Exploring Bolivia’s salt flats – Salar de Uyuni is on many travelers’ bucket lists, and for a good reason. But if you forget the essential things to bring on your Bolivia salt flats tour, it may ruin your visit. The geometrical shapes of dried salt and the magical water mirror created during the wet season make this journey well worth a visit. These are the essential things to bring on your Boliva salt flats tour to ensure your trip is more enjoyable. On our visit we packed most of the essentials but certainly not all on this list! So now you get to learn from our mistakes!
17 Essential Things to Bring on your Bolivia Salt Flats Tour
Even when it’s freezing and windy out, the sun is still blaring down hard on you. The sun reflects off the salt flats and will surely burn your skin if you don’t have sunscreen on. This brings me to the next item.
2. Warm Layered clothing
It is cold during the night on Salt Flats tours but warm during the day so you will need to take suitable clothing. I suggest dressing in layers, such as a cotton shirt, sweatshirt/sweater, and a tri-climate jacket. That way you can adjust your temperature based on the rapidly changing weather conditions. I would go a step further and recommend you take the following items. Because yes, it does get that cold.
6. Cash Money
Cash Only. Grab some extra if you are doing the 3 day tour to Salar de Uyuni or the 4 day tour to the salt flats. ATMs don’t work in Uyuni and there are entry fees for Isla Incahuuasi 30 Bs ($4 USD), Cuevas Galaxia 20 Bs ($3 USD), and the National Park Eduardo Avaroa 150 Bs ($22 USD). You can also rent a sleeping bag at the office for 50 Bs ($7 USD) if you want one for the trip there/back.
7. Toilet Paper
Yes, I am serious. Toilet paper should be kept on hand at all times when visiting Bolivia. Usually, you will need to pay a small fee as well. The 3 squares you get aren’t enough sometimes, so make sure you don’t forget to bring the TP. Another reason you should always carry cash.
8. Medications (headache tablets, etc.)
The altitude at the salt flats is 100 ft higher than La Paz (11,893 ft) so keep anti-nausea medications, and headache medications on hand.
9. Extra Snacks
They serve a small meal if you’re on the one-day tour. But you’ll want to pack extra snacks and drinks because it’s a long drive and the day can get busy. There is a small cafe in Uyuni, but I recommend stocking up while you’re in La Paz.
Your tour guide will provide your group with water but I recommend bringing extra for the ride there and back and while on the salt flats. Keep hydrated because the air is dry and dusty in the cities and areas around the flats.
You’ll need your passport for buses/trains/planes etc. Never leave your passport behind and have it on you at all times.
12. Props for the salt flats
We didn’t come properly prepared when it came to camera props. Thankfully we had Lucy the llama to help us out. So if you end up forgetting, get creative and use the things that you have with you.
13. Good quality sunglasses
Good ol’ fashion sunglasses. Something often forgotten but almost always needed. The sun reflects off the bright white of the salts making it extremely difficult to see and painful to keep your eyes open. So be sure to remember to take your sunglasses for a much better experience.
This is Uyuni, and man it is DRY. Each of these things is essential to bring on your Bolivia salt flats tour. I’ve mentioned before the dryness in the air – there is no humidity. Now usually I’m sitting at 44% humidity here in Michigan, and I’m sensitive to the level of water in the air (and how thin it is, yeah it’s annoying) so I chapped up immediately. I didn’t have any of these things on me and I regretted it severely.
17. Backpack Lock
On our bus, the storage location for all the bags was up above our heads. There was also a pocket on the seat to hold smaller items. You won’t be able to keep an eye on your items the entire time you’re sleeping, so I highly recommend a backpack lock and taking special care of your belongings. Unfortunately, the cell phone of one of the girls in our group was stolen on our bus ride back home. That was the only form of criminal activity we witnessed our whole trip. Bolivia is overall a very safe country for travelers.