This is a user contribution:
Guys, I have to write this to warn everyone about the experience we had yesterday with bus company Trans Salvador going from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni so that no one else has to experience what we experienced.
This bus ride was the absolute ride from hell and my Boyfriend and I were genuinely terrified for our lives at multiple points of the trip.
PLEASE DO NOT TRAVEL WITH THIS COMPANY EVER. It is not worth risking your life for the cheap price. That is why we traveled with them but it was the worst decision of our entire trip to date.
So much happened that was horrific during this trip but here are the main points:
– We had to change bus at Calama which was not part of the plan as the bus was meant to be direct.
– We set off into the desert on the new bus which was literally boiling hot inside, like 35 degrees C. There were babies, children and elderly who were sweltering and suffering in the heat.
– The bus was traveling at 15MPH on the motorway which was weird to start with but then we started to notice the black smoke coming from the engine and we thought ‘oh shit’.
– 33 miles outside of Calama (which it took us 3 hrs to get there) the bus breaks down. We are now stranded in the middle of the desert.
– This is where it starts to get insane. Everyone on the bus is getting angry / anxious and demanding the driver tells us what is going on, the bus driver is trying to tell us that this is normal and that this is always how they travel! He even said the smoke was just dust. WTF.
– Some of the passengers, including my BF, start calling the police pleading for rescue but they say they can’t do anything. So, they start pressuring the driver to get a new bus. He says he will not get a new bus or call his boss, and he won’t turn around and go back to Calama.
– The bus starts to move but quickly breaks down again. Everyone is getting VERY upset at this point and pressure the driver to call the owner of the company. The owner says they will send a new bus from UYUNI! Which is over 5 hours away. The passengers demand they send a bus from Calama so we wait 1.5 hours for the new bus in the midday desert heat.
– The new bus arrives and it doesn’t have enough seats for everyone so 10 people are now standing/sitting in the aisle. Which is completely illegal.
– We finally, after over 7 hours, make it to the Chilean border. We were left to sit for 1.5 hours with no explanation. When we start asking questions the driver tells us it is because the border is busy. But, we quickly find out from the border guards that it is not the border delaying us but the drivers!
– They only have the papers to exit Chile but not to reenter so they are waiting for the other bus, the broken one, to come back to take us over the border! Everyone is furious. The border is closing in 20 minutes and it is seeming like we may not be able to cross at all. My BF and another guy demand that we cross in our current bus and the drivers finally let us go.
– We cross the Chilean side and then make it to the Bolivian border with 15 minutes to spare before they close for the night. We all just make it across. Bare in mind if we hadn’t of made it we would have had to drive back to Calama.
– At this point, it has been 12 hours that we have been on this bus. We have not been provided any water or food so everyone is rationing what they do have and sharing with the children. Who are obviously all very upset.
– We make it across the border just in time. From here we had the most terrifying 5-hour drive to Uyuni. The roads are made of dirt and are filled with holes. Instead of driving carefully our driver is going way too fast. My BF and I are at the very back of the bus and at one point we hit a big hole or bump, the impact was so hard I flew out of my seat and hit my head on the ceiling! The bus felt like it was about to tip over as the driver swerved to a holt. Of course, there are no functioning seatbelts at all.
– Everyone was at breaking point now but there was nothing we could do. We just had to sit there and hope that we made it safely to Uyuni. A couple more scary driving moments and not a wink of sleep we make it to Uyuni at 1am. This is 10 hours later than we were meant to arrive!!!!
TLDR: Overall, the bus drivers were lying a**holes. They repeatedly lied to everyone the entire drive. The conditions on the bus were inhumane, especially to the children onboard. We honestly feared for our lives when we were driving at night. We BARELY made it across the border due to a broken bus.
This was just the worst travel experience I have ever had. I honestly felt like a prisoner on this bus, my life in the hands of people who don’t give a flying f*ck about the safety of their passengers.
Please, I am begging you, DO NOT RIDE WITH THIS COMPANY. I am traumatized by the whole experience. Find another way to get to Uyuni from San Pedro. It is not worth saving the cash at the risk of your life.
Things like this can happen very often, and the reason is that cheap services ultimately costs a lot more. Go prepared and spend those extra bucks, we always suggest that it’s better to rent a car than taking a bus and these kind of problemas happening that make you lose 5 or 6 hours. By Renting a car you get to make it safely and your vehicle is inspected and maintained by professionals.