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.
After breakfast we drive to the heart of the Royal Cordillera to the small Aymara village Tuni where we are greeted by the families of the community and we have the chance to discover the way of life of this small indigenous village which make their living from the breeding of Lamas, agriculture and the mountains. A local guide takes us on a visit to the families and we can test our skills at weaving through the valuable advice of the women. Depending on the season we are offered a selection of activities; we can go trout fishing in one of the Lagunas at the foot of the Condoriri, help with the sowing or harvesting, preparation of local ice cream or Huatia (very ancient way of cooking), visit to the village school or go on a trek to learn about the different medicinal plants. Meals are prepared with local products (dried Lama meat, sheep milk, quinoa, chuño, potatoes) and seasoned with the herbs found in the region. You will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of the Andean “table”. In the afternoon we return to La Paz and the evening is free.
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 the 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 situated at the doors of the Lipez desert. We arrive at San Pedro de Quemez around 16h00 and the evening is free.
We continue our tour of south Bolivia and from San Pedro de Quemez we pass the Uyuni – Ollague railway, which is the property of the FCA (Empresa Ferroviaria Andina), before crossing the Salar de Chiguana. We observe the still active volcano Ollague 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. We arrive at Ojo del Perdiz in the Siloli Desert where we spend the night.
Today we visit the Stone Tree (please refrain from climbing on the rock) planted in the middle of the Siloli desert and later we enter the Reserva Nacional de la Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa where we arrive at the Laguna Colorada. This Alto Andina Laguna gets its name because of the red colour which is caused by microscopic shellfish which is the principal nutriment of the rose 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 also reduces the population of the flamingos. Our tour continues in southern direction to the Laguna Verde – one of the most southern points in Bolivia. We leave the Laguna Colorada in order 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 have the possibility to 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 the 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 where we stop to take a few pictures. The Laguna Verde gets its green colour from the high concentration of lead, arsenic sulphur and calcium – please refrain from bathing 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 Cristobal. We arrive around 18h00 in Uyuni where we spend the night.
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 600m 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.
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 Textile Asur as well as the Casa de la Libertad, which saw the signing of the Declaration of Independence August 6, 1825. 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.
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 some quinoa; the most important grain of the Andes. After lunch, we will drive to Desaguadero the Peruvian border. From there we change vehicles and drive to Puno, the rest of the day is free.
* Depending on the season and the weather, the itinerary will change and there are some sights which are not always accessible!
We leave at 07h30 to visit the floating island of the Uros. The small islands are made of totora reeds, which grow in the lake. The dense roots that the plants develop and interweave form a natural layer called Khili (about one to two meters thick) that support the islands. They are anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. The reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away fairly quickly, so new reeds are added to the top constantly, about every three months. The islands last about thirty years. The islands were originally created by the Uros to prevent attacks from their neighbours the Incas. After this fantastic visit, we continue to the Taquile island. This is quite a unique place at the lake where the inhabitants speak Quechua while all the other islands speak Aymara and the island is famous for its traditions and the lifestyle of the inhabitants. We return to Puno where the evening is free.
In the morning we are transferred to bus station to take the touristic bus that goes to Cuzco. On our way we visit the ruins of Pukará and also the thermal springs in the region before passing the Raya mountain pass at 4321m/14.180ft. We stop at Sicuani for lunch and from here we continue to the Raqchi ruins where we can observe the remains of the central wall of the Wiracocha temple, which was one of the highest covered buildings constructed by the Inca. The tour continues through the valley of Cuzco close to the Huacarpay Lake where we make a halt at the pre-Inca site Pikillaqta from the Wari culture (XIIth century) which is partly destroyed. And finally, we visit the church Andahuaylillas from the XVIIth century where we can observe some beautiful paintings. After being transferred to the hotel the evening is free to explore Cuzco.
*The mines are closed on Sundays so if today is a Sunday we will go for a tour of the city instead.
After breakfast, we visit the Sacred Valley and all the important Inca ruins in the area. We’ll see the ruins of Pisac with (depending on the day) the market, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo - a superb Inca fortress made of megalithic stones. In the evening we take the train to Aguas Calientes - a small village where all the buildings are concentrated along the railway giving it a “gold-digger” ambiance where we spend the night.
We leave at 07h00 or earlier by bus to visit the famous Machu Picchu. After this impressive visit we return to Aguas Calientes to take the train back to Ollantaytambo where upon arrival we are transferred to the hotel in Cuzco and the evening is free. The Citadel of Machu Picchu is the most important attraction in Cuzco. It was discovered in 1911 by the American explorer, Hiram Bingham, and is considered to be one of the most extraordinary examples of scenic architecture in the world. In Quechua Machu Picchu means “old mountain”. The Citadel was built on a hilltop which dominates the deep valley of the Urubamba river in the middle of tropical rainforest. Machu Picchu was both a centre of worship and astronomical observation and the private domain of the family of the Inca Pachacuteq.
In the morning we are transferred to the airport for our flight back to Lima and upon arrival in Lima we are transferred to the hotel. After lunch we go for a city tour of Lima and the evening is free.
ANCESTRAL LIMA: We start our tour with a panoramic view of the “Pucllana Pyramid” a magnificent ceremonial and archaeological centre built in the 4th century A.D. and considered a “Sacred Village” by the Incas. The Viceroyalty of Perú was the most important of the Spanish Empire and Lima was its capital.
COLONIAL LIMA: We visit the Historical Centre of Lima, where you will see more than fifty monuments and Colonial buildings, such as the Paseo de la República, the San Martín Square, the Main Square, the Government Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Cathedral Basilica, and the City Council Palace. We also visit the museum of the Banco Central de Reserva where we can admire the “Treasures of Perú” collection which is a fine selection of objects made of gold, ceramics and textiles from different pre-Columbian cultures. During the tour we also visit the monumental San Francisco convent, which displays the largest collection of religious art in America. Our highlight will be the visit of the underground vaults, known as “Catacumbas” or Catacombs.
CONTEMPORARY LIMA: We visit some traditional residential areas of Lima, such as El Olivar of San Isidro, Miraflores and Larcomar.
According to your time of departure you are transferred from the hotel to the airport in Lima. 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.