In this travel guide, you will find information about the Atacama Desert and Uyuni Bolivia’s most popular tours, and what you can expect in both destinations. Read about the moon-type desert in one of the driest corners of the Earth, and the white endless solid ocean made of salt. Learn about the amazing wildlife surrounded by volcanoes and colorful lagoons. Find out what are the main natural attractions in San Pedro de Atacama and Uyuni, and our favorite restaurants. Finally, discover sustainable projects led by local communities.
The Atacama Desert and Uyuni Salt Flats are both amazing natural attractions; both point out big regions where other natural beauties can be found. We tell you about the places you should see during your trip to the Atacama Desert and Uyuni Bolivia Salt Flats, and why you can’t miss any of them. Let’s begin!
We can say that the little village of San Pedro is the only civilization hub you will find during your trip to the Atacama Desert. That’s why it is also considered the gateway to the desert. San Pedro de Atacama is an attraction itself because wandering the streets of Santiago is like traveling through time… the “streets” are just a way of speaking. The truth is that there is only one main street in San Pedro, the Caracoles street which concentrates all the activity in the village.
This is the famous first tour everybody takes once in the Atacama Desert. It is really a jaw-dropping place, where strange clay and salt formations assault the eyes right away. Plus, it will be your first step deep into the desert which is what you have been waiting for!
This high-altitude geothermal field is waiting for you to relax in one of the strangest landscapes on Earth. If you ever wonder what it felt like to walk the dinosaurs’ kingdom just take a look at the smoking crevices and you’ll soon get the picture. In Geysers del Tatio there are a total of 70 hot springs and 40 geysers.
You can visit Machuca the same day you explore Geysers del Tatio. In fact, Machuca completes a full-day journey of discoveries. Wonder the 20-house village and get closer to the atacameño culture, the mountaineers of the area. They are very religious and pray every day in the only church in town.
It is really easy to travel from San Pedro de Atacama to the little town of Uyuni in Bolivia. Most travelers enchain both trips since the Atacama Desert and Uyuni Salt Flats are both wild destinations. Consequently, it is less probable you will return to the region soon. However, this adventure trip is one of the most recommended by real wanderlusters. Uyuni Bolivia Salt Flats are the main attraction of a whole region full of things to see. However, salt flats are the most famous. This white solid ocean is the biggest salt flat on Earth. Once there, looking at the horizon, you won’t see the end of the glimmering white surface.
It is amazing to find in these arid landscapes so much water, and of different colors. During your visit to the high plains, you will enjoy the spectacular Green and White Lagoons views, backdropped by the Licancabur Volcano. Wildlife can also be usually found in the area! The Lagoon circuits includes also a visit to the Dali Desert and the Sol de Mañana Geysers.
Not just a fancy name… in this hotel where you can stay for the night, furniture is literally made up of salt. There is not much to say really, just stepping into this hotel is an amazing and unique experience.
Flavors are the second trip you will enjoy in Atacama and Uyuni. Discover traditional dishes, try exotic meat and vegetables, and learn about the importance of spices and colors in Chilean and Bolivian culinary culture.
Aura Andina Restaurant
Calle Caracoles 362-A Pasado Calle Toconao
International & Fusion
One of the top choices in San Pedro de Atacama. Sandwiches are huge, meals tasty, and customer service great. This restaurant is open to late hours and you can either have lunch or dinner. What you must try here are the “pisco sour rica rica” and the “tabla cevichera”.
This is your veggie and gluten-free option in San Pedro. Menus are abundant and the customer service very nice. The place is not easy to find, but it is next to a minimarket. Maybe you should book in advance because it runs out of tables fast. What you must try here is the “crema de zapallo” and the gnoccis. Prices are very affordable.
Inca’s Restaurant San Pedro
Caracoles 169 Local A
Peruvian & Seafood
This Peruvian restaurant is a good option if you want to expand your taste. Peruvians are also famous for their ceviche but also for other seafood specialties like buttered salmon. Other popular options are the risotto a la huancaina, a traditional Peruvian sauce.
Av. Potosí #113
Tika City is just one of the many Tika restaurants located in Uyuni city and near the salt flats. In Tika City, you can taste traditional Bolivian meals but also international popular dishes merged with local flavors. Here you must try the “charque lipeño” a combination of dehydrated llama meat, regional potatoes, and yellow chili pepper.
Salt Palace Hotel, Uyuni Bolivia Salt Flats
International & regional
Inside the hotel and at the edge of the salt flats you can visit this fancy restaurant. The main proposal of Tika Palace is to offer a buffet-type meal including top-notch table service. Plus, you can admire local art in the place and taste high-altitude wines.
The Guardian Coffee Shop Uyuni
Av Ferroviaria c/ Calle Sucre
Mexican & Veggies
A nice place to taste good Bolivian coffee and traditional Mexican food like the chimichangas. Wifi connection is especially good here if you are in need.
Calle Bolívar # 65
International & Veggie
Try the llama stake and other international dishes like the cordon bleu and the lasagna! Veggie options are well ranked also for their clients.
The Atacama Desert comprises a big portion of Northern Chile. It borders Southern Peru and Bolivia but also Northern Argentina and the South Pacific Ocean. It covers 995 miles of stony soil, sun, and salt flats.
Temperatures can drop up to -13 F at night and rise up to 122 F during the day. The average temperature during the day is 95F. A meaningful rain can happen every 15 or 40 years. Thus, UV radiation is high (sunscreen and sunglasses are a must!).
The nearest airport is Calama in Chile. From here you can take land transportation to San Pedro de Atacama at the gateway of the desert. The trip lasts 1h 30 min.
Yes, though this is a small village there are many options. No worries on that!
Around 7900 feet.
Yes! Astronomy tours are a common thing in Atacama. It is really easy to book them and you don’t have to travel far from the town.
Yes. In 6 days you can visit the highlights of both destinations.
It is a 3-day expedition in a 4WD vehicle through different Bolivian landscapes like desert, high plains, lagoons and national parks. Many of these are actually surrounding the great salt flats which you will visit on the last day. So the Uyuni salt flat is the excursion to the white salt desert but also the discovery of the neighboring natural highlights.
Uyuni Bolivia salt flats are located south of the country amidst the Andes mountains and 11975.07 feet above sea level.
As this is one of the most remote places on Earth, accommodations don’t abound. During the Uyuni Bolivia salt flats tour you will usually stay in basic refuges and occasionally enjoy 1 night in a hotel (the Hotel de Sal, included on our tour).
Windy and rather cold. Temperatures can drop up to 26.6 F and rise to 70 F.
The nearest city is Uyuni located at the age of the salt flats. Near the city you will discover the Train Cemetery included in the Uyuni salt flats tour.
A project conceived to promote sustainable tourism in the region and the continuity of culture, traditions, and gastronomy of Lickantays in Peine, Talabre y Santiago de Río Grande villages nearby the Atacama Desert. You will enjoy a tour guided by one native and live an immersive experience.
Many native craft makers specialize in wood, wool, and clay pieces of work. Some practice a fusion of traditional and modern techniques. Read more about them here.
Many local operators offer an astronomic tour near San Pedro de Atacama. Usually, these experiences are held not far from the city. Sometimes you can live this experience in the same accommodation you have chosen. Some of these local operators are
In the Atacama Desert, there are some green paths where sustainable behavior is really strict. The sustainable measures are highly respected by all travelers and the landscapes are pristine! Some of them are
In Tierra Atacama hotel you can enjoy of Alejandro González sculptures. Alejandro is a native craft master from the village of Toconao. He was declared a “Human Living Treasure” by the Chilean Government. His sculptures made of liparit rock (volcanic rock) represent a traditional work ok Toconao.
Useful tips to be a responsible traveler:
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