Uyuni a small town situated in the middle of nowhere. It originally blossomed as a railroad junction, and even if this is still an important aspect, no doubt is tourism now its main source of prosperity. What would otherwise be a fairly dull stopover en route between Salta, Argentina and La Paz or Potosí, has become absolutely mandatory on this leg of the gringo trail. The sole reason: salt flats, the world's biggest.
It is an important transport hub, being the location of a major railway junction. Four lines join here, respectively from La Paz (via Oruro), Calama(in Chile), Potosí, and Villazón (on the Argentine border, where the line now ends).
Uyuni is connected by road to Oruro - La Paz, Sucre, Villazón (border withArgentina) and Ollagüe, Chile.
The city is also served by the Joya Andina Airport. Currently, two local airlines are flying regularly to the city from La Paz,Sucre and Rurrenabaque: Amazonas and Transporte Aéreo Militar.
HOW TO GO
Plan to arrive a day or two before you intend to depart on a salt flat tour, especially if there are only 2 of you. That gives the chance to meet other travellers, thus a larger group has more bargaining power for the 'daily rate'.
The company TAM has flights every monday and friday. For example, in Sept 2012, departures from Uyuni to La Paz at 9am and 10.20am on mondays and 8:50am and 11:25am on Friday.
Amaszonas is now servicing Uyuni. For example, in Sept 2012, departures from Uyuni to La Paz at 7.10 am and/or 11.15am for 869 Bolivianos (127USD). Takes 45 to 60 min.
You will need 12-15 hours from La Paz, by bus. The bus ride can be bitterly cold in winter - travellers have been known to sit in their sleeping bags on the night bus from Oruro to Uyuni. With other options (Todo Tourismo,Trans Omar and Panamerica Sur) you must change buses in Oruro to get to La Paz.
There are several buses daily to and from Potosí (4 hours, 30 Bs.), from there you can go one to Sucre (3 hours more). There is also a nightly bus to Sucre leaving at 9 p.m., arriving at 3:30 a.m., for 60 Bs.
Beware however, companies such as Transporte 11 de Julio have been known to cancel buses without notice, and without even opening their office to explain. As of June 2014, beware of companies such as Flecha Bus selling "direct" tickets to Sucre, when the bus reaches half-way in Potosi, the bus driver claims the service ends there and will try and make you go all the way by taxi, this is a scam, you should ask for ALL your money back from the bus driver and get a taxi if you´re stuck in Potosi to Sucre(3hrs about 40B each).
Many daily departures around 5:30 - 6:00 AM for Tupiza, stopping halfway for lunch in Atocha, 7-8 hours, 60 Bs. Three days a week there are 9 AM departures, and occasionally a Land Cruiser departs 6-7 PM, -ask around. Although the train is definitely smoother, and somewhat faster, this bus ride offers terrific views.
Trains of Ferroviaria Andina [www.fca.com.bo] run south to Villazon on the Argentinian border, stopping inTupiza and Atocha. Northbound trains go to Oruro. The formerly existing train connection to Calama,Chile has been discontinued. The views from Oruro to Uyuni are interesting - the train goes over the Poopó lake (with flamingos), then over the altiplano (terrain and towns are quite depressing), you can see nice sunset on the way. Expreso del Sur (better class) trains leave from Oruro on Tuesdays and Fridays at 15:30 and arrive 22:30 to Uyuni. You can select executive and 2nd class (Bs 56) tickets in Expresso del Sur. It's best to buy the tickets, i.e., 5 days in advance to have a seat - for this you may contact the company offices in La Paz. The other Train Wara Wara leave Oruro on Sundays and Wed at 7pm and arrive in Uyuni at 2:30 am.