Salar de Uyuni is the most visited destination in all of Bolivia. Maybe that’s because you have to visit twice! The stunning region offers two distinct landscapes depending when you visit. Deciding which time of year to visit the Salar de Uyuni depends on which Salar you want to experience…
The Dry Season
For most of the year, the southern Altiplano is relatively dry. Rain may fall periodically throughout the year but for the most part it remains dry and cold. The blinding sun is reflected off the vast stretches of white salt, and winds can reach violent speeds. Without water hindering the path, the Salar can be crossed with ease (though with some time), reaching all the most popular sites; Incahuasi Island, The Galaxy Caves, Coquesa and Tunupa can be reached without much trouble at all.
These sites are popular destinations during the dry season. The sheer volume of white makes for some great pictures, including the usual perspective photo which has become a must when visiting the region. The geometric patterns that form on the flat expanse are still not fully understood, yet offer a beautiful example of the region’s uniqueness.
The pictures you can take at at Incahausi Island and Tunupa are stunning and only really doable during the drier seasons. If these and other attractions are something you really want to experience, then a dry Salar de Uyuni is the one for you; from about April to December the Salar remains relatively dry and accessible.
The Wet Season
Between December to about the end of March or mid-April marks the wet season in the Uyuni Salt Flats. This means a large accumulation of rain water on the terrain, and a truly spectacular natural vista. In some parts of the Salar, more than a meter of water can collect, making it impossible for a vehicle to traverse the region; unable to reach the more desirable destinations. However, the views afforded by the rain are some of the most beautiful in the world. The mirroring effect of the water results in the striking illusion of there being two skies, two sunsets and two sunrises. Most tours will travel along the coast of the Salar during the wet season, not venturing into the salty waters of the region itself. Still, the views available by the water make a suitable compromise to not seeing the other sites in the area.
No view can compare to the Salar at dusk, regardless of the season. The seemingly endless sky and flat region combined with the colorful display of a beautiful sunset is hard to put in to words. However, the wet season offers some truly exceptional illustrations of the region’s natural beauty. The colors of the sky above meet with their reflections on the stretches of glass-like water underneath, giving way to a view comparable to no other.
With relatively warmer temperatures, the summer months in the southern Altiplano are still fairly cold and, of course, wet. Deciding which time to visit Salar de Uyuni is paramount in determining which beautiful side of the region you wish to experience. From April to December, the salt flat is dry and cold, affording visitors the chance to embark through the white landscape and explore the main destinations of Incahuasi Island, Tunupa and the deserts further south. Traveling into the middle of the Salar offers some very unique views of this lunar landscape.
December to mid-April gives way to an impenetrable Salar, but some of the most beautiful views on earth. The water reflecting the wide open skies above, coupled by an almighty sunset is something available only in this unique section of the globe.