Salar de Uyuni or North Chile!

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Salar de Uyuni or North Chile!

Postby whitling2k » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:19 am

Hi

I'm having a bit of difficulty deciding on our itinerary after our GAP tour and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts?

We finish in La Paz in the start of November and I'm thinking of either of the following:

1. Fly La Paz to Arica. spend a few days relaxing in Arica by the sea then experiencing the bus ride to San Pedro, seeing all the volcanic landscapes desert scenery etc

2. Bus/Train from La Paz to Uyuni; tour of salt flats from Uyuni, then bus to San Pedro.

I'm really stuck with what to do - Sea or Salt!!

Any ideas greatly accepted!

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Re: Salar de Uyuni or North Chile!

Postby TravelFun » Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:46 pm

Salt, salt, salt...is the way to go! It will be a unique experience and the salt flats is a crazy landscape which has to be seen to understand. The 3-day drive is fun but be careful of the altitude so do consider taking altitude sickness medication if you haven't acclimatised beforehand. It's a great route from La Paz, across the flats and straight to San Pedro :P

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Re: Salar de Uyuni or North Chile!

Postby whitling2k » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:42 am

Thanks TravelFun.

That's what I'm thinking too! We can get on a European (albeit not Chilean) beach in 2 hours or a Yorkshire beach in 30 minutes from home.

I'm thinking something like Bus from La Paz to Oruro (takes 3 hours or so? Do they run every day?)

Then Train to Uyuni (from http://www.fca.com.bo I think there are 4 trains per week Expresso del Sur on Tuesday and Friday and Wara Wara del sur on Sunday and Wednesday - can anyone that's been there confirm this for me?)

Then book a tour from Uyuni that will drop us off at the Chilean border (is this common practice?)

Then find a way of getting to San Pedro from the border (any ideas?!)

Thanks

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Re: Salar de Uyuni or North Chile!

Postby eric » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:16 pm

Hi,

Based on my GAP tour - Atacama Crossing La Paz (salt) (San Pedro) Santiago:
I think you would need to book to Cross the Salt, AND go onto San Pedro.
The Bolivian border post is "in the middle of nowhere - with almost zero passing traffic!".
Our tour used a Bolivian tour co to drop us at the border post - Bolivian.
(No facilities).
We waited an hour or so for the Chile tour co to drive up, collect us,
take us to the Chile border post - miles away - near San Pedro,
then drop us off in San Pedro.

Word on the street was - booking a salt tour in Uyuni on your own - you may have a few days wait.
Some tour cos were recommended. One or two definately NOT.
So your plan looks good, but you need a bit more rearch.

& remember my earlier note re San Pedro ATMs known to be out of cash days at a time,
have USDs to hand.

Regards

Eric / London / England
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Re: Salar de Uyuni or North Chile!

Postby whitling2k » Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:14 pm

yeah - I've been just about convinced - it's probably going to be the salt!! I won't make my mind up for sure until I'm either lazing on the beach in Arica or gasping in awe at the salt flats and climbing on rusted steam trains.

I rekon I can try go via Oruro then get the train. But if that fails, it's an ideal excuse to call in to Potosi or Sucre and see some of the mines, rather than sitting for days in Oruro waiting for the next train.

There seems however, to be conflicting advice on booking a salt flat tour in Uyuni or La Paz. I've got some friends who have recently done a similar route who booked on a tour in Uyuni and really enjoyed themselves - but they were there in the low season, and I'm sure that pure luck can make the same tour better/worse on different days, as well as peoples expectations.

Both La Paz and Uyuni bookers camps seem pretty adamant that they took the right/wrong option so any recent experiences greatly received!

I've taken your cash advice well and truly on board - going to carry some notes for all the countries before we get there - borders, transfers, first nights in hostels/hotels etc! not huge wads of cash, just enough to get by for a day of two if we need to.

Ta

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