Bolivia is a rough country to travel through and the Salt Flat Tours around Uyuni are hard. The harsh conditions like the high altitude and the extreme weather might scare you at first. But when you see the stunning vistas and the white wonderland of the Salt Flats, nothing will hold you back as a true travellette! But how to survive the Uyuni Salt Flat Tour as a real queen without the drama? How to feel happy and still look decent when you’re taking those epic Salt Flat pictures? Read my girlie guide to Uyuni Salt Flat Tours in Bolivia and be prepared for the adventure of your Bolivia trip!
The Girlie Guide to Uyuni Salt Flat Tours
This guide to Uyuni Salt Flat tours in Bolivia basically consists of 5 tips for female travelers and some common information which can be useful for ladies and gentlemen alike. First I’ll tell a little bit about my tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats before I dish out those girlie guidelines.
The route around Uyuni Salt Flat
The Salt Flats of Uyuni were really high on my list of things to visit in South America. I was sure I wanted to do the 3 day tour. As I was coming from Arequipa in Peru, I traveled to Northern Chile where I went stargazing in San Pedro de Atacama. After seeing all the amazing things to do in Bolivia, I wanted explore Bolivia after that, so it was logical to take the Uyuni Salt Flat Tour from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.
I booked the tour in Chile and in the morning we were picked up and brought to the Chilean border. We stamped our passports and continued to the Bolivian border. Another few stamps and we were ready to start our Tour of the Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia.
I was in a 4×4 with a Bolivian driver, an Australian couple, 2 Italian friends and 1 guy from Chile. For 3 days, we toured across the altiplano of Bolivia and on the final day, we arrived on the Salt Flats of Uyuni.
Accommodation was very basic, we spend most of our time in the 4×4 vehicle. Due to the long days of driving, lack of facilities, basic accommodation and the harsh conditions, the tour is quite hard. During the tour, there were only 2 girls in the car. Me and the Australian girl. We were talking how to be more comfortable as a girl and I came up with this Girlie Guide to Uyuni Salt Flat Tours.
5 Tips for female travelers on Uyuni Salt Flat Tour
#1. Wear a sports bra
This was actually the one thing that sparked this girlie guide to Uyuni Salt Flat Tours. I was sitting in the back of the 4×4 with my new Australian girl friend and we were bouncing up and down in the truck. The roads were really rough and although our driver did his very best to keep the truck steady, our girls where jumping up and down. My advice to you: wear a sports bra! Big boobs or small ones; they need to be strapped in tight for this journey!
#2. Wear your swimsuit under your cloths
You have the opportunity to take a dip in the hot spring during the tour. We came from Chile, so it was on our first day. If you take the tour from Uyuni, it will be on your 3rd or last day. The facilities are very basic. There is small shack where you can change your clothes but chances are, it is very crowded and space is limited. Be a smart girl and already wear your swimsuit or bikini under your normal clothes. This saves you the hassle of changing your cloths in the cold wind with everyone watching you trying to undress as discrete as possible.
#3. Bring toilet paper. Bring a lot of toilet paper
I carried toilet paper with me everywhere I went in South America. I was happy to find toilets, but 9 out of 10 times there wasn’t (enough) toilet paper. As us girls have to use it every time we visit the toilet, we need to have more than men. When you travel on the Uyuni Salt Flat Tours, you need to drink a lot of water to avoid altitude sickness. Hence, the many toilet visits. There are some small shops, depending on where you’ll stop during your tour, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and bring enough toilet paper when you start your Uyuni Salt Flat tour.
#4. Bring warm cloths. And wear them, all at once
Yes, you probably read about this already in every guide to Uyuni Salt Flat Tours. It gets cold around the Salt Flats. Really, really cold. Unbelievable cold. I travelled in May and it was almost winter. During our first night, near the Laguna Colorado, our room was just 5 degrees Celsius (41F). And that was inside!! The bed was cold, the sheets were frozen. The pillow felt like a lump of ice and there were 5 blankets on top of the bed.
What I wore during my nights at the Uyuni Salt Flat Tour:
- Thermal underwear. Long sleeves and trousers
- Thermal socks
- Big woollen socks
- Flannel Christmas pants
- Icebreaker Merino Wool shirt (long sleeves)
- Fleece sweater
- Padded body warmer
- Woollen hat
You get the picture. Basically all the clothes I had with me! For more packing tips for South America, check out this post by Practical Wanderlust about the subject.
I laid myself down on 1 thick blanket and managed to crawl under the other 4 blankets. And.. It worked! Yes it was cold, but as soon as I relaxed, I was able to fall asleep and not freeze to death! Yeah for layers!! What do you wear in bed when you’re cold?
5. Use lip balm. Generously
The Uyuni Salt Flats are a dramatic place. The sun shines down on you fiercely. The winds blow non-stop from left, right and centre. The air is dry because of the altitude and you’re in a desert. And last but not least, there is a lot of salt, duh!
These 4 things cause for your lips to dry out. They burst, they bleed. It hurts. It doesn’t look good. Apply lip balm generously. Even if that means you have to take off your gloves all the time. Do is as often as you can. I swear on my cacao butter lip balm from Vaseline. This is pure fat, so it makes your lips shine and you only need very little to go a long way.
Other tips for the Uyuni Salt Flat Tours
No girls don’t stop reading yet! These tips are useful for men and woman so I include them in this guide to Uyuni Salt Flat Tours. Just so you’re aware and come prepared.
- All tours advice you to bring 8 litres of water with you. Buy it and drink it. Take 1 smaller bottle with you in the car so you can easily hydrate yourself during the tour.
- Bring enough money with you. The tours will advise you how much to bring, but take a little extra. The banks in Uyuni and San Pedro are not really reliable, so once the tour is over, you might be stranded for cash. Obviously, there is no ATM during the Uyuni Salt Flat tour. I arrived in Uyuni with my last Bolivianos and I wasn’t able to get any money from the ATM’s in town. I used my emergency stash of USD to get out of the town.
- Do your homework before you set out on the Salt Flat tour. There are so many fun pictures to take but you have to come up with ideas yourself. Bring props and experiment as much as you like. Check the UyuniSaltPics-Instagram account for inspiration.
Have you ever done the Uyuni Salt Flat Tour in Bolivia? Do you have any other tips to survive the trip like a queen? Let me know!