Actually there are two trains that go from Oruro To Uyuni...so far i know that the train companies are: EXPRESO DEL SUR AND WARA WARA. the first is a little bit expensive but much more confortable. and the go to Uyuni every tuesday and friday. they departs from the train station in oruro at 15:30 and arrives in uyuni at 22:30. if you one further info about the train schedule click down...i put the site where it`s written some more info.
The couches are confortable they have 2 the executive and salon. the first is more expensive indeed. but salon is ok as well. i had the chance to travel from oruro to villazon (the border to argentina) on salon and it was not bad.
I`m looking fro the web side so i will be able to write down as well.
There are several buses to and from Uyuni, and trains too.
I found the Lonely Planet not very updated about transportation. You can get more information asking the agencies in Avenida Arce.
The bus trip from Potosì lasts about six hours, when you are not involved in bus accident on the road. We had to wait the police, in the middle of nowhere, for more than two hours, but it was a good occasion to observe people and to talk with them. Also, I could take my time just to sit and let my sight follow a curve after a curve after a curve after a curve...
For there are a lot of people travelling from Potosì to Uyuni, I would suggest to book in advance (at least a few hours), but I felt a bit unconfortable after six hours in my seat looking at some locals who had to stand all the time in the aisle, since there were no seats left. Why didn’t I share my seat with one of them?? Why??
Both in Uyuni and in San Pedro de Atacama numerous agencies offer the trip. The reasonable prices include also all meals and the accommodation. But it is advisable to take also some extra drinks with you.
The cars are 4X4 off-road vehicles and carry usually 6 passengers.
Both starting points of the tour, Uyuni and San Pedro de Atacama are reached by bus. Uyuni has connections with La Paz, Oruro and Potosi (most of the buses are going during the night) while San Pedro is reached from Chile via Calama and from Salta and Jujuy in Argentina.
All the travel agencies that offer the tour of Uyuni use this kind of four wheel cars. they are really strong to support such dirt roads that they go through. as you can see in the pic they are carrying the luggages and some gas for the meals and they can take 6 passengers.
There are numerous operators offering tours of the Salar de Uyuni. Tonito is one of the more popular and for good reason, they are dependable and great value. We saw a lot of stranded trucks out there and some crazy drivers too. Our guide got us from one place to the next in dependable if unspectacular fashion. It is a four day/three night tour and includes all your meals, accomodation, and travel through this beautiful but hostile environment. I can't imagine doing it on your own and it would probably be more expensive anyway. The tours are about $80, not bad for four days, huh? You can book it in La Paz at Sargarnaga 189 Office 9 (their local outlet)
Just in case you are thinking of driving your old Civic around, here is what the "roads" look like and there are NO signs at all. To reach Uyuni, you can take an overnight train but it only leaves on certain days and it does not go all the way through. The bus is another option though I will admit it was one of the worst bus trips we had on our trip. The first bus is pretty good and we saw the most amazing sunset of all our travels from it. We had to change at a reportedly dangerous bus terminal in Oruro but we stuck together as a little group of gringos, some watching the backpacks as the others went and got egg sandwhiches and fries topped with sausages. The bus from Oruro to Uyuni was very cramped so it was hard to get any sleep on it. It was a good thing that Tonito Tours let us sleep in their downtown office upon our arrival at 3 am! On the way back to La Paz, we went to Potosi and from there you can get a more luxurious bus back to La Paz, well worth the diversion as well as money.
You can or visit for a day the border of the salar or do a tour of three or four days travelling through the whole lake, visiting the "laguna verde" and the "laguna colorada" and as well the "isla pescado", all very beautiful places....(all though I haven´t seen them all personally I can say that after watching so much pitures of friends, documental reports in tv and so on. I didn´t have the time to do the long tour unfortunately. Also it´s possible to go through the salt lake and go directly to Chile (don´t have to return to Uyuni).
I have taken the bus from La Paz to Oruro and the train from Oruro to Uyuni twice (2003 and 2006). The first time Fremen Tours made the arrangements and the second time was by Zig-Zag Eco Tours and Treks (there are references to both in my General tips on Bolivia). The bus to Oruro takes 3 hours and the train from there 7 hours. I heard that the bus ride from Oruro to Uyuni is 4 hours longer. The train was not fancy but it was comfortable. It had restrooms and even a movie on the TV. You may also purchase snacks. The cost of the train was included in my tour package each time, so I don't know exactly what it was; however, Lonely Planet says that the express train is US$5-10 depending on whether you get salon or executive. Be sure to note that the express trains only run a couple of days a week (Lonely Planet 2004 says Expreso del Sur on Monday and Friday, and the Wara Wara del Sur on Wednesday and Sunday).
El "viaje" empieza cuando sales de Potosí con rumbo a Uyuni , hay que cojer un autobús que tarda más de siete horas en llegar y todo el trayecto es por carretera de tierra
El bus tampoco es una maravilla , calor , mucha gente , algunos mascando coca todo el viaje ( que se lo pregunten a Nieves )pero los paisajes y sitios por los que se pasan son impresionantes , secos , duros e inmensos
The "Travel" starts when you leave Potosí to go to Uyuni , you must take a bus that takes more than seven hours and all the way you go in a dirty road
The bus is not marvellous , heat , many people , some of them chewing coca all the way (You may ask to Nieves ) but the landscapes and the places you pass are impressive , dry , hard and immense
El Salar es completamente plano y por él se desplazan los todo terreno completamente libres sin limitaciones ni caminos
Da un cierto repelús pues la sal se asemeja a la nieve y da la sensación de que se va a derrapar , pero según el conductor se agarra perfectamente
(No se lo que pasará cuando llueva y se ponga pastosa la sal)
The Salar is completely flat and the 4x4 are moving on it free without roads limitations
You feel a bit nervous as the salt looks like the snow and you think that you will skid , but according to the driver it grabs to the salt perfectly
(I do not know what is happening when it rains and the salt becomes sticky)
I started out this trip from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Similar trips can be organized from Bolivia of course, with Uyuni and Tupiza being the most famous start-off points. The advantage of starting from San Pedro is that you get to do the circuit in reverse - which means saving the best (the Salar) for last. The disadvantage is that there is a steeper altitude gain in a short time, sometimes leading to altitude sickness problems. If doing this trip from San Pedro, allow at least 2-3 days to acclimatize in San Pedro. Taking the high altitude tours in San Pedro before going into Bolivia also helps a lot to acclimatize. Another disadvantage of starting the tour from San Pedro de Atacama is that it is more expensive than purchasing the trip from Bolivia.
I organized my trip via Cordillera Traveller as it had the best overall reviews, though it was the most expensive option - we had no problems at all with them and we were very satisfied. The tour cost us 175USD for 4 days and 3 nights, starting from San Pedro and ending in San Pedro in Chile. They also have an office in Uyuni, Bolivia.
There are many tour operators out there, and all have good and bad reviews, with none of them getting consistent good ones, so it will always be a matter of luck
Be careful when choosing Tour Groups. Actually they are pretty much all the same. they all have similar cars and stay at bare minimum hostels. The only separation comes down to the food. I booked with Licanbur but they packaged me into Olivio to get max people in car (common among Uyuni tour groups). Olivio sucked in food. For our tour driver was cook which wasn´supposed to happen. we had 2 cans of tuna for 7 people our 1st meal. 3rd day i had the worst spaghetti in my life. Meanwhile, some other tour companies had a seperate cook that made food fresh. I heard ANDREA tours was good, they had a cook, brought out a table with chairs while we had to eat out the back of the trunk and their tour was $5 cheaper!!!!
There are 3 main places from where you can get to Uyuni:
Oruro - from Oruro there is a train that goes to Uyuni. There are also buses going from Oruro to Uyuni.
Potosi - from Potosi there is a bus that goes to Uyuni through beautiful sceneries. Since Potosi is definitely a city worthwhile visiting, this is my favorite option.
Villazon - from Villazon (near the border with Argentina) there is a train that goes to Uyuni. There are also buses that go from Villazon to Uyuni.
I took the overnight bus to Uyuni. I was not a very pleasant bus ride, the bus is not one of the comfortable sort and does get cold, so pack something. We arrived very early in the cold morning at Uyuni. I have no reports on how the train ride is.