The remote location of the salt flats means it is very important to plan what you need to bring on your trip in advance. The experience of a lifetime is only around the corner if you are prepared and organised. Below is a list of essentials to bring:
You will not want to stop taking photos of this stunning landscape from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave. From playing with perspective and depth to photos of wildlife (llamas, flamingos, vicuñas) to a truly sensational sunset, Salar de Uyuni yields the potential for a huge array of jaw-dropping photos. The last thing you need is to run out of battery or storage space.
Props are key to creative and interesting perspective photos on the salt flats. Toy animals, saucepans, bottles and even tiny items such as rings can all be used in exciting ways to create unique and intriguing photos.
ATMs are scarce in Uyuni and even the ones you do come across are often out of money. Bring Bolivianos (Bolivian currency) with you for day to day expenses such as food, drink and tipping drivers.
Flip flops are needed for walking around the salt flat if it has a layer of water on it. Flips flops can also be very useful for going to the toilet as walking barefoot on some of the bathroom floors here can be a nasty experience.
Bottles of water on the salt flat are overpriced and to be avoided for those traveling on a budget. With that said, Salar de Uyuni is one of the saltiest places in the world and has a pretty intense altitude so staying hydrated is vital. Bring your own water and snacks for nibbling on if you get hungry in between meals.
It isn’t uncommon to see visitors of Salar de Uyuni with dry, chapped lips from the salt. This can easily avoided by bringing some lip balm.
An item that is often disregarded when people are hiking or trekking. Not only will a towel be very useful for wiping the sweat off your sun kissed head but it is essential for drying yourself off after a shower or a dip in the hot springs.
You will come across plenty of wildlife in its natural habitat such as flamingos, llamas and vicuños. Most tour guides are experienced and will be able to bring you close to these animals without scaring them off. However, having binoculars will allow you to watch them behaving naturally from a distance.
Dust is rampant around the flats from the salt and some toilets are without a sink. Your hands will get dirty very quickly here if you don’t have hand sanitiser.
There is a big risk of exposure to the sun when you’re out on the flats and at 5,000 meters of altitude the power of the sun is not to be sniffed at. The reflection of the salt flats emphasizes the effect of the sun, leading to intense brightness and potential damage to your vision if you aren’t wearing sunglasses.
With night-time temperatures dropping as low as -20 C and many hostels not having central heating, a trip to Salar de Uyuni is unbearable if you have not packed accordingly. Warm clothes, including hiking boots, a scarf, warm socks, gloves, a blanket, a thermal shirt and a winter coat are essential. The scarf can also be used to cover your nose and mouth from inhaling too much dust.
Electricity isn’t available in many places across here so a head torch can be very useful. Bathroom runs in the middle of the night without any light source are no walk in the park!
Tequila shots will be never be the same again after you’ve had one on the flats. Bring the tequila along with some limes and take a shot with salt from the ground below you. Shots don’t get much cooler than this one!