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Trip Report

North of Chile and Bolivia

2 weeks discovering the beautiful landscapes of Atacama and Bolivia

by julien2012mjAtlasGuru Contributor

South AmericaChile, Bolivia9 days / January 2019

Highs & Lows

The unforgettable sunrise at Salar de Uyuni

Bolivia can get rainy a lot and north Chile is expensive

Itinerary Overview

I arrived in San Pedro coming from Santiago de Chile. I was beginning my trip and had in mind to go after that to Uyuni Bolivia crossing the border.

 There's a lot to see in San Pedro. I began by doing a free walking tour to discover more about the city's history and traditions. The guide told us a lot about the creation of the city and how the conquistador's arrival changed everything for the indigenous. Somehow they managed to keep on with some of their traditions despite the Catholicism imposed by the invaders: from the cemetery, you'll have a beautiful view of the Licancabur volcano, which was one of their most powerful god.

From San Pedro de Atacama, you can go to many excursions such as the El Tatio geysers which are located in a Valley at approximately 3 hours by bus and at an altitude of 5000 meters. You'll also have the opportunity to go to El Valle de la Luna, a beautiful valley outside San Pedro that looks a lot like the moon landscapes.

After having spent 3 days in San Pedro, we booked a 3 days tour crossing the border to Bolivia through the Eduardo Avaroa National Park to go to the Salar and eventually to Uyuni. We were a group of seven in a pickup with the guide who was also the driver (almost impossible to go there without a guide and driver).

The first day we crossed the border, passing near the Licancabur Volcano and the Laguna Colorada, a beautiful red lake on the way to the desert. We slept in a hostel booked by the travel agency.

On the second day, we hit the road to see some geysers and the "Italian City" which are rocks on the deserts that look like an ancient Italian City. At the end of the day, we stopped by a Salt Hotel (walls, mattresses... everything made with salt) where we slept, near the salted lake.

On the last day, we woke up very early to cross the salted lake, and most of all see the sunrise on it. As you can see in the pictures, the sun's reflection on the thin layer of water is incredible. 

We had a great time in La Paz. Even if it's not the most beautiful city in Bolivia, there's a lot to do there!

We did first a free walking tour to learn more about the city's history and culture. We walked in the city center where we saw the typical bars and restaurants, the "plaza" and the town hall where you can see the reverse clock promoted by late president Evo Morales.

Furthermore, we also went to the teleferico, the city's cable car, to see La Paz from above. It's the highest capital in the world, so it was definitely worth it.

On our last day in La Paz, we booked a tour with a travel agency (Extreme Downhill) to ride a bicycle through the death road, a now-closed to vehicles road very famous for the landscape and its dangerous curbs. It was once dangerous for cars, but it's very safe on a bicycle, don't worry!

  • 3 Nights: San Pedro de Atacama
  • 3 Nights: Uyuni
    The Salar de Uyuni
  • 3 Nights: La Paz
    History, culture and on the road to go to Peru

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    I would have spent more time every where, there's so much to discover !

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    Be careful with the altitude, remember to always bring with you water Of course for security reason watch your personal belongings

  • Packing tips?

    It can be very rainy and cold in La Paz, so don't forget warm clothes

  • Booking details?

    Hostelworld can be very useful to book hostels. To book I highly recommend to use booking's sites just to find the names of hostels or hotels, then find the number to contact them directly (searching for it on a browser) so that you do the reservation directly without paying in advance. You can contact hostels on WhatsApp, since it is used a lot in South America