The Bolivian Salt Flats in rainy season

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
9
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
1
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
9
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
8
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
82 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
South America
country
Bolivia
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 50
Time of year visited
February
Primary Tags
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RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
22nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 10% SUMMARY RATING: Unmissable

Summary

We’ve all seen the famous customary silly photos . . . but what I didn’t expect was quite how much fun it would be splashing about taking these customary silly photos!  Right from when you first put your feet in the water to feel the slightly crunchy crystals of the salt beneath you, through to gazing across the water into the distance at this vast temporary sea, its a great experience and an absolute must if in this part of the world

highlights

#1 Feeling the light crunch of the salt hexagons, heptagons and octagons under your feet as you walk off into the distant mirror

#2 Driving about while looking off into the distance of this temporary inland sea

#3 Taking the customary silly photos, which really are rather fun

#4 The train graveyard nearby is worth checking out if you're passing through

Travel Tips

  • Rainy vs Dry Season – the main downside to the rainy season (January to April) is supposed to be roads becoming hard to pass.  We went in February and had no problems in our 4 day 4WD trip all the way from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.  Mainly comes down to if you would rather the white salt or the mirror sea.  There isn’t really a better or worse
  • Most of my tips for the Salt Flats sit within the overall tips I’ve written for the 4 day 4WD trip many take from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.  Follow the link 4WD tour from San Pedro to Salar del Uni for details on that experience
  • Salt Hotels – it would be super cool to stay in one of the salt hotels, especially for things like sunrise, but we only stayed for an afternoon or so and felt like that was enough
  • Take your shoes off for walking through the water.  Its a bit cold but get used to it very quickly and way easier and nicer on feet than wearing hiking boots or flip flops
  • Train Graveyard – nearby there is a train graveyard with many rusty old trains that have been left at the end of the line.  Surprisingly enticing and  worth checking out
  • Uyuni – you’ll likely need to stay in Uyuni for a night.  There was very little there from what we saw, so I wouldn’t spend any longer than needed

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone