🇧🇴 Discover Bolivia's Hidden Gem: The Intriguing Train Journey from Villazon to Uyuni

Written by Peter Lauffer
March 19, 2024

Most travelers venturing between northern Argentina and the breathtaking Bolivian Altiplano stick to familiar bus routes. But there's a hidden gem for those seeking adventure and an authentic Andean experience – the historic train line from Villazon, right on the border, to the iconic Uyuni Salt Flats and beyond.

A Unique Andean Rail Adventure

This isn't some tourist train. The Villazon-Uyuni-Oruro line is a working railroad, offering a rare glimpse into everyday Bolivian life along one of South America's last long-distance, non-tourist train routes.

Map Ferrobus Villazon-Uyuni-Oruro

Comfort and the Ferrobus

While the famed Wara Wara Express and Expresso del Sur (with their cozy dining cars) are missed, the Ferrobus provides a comfortable, if less luxurious, journey. As of March 2024, it departs Tupiza every Thursday afternoon, reaches Uyuni around midnight, and arrives in Oruro on Friday morning. The return trip is on Monday nights. Remember, there are reliable buses between Villazon and Tupiza.

Breathtaking scenery near Tupiza

Remarkable Stops Along the Way

  • Tupiza: Soak in the warmth of this classic Bolivian town. Consider a side trip to Tarija, Bolivia's wine heartland, for a taste of excellent local vintages.
  • Atocha: Experience the rugged charm of this mining town, surrounded by awe-inspiring volcanoes.
  • Uyuni: Don't miss the Train Cemetery and the historic mining center of Pulacayo.
  • Uyuni Salt Flat: A Spectacular White Plateau. Uyuni boasts the world's largest salt flat – a vast, incredibly flat expanse of white stretching as far as the eye can see.  This awe-inspiring landscape is even visible from space!  

Beyond Uyuni: Crossing into Chile

From Uyuni, embark on a thrilling 3-day 4x4 adventure into the high deserts and across the Andes to reach San Jose de Atacama in Chile. Work with reputable tour operators for this unforgettable journey.

Uyuni Railway Station

Travel Tips

  • Freezing Nights: Be prepared for Uyuni's chilly nights. Book your hotel and arrange a station pickup in advance!
  • Railfan Bonus: Spend a night in Uyuni's unique "Wagon Sleepbox Hotel" made from converted railcars (
  • Oruro: This large mining town bursts into color for its famous Carnival in February. From here, a scenic road leads to Arica, Chile's northernmost city.
Railway Hotel Uyuni Station


Timetable (March 2024): Use this as a guide, but confirm departure times locally.


  • Dep. Villazon 14:30*
  • Arr. Tupiza 17:20*
  • Dep. Tupiza 18:10
  • Arr. Atocha 21:40
  • Dep. Atocha 21:55
  • Arr. Uyuni 00:03
  • Dep Uyuni 01:00
  • Arr. Oruro 07:55


  • Dep. Oruro 21:30
  • Arr. Uyuni 04:23
  • Dep. Uyuni 06:00
  • Arr. Atocha 08:08
  • Dep. Atocha 08:28
  • Arr. Tupiza 11:43
  • Dep. Tupiza 13:23*
  • Arr. Villazon 16:30*
  • Important Note:  The Ferrobus currently does not reach Villazon, ending its journey in Tupiza. Public buses offer reliable connections between Villazon and Tupiza.
Timetable Train Villazon-Uyuni-Oruro 2024
Get inspired by some photos of this amazing trip:
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