Uyuni at night is a spectacular place–the remoteness of the salt flats and its surroundings means a pristine view of the sky and many stars, constellations, and yes, the milky way.
Make no mistake, getting some good views of the night sky in and around Uyuni needs to be on your checklist of things to do.
But what is the best way to do it? Can you go on a dedicated evening, sunset and/or stargazing tour on the Uyuni flats?
But should you?
Salar de Uyuni Night Tours
A quick primer/reminder about Uyuni tours: in essence all tours from Uyuni are “private” tours:
Any sort of pre-set or packaged tours are done mostly out of convenience for smaller groups of travelers, so that they can join together and minimize costs.
At the end of the day, most agencies will put together their costs based on the vehicle, the “standard” tours tend to come out cheapest per person because they nearly always leave with the 4×4 completely full.
In many cases, you can hire agencies to take you pretty much wherever you’d like, for the same cost per vehicle. If you can’t fill all of the seats, however, the price will rise for you.
Now, about evening tours.
Sadly, they are just not that in-demand. Not enough so to be widely packaged at affordable prices, at least.
There are a number of reasons that contribute to this. For example:
- The salt flats are really cold at night–remember, there is no shelter from any wind on the salt flats.
- It’s much more difficult to receive help at night in the event of vehicle breakdown.
- Night departures are awkward, and don’t jell well with bus schedules and general travel flow in and out of the city.
- Standard tours sometimes offer night and sunset times on the salt flats anyway.
- It’s hard to get good pictures in the evenings unless you really know your way around your camera’s manual settings. Star photography is an intermediate to advanced photography skillset.
- Night tours are more difficult when there is water on the Salar
Plus, If you’re looking for great views of the night sky, you don’t need to actually be on the salt flats to see it.
Assuming you’re on any sort of multiple day tours, your overnight accommodation should offer plenty of low-light opportunities to stargaze and take some amazing shots.
Just get outside and look up!
However, if you’re a serious photographer, there are a few tour operators that offer specific night tours. Ruta Verde, one of our recommended tour providers, specifically offers sunset and sunrise tours.
If neither of those work for you, ask around and be detailed in what you’re looking for. Remember, most agencies will take you privately wherever you’d like to go provided you will pay for the whole vehicle.
Sunsets Are Often Included on Standard Tours
Another option is to request to spend sunset on the salt flats as a part of your standard Uyuni tour.
Most 3d2n tours will spend the night in a salt hotel near the salt flats–on the first day of your tour the salt flats will be the last stop before heading out to your accommodation.
It makes it relatively painless for tours to include sunsets on the salt flats.
If you’re looking to do that, remember to get assurance that it will happen in writing!
Don’t expect to spend hours and hours with your tour guide out on the salt flats, though.
There are a few companies that openly offer night and stargazing tours on the salt flats
See The Salar de Uyuni at Night by Yourself
Some tours will stay within walking distance to the salt flats on the first night–you can hike to get a view of the salt flats below, or try heading out to the edge of the Salar if it’s close enough.
Similarly, you can easily stargaze on a regular 3d2n Uyuni tour without forking out the extra cash, or accommodating the strange evening departure times into your schedule.
Remember though, if this is something you’re specifically looking for as a part of your “normal” tour, be sure to get assurance in writing of the nature and scope of the time you’ll be spending on or near the salt flats in the evening.
Whether you end up getting a chance to book an evening or sunset-specific salt flats, be sure to set aside some time to stargaze while you’re in Southwest Bolivia. You won’t regret it!