Book the best bus tickets from La Paz to Uyuni

Reviewed

on: 2023-08-03

by: Alice Silva

Quick Facts

  • Duration

    9 hours 00 minutes

  • Rating

  • Experience

    Museums, cultural encounters, salt flats

  • Best Price best price for a bus from La Paz to Uyuni

    USD $ 27

  • Maximum comfort or class

    Good

  • Departures

    6 Daily Departures

  • Recommended by

    847 travelers

Price may fluctuate due to seasonal demand and other market-driven and regulatory events.

Bus from La Paz to Uyuni

La Paz, Bolivia

Taking a bus from La Paz to Uyuni must be one of the most popular routes in the Bolivian altiplano (the high plains that spread across much of the Andean range). This route will take you from 3800 meters above sea level to 4200 at some points, so you can experience both the altitude and desert-like serenity of the Bolivian altiplano. Although it is not technically a desert, the types of plants that grow at this altitude have adapted intelligently to the climate that includes frost, snow, rain, and hurricane winds, so they are no larger than 50 cm in many cases, making it often look like inhospitable terrain even though many people in fact live and work in it.

Despite the adverse conditions, these territories have witnessed the rise and fall of the world's greatest and oldest civilizations. Many of these settlements have existed since before the Incas, and today, both the Quechua and Aymara peoples are proud of their ancient heritage.

The bus trip from La Paz to Uyuni will give you the perfect opportunity to witness how nature, climate, and culture have coexisted in peace for thousands of years, and the native peoples of the area will make you understand the importance of respecting Pacha Mama (roughly translated to mean “mother earth” in Quechua) while traveling.

About the buses in Bolivia

Buses in Bolivia can be of varying quality, but nonetheless are dependable. You will find on one end of the spectrum buses that carry everything and everyone, including animals, to on the other end sleeper buses, known as "leito". This name is also used in Brazil, so it is not surprising that it is an imported term, as are most of the buses available in the Andean country. Bolivian drivers are used to driving long distances, as this is a country where cities are several hours away from each other.

If you travel on the "regular" buses between April and August, it will be common to see people using a blanket to protect themselves from the cold, as these are winter months in the southern hemisphere when temperatures drop to below 0 degrees. During this season, we recommend you to be prepared to protect yourself from the Andean chill at night. June and July are the coldest months of the year, so traveling by bus from La Paz to Uyuni is best considered a daytime trip when the sun is out, even though it takes much longer because the only direct buses are at night.

If, on the other hand, you travel in "leito" sleeping cars, you will be more comfortable from the start.  However, don't expect the exact comforts offered in Chile, Peru, or Argentina with food on board, or seat service with terramozas (onboard trip attendant) as in Chile. The VIP buses in Bolivia do offer you the option of larger seats, heating, and air conditioning, and a WiFi internet connection that works mostly closer to metropolitan cities. The best advantage of these buses is that their schedules are quite consistent, so you will have no problem planning your trip in advance. Many locals prefer these buses for their relative comfort so it is a good idea to reserve your seat in advance.

How to get to the Uyuni Salt Flats from La Paz

You can take the bus from La Paz, where there are several departures during the day to Uyuni, that involve transfers in Oruro or Cochabamba. You can also take a bus trip from La Paz to Uyuni at night, due to the availability of services focused on locals looking to do business in Uyuni and needing to save on accommodation hospedajes. There are currently six departures at night from La Paz direct to Uyuni, which only take 9-10 hours.

When you arrive to Uyuni from La Paz, explore the town a bit to see the available tour options for visiting the Salt Flats. We recommend booking a tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats in advance because you will find a myriad of options in Uyuni and it will be good to know which provider offers the best price and benefits. For travelers on a tighter budget, head to the Uyuni terminal and take a bus to Llica, which passes through the Salt flats. A $5 trip will let you see the Flats. If you pay a little more directly to the driver of these small buses, you can ask him to stop for photos, but after about 2-3 minutes, you will be back on the road to Llica. If on the other hand, your intention is to take it easy, have a picnic in the salt flats, and see rock formations and salt around, a shared tour will be your best option.

How long does the bus from La Paz to Uyuni take?

The distance between La Paz to Uyuni is about 540km and it might take up to 10 hours, depending on road conditions or how long it stops for servicing. The best practice to keep yourself busy while traveling is to read some books. If you are not a good reader, then you can listen to music or watch a movie (either on your own player or a movie that the bus driver has chosen and will be playing on a common overhead screen). If you are traveling with someone special, bus travel is a great time for talking through topics you've put off, reviewing past events of the trip, or doing some rethinking about your itinerary.

What does it cost to travel from La Paz to Uyuni?

The bus ticket from La Paz to Uyuni can cost between $27 and $39.

There are several factors that can affect the price:

When you go

Fridays, Sundays and holidays are usually more expensive. Bus tickets between La Paz to Uyuni are usually cheaper from Monday to Thursday, so take that into account when choosing dates.

When you book

Booking in advance is always recommended since seats are limited, and the earlier you make your reservation, the more availability you will have.

Which Bus Carrier you Choose

There’s a difference between the quality of buses in Bolivia, and you will notice that in the fare. You get what you pay for! Services between La Paz to Uyuni are normally good, but if you want a more comfortable experience - like climate control, reclining seats, and  toilets - you’ll spend a bit more. 

New Private Shuttle Service

If the bus is not for you and you want a private option that can pick you up directly from your hotel in La Paz and on your own schedule, you can arrange a private transfer to take you the faster eight-hour distance. You can, of course, stop when you want to take photos, grab something to eat, or just stretch your legs. Private reservations start at $420 for two persons and are a great choice when you want to have maximum control over how and when you get to Uyuni.

Things to do in Uyuni and around

La Paz, Bolivia

1. The Train Cemetery

The train cemetery is a complex of abandoned trains located a few kilometers southwest of the city of Uyuni and blended into the bleak natural environment of the salt flats. The cemetery is said to be the largest railway cemetery in the world and stems from the fact that in nineteenth century, Uyuni served as an important transportation connection between Bolivia and Antofagasta Chile. The railway lines served to transport minerals such as tin, silver and even gold. The cemetery is open 24 hours a day.

2. Polques Hot Springs

The presence of hot springs are the result of geothermal and volcanic activity in the middle of this icy desert region. Here surrounding the Polques volcano there are salt lakes, geysers and several natural pools.

The Polques Hot Springs is a destination located more than 4000 meters above sea level, so the temperature of the place is generally cold, reaching 10 degrees below zero and 20 degrees above zero at most. The bravest visitors can enjoy the pleasurable sensation of a dip in hot springs that are at an average temperature of 29 degrees Celsius, but be careful: when you get out of the water you must dry off and cover yourself well to prevent the shock of cold.

Nearby this site there are different types of lodgings that offer a pleasant stay. From Uyuni take National Route 5 and then route 701 towards the border crossing with Chile, “Hito Cajones”.  Route 701 crosses the Eduardo Avaroa Reserve and from there it is possible to take the road that leads to the hot springs of Polques. Due to the fact that most of the road is dirt and sand, it is advisable to enter with a 4x4 vehicle.

3. Cañapa Lagoon

The Cañapa Lagoon is a saltwater lagoon located in the department of the department of Potosi, Bolivia, next to the Hedionda Lagoon and surrounded by three volcanoes: Caquena, Tapaquillcha and Cañapa. Laguna Cañapa has an approximate area of 1.42 square kilometers, and is located at an altitude of 4140 meters above sea level.

The Cañapa Lagoon has a beautiful emerald shade to the water that like a mirror reflects the surrounding Andean flora. The shores of the lagoon have white edges due to the salty remains of the water.

In the lagoon you will possibly observe a flock of flamingos looking for food and strolling calmly through the cold waters, and you might also see some wild ducks, Andean gulls, wild vicuñas and if you are lucky some vizcachas (Andean rabbits).

Access to this area is by 4x4 vehicles accompanied by authorized tour operators.

4. Tunupa Volcano

Coquesa is a settled community of approximately 40 Aymara families located on the slopes of the isolated and dormant Tunupa volcano. Here you can find a museum of the Tunupa Mummies (Chullpas) who were buried some time around 1200 BC. Coquesa has improved its hotel services for community tourism, and the stay in the Hostal de Sal Coqueza is simple but cozy, with excellent food.

The ascent to the summit of Tunupa, at an altitude of 5200 m, offers spectacular views of the Salt Flats. At the top you can see not only the magnificence of this place, but other peaks such as the Sajama and the Nevados de Payachata. Go with highly qualified guides who along the way will tell you about the Aymara oral traditions, the legends about this volcano, and the emergence of the Salar de Uyuni or Tunupa itself.

Conclusion

You will not be disappointed going out of your way to visit Uyuni, the city that will connect you to the popular salt flats.  It is often cited as the favorite and most beautiful place in the country by the tourists who are earnest enough to make the trip there. Get started by reserving now.

Route Map

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where is the bus terminal in Uyuni?
Bus terminals are usually within the city but the departure location is set by the bus company.
What is the going price for a bus ticket from La Paz to Uyuni?
Currently about USD $27, but you should check often as the price will fluctuate with currency exchange rates and supply and demand pressures caused by seasonal change or holidays.
Are the buses direct from La Paz to Uyuni?
Yes, the ones at night. The only stops they make are for required service breaks. Daytime buses are not direct and require you to make connections in other cities, so just plan on some layover time of a few hours if you choose a daytime departure.
What are the ticket policies?
It depends on the carrier you choose, but their specific policies can be previewed during checkout or in the summaries printed on your ticket email. For a general overview, see the Ticket Policy page.

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