HomeBoliviaSan Pedro de Atacama to Salar de Uyuni: 4-Day Tour Itinerary

San Pedro de Atacama to Salar de Uyuni: 4-Day Tour Itinerary

Looking for a legendary adventure to spice up your trip in South America? Get ready for an unforgettable experience from Chile to Bolivia: a 4-day, 3-night tour to the Salar de Uyuni! Picture yourself in the heart of the world’s largest salt desert, a landscape of immaculate white stretching as far as the eye can see!

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Accessible from the charming town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, this 4-day round trip allows you to cross the border and explore the Bolivian highlands, a remote corner of the world with breathtaking landscapes.

Are you thinking of adding this to your itinerary but not sure where to start? Don’t panic! I struggled to find information online about how to prepare in advance, so here’s everything I wish I had known when I was getting ready for this journey.

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Is it worth taking a tour to Salar de Uyuni from San Pedro de Atacama?

Absolutely! I’ve visited 75 countries, and I can guarantee you won’t find an experience as rich in adventures and emotions, especially considering the value for money and time invested.

When you arrive in San Pedro de Atacama, you’ll face a dilemma: 1) stay put and enjoy the numerous attractions like the Moon Valley, floating in salt water similar to the Dead Sea, and stargazing, or 2) limit your activities in San Pedro and head out for a 4-day adventure in Bolivia.

Ideally, you’d spend 4 days in San Pedro and then 4 days in Bolivia because Salar Uyuni is truly a must-see destination at least once in your lifetime.

In Bolivia, you’ll ride in a 4×4 off-road vehicle through the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve, located at 4,572 metres above sea level on the Andean highlands, the largest high plateau area in the world outside of Tibet. Imagine the grandeur and beauty of the landscapes—it’s like being on another planet!

Moreover, you’ll discover truly unique colourful lagoons like Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, and Laguna Blanc! You’ll also see hundreds of fascinating animals, such as flamingos, vicuñas, and llamas.

The icing on the cake? You’ll get to sleep in a salt hotel, where even the walls, ceiling, and bed frame are all carved from salt!

© Nomad Junkies / Hôtel de sel

Should I book my Salar de Uyuni tour in advance or buy it from a local agency?

It depends! Most 3 or 4-day tours to Salar de Uyuni are often more expensive if you buy them online on big American or European sites like GetYourGuide. You might end up spending $100 to $150 more than if you booked directly with a local agency in San Pedro de Atacama.

Personally, I booked my tour online with Cruzandina Travel on their website. But hey, it wasn’t really my vibe, with many older folks on the tour with me. If I were to go again, I’d go with Desnomades, a site I discovered later during my trip in Patagonia. Desnomades is a Latin American company that offers prices similar to local agencies.

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Should I choose a 4-day or 3-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

I scrolled the internet for hours, trying to weigh out my options. Basically, most tours that depart and return to San Pedro de Atacama last 4 days (and 3 nights).

For a 3-day trip from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar de Uyuni, it’s practically the same route, except you don’t return to San Pedro de Atacama. Instead, you get dropped off in Uyuni, where travellers often continue their journey to Bolivia or Argentina.

Good to know: During a 4-day tour, you’ll essentially spend only half a day in the salt desert itself. But that’s okay because most of the time, you’ll be on a 4×4 off-road safari in the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve, an equally fantastic place!

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What will I see and do on a 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

If you opt for a Salar de Uyuni 4-day tour, you’re probably wondering what you’ll see and do. Whether you choose a 3-day or 4-day tour, you’ll see precisely the same things. The fourth day is simply a transit day to return to San Pedro.

On the agenda, you’ll:

  • Get to discover incredible lagoons.
  • Bathe in thermal hot springs.
  • See a ton of animals.
  • Sleep in a salt hotel.
  • Visit a cactus island (accessible only if it hasn’t rained).
  • Take way too funny photos.
  • Witness impressive rock formations.
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Which companies should I choose for a 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

Almost all companies offer practically the same itinerary. During the 3 or 4-day expedition, you’ll see the same vehicles with the companies’ logos. You’re guaranteed to see the same lagoons and flamingos.

The difference lies in the accommodation and meals. If you book a tour that costs about $40 more, you’ll get better accommodation and meals.

However, if you book a more expensive tour, expect to be with people who have more money, like retirees. That was my case, and if I had to do it again, I’d choose the cheaper tours to be with other backpackers.

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How much does a 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni cost?

For the 4-day San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni tour, it’s around $59 USD per day (80 CAD) per day, so $239 USD for the 4 days when booking via Desnomades (which offers the same prices as booking with a local agency).

If you book with Viator, GetYourGuide, and the like, you’ll pay $350 USD, and in the end, you’ll still end up with the same local companies, no matter what you pay.

The 4-day and 3-night tour includes accommodation, round-trip transportation to San Pedro de Atacama, meals, and activities.

For the 3-day and 2-night tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni with a one-way trip from San Pedro to Uyuni without return, it’s $65 USD per day (or $88 CAD) per day, so $195 USD for the 3 days.

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What should I do the day before leaving for the 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

Make sure to buy litres of water

You’ll be asked to bring 2 litres of water per person per day. So you need to buy water, or you can buy it along the way, but it will cost you more.

Exchange money

You must also exchange Chilean pesos for Bolivian currency to pay for your entry to the national park and toilets. You can search for exchange offices on Google Maps in San Pedro.

For my part, most were closed, but I finally managed to find one, so don’t delay too much and settle that quickly. I had changed a bit more money than what the agency had recommended, and in the end, I didn’t spend the excess, and I was able to exchange it back into Chilean pesos without losing value.

Fill out the online immigration form

To cross the border, your agency will send you your vehicle’s license plate number, and you’ll need to fill out an online form for your entry into Bolivia 24 hours in advance.

Nomad tip: I also suggest buying rehydration sachets from the pharmacy because you’re in the driest place on earth, and you’ll be at altitude.

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What clothes should I bring for the 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

Comfortable and warm clothes: Don’t forget layering clothes and a tuque, even if it’s 35 degrees Celsius in the shade in San Pedro de Atacama; on the Bolivian highlands, it drops below zero even during their summer. On my way back, it snowed. It’s hard to imagine, but it’s really cold because of the altitude. I had my winter sleeping bag with me.

A raincoat: It’s possible that it might rain, and everything will be muddy.

A swimsuit and a towel: To bathe in the hot springs.

Sunglasses and sunscreen: The sun is really intense.

Personal hygiene items.

Toilet paper: Bring a roll with you! Toilets are often paid, very basic, and not always pleasant.

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Will I experience altitude sickness during the 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

I definitely underestimated the altitude. You’ll go from 2,450 metres up to 4,850 metres to see the geysers and then sleep at 4,000 metres.

I’m used to altitude when hiking, but you’ll be moving there in a 4×4, so there’s not enough time to acclimate. I really struggled to sleep.

If I had to do it again, I’d spend more than 2 nights in San Pedro (at least 3 to 4 nights) to acclimatize.

There is also medication to prevent altitude sickness that I used in Nepal; it works very well, but some people have side effects. It’s best to consult a doctor about this.

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Should I leave my computer at the hostel in San Pedro de Atacama or can I take it with me?

If you work online, you know how precious your computer is. I had doubts about leaving my laptop at the hostel in San Pedro de Atacama, even though they offered lockers where you can put your own lock, and it’s common to leave your belongings.

But I decided to take my computer and my big backpack with me. I didn’t leave anything behind, and everything went well.

Even though we explore remote regions in a 4×4 during this 4-day tour of Salar Uyuni, there’s no risk of your luggage getting wet. Backpacks are placed in the car’s trunk or on the roof of the 4×4 under tarps.

Nomad tip: Make sure to have a dust-proof bag for your computer, just in case.

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What is the group size for the 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

Initially, you’ll be picked up from your hostel in a minivan with about fifteen people to take you to the Bolivian border. From there, everyone gets into separate 4x4s, each with 7 seats.

If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with only 4 people and your driver, and that’s super comfortable.

Most vehicles seemed to have 6 passengers, and it’s tight, with luggage on the roof.

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What’s included in a 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

For the cheapest option, here’s what’s included:

  • Pickup from the hotel in San Pedro de Atacama.
  • Shared transport (minibus in Chile and 4×4 for 6 people in Bolivia).
  • Spanish-speaking driver.
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
  • Basic accommodation in a triple or quadruple room, subject to availability, with shared bathrooms (shower with cold water). You can often pay a supplement if you want hot water.

For slightly more expensive tours, you’ll have sheets on your bed instead of a sleeping bag and hot water included. You can also pay for Wi-Fi.

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Can I do the 4-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni if I have back problems?

This journey is very bumpy. It’s a 100% off-road tour, which is really exciting but also very hard on the neck and back.

If you have back problems, you may need to convince the driver and other group members to let you sit at the front of the vehicle, which will reduce the impact on your back.

Personally, I came back with a severely stiff neck, and I went to see a chiropractor in Santiago, who said they strangely received many foreigners returning from this trip.

In my case, I was sitting in the back seat for the entire trip, and I should have negotiated better with the others in my group to sit at the front occasionally.

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What travel insurance should I get for the tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Salar Uyuni?

It’s an adventure trip, so you want to have good travel insurance that covers you in case of a medical emergency.

You also want to make sure you’re not paying too much and keeping your money for more activities in South America.

soNomad is really the company for you. Make sure to get your travel insurance before the start of your trip.

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Ready to feast your eyes?

If you have any doubts, set them aside; you absolutely must visit the salt desert, especially if you’re in San Pedro de Atacama. Don’t delay this experience.

Get your travel insurance now with soNomad 

If you have questions, let us know! We’ll refer you to the right person!

Nomad Junkies’ founders are proud to be ambassadors for soNomad and on a mission to reduce travel insurance costs for all!

Emilie Robichaud
Emilie Robichaud
Je suis accro au mode de vie nomade! J’ai quitté ma zone de confort pour voyager à temps plein. Mon tour du monde sans fin compte plus de 71 pays et ça continue! Le voyage, c'est un style de vie et un état d'esprit!


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