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Subtle light slowly emerges during sunrise in Bolivia's flooded
Subtle light slowly emerges during sunrise in Bolivia's flooded Salar de Uyuni during the rainy season.

This photo tour explores the world's largest salt flat (salar), located in Bolivia’s Altiplano, a high plateau, formed during the uplift of the Andes mountains. The plateau includes fresh and seasonal saltwater lakes as well as dozens of salt flats and is surrounded by the Andes mountains.  The salt flats are the lowest points on the Altiplano with minor drainage outlets.

The Uyuni salt desert is the world’s largest natural mirror and was infamously spotted by American astronaut Neil Armstrong while orbiting Earth. The surrounding terrain is very mountainous including the volcanoes of the Andes mountains forming part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Our accommodations are at different locations, allowing us to access different points of view, perspectives and give us access to locations where rarely seen imagery can be made.  The variety of locations include salt hotels, pre-Inca mummies, volcanoes, hidden caves, wild vicunas, and pink flamingos during the wet season.

We schedule the tour during the region’s rainy season from late December to late March, when rain and mountain snow run-off, create a layer of water that transforms the flat into a mirror.  The salt flat seems endless, its surface alternating between a dry white hexagonal cracked surface and a sheet of mirror-like water. It's dark skies glimmer in the Milky Way’s glow. The Salar de Uyuni is so vast at its widest point it takes 3 hours to cross it via 4x4.  These Bolivian salt flats are capricious and ever-changing and possess an other-worldly, austere natural beauty.

*Please note:  this tour departs year-round and is not limited to the rainy season.  But the salt flats during the dry season (April to mid-December) do not have water on them.  Nonetheless, the Uyuni Salt Flats are such a spectacular location that no matter the season, the place is magical and is a "must-do" on anyone's list of life experiences!  We will run the same tour, during the dry season for the same number of days and the same services.

The tour is designed on-the-ground, by expert landscape photographer and author, Sergio Ballivian who has traveled here for more than 40 years. We start in La Paz at 3,650 m (11,975 ft), the highest capital city in the world.  La Paz is a city of ancient and modern contrasts and is part of the upper western Amazon basin and flanked by snowcapped Mt. Illimani at 21,122 ft / 6,438 m, the southernmost point of the Cordillera Real de los Andes (Royal Mountain Range).  We'll explore La Paz and acclimatize for a couple of days, including a visit to Lake Titicaca, before heading southwest towards the Department of Potosi and to the Salar de Uyuni. Sergio’s deep connection to this magical desert plateau can be viscerally felt in his large format photography book, Altiplano: Where Earth and Sky Embrace. The pre-departure documents we send will guide guests in optimizing clothing and equipment before departure.  We will discuss in detail the best locations and times of day in order to capture the most amazing photos in all locations.


The Salar de Uyuni is located in the Department of Potosí in southwestern Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes near the border of Chile.  At an elevation of 11,995 ft / 3,656 m above sea level and boasting an area of covering over 3,900 square miles / 10,000 square kilometers, there is no other place like it on the planet. It is actually the same height as downtown La Paz! Some 30,000 to 42,000 years ago, the area was part of a giant prehistoric lake, Lake Minchin which some 20,000 years later transformed into shallow Paleo Lake Tauca. When Paleo Lake Tauca dried it left behind two modern lakes, Poopó and Uru-Uru, and two major salt deserts, Salar de Coipasa and the much larger Salar de Uyuni.



We can run this trip at any time, so please let us know your date preferences and we will create a custom departure date for you and your group

You can check current group & dates using the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above.

Flights to Bolivia:

Typically, flights to Bolivia depart late in the evening from North American cities (Miami, Houston, Los Angeles) and arrive in La Paz very early the next morning. Depending on your airline, you would arrive at different times on day 1 in La Paz.  Please send us your flight schedule and we will arrange to pick you up on the day of arrival.

*International airfare is NOT included in this itinerary.

*For airline tickets, please contact our ticketing agent GEO Travel 210-225-7903.


Day 1

Arrival La Paz, Bolivia (AM) – City Tour (PM)

Arrival El Alto International Airport, Immigration & Customs
Depending on your international flight schedule you will arrive very early in the morning (between 2-6 AM) at El Alto International Airport. The airport is located in the city of El Alto which is on the edge of the Altiplano at 13,200 ft/4023 m, above La Paz (downtown La Paz is at 12,000 ft). You are now at high altitude; so, you need to be aware of the effects of altitude on your body; you may feel light-headed and short of breath, but that's normal. Once we drop down 3,000 ft/900 m in elevation to your hotel (10,200 ft/3,100 m), you should feel much better.

Upon arrival, you go through Bolivian Immigration for your tourist visa (issued upon arrival) then Customs (Aduana). Your guide will be waiting for you at the general passenger meeting point, just look for the sign from Passport Republic. We will take your luggage to our private vehicle for transport to the hotel. We'll have bottled water in the vehicle for you, which helps with the acclimatization process.

Private vehicle transport to your hotel
We drive from the airport to the lowest elevation in the city of La Paz which sits at 10,200 ft/3,100 m. We'll be heading down a winding mountain road with breathtaking views of the valley below. We head to Hotel Mitru Sur (5*) or similar hotel, located in Calacoto/Achumani neighborhood. You'll check in and rest until lunch time (noon) at the hotel.

The best way to acclimatize to altitude, is to move slowly, drink plenty of water and rest when you are tired. Acclimatization time is a very personal affair, some do it quickly, and others take more time. It can take a few hours or a few days. Listen to your body. We design all high-altitude itineraries with acclimatization time built in.

La Paz city tour
At 2 pm we'll begin a 4-hour city tour of this fascinating city deep in the heart of the Andes; visiting open air markets, colonial neighborhoods, the witches’ market and take in the vast canyon of La Paz from breathtaking viewpoints. We return to your hotel so you can rest before dinner.

Hotel & dinner location of your choice
After the city tour concludes you can freshen up and rest before dinner at a restaurant of your choice. We will provide a list of preferred restaurants for you to choose from and we can make your dinner reservations. We recommend a light dinner, avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime. During the day you may want to enjoy a Mate de Coca (coca tea), a local herbal tea that helps with acclimatization, but refrain from it at night. Anise and chamomile teas help with digestion as well.

Keep drinking water, it’s very important for acclimatization.

Hotel Mitrú Sur (5*)
Meals included: B, L

Day 2

La Paz – Lake Titicaca – La Paz

Breakfast and AM departure
We hope you rested well and enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the hotel. Today we depart at 8 AM to Lake Titicaca, the jewel of the Andes. Our aim is to take you to see Bolivia from generations past, where few if any tourists go. En-route we will enjoy magnificent views of the Cordillera Real above Lake Titicaca with waterfowl along the lake shore as we visit small hamlets and villages and seeing the campesinos work their agricultural lands.

Lunch on the shore of Lake Titicaca
Our lunch spot has great views of the lake where traditional Bolivian dishes are served, soups, fresh trout and local vegetables. We have a few choice restaurants with views and proper bathrooms. After a casual lunch and a brief walk, we begin our return to La Paz.

Return to La Paz & Dinner at a local restaurant.
We will return towards La Paz at an appropriate time in order to avoid the traffic of the city of El Alto. Our drive should be about 2 hours from our restaurant to the hotel. En-route we will have some opportunities for some photos as well. We will have a group dinner tonight so we can get to know each other better and talk about the next few days in detail.

Hotel Mitrú Sur (5*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 3

La Paz – Oruro - Tahua - Salar de Uyuni

Breakfast & AM departure to the Uyuni Salt Flats
After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, we head south towards the Uyuni Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni) ...in the heart of the Altiplano. We depart at 8 AM and drive out of the canyon of La Paz and head south on the Altiplano. Drive time from the hotel to the rim of the Altiplano is about an hour, rising from 10,200 to 13, 300 ft.

Southeast to Oruro & Lunch in Challapata
Our direction is south on the main paved road that will take us to Oruro and continue to the town of Challapata for lunch. Continuing southwest we pass by the town of Salinas de Garci Mendoza then we begin the dirt road portion of today’s journey. About an hour and a half on dirt roads brings us to the northern edge of the Salar de Uyuni - Earth's Mirror. We pass via the villages of Jirira, then Coquesa then arrive in Tahua. Depending on our arrival time and the current weather conditions we can either check-in or head to the edge of the salt flats for sunset. Before your eyes is the world’s largest salt flat – the Salar de Uyuni – over 4,000 square miles of salt located at 12,000 ft above sea level! It’s actually the same height as downtown La Paz. We return after sunset to freshen-up before dinner. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Tayka de Sal (4*).

Hotel Tayka de Sal (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 4

Tahua - Salar de Uyuni - Tahua

Sunrise at the salt flats
Hopefully you got bed early and had a good night’s rest. We depart pre-sunrise for a 10-minute drive to the edge of the salt flats today. There are few things more spectacular than watching the sun rise over the eastern horizon and reflecting on the flooded salt flats of Uyuni! The sun rises quickly at these latitudes so soon after sunrise we return to the hotel for a proper breakfast. After a brief rest, we depart inland to the caves of Chiquini, where we will see ancient formations of petrified plants. The route winds across canyons and overlooks where you will see the different faces of the salt flats. We will have a picnic lunch en route and return to the hotel for a brief rest in the afternoon.

Mt. Thunupa volcano and mummies and sky-high view of the salar de uyuni
After a rest we drive up the flanks of Mt. Thunupa, an extinct volcano seeing from every angle in the region as it dominates the skyline at 17,460’/5,321 m and is used for navigation. Upon arrival to the end of the road we take a 5-minute walk around the flanks to a hidden cave where mummies lie from the pre-inca period. The volcano was active during the Pleistocene era with lava flows constructing the layers of the volcano and there are signs that it was once glaciated until about 15,000 years ago and it has signs of being an island on Lake Minchin and Lake Tauca which once were part of the Altiplano. The jaw-dropping views from this height will show you that you still cannot see the edges of the world’s largest salt flat. We return to the edge of the salar for sunset and then return to the hotel for dinner and rest. Overnight at Hotel Tayka de Sal (4*)

Hotel Tayka de Sal (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 5

Tahua – Challapata - Pumiri - Sajama National Park

Last salt flats sunrise and onto Sajama National Park
Our last morning in the salt flats. Every day there is a new sunrise spectacle, and we aim to see as many as we can. We return to the hotel for breakfast then depart soon thereafter for our journey north around Mt. Thunupa and towards Bolivia’s first National Park, Sajama. We retrace our route as we head north to Challapata then towards the western border of Bolivia with Chile. En route we will see countless volcanoes across the vast Altiplano with many landscapes that few people ever see – rivers, lagoons, lakes, undulating scrubland, bofedales (high-altitude wetlands) and lots of wildlife; vicuñas, eagles, Rheas, ducks, etc.

Lunch en-route and visit cities of stone
We will have a picnic lunch at a pre-determined location in a city of stone called Pumiri (natural lava flow canyons and strange rock formations) where we will take time for a nice walk and see amazing natural lava flows and rock formations that look like animals, monsters and strange beings. We continune north along remote roads before arriving at the south-western entrance to Sajama National Park. After checking-in at the park, we head to the lagoon below Mt. Sajama, a location where Bolivia’s tallest mountain; Mt. Sajama (21,460 ft / 6,542 m) is reflected and is the perfect location for both sunrise and sunset.
Depending on the current weather conditions we can stay for sunset or head to the NW corner of the park to our hostel for the night in the village of Tomarapi which is about 45 minutes away. Upon arrival in Tomarapi, we will check-in to our hostel and freshen up before dinner. The hostel we are staying at is a community-owned enterprise that was founded in 2003 with the hopes of developing a sustainable business to support the tourism sector in the Sajama region. Overnight in Hostal Tomarapi (3*).

Hostal Tomarapi (3*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 6

Sajama National Park - Full Day

Sunrise in Sajama National Park
If you want to experience on the Bolivia’s greatest locations, we need to depart early this morning so we can arrive at the lagoon before sunrise. We depart in the dark and head southwest to the lagoon below Mt. Sajama and where the volcanic twins called “Payachatas” are located on the Bolivia-Chile border.
Sajama is Bolivia’s first National Park (est. 1945) and is named for the strato-volcano rising to 21,460 ft / 6,542 m. The volcano is the centerpiece of this spectacular, high-altitude region where extensive herds of domesticated llamas and alpacas feed in the scrublands. Surrounded by volcanoes and puna wetlands and cut by ice-cold rivers draining from the summit glaciers, this region has many surprises. It has the world’s highest forest made up of the native Queñua tree with the tree line being close to 16,000 ft. It has a geyser field tucked into a canyon high on the slopes at around 15,000 ft / 4,572 m where the water is hot enough to boil eggs and so one must be careful! It is the resting place for Aymara leaders that re buried in mud, straw and stone funerary towers called “chullpas”.

Wildlife and Volcanic Landscapes
This wilderness is home to wild vicuñas (camelids), cute viscachas (a cross between a large rabbit and a squirrel), eagles, hawks, the Suri a large flightless bird (American Rhea) that looks very much like an ostrich but with beige and brown feathers. If we are lucky, condors, all of which call this wind-swept region home.
We will have breakfast in the village of Sajama, before heading to visit some of the nearby natural wonders. We amble our way slowly east to Tomarapi for lunch and rest.

In the afternoon we head to the remote corners of the park to look for wildlife and see fabulous Altiplano landscapes. We plan to see the sunset at the lagoon near the village of Sajama before heading back to Tomarapi for dinner and rest. There will be time to freshen-up before dinner. Overnight at Hostal Tomarapi (3*).

Hostal Tomarapi (3*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 7

Sajama - Patacamaya - La Paz

Final morning in Sajama National Park
Our last sunrise in Sajama. The sun lights up the eastern flank of this strato-volcano and the church in Tomarapi. We will get access to see the inside of this church and enjoy the frescoes and art that adorn the inside. After breakfast we depart on a dirt around around Mt. Sajama that takes us to the southern edge of the park onto the paved road between La Paz and Arica, Chile. Our route heads east and crosses the Altiplano via canyons and river valleys and the never-ending Altiplano. We will stop and visit some “chullpas” (funerary towers) on the way north to La Paz.
We should arrive in La Paz in time for a late lunch. After checking-in at Hotel Mitru Sur, you can rest and relax for the rest of the day. The afternoon is FREE for you to enjoy La Paz at your leisure.

Farewell dinner in La Paz
We will get together for a final group dinner at 7 PM at a local restaurant and enjoy one last session of recounting stories of this journey where landscapes, people and wildlife were an integral part of our wet season spectacle on the flooded salar de uyuni. We return to the hotel for rest, before we pick you up for your departure flight back home very early the next morning.

Hotel Mitru Sur (5*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 8

La Paz - Airport transfer day

Based on your flight schedule we will coordinate a departure time from the hotel. The ride from hotel to the airport takes 45 minutes. Domestic flights require 1-hour arrival before departure and international flights require 3 hours arrival before departure. We will coordinate your hotel departure time when you arrive back in La Paz.

Hotel: none
Meals included: none.

End of Sergio Photo Tours services.

As per the itinerary:
  1. hotels,
  2. meals as noted (B,L,D)
  3. private transport
  4. bi-lingual guides
  5. airport transfers
  6. decades of experience and local knowledge
*International airfare is NOT included in price
Please wait...

In order to make a reservation for a photo tour you can either fill in the form found in "BOOKING" and send it in directly from this website, you can e-mail us directly with any questions or call us. The procedure from beginning to end is roughly the following: 1. Initial contact from you to us via several methods; online form (below), e-mail, postal mail or by phone 2. We respond to your query and send you whatever information you may have asked for 3. You fill out the Trip Application Form and send in a deposit (non-refundable) for a specific tour 4. We acknowledge receipt of Trip Application Form and your deposit and send you a Receipt/Invoice for the balance due 5. We send the general Pre-Departure information packet so you can begin to make preparations (gear, visas, clothing, vaccinations, etc.) 6. You send in final payment (60 days before departure date) and required paperwork (Medical Form, Liability Release, copy of passport, Travel Arrangement Form) 7. We send you the Receipt/Invoice for all payments and any balance due (if any) and final itinerary 8. We communicate with you about any last minute requests or questions you may have 9. We meet you at the starting point of the photo tour 10. We all have a great tour and you make awesome images to cherish forever

YES! Anyone can book a single spot on any tour group at any time. These prices reflect the cost for one person, based on the total number of fully-paid people booked on a trip. If you have more people in your group and/or if the total number of people rises, the cost per person goes down. These prices are NOT based on a person or complete group bringing in a set amount of people on a tour

Final group size / price tier will be known 60 days before departure

Yes. You can check the current price tier for any group at any time. Every time we have a new booking we will update the price tier. The same goes if somebody cancels the trip.