Salar de Uyuni - Negative experience with travel agent and tour operator

by Olivier

Dear Sirs, I would like to inform you about a very negative experience my girlfriend and I had on a tour operated by Sol de Manana which was sold to us by Yan's tourism travel agency in La Paz, Bolivia.

We booked a three-day Salar de Uyuni tour in early September and we booked it in La Paz with Yan's tourism travel agency, who in turn works with the tour operator Sol de Manana.

We paid BOB 800 each for this tour and we booked a 4x4 jeep with four other people. We made a very unfortunate experience with the travel agent (Yan's) in La Paz as well as the tour operator (Sol de Manana) in Uyuni.

The travel agent in La Paz misinformed us about the fact that we could only take one big backpack and about sufficient water being provided on the tour (on the evening of day 1 we had to share a bottle of 2 liters between the six of us as an example).

Edith Carlo, who is in charge of the Sol de Manana office in Uyuni, did not come to pick us up at the bus stop when we arrive there, even though this had been promised. She also regularly leaves the office unlocked and unattended, which is where we had to leave one of our large backpacks for the duration of the tour. We found this to be rather disconcerting.

The driver, Franco, who was also our guide, was very rude to us, particularly on the morning of the second day, and he drank while driving, as quite a few of the drivers apparently do.

On the second day just after breakfast at 8.35 AM we were five minutes late because we were finishing packing when he came into our room and started telling us off and shouting at us for several minutes for being late and for making the other group members wait.

When I told him that we would be there in two minutes and asked him to leave, he would not leave us alone and threatened us that he would leave us at the hostel.

We informed him that we would make a complaint about him, which finally made him leave our room.

He then refused to put our bags on top of the jeep and told us we had to put them inside the car, which was not really possible due to the lack of space.

We both found this behaviour completely unacceptable, particularly because he was over 20 minutes late the following morning at 6 AM, which caused us to miss the sunrise at the geysers.

Needless to say, while the landscapes were truly spectacular and we felt like we were on a different planet, neither my girlfriend nor I could fully enjoy the trip after this incident.

Furthermore, we spent two of the three days in the back of the jeep, where the seats are very small and uncomfortable and not suitable for anyone above 1.75m (5ft10). Unfortunately both my girlfriend and I are taller than that and the group as a whole was quite tall.

When we went back to Yan's travel agency the following day to explain our situation, the lady working there refused to help us, give us her name, let us speak to her manager or give us a refund of any kind, even though she had told another couple who we talked to and who also booked the tour with her that Franco the driver was mediocre, so this couldn't have been a complete surprise to her.

We cannot recommend Sol de Manana or Yan's tourism travel agency in any way and I hope you take this into account when you speak to your customers.

Best regards,
Olivier Schalbetter

Submitted 2014-09-09

Photo credit:

Uyuni Home Page   Tourism Home Page   Bolivia Travel Information

Comments for Salar de Uyuni - Negative experience with travel agent and tour operator

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

May 15, 2019
Avoid Residencial la Cabaña
by: Kevin

The hotel Residencial La Cabaña, we stayed at for a few days is not being fair. We had stayed 2 nights and already paid for 3 when we went on a tour. The tour had complications so we were delayed a day. The hotel claims to have held our room (which we vacated) when we went in 3 day tour. The problem is they won't let us stay or give our money back for an empty room. The hotel is not full, so it's just a criminal activity. We had issues a few times with the man at the desk, who shows his anger easily. We simply want refund or to stay the night so we can take the bus the next day. But the OWNER not able to even compromise if we pay MORE.

Jan 14, 2016
Great experience with sol de mañana and their guide Ruben
by: Anonymous

Hi All,

I have just finished a 3 day tour with sol de mañana and have to say I had a great experience. That definitely depends on the driver/guide. If you want a great experience ask for Ruben at Sol de Mañana - what a great person. He has been however referred by a friend who has a done a tour with him before.

If you're looking on the cheap side, save your bucks and choose Sol de Mañana with Ruben.

Auckland, NZ.

Sep 10, 2014
What an awful Uyuni experience
by: Anonymous

I agree with Carol. Most tourists who take the Uyuni tours seem to be the backpacker types and they save up for years to take a really long trek through various countries of South America and this really is the trip of a lifetime for them. And it pisses me off that so many of these Uyuni tour operators have absolutely awful reputations and customer service. From what I understand, Uyuni attracts more tourists to Bolivia than almost any other tourist attractions. You'd think it would behoove the tourism chambers or authorities or someone to make sure the operators aren't screwing that up for Bolivia. Dang!

Sep 10, 2014
Salar tours
by: Carol

A dreadful experience even by the standrds of many tours out of Uyuni. My advice to other travellers would be to book when you reach the town as there are numerous tours leaving every morning. Give yourself a day to talk to fellow travellers who have just returned from a tour though bear in mind that agencies pass tourists round to fill up jeeps. Tours from Tupiza are generally of a higher standard, are 4 days and 3 nights and therefore more expensive. For most of us this is a once in a life time trip so worth paying a little more for a better chance of a good experience.

Sep 09, 2014
Thank you for sharing your Uyuni tour operator review

Thank you Olivier for sharing your story with our website readers. What you experienced is very sad and unfortunate. Reviews like yours are so important to helping ensure others find only trustworthy first-hand information on our website so they can make the best informed decisions for their travel. It was very generous of you to take the time to share about your experience with us.

Thank you,

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Travel Agency Review.