346.16 mi

Elevation gain

11,982 ft

Technical difficulty


Elevation loss

15,541 ft

Max elevation

16,110 ft


85 4.8

Min elevation

8,409 ft

Trail type

One Way


one day 23 hours 59 minutes




November 30, 2015


November 2015
  • Rating

  • Information

  • Easy to follow

  • Scenery

Be the first to clap
16,110 ft
8,409 ft
346.16 mi

Viewed 18739 times, downloaded 279 times

near Uyuni, Potosí (Bolivia)

Round trip vs. Atacama connection: the tour its basically a one way trip, the 500km you do in 2 days and 1 morning you will do through another path to go back in just one afternoon, making almost non stops.
Altitude: you will reach almost 5000 meters, but Uyuni is at 3700 same as the first night of the tour, should be ok ONLY if you spend some days in Uyuni to get used to the 4000 range (or any other high place like Potosi) don’t underestimate this, so many people get altitude sickness because they climb too fast. Avoid alcohol, its not good and you will get drunk so much easier than normal.
Times: the early you leave the better, avoid crowds, have more time to enjoy, 3rd day before going to the geyser wake up 4am, make sure to go outside the hotel as soon as possible to take a look at the sky, the stars there are amazing (wear warm) then go inside for breakfast.
Wildlife: flamingos easy to find, fox and viscachas (rabbit like animal) not so easy.
Geyser: avoid breathing for long the fumes, its toxic.
Bags: if you do the trip with a tour agency leave all the food, medicine, some water, warm cloth and windbreaker in your small backpack with you (in your seat or the trunk) the rest will be put outside the car on the top tied up, they will give to you at the end of the day when you get to the hotel.
Electricity: this can change on where you stay but should be similar anywhere. 1st night there is light in the rooms but no plug, for charging your devices you have to go to the common area where there is a table full of splitters and plug it there. 2nd night cannot charge anything, if you are lucky to have light it will be only for few hours before sleeping or the whole night (no lights on the toilet in my case) tip: pack your back before night falls, next day you wake up 4am.
Shower: 1st night there is hot shower for extra price, 2nd night if you are lucky you will have shower and if you are very very lucky hot water but better not count on any kind of shower for the whole trip, specially for the second night.
Winter: so strong wind it break the window of the car sometimes. -20C.
Summer: ok weather but still cold and windy, around -5C at night. daytime t-shirt hot, cold when the wind blows.
For more info about the weather check pictures: yearly graphic (link on description to full info)

4 days: same as this one plus Vocán Tunupa area (northern part of the salt flat)
4 days: Uyuni -> Tupiza, after the southern part of the 3 days trip you head to Tupiza. Careful: Tupiza -> Uyuni can be done, even easier to find agency but you will climb very fast in short time, faster than starting in Uyuni.
1 day: only the salt flat (going to Isla Incahuasi and come back)

Bring all the fuel you need.
Bring all the water you need.
Food maybe you can get on the hotels but the tour drivers they cook in the hotels.
No ATM, no card accepted anywhere in the tour.
Avoid the rainy season (december to february) the path get flooded making it very hard even imposible, the secondary route miss many attractions.
Places not included in the normal tour might be worth it: Ojos de Sal (Salar de Uyuni) Cueva Galaxias (north of San Pedro de Quemez)
Bike: looks very hard and you need to arrange for the fuel with some vehicle probably, but possible, I saw at least 4 bikes in the whole trip. Very strong winds you don't feel inside the car.

Almost every the cars are Toyota Land Cruise, they put all the big stuff on top of the car, including big containers with fuel for the full trip, good agencies are hard to find, I heard only 3 companies have own drivers, the rest just hire any driver for the tour merging with other agencies, Hodaka Mountain is one of the few with selected list of drivers, a bit more expensive but in my 1 experience is worth it. They merge with other companies if not enough passenger but they have a selected partners same as drivers, my experience was good, the car looks normal/nice at first but after comparing with the rest (glasses filled with marks on the dark film, horrible for pictures, some cannot even open the window) I realice it was one of the bests, even the driver was specially careful (speed, attention, he even clean the windows couple times a day, something so small nobody notices but makes the difference, specially for the pictures)
You will make some stops but the time is limited but the place is huge, so you will have to take pictures from the car a lot, make sure the car can open the windows. The Lexus version of the car have windows in the 3rd row of seat (the normal Toyota version has fixed glass, cannot open)

Cementerio de Trenes


Palacio de Sal


Salar de Uyuni


Isla Incahuasi (Isla Pescado)


1st Night (Salt Hotel)


Volcan Ollague Viewpoint

mirador volcan ollaue

Laguna Cañapa

Laguna cañapa

Laguna Edionda

Laguna edionda

Laguna Charkota

Laguna chark Kota

Laguna Honda

mirador Laguna Honda

Siloli Desert

desierto de siloli mirador 7 colores

Stone Tree

Arbol de piedra

Laguna Colorada

mirador laguna colorada

2nd Night (Starry Sky)




Hot Springs


Dali Desert

desierto de Dalí

Laguna Verde

laguna verde

Laguna Celeste

laguna celeste

Bolivian Migration Checkpoint


Chilean Migration Checkpoint


  • Photo of willianh

    willianh Dec 1, 2015

    Hi Jeremaixs,

    good review. I have one question, i'm planning to do this trip with a Ford Ranger truck (4X2 with All Terrains tires), do you think it is possible to do the same track?

    Thanks in advance

  • Photo of jeremaixs

    jeremaixs Dec 1, 2015

    hi, I don't even know how to drive, but my impression is it will be difficult, there isn't much mountain terrain, only one part in the whole trip you "climb" a mountain with the car, probably you can avoid it taking other path

    the big problem is lot of sand, very small slippy rocks, and the solid ground in other parts is not very compacted so the tires of cars passing by carved 2 lines into the ground, and extra deeper holes that makes some wheels not touch properly the ground, this paths are dozens, one next to the other or even some more far away, so maybe you can take your time and try to find a good one, but all we took was not good, sometimes driving even hours 30~40km/h and it felt like a boat in a storm sea

    one more important thing is the high altitude makes even powerful good cars looks like junk when have to hit the gas to climb a very normal-small dune, not much oxygen makes it though for the car

    if you take the secondary road you will miss all the lagunas with flamingos but I think that one maybe safe, I've seen some kind of road the cars don't take but even big buses do to reach towns in the middle of nowhere, a bit pointless to do a tour like that but maybe good option to know if things get too complicated you can take that one and reach destiny (atacama or the laguna colorada area)

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh Dec 3, 2015

    Hi Jeremaixs,

    thanks a lot for your fast response. I will take this notes, as soon i finish the trip i will let you know about my options and troubles during this trip.


  • Photo of jeremaixs

    jeremaixs Dec 3, 2015

    I'm still editing the info and adding more pictures, so I will mention 2 more things might be useful if you are driving yourself

    some agencies do the sunrise and sunset tour in Salar de Uyuni, the sunrise tour leaves the city 3.30am, you will get to the salt flat still at night, they will try to find some flooded part of the salt flat, and you will see amazing starry sky and the mirror lake reflecting the sky, clear sky is important, and they know where is flooded, no idea how to get that info
    if no mirror lake you can see the same stars the 3rd day when you wake up 4am (the geyser need to be very early, if not no big smoke)
    for the sunset you can stay in the southern part of the salar then keep driving to the place you sleep the first night but it will be dark, not sure its a good idea, and sunset is not that special I think.

    second tip is if you end in chile you will probably leave bolivia around noon (my case was 10am I think) thats enough time to visit Salar de Tara, after getting into chile, before going west to the city if you go east you will see probably the best place in San Pedro de Atacama region, the border is around 4000 meters high, and the Salar de Tara is 4400 or something like that, if you go back to the city first you will descent to 2500, the problem is the chilean migration is not in the border, its in the city, so I have no idea if its ok to travel around without the entry stamp to chile

    btw. chilean migration is very strict, don't bring any coca leaves, coca candies, vegetables, I saw the officer even question a guy about his medicine, what was it for, why so many different, no problem, just makes you nervous.
    the migration office is not a place with fences, is just like a normal building on the side of the road, no body will stop you, so make sure to stop and get your entry stamp, its already inside the city

    the money for the bolivia part there is 1 entrance free to a reserve 150 bs (bolivianos) 30 for the isla pescado 15 for the hot springs I think, the hotel, food I have no idea, I didn't have to pay any of that, included on the tour price

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh Dec 4, 2015

    Hi Jeremaixs,

    thanks for this advices. Real good for me. I've heard about Chile migration rules and it really scares me, i think its not a good idea to bring a bootle of jack Daniels on this trip hehehe.

    About your pictures..... AMAZING.....

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh May 3, 2016

    Hey man,

    just to say that i did the trip by myself, returned last week. It was amazing. Thanks for the tips.


  • Photo of jeremaixs

    jeremaixs May 3, 2016

    hey, thats great to hear, i'm happy the trail helped, I would love to do it myself someday, make all the stops I want and all the time I want, tour its nice but they rush and skip some stops, maybe someday I get a car I will try to plan a long tour 7+ days, but I think that day its pretty far away

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh May 3, 2016

    I would recommend start your trip in Salta(north of Argentina), then pass by Tilcara.... Go to Potosí, then Uyuni and by the end go to San Pedro do Atacama Chile.

    We leaved from Brazil, but the points mentioned above are the main attraction..... We spent 11 days in the road in a total of 5700 kms.

    See you....

  • Photo of Norton S.

    Norton S. Jul 11, 2016

    Hi Willianh and Jeremaixs, I'll do tris trip into 2 weeks and I am not sure of how to work the hostels in the way? I did this tour 2 years ago, but with an agency from Uyuni.
    Is it necessary booking the hostels or always have available places? And about the prices? I did't find any information about that.

  • Photo of jeremaixs

    jeremaixs Jul 11, 2016

    I did it with agency also, no idea about the hostel system, in my case, because I speak spanish, I felt the tour driver didn't book any place, just park outside the hotel and ask if there was free rooms, but I cannot be sure, maybe they call to book from a chain of hotels in the city then when we arrive they see which building they have to go

    if you do in 2 weeks careful about the cold and wind, take good cloth and sleeping bag, even outside winter people take sleeping bag because the hotel bed cloth is not enough

    I think the rainy season is over but maybe some parts of the route are flooded

    If you already visited before and you want to do it again driving yourself I recommend add Vocán Tunupa area, I wanted to do it but I couldn't, also, instead of going back to uyuni/atacama at the end of the trail go to tupiza, another trail I have on my to-do list, I saw some of that trail (the closest part to tupiza city) its amazing, check El Sillar, Tupiza, and this city is also good for nature, for a day tour around, I haven't uploaded the tour around tupiza, check Toroyoj, there are some more places I cannot remember the name, Quebrada something, but its full of quebradas...

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh Jul 12, 2016

    Hi nortonbrs,

    the answer is , yes probably you will find place to stay, but of course its better to make a reservation in advance to obtain a good price.
    We stayed 3 days in uyuni, i mean, one day in uyuni city another in the Uyuni salt flat and the other one we stayed in a hostel at Reserva Alvaroa.
    For the first day we stayed in Los Girasole Hotel Uyuni, a good hotel with garage and also internet, not so fast. In a good location, near to the restaurants(by the way you need to go to Lithium restaurant, 3 minbutes walkin from this hotel), i remember that the price was good, but you can check this information in hotelbookin.

    The second day in the flat we stayed in the Luna Salada hotel, a good hotel made by salt, its an amaizng experience, really you will spend more money but you will never regret. Just see the pictures in google image and enjoy it.

    The third day in the "reserva alvaroa" we stayed in a hostel, but its a place very roots, it do not work with reservation, its an wild experience a place in the middle of nowhere without internet, as i can remember you will pay like 10 dolars to stay one night, and with more 5 dolas you can have a dinner and breakfest, for this case of course no credit card is acceptable.

    Enjoy yourself, also if you want i did this trip 3 months ago, you can check some information in my blog fourwheelsontheroad.wordpress

    Also as jeremaixs said, please be prepared to the strong wind.

  • Photo of Norton S.

    Norton S. Jul 14, 2016

    Thank you for the aswers.
    When I did this trip 2 years ago, i stayed in the same places (Luna Salara, and in the hostel close to Laguna Colorada).
    Willian, are you from Brazil? I'm seeking the "carta verde" to use in Bolivia, however no company provide the Carta Verde to Bolívia. Did you take a "Carta verde" to enter in the Bolivia? What insurance company?
    I can't access your link, is it work?

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh Jul 14, 2016


    yes im from Brazil. The "carta verde" was not required, only the PID(Permissão internacional de dirigir). Well the insurance company is Bradesco. But usually when a country request this you will be able to do the carta verde in the board of the country. That happened in Argentina for example, arriving there a guy asked if we needed tha Carta Verde.
    Yes the link is working, yesterday i updated with the day that we spent in Salta.


  • Photo of Norton S.

    Norton S. Jul 14, 2016

    Thanks, I see your link righ now! I'll read it because my trip will be similar.
    More questions:
    About the gallon of fuel in the way up to Uyuni, some problem in aduana?
    Did you fill them in the San Pedro de Atacama?
    I'm a little worry because we expect temperature around -20º at night. Do you use some antifreee in the fuel?
    Some especial care in the salar?

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh Jul 15, 2016

    Gallon: we rode with 70 lts in the back of my truck of fuel, from Argentina to Bolivia, From Bolivia to Chile and nobody complained about this. I must confess that we thought in Bolivia they would complain by the end they didnt looked inside the truck. But what i can say is cross the Aduana from Bolivia and find a gas station.

    Also you need to ask information, we were planning to go by Tupiza, but one officer said that the road was blocked, so we wento to Potosí.

    Regarding the temperature, yes, when i went it was ok, but the guys from Uyuni, i mean the tours company, use an special component in the water to avoide freezing, they said that in case of freezing you will waste half day to unfreeze.

    Regarding the salar, well, a lot of recomendations, first, after you leave the salar please find some gas station to wash your car, the salt is worst than ex wife. There is some car wash in the entrance of Uyuni, avoid them because they use a kind of water which contains salt. Second point if you go in the rainnign period you need to do the "fulmegante" before go throy the uyuni flat. It is a mix of oil and Diesel that is passed behing you car and it will protect your car from the uyuni water.

    Where are you from? Please share your itinerary.

  • Photo of Wbeimar MG

    Wbeimar MG Jun 1, 2017

    I have followed this trail  View more

    Simply amazing!

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh Jun 1, 2017

    I still miss this wild place.....
    @Jeremaixs, my second "expedition" was into your country. We did the Patagonia/Tierra Del Fuego in 25 days.
    It was a nice ride.

  • Photo of jeremaixs

    jeremaixs Jun 2, 2017

    @willianh thats great! I went there too, 2 months argentina and chile only on the mountain side, ushuaia-bariloche
    I miss it soo much that cool weather, yesterday I arrived to Cambodia and I'm burning like in a sauna

  • Photo of willianh

    willianh Jun 2, 2017

    Yep thats amazing, we did de RN40, from San Martin, passing by Torres Del Paine Chile, amazing.

    Cambodia???? oh man, you are a badass hahahaa, enfoy it

  • leonelbr Mar 7, 2020

    I have followed this trail  View more


You can or this trail