Eastern Lowlands and Altiplano 18 days BOLTEA18

Day 1.  Santa Cruz de la Sierra  Arrival
Today you arrive in Santa Cruz de la Sierra at the international Airport Viru Viru from where you will be transferred to your hotel. There are no activities planned for today and you can take the time to explore Santa Cruz on foot.  

Day 2. Santa Cruz – San Javier – Concepción
We leave at 08h00 to visit the Jesuit Missions San Javier (San Xavier) and Concepción. We pass by the villages Puerto, Pailon and San Ramon where we stop for lunch and in the afternoon, we visit the Jesuit church of San Javier, the Missional museum and the handicraft centre. We continue to visit “Las Piedras del Paquio” (Buffalo farm) before continuing toward Concepción. We get installed in the hotel around 18h00 and the rest of the evening is free.

Day 3. Concepción – Santa Cruz
We leave around 09h45 after breakfast to visit the church of Concepción, the Missional Museum and the handicraft workshop (except weekends) as well as the anthropology museum or the Casa España. We visit the viewpoint of the Zapocó dam where we can observe different birds of prey and after lunch we return to Santa Cruz (around 18h00) and the evening is free.        

Day 4. Santa Cruz – Samaipata – Amboró 
We leave Santa Cruz after breakfast to reach the high valleys to visit the Fort Samaipata “El Fuerte de Samaipata” which was declared a cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 1998. Upon arrival, we leave on foot with our local guide to discover the archaeological site. The ceremonial centre of Samaipata is the most important Pre-Hispanic work in South America and ancient cultures have carved figurines of animals (snakes and pumas), channels and triangular niches on a stone block. After this impressive visit, we drive to Amboró where the rest of the day is free.            

Day 5. Park Amboró – Santa Cruz
Today we visit the exuberant jungle of the Amboró National Park. We start our visit at the bottom of a valley that allows for impressive views of this exceptional place. On one side, we have volcano summits and on the other side tropical rain forest. We spend the day getting an insight in the local flora and fauna and return to Santa Cruz late afternoon where the evening is free.    

Day 6. Santa Cruz – Sucre City Tour
After breakfast, we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Sucre (departure times vary depending on the day). Arrived in Sucre we are transferred to the hotel and after lunch we leave to visit Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia also called the White City. This gem of Baroque art and the Renaissance is the most European cities 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. Sucre is considered the most beautiful city in Bolivia, but apart from its beauty and atmosphere of the 18th & 19th centuries, Sucre also has the advantage of being 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). The evening is free to enjoy Sucre       

Day 7. Sucre – Potosi City Tour
At 08h00 we leave Sucre for Potosi. Potosi was once one of the largest cities in the world with a population over 200.000 people and is one of the highest cities in the world. It lies beneath the Cerro Rico Mountain (“rich mountain”) which was the reason for the town’s historical importance because of its important silver ore. Arrived in Potosi we go for a tour of the city which is still considered one of the most beautiful cities in Bolivia. We visit the Casa de la Moneda, the museum and the Santa Teresa Convent, the Cathedral and the Compañía de Jesus Tower. The evening is free to enjoy Potosi.                     

Day 8. Potosi – Visit of the Mines (Cerro Rico)*
At 08h00 we leave to visit the miners market. Custom says it brings good luck to buy Coca leaves, cigarettes, alcohol or even dynamite as presents for the miners that 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. The afternoon and 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 9. Potosi – Uyuni
After breakfast, we leave for Uyuni. This small town east of the Salar de Uyuni was once a railway transit town and still has to two train lines thanks to the Chuquicamata mine in Chile and tourism. From Potosi, we drive through the beautiful landscape of the volcanic Cordillera Los Frailes and we expect to arrive in Uyuni for lunch. The rest of the day is free to enjoy Uyuni before our visit to the Salar de Uyuni the next morning.   

Day 10. Uyuni – Colchani – Uyuni Salt Flat – Incahuasi – Cueva de las Galaxias - San Pedro de Quemez
We start our journey around 10h30 in the morning and our first stop will be the locomotive cemetery which is a vestige of more prosperous times. 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. After this impressive visit with the craftsmen on the top of the world we 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. This geological formation 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 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 accessible at all times!

Day 11. San Pedro de Quemez – Salar de Chiguana – Ollagüe Volcano – Siloli Desert – Ruta de las Joyas Alto Andinas (Lagunas Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiar Khota, Honda et Ramaditas) – Stone Tree - Reserva Nacional de la Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa – Ojo de Perdiz
We continue our tour of south Bolivia and from Puerto Chuvica we pass the Uyuni – Ollagüe railway, which is the property of the FCA (Empresa Ferroviaria Andina), 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 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-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 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 accessible at all times!

Day 12. Ojo de Perdiz - Laguna Colorada – Geyser de Sol de Mañana – Polques Thermal Spring – Dali Desert – Laguna Verde – Licancahur (5971m) – Villamar – Valle de Rocas – San Cristóbal – Uyuni – La Paz
Our tour continues in southern direction to the Laguna Verde – one of the most southern points in Bolivia. 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 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 Cristóbal. We return to Uyuni airport to take the last flight and return to La Paz. Upon arrival in La Paz a member of our team will bring you to your hotel (La Paz centre). *

*Depending on the season and the weather the itinerary will change and there are some sights which are not accessible at all times!

Day 13. La Paz – City Tour
The morning is free. After lunch, we go for a visit of La Paz and 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 we finish our tour with a visit to the Indian market San Pedro. The rest of the evening is free to enjoy the highest capital in the world.

Day 14. La Paz – Copacabana
We leave the hotel at 07h30 and after approximately 3½ hours we arrive in Copacabana. After getting installed in the hotel we leave to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana which is a 16th century church that houses the image 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 15.  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 16. 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 17. La Paz – Tiwanaku – La Paz
We leave around 08h30 for our visit of the ruins of Tiwanaku, 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 approximately 7 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 the rest of the day is free.

Day 18. 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 conditions and some sights are not accessible at all times – Lipiko Tours cannot be held responsible for any changes in itinerary and sights not visited as a result.

 

 

 

General information:
Highlights: Jesuit Missions, Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Sucre, Potosi, Salar de Uyuni, South Lipez, Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, La Paz, Copacabana, Lake Titicaca, Sun Island.

Support Team: English speaking tour leader for the entire tour for groups of 4 people or more. For smaller groups it is possible to book this tour without a tour leader. Instead you would have guided visits with a local guide in chosen language. Please contact us directly to receive a personalized quote.

Departure guaranteed: Group Tour: from 4 people. Individual Tour: from 2 people

Accommodation: 18 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.

Service: For group above 4 people you will be accompanied by a tour leader in the 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.

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. 1500 Argentine Peso (Argentian national currency) per person – in Brazil (allow for approx. 150 Brazilian Real (Brazilian 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: 390 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

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