When is the Best Time to Visit Uyuni?
There’s no bad time to book a tour and visit the Salar de Uyuni–there are tours available year-round and the climate and weather tends to cooperate well-enough most of the time.
There are, however, some months of the year that are better than others to visit the Salar de Uyuni depending on your overall goals.
When Can I See The Reflection on the Salt Flats?
The Salar de Uyuni turns into the world’s largest mirror when the surface is covered by water–simple as that. If there’s water on the salt flats that day, then you’ll be able to see the “mirror effect”, the Salar’s trademark reflection. If there is little to no water, the ground will stay the bright white that it stays most of the year.
Lucky for you, traveler, Bolivia has a pronounced rainy season, during which rain will typically sit on the salt flat’s surface for long enough that you can reasonably predict more or less when to visit.
But careful what you wish for!
If there’s too much water on the surface, some areas of the salt flats can become inaccessible, such as the Incahuasi island. You only really need a few centimeters of water on the surface for the reflection to be visible. Even then, there will be some areas that will concentrate water, more than others, and if you have a good tour guide, they’ll know where to go.
Plus, there’s no real outlet to the Salt Flats, so sometimes there are still areas of the salt flat that have enough water for a reflection (and your coveted photos) even if it hasn’t actually rained for a while.
Can You See the Mirror in March?
Yes! If there’s water on the surface of the salt flats. If there’s not, you’re out of luck!
Whether there is water on the salt flats is the only indication of whether you’ll see the reflection.
So, yes, you can see the mirror in March, April, May, June, July, August or any month of the year, if it’s rained recently.
When is the Rainy Season in Bolivia?
The rainy season in Bolivia, including Uyuni and the salt flats, roughly runs from mid-December through mid-March, give or take. Of that time, the rainiest months are undoubtedly January and February–your best chances of seeing the mirror reflection at the salt flats are during January and February.
If you can’t make it out during those months, try December or March, as those months may still see some rainfall. Plus, you’ve got a shot that there will still be water on the surface even if it hasn’t rained recently anyway.
Keep in mind, even though Uyuni escapes the “worst” of the rainy season by virtue of being a virtual desert high up in the mountains, other areas of Bolivia, particularly the jungle, do not.
Rain can sometimes degrade the conditions of the roads to Uyuni, making that overnight bus from La Paz considerably more unpleasant.
Consider as well that the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is usually closed in February, for example, if you’re looking to include Uyuni as a part of a greater trip to the Andes or South America.
If you’d prefer to avoid the rain and go when Uyuni is drier, June through August tend to be the driest months in Uyuni. They’re also the coldest months in Uyuni, so be sure to bring an extra sweater or three!
What’s the Climate and Weather Like in Uyuni
Uyuni, for all intents and purposes, is a desert–it’s dry most of the year and features big temperature swings from day to night. Humidity is usually low, and the air will be dry.
The exception is the aforementioned rainy season above, where you’ll have some somewhat predictable light afternoon showers as opposed to “real” heavy rain.
Having said that, definitely be sure to dress in layers! It’s common for temperatures to swing 30-40 degrees from day to night, and it’s easy to feel hot during the day and frigid during the night.
Outside of the town of Uyuni, most of Southwest Bolivia shares a similar climate.
Also, don’t forget, that this is a region at high altitude, which means the air is thinner, and you’re closer to the sun that you normally would be–bring sunscreen!