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Bus

At the time of research, Uyuni's gleaming new bus terminal was complete and awaiting the official sign-off for bus companies to begin operating here. All long-distance buses will no doubt depart from the new terminal. There’s a choice of companies to most destinations, so ask around to get the best price, time and service.

Potosí buses leave hourly; for Sucre it's easiest to head to Potosí and change there.

The highway between Uyuni and Oruro is now fully paved, making for quicker and more comfortable journeys as well as a more frequent bus service to Oruro and further north to La Paz.

The safest and most comfortable terrestrial transport to La Paz is with Todo Turismo, which runs a heated bus service, departing daily at 8pm.

At research time, the road south to Tupiza and Villazón was nearly completely paved, cutting journey times. Buses leave at 6am and 8pm daily.

For Calama, Chile, Cruz del Norte buses depart at 5am (B$130, nine hours).

Bus Costs and Distances

Cochabamba

Cost (B$)

130

Time (hr)

10

La Paz

Cost (B$)

100-250

Time (hr)

8-9

Oruro

Cost (B$)

30

Time (hr)

Potosí

Cost (B$)

30

Time (hr)

4

Sucre

Cost (B$)

60

Time (hr)

7

Tupiza

Cost (B$)

40

Time (hr)

5

Villazón

Cost (B$)

50

Time (hr)

6

Plane

The quickest way to get to Uyuni is by flying direct from La Paz to Aeropuerto Joya Andina, 1km north of town.

Amaszonas and Boliviana de Aviación both operate two flights a day to La Paz (from B$700, one hour).

Train

Uyuni has a modern, well-organized train station. Trains take you north to Oruro and south to Villazón. Seats often sell out, so buy your ticket several days in advance or get an agency to do it for you. There are numerous reports of slow trains, cancelled trains and large gaps in service – but that’s all part of the adventure.

At research time, no trains were running south of Uyuni due to damage to the track caused by flooding in the Tupiza area. Repairs were underway to the section north of Tupiza, which suffered less damage. The section from Tupiza to Villazón is expected to take longer to repair.

Depending on size, you may have to check your backpack/suitcase into the luggage compartment. Look out for snatch thieves on the train just before it pulls out.

Expreso del Sur

Expreso del Sur is the slightly more luxurious line, departing Uyuni for Oruro on Thursdays and Sundays at 12:05am and heading south for Atocha, Tupiza and Villazón on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:40pm.

Uyuni to Oruro

Cost (B$ coach/1st class, one-way)

60/120

Arrival time

7:10am

Uyuni to Tupiza

Cost (B$ coach/1st class, one-way)

47/120

Arrival time

3am

Uyuni to Villazón

Cost (B$ coach/1st class, one-way)

72/180

Arrival time

6:05am

Wara Wara

Wara Wara offers a cheaper service that leaves Uyuni on Tuesdays and Fridays at 1:45am for Oruro. On Thursdays and Mondays at 2:50am, it heads south to Atocha, Tupiza and Villazón.

Uyuni to Oruro

Cost (B$ coach/1st class/executive, one-way)

32/47/102

Arrival time

9:10am

Uyuni to Tupiza

Cost (B$ coach/1st class/executive, one-way)

25/38/76

Arrival time

8:35am

Uyuni to Villazón

Cost (B$ coach/1st class/executive, one-way)

38/56/118

Arrival time

12:05pm

Transfers to San Pedro de Atacama

An alternative route to Chile is with an organized tour, which will leave you in San Pedro de Atacama. Some of the tour companies, including Cordillera Tours, offer direct jeep transfers to San Pedro for B$350 per person, via the border crossing at Hito Cajón. The jeeps typically leave at 4pm, there’s a sleepover in Mallcu Villamar, and you arrive in San Pedro at noon the next day.

In winter the road to Hito Cajón is occasionally impassable because of heavy snow. It may be possible to cross the border at Ollague instead; a transfer via Ollague with Cordillera Tours costs B$500 per person, with a night in Villa Alota or Culpina.