Booking Salt Flats Tour Upon Arrival: Good Or Bad Idea?


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I really was looking forward to seeing the salt flats in Uyuni, Bolivia. I had spent hundreds on obtaining a visa for Bolivia (shout out to VisaHQ for handling that)‎ and had read a lot about which tour to take. The consensus online is that most tours are created equal. The premium upgrade is to have an English speaking tour guide. This could make the tour go from $100 to $200 per person. I also read that tours could be booked upon arrival. Since I’m not a planner, I decided to wait and see.

Arrival in Uyuni
My flight landed at 9AM and most tours begin around 10 or 10:30AM. I told the taxi driver that I’m interested in ‘tomar turista’ and he took me right to a tour office. I walked into the wrong office and the guide said they were all sold out. He said a reservation was necessary. My taxi driver found me and took me to the office next door, home of Salar Camel. Straight away, the woman said that there were tours available and began to lay out the options.

The Options
1 Day Tour
The main attraction of the 1 Day Tour takes you to the salt flats for‎ the infamous loco photos. You do not get to stay at a salt hotel and explore so much of the vast terrain.

3 Day Tour
This is the option I planned on taking before I came because a) I needed to get to Chile. b) might as well see it all. c) At the time, I did not know how grueling it would be to spend 3 days in a Land Cruiser. The guide began rattling off the places we would visit. She highlighted that the first night would be a room in the salt hotel and the second would be a room in a dorm. On the third day, I would be given a ride to the Chilean border. Sold, I went with the 3 day.

The Price
I paid 800 Boliviano or $112 for the tour. 750 to 800 is the standard price for a tour without an English guide. In retrospect, I am glad I did not take an English guide. That would have been 3 days of nonstop talk about sights that are pretty self-explanatory.

To Book Ahead of Time Or Wait? 
After booking, I walked around Uyuni and was propositioned by countless companies to take a tour. Based on that, I do not believe booking ahead is necessary, especially if it costs more. Now that I am on this tour and my driver is not a drunkard (which many reports said that their driver was) and because he took unrivaled photos, I would recommend booking ahead with Salar Camel. 


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