Desert & Salt Flats Tour for Explorers

Desert & Salt Flats Tour for Explorers

HIGHLIGHTS

North Argentina - Atacama Desert - Uyuni Salt Flats

from 3295 USD
HIGHLIGHTS

North Argentina - Atacama Desert - Uyuni Salt Flats

days 11
  • Visit Salta, travel the stunning Cloud safari, and discover the local culture of the traditional Andean towns.
  • Travel to San Pedro De Atacama in Chile, a laid-back oasis town on the edge of the driest place on earth.
  • Take a trip to the immense sea of salt — the Uyuni Salt Flats — in the South of Bolivia. 
  • Best time to travel: All year round
  On this 11-day trip to Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile, visit San Pedro De Atacama, Salta, and the Humahuaca Gorge, and enjoy a tour of Uyuni's jaw-dropping Salt Flats. This trip, created for true thrill-seekers and explorers, will stick with you for many years to come.
Itinerary
Day 1

Welcome to your Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia trip - Salta, "La Linda"

salta-downtown-cabildo

 

  • Transfer from Salta Airport (Argentina) airport to your hotel

Upon arrival, we’ll meet at the airport and we’ll drive you to your hotel. Take the rest of the afternoon to explore the city. Bear in mind that this is a stress-free hub: la siesta (mid-day nap) is kind of a religious ritual for locals, which means that between 1 pm and 5 pm, shops are usually closed.

Salta is the selected jumping-off point for travelers seeking to explore the North of Argentina. From here, you can visit the most outstanding natural wonders of the area: the Humahuaca Gorge, and the Seven Colors Hill located in Jujuy, a bordering province that is also famous worldwide.

 

Say Hueque Tips

What to do on your first day touring Salta?

Salta has it all: the geographical diversity (red, green, and brown-tinted mountains) and the vast history—it is in these time-honored lands that men fought for the freedom of Argentina. Make the most of your time in the city and:

  • Admire the colonial architecture, the lively cafés in the main plaza (great people-watching spot), and try the traditional “tamales”.
  • Visit the vibrant and authentic peñas, which are places where locals grab a table to watch their favorite folkloric singers, and after a glass of wine (or two) everyone joins in for dancing. “¿Bailamos?” (Shall we dance?): It’s all you need to say to start the party!
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Day 2

Visit Humahuaca Gorge, UNESCO World Heritage Site - Jujuy

Salta & Jujuy - Exploring Purmamarca

 

  • Visit the Humahuaca Gorge and the Yungas (Northern jungle) 

We’ll pick you up early in the morning to begin your 13-hour trip exploring the Humahuaca Gorge, declared a UNESCO Heritage Site. Humahuaca Gorge is home to a bunch of amazing natural monuments like the Seven Color Hill, the Pucará de Tilcara (a ramshackle yet well-restored native fortress), and the Paleta del Pintor (Painter Palette) at Maimará village, an impressive multi-colored mountain range. 

Our adventurous path will then lead us through the Yungas, the green-tinted jungle of the North, past all of these breathtaking natural monuments until ultimately reaching the picturesque town of Humahuaca. 

Wander amongst colonial houses and streets, get a feel for the old-world serenity that still survives in this setting, and grab some lunch (not included) in one of the typical taverns; the humita (a traditional corn-based dish) is something you definitely must try! 

In the afternoon, we’ll keep on traveling to get to the little Uquía Church, where you’ll see some peculiar paintings of the colonial period, called Pinturas Cuzqueñas. For the potential astrologists, we’ll pass by the famous Tropic of Capricorn milestone. 

Finally, arrive in the city of San Salvador de Jujuy, the second big capital of the Argentine North region, after Salta. Visit the cathedral, the main square, and the presidential house of the Tacita de Plata (silver cup), as history nicknamed the city of Jujuy because of its resemblance to the wealthy Cadiz in Spain. At the end of the day, we’ll drive you back to your hotel in Salta.

 

Say Hueque Tips

If you feel like having a particularly nice evening, walk Balcarce Street and choose the bar or peña that suits you the most!

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Salta & Jujuy - Exploring Purmamarca
Day 3

Visit Cafayate & Calchaquí Valley - Salta

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  • Visit Cafayate, the Wine Hub of North Argentina, in Calchaquí Valley

Today, venture into the beautiful Lerma Valley to discover its picturesque villages, Cerrillos, La Merced, and El Carril, and reach the isolated town of Alemania. Travel 50 miles to meet Las Conchas Gorge the gateway to the famous Calchaqui Valley.

This magical landscape has been eroded for thousands of years and now features important structures like the Devil´s Throat and the Amphitheater where spontaneous concerts usually take place. 

A few miles before reaching Cafayate, vineyards will conquer the landscape and you will enter the colonial town, the capital of the northern wine country. Enjoy lunch in Cafayate, sip the best torrontés wine, and return to Salta at the end of the day.  

 

Say Hueque Tips

What can you do back Salta? 

  • At night, go shake your hips to the rhythm of the Spanish guitars and criolla music in the peña Balderrama, a classic restaurant and bar where local artists and musicians are known to meet up. Try the locro, a juicy stew of meat, corn, and potatoes!
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Day 4

Visit San Pedro de Atacama - Chile

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  • Transfer to the bus station – Bus to San Pedro de Atacama 

Time to keep moving! Early in the morning, we’ll take you to the bus station to board a public bus to San Pedro de Atacama, the gateway to the orange-tinted sands of the notoriously driest desert in the world.

This road trip will definitely rouse your adventurous spirit. You’ll cross the Andes Range through the “Paso de Jama”, one of the highest international passes in the world, and ride 200 km away (125 miles) until finally arriving in San Pedro de Atacama. The scenic route we take will be 12 hours during which you’ll enjoy stunning Altiplano scenery. It is important to point out that today you are leaving Argentina and crossing an international border. Please, keep your passport handy!

Upon arrival at the bus station of San Pedro, you will make your way to your hotel. Enjoy the evening eating a pastel de choclo (a corn-based cake) at one of the cozy restaurants of Caracoles Street (the main road), or maybe buy some artesanías (handcraft souvenirs) at the market. Be bold in this secluded corner of the globe, and mingle with locals on the unpaved roads.

 

Say Hueque Tips

Important! It is not allowed to take any fresh food, plants, seeds, etc. from Argentina to Chile. They are very strict, and fines can be high. If you are not sure if something is allowed or not, please declare it (they will provide you with a form) and they will inform you on whether you can carry it or not.

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atacama-desert-llama
Day 5

Explore The Moon Valley - Atacama

atacama-desert-moon-valley

 

  • Discover Moon Valley’s natural highlights

¡Buen día Atacama! It’s your first morning in this magical place. We know that yesterday you had a long trip, so take your time to enjoy the morning and rest, because, in the afternoon, we’ll get active again.

Today we’ll take you on a 4-hour adventure in the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), an out-of-this-world place. Driving straight to the desert, we’ll start noticing mysterious forms of salt and clay as we get closer to the “Three Marias” area. 

These statues are the female guardians of this cosmic desert, so don’t forget to bow and make a wish to the desert gods. The Atacama Desert is one of the world’s driest and most hostile zones, and thus, one of the natural highlights of your trip to South America.

After this first encounter, take the winding and hidden path of the Salt Caves, and discover the peculiar salt gemstones that have been formed over centuries from the lack of humidity and the altitude of this zone. 

The highlight of your adventure will appear at the sunset when all the colors of this incredible landscape change their palette. The forbidding Licancabur Volcano will turn pink while the valley awaits the rise of its lunar mother.

After the excursion, you will be dropped off in downtown Atacama, and from there you can make your way back to your hotel on your own. 

 

Say Hueque Tips

You can also combine this tour with an optional mountain bike excursion. Just ask your Say Hueque travel advisor and we’ll guide you through.

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atacama-desert-moon-valley
Day 6

Tatio Geysers & Machuca - Atacama

atacama-desert-geysers-tatio

 

  • Visit Tatio Geysers and Machuca Village

This morning, you will travel to where the crevices of the Earth exhale their millenary breath. At about 4 a.m., we’ll pick you up to take you 100 km (60 miles) away from San Pedro de Atacama into the Andes range in an 8-hour trip to see the geothermal field of Geysers del Tatio (the highest in the world). 

Here, you’ll see 40 geysers and 70 hot springs fighting the super low temperatures of the first morning hours (their waters can reach up to 85°C /185 °F). Take the most impressive photos, swim in the Tatio spring’s rich mineral waters, and enjoy a complete breakfast with this magnificent backdrop.

Upon returning we’ll visit the quaint Machuca village (at 4000 m.o.s.l), a little atacameño (from Atacama) town with barely 20 adobe houses and a traditional church that locals visit daily to ask the Virgin to give them water and to preserve roads so travelers can get to town and buy their enthralling handcrafts. Though they used to survive working as llama shepherds, nowadays they count on foreign visitors to improve their quality of life.

For travelers, this is the perfect opportunity to get closer to the inner mountainous culture of the region and to try one of the best sopaipilla (a kind of fried tortilla). After visiting Machuca, we’ll drop you off in downtown Atacama. You can return to your hotel on your own or just enjoy your afternoon wandering around town.

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atacama-desert-geysers-tatio
Day 7

Uyuni Tours: 4WD Adventure - Bolivia

Atacama & Uyuni - People in Salt Flats

 

  • 4-day tour to Bolivia – Uyuni Salt Flats 

Few people are prepared to really live an adventure. In this 4-day tour to Uyuni Salt Flats, you will live more than one, and discover South America in an unique way! The journey to Uyuni is different than anything you might have seen before.

In the early morning, we’ll pick you up from your hotel to start a 10-hour trip in which you’ll cross borders and have your first impressions of jaw-dropping Bolivian landscapes.  We’ll pass through Chile and Bolivia immigration offices and, once on the Bolivian side and at 14,435 feet above sea level, you will change to a 4WD jeep with a maximum capacity of 6 people.

On the first day, you’ll visit the National Park Eduardo Avaroa and see the Bolivian high plain, the Laguna Verde, and Laguna Blanca (Green and White Lagoons), lying at the enormous feet of  Licancabur Volcano. The next stop will be the nicknamed ‘Dali Desert’ (or Valley), a part of the Siloli Desert. If you thought nature was already surrealistic this Bolivia trip will blow away all of your expectations.  

Continue your journey to the thermal water pools (or “foreigners soup” as locals call it), and the Sol de Mañana geysers, which are intermittent springs coming up at 194º F. 

After lunch, you’ll head to Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon, named after the red algae that grow beneath the waters), the main nesting center for more than 30,000 flamingos of 3 different species, and graze land for alpacas (a kind of llamas). 

These places are located at an average height of 4.500 meters (14,764 feet) above sea level where endemic flora and fauna can be spotted. At the end of the day, we’ll drive you to Villa Mar Hostel in the Mallku Community and enjoy your included dinner.

 

Say Hueque Tips

Things to take into account:

  • Altiplanic weather can be unpredictable, especially during the southern summer (January and February). Your itinerary may change depending on weather conditions.
  • This day you will be crossing the border between Chile and Bolivia. Please note that Bolivia requests: the certificate of yellow fever vaccine to enter the country, and a visa for citizens of some countries.  Please, check if you need it before traveling. You can apply for a travel visa at your home country’s Consulate.
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Atacama & Uyuni - People in Salt Flats
Day 8

4WD Adventure to Salt Hotel - Bolivia

uyuni-salt-flat (8)

 

  • Visit the Valley of Rocks and Agua Dulce Waterfall


Welcome to the second day of your adventure on your Bolivia trip! We will start early in the morning by visiting cave paintings and the Valley of the Rocks, where you can see formations such as the lost city of Italy, the World Cup, the Camel, etc. 

Then visit the Black Lagoon, a perfect spot to discover animals, the Catal Lagoon and Canyon. After lunch, continue to the Agua Dulce Waterfall viewpoint and head into a valley inhabited by many highland communities, dedicated to raising Andean animals such as llamas and alpacas.

The day will end with the arrival at the community of Villa Candelaria, where we will have dinner and spend the night at the Salt Hotel. This is not just a symbolic name. In this hotel, most of the facilities are made of salt; salt tables, salt chairs, and salt couches. Enjoy a hot shower and a mineral-filled, restful sleep.

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Day 9

Uyuni Salt Flats Tour and the Train Graveyard - Bolivia

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  • Uyuni Salt Flats Tour & return to Villa Mar

Today we’ll take on the highlight of the trip: the Great Uyuni Salt Flats. We’ll depart bright and early in the morning to start our 6-hour outing. First, we’ll take a general tour around the widest (6575 miles) and highest (11975 feet over the sea level) gleaming salt flats in the world. Get to grips with this open and endless space. 

Challenge your eyes: sky and soil will seem to merge in the rainy season (November-March) when the endless brackish desert floods. But don’t worry, the salt always glistens during the dry season too—No matter the time of year, you’re sure to see a natural spectacle that’s hard to forget.

The expedition will continue towards Isla Incahuasi, the island amid salt flats, and the perfect place to catch a spectacular sunrise. Then it’s time to model for the famous perspective photos every traveler comes to get. It’s always a funny and creative moment for everyone, and a good souvenir to take back home.

We’ll continue on our way towards Playa Blanca Salt Hotel and the eyes of the salt flats (two perfectly round pools) before heading to Colchani town, located at the limits of Uyuni Salt Flats, where you can buy local handicrafts and learn about the salt extractive process for local consume. 

The day will finish in a fabled place; a train cemetery. Covered in a bunch of abandoned train bodywork, this will be the best scenario for the last pictures of this adventurous journey. From here, you will head to the tranquil Bolivian Uyuni city, and then back to Villa Mar Hostel.

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Day 10

End of Your Bolivia Trip - Back to Chile

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  • From Bolivia travel back to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile

Here is where your Bolivia trip and your Uyuni Salt Flats tour end. Get ready to cross borders back to Chile and lodge in San Pedro de Atacama. We’ll pick you up by sunrise and after breakfast, journey to Hito Cajón and conduct the immigration procedure. Once in Chile, we’ll drive you to the already familiar to you, San Pedro de Atacama.

 

Say Hueque Tips

What to do in San Pedro de Atacama?

 San Pedro de Atacama is also one of the best places to stargaze in the whole world. With this altitude, you’ll see the clearest skies ever. Be sure not to waste the opportunity and get out there to chase some starlight!

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Day 11

End of Your Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia Trip

atacama-desert-travel-guide

 

  • Transfer from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama Airport

You have visited San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world, and enjoyed the Uyuni Salt Flats tour in an unforgettable trip to Bolivia, and the colorful mountains of North Argentina. But all have its end… and today is the final day of the journey. At the appropriate time, we’ll drive you from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama airport.

What other places you can explore in South America? Read about our favorite trips to Patagonia, or discover other amazing tours to Chile.

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atacama-desert-travel-guide
Prices per person
Accomodation INN & B&B
From

3295 USD

Accomodation Comfort
From

3485 USD

Accomodation Superior
From

3910 USD

Accomodation Luxury
pricing
  • Prices in US Dollars.
  • Valid until April 2024 (ask for prices at Christmas and New Year).
  • Prices are per person, based on 2 people in double occupancy. Single rates are available on request.
  • Flights are not included in the price but can be arranged on request.
included
  • Transfers and tours mentioned in the itinerary
  • 3-night accommodation in a hotel (Salta)
  • 4-night accommodation in a hotel (Atacama)
  • 3-night accommodation in a hostel (Uyuni)
  • Daily breakfast
  • Bilingual guide (English / Spanish)
  • Bilingual driver-guide (English / Spanish) in Chile and Bolivia.
  • One way bus Salta / San Pedro de Atacama.
  • Meals: Breakfast on tour (day 6), lunch and dinner (days 7, 8, 9)
not included
  • International or domestic flights or buses.
  • National Park entrance fees
  • Travel / Medical Insurance 
  • Bolivian visa: Citizens of some nationalities are required to present a tourist visa to enter Bolivia. Please check the requirements on your country’s consulate website.
Flights needed for this itinerary

plane-icon No flights are needed for this trip. The trip starts in Salta and finishes in San Pedro de Atacama.

ESTIMATED COST FOR THE FLIGHTS ON THIS TRIP: Local flights cost from $150 per person per segment. We offer special rates on flights for this tailor-made itinerary.

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This is a Carbon Neutral Trip

We deeply care about our planet, just like you do. When you book with us, you’re not only fulfilling your travel dreams but also leaving a positive impact on the destination you’re about to discover. We are proud to plant 10 trees in damaged zones of Patagonia for every traveler. It feels good to do it right. Let’s move beyond sustainable!

Desert & Salt Flats Tour for Explorers
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