My fiance and I spent a long time researching the Salar de Uyuni tour agency options, and finally booked with Red Planet (which has the best overall score) with some anxiety- we specifically asked Not to have Gonzalez as our guide. We were soon made very happy with our choice. Our guide Oscar was extremely energetic, friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, and speaks excellent English. Our driver Ronald spoke little English but was also unfailingly friendly, helpful, and conversational to the extent allowed by our Spanish- and very importantly, he was a 100% sober and safe driver.
Our tour stopped at many impressive attractions, including the train graveyard, salt mining sites, Isla Incahuasi, several gorgeous flamingo-filled lagoons, volcanoes, rock formations, thermal cauldrons, and hot springs (along the way we saw many llamas and vicunas, as well as an andean fox). At every stop, we were given an in-depth explanation, time to ask questions, and plenty of time to walk around/explore/take pictures. On the salt desert, Oscar spent 1-2 hours helping us take the famed perspective pictures. One thing we really appreciated about the itinerary of the tour is that our group often visited sites well before or after the other agncies' tour groups, so the sites weren't swarmed with people. One highlight was our nighttime visit to the hot springs, which are right next to the second night's salt hostel, so you can soak under the stars before bed. Only our group and one other was there at the time, but the next morning as we were leaving we saw about five or six groups crowded into the springs- it did not look very relaxing.
The food was always surprisingly good; we have been travelling S. America for ten months and have learned not to expect much from tour food, but all our meals on this tour had protein, grains, fruits, veggies, beverage choices, sweets, and best of all, flavor. Accommodation was also better than expected; we bundled up like Eskimos to go to bed, only to end up stripping down from heat; both hostels provide three very thick blankets per bed, and Red Planet provides sleeping bags, plus a hot water bottle on the second night (included in the tour price).
Overall this tour constituted three of the best days of our entire trip and we would absolutely recommend it to anyone. Red Planet may charge a bit more than other agencies, but it is worth every penny. Tour agency aside, the Salar is simply unmissable; sometimes it feels like another planet.. However you end up getting there, be sure to go!
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