Day 1. La Paz (3663m/12.020ft) Arrival
Today you arrive in La Paz. Flying into La Paz is always an experience; if you arrive at night you can admire the lights of the city between the mountains or during the day you might get a view of the Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake in the world. Once arrived in the International Airport of El Alto, which is also the highest commercial airport in the world, our team will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. After a short briefing, there are no more activities planned and you can take the time to acclimatize to the altitude and explore La Paz on foot.
Day 2. La Paz – Tiwanaku – La Paz - Peña
We leave around 08h30 for our visit of the ruins of Tiwanaku, the capital of the pre-Inca empire. Tiwanaku was one of the oldest civilisations in the world and is recognized by Andean scholars as one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire. We visit the Akapana Pyramid and the semi-subterranean temple as well as the archaeological area where we can see the Temple of Kalasasaya, one of the largest and oldest ceremonial centres of the world. We also visit the famous “Puerta del Sol” (Gateway of the Sun) which is a monolithic structure that weighs about 10 tons. On the Puerta del Sol we can observe the Tiwanakota calendar which is expressed in 365,24 days distributed over 12 months. We visit the archaeological museum where we see the Monolith Bennet which measures 7,20 meters and weighs 20 tons, and we also get an insight in the 13 centuries of history which make Tiwanaku the oldest civilization in Latin America. After our visit of the site we have lunch (not included) in a typical restaurant where we can taste quinoa; the most important grain of the Andes. After lunch, we return to La Paz and in the evening, we go to a local “peña” to enjoy a folkloric dance show.
Day 3. La Paz - Chacaltaya (5300m/17.390ft) – Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley)
After breakfast, we leave to visit Chacaltaya – the highest ski run in the world (now closed due to lack of snow) – only a 1-hour drive from La Paz. From where the car drops us off we only have to climb approx. 200m/656ft to reach the top, from where we have a wonderful view of a big part of the Cordillera Royal in particular the Nevado Illimani, the Huayna Potosi and the Condoriri. We can also observe the Altiplano and the Lake Titicaca and if the weather permits we can also see the clouds over the Yungas (semi tropical part of Bolivia) as well as the volcanoes Sajama (highest summit in Bolivia – 6542m/21,463ft), Parinacota and Pomerata. After lunch (not included) we descend to visit the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) in the southern part of La Paz. Because the area is composed of clay rather than rock, erosion has worn away large parts of the mountain creating impressive formations, that offer us a lunar landscape. We return to the centre around 15h30 and the rest of the day is free.
Day 4. La Paz – Copacabana
We leave the hotel at 07h30 and after approximately 3½ hours we arrive in Copacabana, where we leave our luggage at the hotel. Before lunch we visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana which is a 16th century church that houses the image of the patron saint of Bolivia. The church attracts thousands of local tourists throughout the year and it remains one of the two principal sacred places both for indigenous people and Catholics. After lunch, we have the option to climb to the Calvario from where we have a beautiful view over the lake and the village or climb to Intiwatana or Horca del Inca which is believed to have been an astronomical observatory. If time permits we can visit both the Calvario and the Horca del Inca and the rest of the day is free to enjoy Copacabana.
Day 5. Copacabana – Isla del Sol (Sun Island)
After breakfast, we leave by boat to visit the famous Sun Island (Isla del Sol). We visit the Inca Staircase, the Inca Fountain as well as the ruins of the Palacio de Pilkokaina (“place where the birds rest”). This construction is characterised by its walls and doors that are particularly well conserved. We spend the night in an Eco Lodge in Yumani.
Day 6. Isla del Sol – Copacabana – La Paz
In the morning, we return to the harbour of Yumani (walking down the Inca Staircase) from where we take a boat back to Copacabana. Upon arrival in Copacabana we have time for lunch before returning to La Paz where the evening is free.
Day 7. La Paz - Uyuni – Colchani – Salar de Uyuni – Incahuasi – Cueva de las Galaxias – San Pedro de Quemez
In the morning, you are transferred from your hotel (La Paz centre) to the airport in El Alto for your flight to Uyuni. During the short flight, you can observe the Altiplano and if the weather permits you’ll have a great view of the different lakes and salt flats of the region. You are picked up from the airport and after a short stop in Uyuni we start our tour. The first visit will be the locomotive cemetery, the result of an abandoned project to build a big network of trains out of Uyuni. From here we continue to Colchani which is a small village situated on the edge of the Salar and who’s inhabitants live from salt exploitation. In Colchani we discover how salt is processed manually and we visit the small salt boutique. We now enter the famous Salar de Uyuni; the biggest salt desert in the world with acreage of 10.582km²/4.086mi2. One of the particularities of the Uyuni Salt Flat is that it contains a reserve of 9 million tonnes of Lithium which represents 40% of world production. We head to the Island Incahuasi, a geological formation that is a remnant of petrified coral and is covered with giant cactus that can get up to 12m/39.37ft high. From the top of the island we have a wonderful 360° view of the Salar de Uyuni. After lunch our journey continues in the direction of San Pedro de Quemez and we have the possibility to visit the “Cueva de las Galaxias” which is a strange phenomenon of fossil algae which reminds us that the ocean was present here all the way to Oruro. In the adjacent cave, we can observe the Chullpares which are Inca funerary remains. We climb to the viewpoint from where we have a great view of the desert and if we take a closer look we can also observe the fossil coral that once were part of a coral barrier. After this impressive visit, we continue to San Pedro de Quemez situated at the doors of the Lipez desert. We arrive at San Pedro de Quemez around 16h00 and the evening is free.
*Depending on the season and the weather, the itinerary will change and there are some sights which are not always accessible!
Day 8. San Pedro de Quemez – Salar de Chiguana – Ollagüe Volcano – Siloli Desert – Ruta de las Joyas Alto Andinas (Lagunas Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiar Khota, Honda y Ramaditas) – Stone Tree – Reserva Nacional de la Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa – Ojo de Perdiz
We continue our tour of south Bolivia and from San Pedro de Quemez we pass the Uyuni – Ollagüe railway before crossing the Salar de Chiguana. We observe the still active volcano Ollagüe and even from far we can see its fumarole. We follow the famous Jewel Route which is composed of the Lagunas Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiar Khota, Honda and Ramadita. Today we also visit the Stone Tree (please refrain from climbing on the rock) planted in the middle of the Siloli desert and at the end of the day we enter the Reserva Nacional de la Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa and we arrive at the Laguna Colorada (coloured lake). The name is because of the red colour that is caused by microscopic shellfish and a variety of algae which thrive in the salt water which is the principal nutriment of the rose-coloured flamingos that live in this area. Due to climate changes (lack of rain) and the high evaporation of the Altiplanic basin the water level of the regions Lagunas is reduced rapidly, which year after year unfortunately also reduces the population of the flamingos. Mid-afternoon we leave to get installed in our hotel Ojo de Perdiz and the evening is free.*
* Depending on the season and the weather, the itinerary will change and there are some sights which are not always accessible!
Day 9. Ojo de Perdiz - Laguna Colorada – Geyser de Sol de Mañana – Polques Thermal Spring – Dali Desert – Laguna Verde – Licancahur (5971m/19.590ft) – Villamar – Valle de Rocas – San Cristóbal – Uyuni
We leave the Laguna Colorada to go even deeper into the Reserva Nacional de la Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa. We visit the boiling geysers of Sol de Mañana which is an impressive geothermal field with pits of boiling mud and strong smells of sulphur. Our tour continues in the direction of the thermal bath of Polques, a natural source of hot water where we can go for a swim. We continue through the South Lipez and we observe the “Damas del Desierto” which are enormous rocks planted in this barren landscape and carved by wind and weather over the years. We also cross the Dali Desert, which was named in reverence to the Catalan artist because of the resemblance of the landscape with the unreal yet natural colours, to the masters’ work. We continue to the Laguna Verde and Blanca at the foot of the Licancahur, one of the most southern points in Bolivia. The Laguna Verde gets its green colour from the high concentration of lead, arsenic sulphur and calcium. From the Laguna Verde we start our drive back north. We pass by the small village Villamar which seems lost in the middle of the gigantic Lipez desert before passing by the biggest mining project in Bolivian history at San Cristóbal. We arrive around 18h00 in Uyuni where we spend the night.
* Depending on the season and the weather, the itinerary will change and there are some sights which are not always accessible!
Day 10. Uyuni - Potosi – Visit of the Mines (Cerro Rico)* - Sucre
We leave for Potosi early in the morning and upon arrival we start with a visit to the miner’s market. Custom says it brings good luck to buy Coca leaves, cigarettes, alcohol or even dynamite as presents for the miners who will receive us at their workplace. Once we have finished our purchases we visit one of the mines in the Cerro Rico mountain. The mines here are quite different from western mines, some of them are very old – dug out by hand by the slaves of the Inca Empire and later by African slaves during the Spanish occupation - and very narrow and short (not for claustrophobics). Our visit of the Cerro Rico starts by the “Tio” (uncle) who is the protector of the mines and to whom the miners on many occasions make offerings in order to be protected from bad spells. We visit the 1st level of the mine and have the possibility to descend up to 3 levels below – 500 or 600 m into the depths of the Cerro Rico. After this impressive visit, we return to the hotel to pick up our bags and drive to Sucre. Once installed in the hotel in Sucre the rest of the evening is free.
*The mines are closed on Sundays so if today is a Sunday we will go for a tour of the city instead.
Day 11. Sucre City Tour – La Paz
After breakfast, we visit Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia also called the White City. This gem of Baroque art and the Renaissance is the most European city in Bolivia and probably one of the most beautiful in Latin America. Founded in 1538 by order of Pizarro, Sucre was destined to become the residence and the centre of the Spanish bourgeoisie. From an architectural point of view, Sucre has remained like a postcard of the 19th century which is of course part of its charm. Apart from its beauty and atmosphere of the 18th & 19th centuries, Sucre is also the historic capital of Bolivia. We visit the various museums, the Convento de Santa Clara as well as the Casa de la Libertad, which saw the signing of the Declaration of Independence August 6, 1825 (all visits may vary depending on the day because the museums are closed on Sundays and public holidays). In the afternoon, we are transferred to the airport in Sucre for the flight back to La Paz. Upon arrival in La Paz we are transferred to the hotel and the evening is free.
Day 12. La Paz - City Tour
The morning is free and after lunch, we go for a visit of La Paz. Our first stop is the Plaza Murillo (km 0), where we can see the Presidential Palace, the Parliament and the Cathedral. We visit the colonial street Calle Jaén and the old part of the town from where we continue to the famous church San Francisco which was built by the indigenous people. From here we visit the popular commercial zone of La Paz with its coloured markets and we walk up the Calle Sagarnaga – the main shopping street for typical clothes and handicrafts. From here we also visit the Calle de las Brujas (the Witches street) and our tour ends with a visit to the Indian market San Pedro. The rest of the evening is free to enjoy the last evening in the highest capital in the world.
Day 13. La Paz Departure
According to your time of departure* you are transferred from the hotel to the airport. For international flights, it is recommended to arrive at the airport 3 hours before scheduled departure. End of our services.
Important: Itinerary can change because of weather or social conditions and some sights are not always accessible – Lipiko Tours cannot be held responsible for any changes in itinerary and sights not visited as a result.
Highlights: La Paz Tiwanaku, Chacaltaya, Lake Titicaca, Sun Island, Salar de Uyuni, South Lipez, Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, Potosi, Sucre.
Service - Support Team: English speaking tour leader for the entire tour for groups of 10 people or more. For smaller groups you would have guided visits with a local guide in chosen language, His role is to make sure that everything goes smoothly during the tour and that each individual and the group as a whole are safe. Don’t hesitate to ask him if you are unsure of anything and, very important, to follow his advice.
Departure guaranteed: Group Tour: from 4 people. Individual Tour: from 2 people
Accommodation: 13 nights in hotel.
Porterage: Your luggage will be transported either by plane, car, boat, and bus. You will have to carry the personal belongings (camera, water, etc.) which you need during the day.
Included in the price: - Water, air and land transfers as indicated in the program - Accommodation in hotel/hostel in double rooms, Ecolodge, shelter, home stay, camping, bus and plane as indicated in the program.- Meals as mentioned in the program - The assistance of specialized local English speaking guides, their fees and expenses - The assistance of our local teams; driver(s) and logistics department (24/7) - Visits as outlined in the program
Not included in the price: - Entrance fees to sites visited, national parks and museums as indicated in the program (allow for approx. 500 Bolivianos (Bolivian national currency) per person – this is an estimate and actual prices may vary) - Meals not mentioned, drinks, tips, individual equipment, everything not mentioned in “included in the price” and all personal expenses - Individual obligatory personal travel insurance (this could be included with your credit card – please check with your credit card provider) - The supplement for a single room: 489 USD (subject to availability, must be reserved and paid upon reservation). Attention; no single room available for the nights with accommodation in shelter, home stay and camping. - Possible visa expenses- International flights