The most useful packing list you’ll ever find about Uyuni.
This list assumes that you’ve already got your staples, and that you’re looking for Uyuni-specific recommendations on what to pack. Luckily, you’re in the right place. We’ll leave out the standard recommendations of all of your medications, travel insurance, cameras, etc, because we’ll assume you’ve got it on your list already.
Plus, we’re minimalists--we don’t believe you should take too much with you--it’ll weigh you down and make travel more burdensome.
We’ll also let you know what you can pickup in Bolivia and what you should grab before your trip.
The idea here is to not get caught off guard by the cold in Uyuni--it will get really cold at some point during your tour! So, if you’re looking to scratch your fancy travel-specific magical thermal jacket, this is your chance. A great Northface-like jacket that keeps you very warm will be very welcome in Uyuni. So will other versatile pieces of clothing like that that will, before anything, help keep you warm.
Past that, we’d recommend that you bring:
- Baseball Cap--the sun can be really strong in Uyuni. This is your minimalist 20/80 solution.
- Bathing Suit--You’ll need these for the hot springs! Often forgotten item.
- Nice Wool Socks--A splurge worth going for, good socks can be hard to find in Bolivia.
- A Nice Scarf--Very versatile, doesn’t take up much space.
- Flip Flops--For showers, or for the salt flats themselves. Small & useful.
- Compression Underarmour-like Shirt--start with this underneath other clothes and you’ll be fine.
Past that, you don’t need any special moisture wicking shirts/underwear/socks/etc. If you’ve got them, sure, toss them in. But normal clothes work fine too.
We won’t remind you to bring your nice camera, you’ll definitely want to, but here are some other tech recommendations that you might not have considered.
- Flash Drive with Music--To plug into the 4x4’s stereo. Otherwise, you’re at your driver’s mercy.
- Extra Camera SD Cards & Batteries--You’ll be away from the computer for 3 days at least, bring an extra SD card, and think about picking up an extra battery for your camera too.
- USB Battery Pack--We love the Anker powerbanks, these are lifesavers, and $25-30 gets you.
- Headlamp & Batteries--Uyuni can be pretty dark! So can overnight buses. Useful & small.
- Combination Padlock--Gets the job done, nice to have if you feel the need to lock your luggage.
- Earbuds Headphones--Have at least one pair of earbuds to toss in your pack. We swear on these Sennheisers. They also double as earplugs in the evening.
Recommended Travel Gear
A Backpack for Uyuni
Honestly, you don’t need anything bigger than a 20L backpacker’s backpack for traveling through Bolivia. Anything bigger is superfluous, and can make it hard to navigate travel easily. A 20L is perfect for keeping with you on buses, in the backseat of taxis. It won’t get too heavy, and it’ll force you to really focus on packing what you need, as opposed to what you want, nor what you think you need.
If you don’t already have a backpack, at the very least, get a good one--it’s not a premium to pay for a nice backpack if it’ll last you for a lifetime.
Buy Before Your Trip
These items are easier to buy in the U.S., or can otherwise be difficult to find/buy in Bolivia:
Lip Balm/Chapstick--Lots of sun and dry air at the salt flats.
Drawstring Bag--A nice drawstring bag is collapsable and doubles as a day pack.
Sunblock / Aloe--Expensive and hard to find in Bolivia.
Ziploc Bags--For dirty clothes, food, packing, documents, medicine, anything else ever.
Silk Sleeping Bag Liner--smaller than a sleeping bag, nice if your hostel’s bed is weird.
Altitude Sickness Meds--if you want them. We’re not convinced they really work. This is no substitute for taking it easy and respecting the altitude!
Hit the Tienda Before You Go
Grab all of these things right before you take off on your tour. Available in Uyuni at most stores:
Small Bills--Pull from ATMs in Bolivianos, and pull a number ending in 90 for the small change. You 150% won’t see an ATM on your trip.
Buy lots of water--If you can grab a 5L or larger bottle in town, buy it and stash it in the 4x4. You'll want as much water as possible.
Sachets--sachets refer to individual-sized shampoo sold in Bolivia. Takes up less space, don’t worry about TSA.
Extra Snacks--Especially fruit & protein--bananas and peanuts are great to have as backup in case you get hungry.
Travel Blog Clichés You Don’t Really Need
Travel towel--Everybody’s got towels, man.
All super-travel-compression NASA scarves/shirts/pants/underwear--Nice if you’ve got them, hardly needed.
Splurges That Will be Nice to Have
Packing Cubes--Alternatively, ziploc bags or ziploc space bags.
Memory Foam Travel Pillow--If you’re used to sleeping with five pillows and your hotel has one…
Nidra Eyecovers--Great for bus rides, or anywhere, really.