Chile.
For more information on what to do in Uyuni and how to choose your tour, you can visit our guide here.
Bolivia is a land of amazing contrasts, where the magnificence of the natural landscapes are only matched by the beauty of its cultural attractions. If you are attracted by the out-of-this-world formations of the Uyuni salt flats, you will be a stone-throw away from the amazing cities of Sucre and Potosi, both named Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO due to their rich historical wealth and well-kept colonial architecture. Walking the streets of Sucre and Potosi is like stepping into another time, just as a walk through the Uyuni salt flats is like a stroll on another planet.
If you want to get to know all three destinations, you can go from Sucre to Potosi and from there to Uyuni, or vice-versa. We´ll walk you through the routes, time tables and all the information you need to know to reach these cities.
Sucre to Potosi by bus
Sucre is the actual capital of Bolivia, where the Constitution was signed, although the seat of government was moved to La Paz in the 18th century. Today, the city is one of Bolivia’s main tourist destinations due to its numerous white walls and red rooftops, the churches and convents of colonial times and the mild, sunny weather. Sucre is considered one of the most beautiful colonial cities in America.
The distance between Sucre and Potosi is 156 kilometers. Both are very important tourist destinations, both colonial cities rich in history. The trip between these cities is around 3 hours. The route is highly popular with both tourists and locals, given that the two cities are connected not only historically but also by cultural and economic ties.
Departures are available all day, as buses leave once every hour between 06:00 am and 19:00 every day. In order to travel from Sucre to Potosi, you must take a bus at the main bus terminal in Sucre, located on Avenida Ostria Gutierrez. You will be asked to pay a small fee called Uso de Terminal (Terminal use), which costs 2.5 Bs. The buses from Sucre arrive at the “new” bus station in Potosi, located on Avenida Las Banderas.
Potosi is an important mining center, famous for its Rich Mountain, which provided the silver for the Spanish Colony for centuries. In fact, it was in Potosi that the silver coins were made for the entire Spanish empire. Today, the city preserves its colonial architecture and tourists can visit the Casa de la Moneda (the colonial mint), as well as the mines of the Cerro Rico, which looms over the city.
Potosi to Uyuni by bus
After spending a few days in Potosi, you can continue the trip on to Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. Uyuni is located at 204 km from the city of Potosi. The trip takes 4 hours by bus through a paved highway.
In order to take a bus to Uyuni from Potosi you must go to Potosi’s “old” bus terminal, on Avenida Universitaria. The buses leave at 9:30, 16:30 and 17:30 in semi lie-flat buses with the company Expreso 11 de Julio. Again, you will have to pay a small fee of 2.5 B.s before boarding the bus.
Please note that Potosi has two bus terminals, one for regional trip, which includes Uyuni, and another for national trips (La Paz, Sucre, etc.)
Uyuni is the foremost tourist destination in Bolivia, a landscape that will leave you in awe. Formerly a salt-water lake, the Uyuni salt flats is a desert of salt in the middle of the Bolivian highlands. Tours include the train cemetery and the red and green lagoons, with possibility to transfer to Chile.
Sucre to Uyuni by bus
You can also visit the salt flats on a trip directly from Sucre. The journey takes around 8 hours covering a distance of 360 kilometers. You can depart at three different hours from Sucre: at 9:30, 20:00 and 20:30 with the bus companies 6 de Octubre or Exp. 11 de Julio.
One of the most frequent questions we get this time of year is how do I travel from Cusco to Uyuni? Being two of the most popular tourist destinations in the region, and located relatively close to one another, it is amazing that there is no bus or train that offers the direct trip. But not all is lost. You can travel from Cusco to Uyuni by land affordably and comfortably. This is how:
Getting from Cusco to La Paz:
The fastest and easiest way for getting from Cusco to Uyuni by bus is reaching La Paz first. There are many options for making this trip by bus. Sadly, there aren’t trains that cover this route. It is possible to fly directly with Latam and Amaszonas which costs about 80-100 US$ one way. The bus is a popular option among travelers with many bus companies doing this route at night, the journey takes about 14 hours. The route from Cusco to La Paz goes also via Lake Titicaca where tourists can break their journey and visit Puno and.
On the direct route between Cusco and La Paz, Tickets Bolivia works with Trans Salvador, Tour Peru and NC Internacional, which are reliable and quality bus companies. These are their schedules and reference prices (prices may vary according to the season):
Bus schedule and prices from Cusco to La Paz
Time of departure
Time of arrival (estimated)
Price in US$
Lie-flat 3 rows
13:00 (+1 day)
Migration in Desaguadero
15:00 (+1 day)
Migration in Desaguadero
14:00 (+1 day)
Migration in Desaguadero
Additionally now you can also choose to do this route with a tourist bus such as Bolivia Hop for $59.00. It departs at 22.00 and arrives 22.30 the next day stopping along the way in Puno and Copacabana for optional tours.
Except for Bolivia Hop which has a private terminal in Cusco, the buses depart from the Cusco bus terminal, located at the following address:
Once you arrive in La Paz, you can continue your journey directly since most buses from Cusco will arrive at around midday and all buses leave La Paz from Uyuni in the evening. This gives you a few hours to explore La Paz. Here you can find ideas regarding what to do and where to eat in La Paz in one afternoon. If you have more time, you can take this opportunity to discover La Paz and its surroundings in a few days.
There are many bus companies that offer direct services to travel from La Paz to Uyuni. Tickets Bolivia works with Panasur, Cruz del Norte, Trans Titicaca, and Trans Omar.
Bus schedule from La Paz to Uyuni is as follows:
Time of departure and arrival
Prices in US Dollars
Semi lie-flat/Lie-flat 3 rows
20:00/6:00 (+1 day(
20:00/6:00 (+1 day)
Cruz del Norte
20:30/6:30 (+1 day)
22:00/7:00 (+1 day)
Seats in a lie-flat bus recline 160 degrees, and semi lie-flat recline to 140 degrees. These services do not include meals, but the bus stops along the road so passengers can buy food and drink. All buses depart from the bus terminal of La Paz, located at the following address: https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_la_paz.php
Uyuni doesn’t have a bus terminal but it is a couple of streets and avenues where all the bus agencies are located. The bus will drop you off in front of their agency and departure will take place in the same location. Buses will arrive early in the morning, sometimes even earlier than scheduled. This is not a problem as coffee shops and restaurants open around the bus schedules. Passengers who arrive early in Uyuni will have the option to get a hot drink, charge their phones and check their messages, until the travel agencies open.
From La Paz to Uyuni by train (via Oruro):
With this option, the passenger travels from La Paz to Oruro by bus and then from Oruro to Uyuni by train. This option allows you to enjoy the scenery with views of the altiplano and Cordillera Real. Buses from La Paz to Oruro depart every 30 minutes practically all day from the La Paz bus terminal (see map above). The trip takes 3-4 hours and you arrive in Oruro at the Bus terminal located here.
Once in Oruro, you must take a cab to the train station, located on Av. Velasco Galvarro on the corner of Aldana. The trains that travel from Oruro to Uyuni are Wara Wara del Sur and Expreso del Sur.
Wara Wara del Sur leaves Wednesdays and Sundays at 19:00, and arrives in Uyuni at 02:20 in the morning.
Expreso del Sur leaves on Tuesdays and Fridays at 14:00, arriving in Uyuni at 21:20.
To learn more about the trains from Oruro to Uyuni check this blog.
The train station in Uyuni is located here. Tours to the Salar and Sud-Lipez all leave around 10:00 in the morning so passengers arriving by train will have to secure a night of accommodation in Uyuni.
With all this info there is no reason to miss Uyuni if you are traveling to Cusco and making the most of your trip. If you want to buy bus or train tickets online just click here: www.ticketsbolivia.com