Four-day snapshot of two of Bolivia's unique highlights - La Paz and Uyuni Salt Lake.
Includes visits to the Valley of the Moon and Tiwanaku ruins, near La Paz.
Can be extended to finish up in Chile, with longer on the salt flats, and time in the Atacama Desert.
Monthly set departures keep costs down: from £499 / $625 (double occupancy). Does not include flights.
Can also be done in a private service, and customised to timeframe and budget.
Day 1 Arrival La Paz, City Tour & Overnight
Day 2 La Paz / Uyuni - Full day Uyuni Salt Flats
Day 3 Uyuni / La Paz – Tiawanaku
Day 4 La Paz – Return home
Fixed Departure Dates, 2017:
- March 18
- April 21
- May 19
- June 16
- July 21
- August 18
- September 22
- October 27
- December 15
Day 1: La Paz: Arrival
On arrival at La Paz airport, we transfer you to your hotel.
NB. For information on coming overland from Peru, via Lake Titicaca, please get in touch. If arriving from Peru - or most other South American countries - you need proof of valid Yellow Fever vaccination.
The airport, situated in the appropriately-named El Alto (The High) district, is currently the highest international airport in the world at 4,080m (13,115 ft) above sea level, and there are great views of the city below, as you make the drive into the Andean valley that contains La Paz city, at 3,632m (11,942 ft) above sea level.
In the afternoon, we take you on a four-hour city tour of La Paz and the Valley of the Moon, The tour goes through the street markets full of handicrafts, textiles and exotic witchcraft artefacts, followed by a visit to the Colonial part of the city, San Francisco Church, Gold Museum, Murillo Square and the outdoor replica of Tiwanaku temple.
Then we descend to the more modern, southern part of La Paz on our way to the Valley of the Moon, where a clay mountain has been impressively shaped by erosion.
On the way back into town, we take a ride on the recently-constructed teleferico (cable car) which offers beautiful views of La Paz.
Overnight in a La Paz hotel, with breakfast. You can choose from the Rosario Hotel or Europa Hotel (subject to availability): both are centrally located, with the Europa being the slightly more expensive of the two.
Day 2: La Paz – Uyuni (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
We transfer you to La Paz airport, in the morning, after breakfast, for your flight to Uyuni.
On arrival at Uyuni, you are met and transferred in a four-wheel-drive vehicle directly to the nearby salar - the world’s largest salt lake, and the undoubted highlight of the region.
On the way, we may stop in the village of Colchani to see traditional methods of salt-extraction in action.
Driving across the Salt Lake, we arrive at Inkawasi (Fish Island), a solitary outcrop of rock in the middle of a white ocean, where hundreds of giant cactus bloom - the only vegetation to be seen.
We continue north to see the pre-Columbian Aique Pucara fort and the nearby chullpares (funerary towers), before making the trip back to Colchani to enjoy the sunset at our remarkable hotel, the Palacio de Sal (Salt Palace) whose walls, ceilings, chairs and tables are all made of salt, in keeping with the surroundings.
Day 3: Uyuni - Tiwanaku - La Paz (Breakfast)
After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer you to Uyuni airport for your flight back to La Paz.
Upon arrival in La Paz, we transfer directly to the ruins of Tiwanaku, 72 km (45 miles) away. During the two-hour drive through the Bolivian highlands, we can see the Aymara way of life in action.
Tiwanaku dates from 1580 BC to 1200 AD, and was one of the most important and developed pre-Inca civilizations. We visit the site's main constructions: the Kalasasaya temple, the Sun Gate, the Ponce and Fraile monoliths, the Akapana pyramid, and the semi-underground temple. We also explore two local museums, with pottery and stonework displays, that teach us more about the culture that built this impressive complex.
In the afternoon, we drive back to La Paz, to our hotel.
The rest of the evening is free for exploration and relaxation.
Day 4: La Paz (Breakfast)
Breakfast at the hotel.
At designated time, transfer from the hotel to La Paz airport for your onward flight.
Alternatively, if continuing to Chile, the itinerary after Day 2 is:
Day 3: Colchani - Villa Mar (All meals)
After breakfast at the hotel, we continue driving south through the highlands, passing through the villages of San Cristobal and Culpina K, up to the high Alota valley, an area full of impressive stone formations, that have been shaped by erosion.
We continue driving through Uyuni's spectacular high valleys, for another hour, until we reach the village of Villa Mar where our hotel is located.
Nestled against a rock, in a Lipez River valley, the Jardines de Mallku Cueva Hotel is probably the best hotel south of Uyuni, with its charming, rustic architecture and amenities such as private bathrooms and central heating.
Day 4: Villa Mar - Hito Cajon - San Pedro de Atacama (Breakfast)
Today, early, we drive through the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve of Andean Fauna: one of the many highlights is the Laguna Colorada (Coloured Lagoon), so named on account of the striking contrast of the white shores, encrusted with salt and borax, and the flaming red of the algae-rich waters. This lagoon, at 4,278 m (14,035 ft) above sea level, is also home to the world’s largest population of the rare James Flamingo, estimated at 30,000.
Next, we visit the spectacular Sol de Mañana Geysers, and see craters of boiling lava before continuing, through the high desert of Pampas de Dali, to Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon), which is jade coloured … and arsenic-laden!
We continue to Hito Cajon, which marks the border between Bolivia and Chile. Here, we do the immigration formalities, and then drive to our hotel in San Pedro de Atacama, a sleepy desert town found at 2,400m (7,874 ft) above sea level and overlooked by the impressive Licancabur Mountain (5,916m / 19,409 ft).
Sunsets in the desert tend to be some of the most beautiful, and so in the late afternoon, we take you to La Cordillera de la Sal (The Salt Range), with its remarkable Moon and Death Valleys. These are salt, rock and clay formations, in a variety of colours, which have been shaped by wind and water to create a beautiful lunar landscape.
To celebrate this natural spectacle, cocktails and wine are offered, as the sun goes down.
Overnight at hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. You can choose from the Casa Don Tomas Hotel or Altiplanico San Pedro de Atacama Hotel (subject to availability): both include breakfast and have a pool, with the Altiplanico being the slightly more expensive of the two.
Day 5: San Pedro de Atacama: Tatio Geysers (Breakfast)
We set off early today to visit the geothermal area, the Tatio Geysers, which are located at 4,300 m (14,100 ft). There are some 80 active geysers, that emit steam up to a height of 6 m (20 ft), as well as hundreds of fumaroles. When set against the imposing beauty of the Andes, in the early morning sunlight, this makes a wonderful setting for our delicious breakfast.
We then return to San Pedro de Atacama, making stops along the way.
Overnight at the hotel of your choice in San Pedro de Atacama.
Day 6: San Pedro de Atacama - Calama - Santiago (Breakfast)
At appropriate time, after breakfast, we transfer you from your hotel to the airport in Calama, for your flight to Santiago (NB. flight not included in web price).
Upon arrival at Santiago Airport, we transfer you to your hotel in Santiago downtown.
Overnight at hotel in Santiago de Chile. You can choose (subject to availability) from the Eurotel Providencia Hotel, located near the bars and restaurants of the Providencia district; or the slightly more expensive Plaza San Francisco Hotel, which is situated in Santiago's commercial and political centre.
Day 7: Santiago (Breakfast)
Today, at the appropriate time, you will be transferred to Santiago airport for your onward flight.
NB. If you wish to spend longer in Santiago, ask us about organising additional hotel nights and excursions.