Explore the best of Bolivia on this adventure through lively cities, breathtaking scenery and colourful market towns. From the extreme elevation of bustling La Paz through the history of Potosi and on to the surreal salt flats of Salar de Uyuni, there's a diverse mix of adventures and activities that deliver excitement, intrigue and pleasure. Discover the highlights of this fascinating part of South America and be swept away by the colour and beauty flourishing in this corner of the earth.
* See the many different sides to Bolivia in La Paz and let the city's weird and wacky Witches Market cast a spell over you
* Choose to explore the extra-terrestrial landscapes of Valle de la Luna, a maze of canyons and colossal clay spires that feels like the surface of the Moon
* Discover the heart of Bolivia in the elegant colonial architecture and immaculately landscaped gardens of historical Sucre
* Delve into the steep streets and Spanish colonial architecture of Potosi, once one of the richest cities in the world
* Empty, haunting and spectacular, the laws of earthly physics bend on the surreal Salar de Uyuni saltpan ' experience it on a three-day 4WD adventure across the rocky Atacama Desert
➕ Day 1 La Paz
Kamisaki! Welcome to Bolivia. At around 3,600 metres, La Paz feels like the top of the world its far from it! Although Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, La Paz is the centre of commerce, finance and industry. Despite the abundance of colonial architecture, La Paz's indigenous roots run deep, and the atmosphere in the market-filled streets is both modern and traditional. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. After the meeting, maybe head out into the city, situated in the middle of a vast volcanic crater. Breathe the 'thin' air, marvel at the vistas of buildings clinging to the canyonsides, and explore the lively streets like Calle Jaen. Notes: Altitude Sickness ' This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the 'Health' section of the trip notes for more important information on this. Death Road Biking To Coroico ' Please note that our leaders are not able to organize this activity for you due to safety concerns. Injuries are very common and there have been a number of fatal accidents.
➕ Day 2 La Paz
Today is free for you to explore the city and its surrounds. Perhaps hop on a local bus out to the extraordinary landscape of Moon Valley. This isn't a valley, but a maze of canyons and colossal clay spires. These rugged oddities, caused by erosion, make for staggering views. La Paz is also renowned for its many markets, including the Mercado de Hechiceria or Witches' Market. Take a cable car 13,000ft to the twin city of El Alto and browse through the weird and wonderful stalls that sell everything from potions to incantations made from herbs, seeds and unidentified bits and pieces to cure any ailment. If this is all too much for you, try the more conventional markets where you'll find ponchos, gloves, hats and many other products made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials. If you want to discover more about the region's fascinating history, maybe enjoy a half-day tour to the Tiwanaku ruins outside of La Paz. Another great optional activity is a full-day tour to the coffee and coca plantations of Coroico, situated in the rainforest below the city. Notes: This trip is part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may have started their trip in Lima, 15 days ago on Peru and Bolivia Uncovered (GGSUC).
➕ Day 3 Uyuni Town
This morning at approximately 8am we will travel to Uyuni by private transport (approximately 9 hours), with stops along the way to stretch legs and enjoy the scenery. Arriving in Uyuni feels a bit like you've reached the end of the road, which in many ways is true. This remote small town sits on the edge of the high altiplano, a wilderness that extends for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. So it's hardly surprising that the town has a bit of a wild west feel about it. Uyuni is best known for its proximity to the Bolivian salt flats known locally as the Salar de Uyuni. The town was once a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals on their way to Pacific Ocean ports. In the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed and many trains were abandoned. Tonight you'll stay at a hotel in Uyuni Town. The hotel is basic, however it's clean, comfortable and has hot water (make the most of this as you may not have a hot shower for the next couple of days).
➕ Day 4 Salar de Uyuni
Uyuni is the starting point of your three-day 4WD excursion into Salar de Uyuni and the Andean desert. This morning we will stop by the Train Cemetery three kilometres outside of Uyuni Town, connected to it by the old train tracks, and see where families of geriatric locomotives rust slowly in the sun. The remainder of the day is spent mostly on the salt lake itself. Spanning over 12,000 square kilometres, and heaving with around ten billion tonnes of salt, Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest saltpan. Pass salt-mines and visit Inkawasi ' a rocky, cactus and coral-like structure covered island erupting from the monotonous salt crust like a hallucination. Spend time walking around admiring the unusual yet beautiful landscapes. The massive salt plains of Bolivia are an incredible sight and offer plenty of opportunities for bizarre, perspective-defying photos. Endless blue skies meet endless white salt on what was once a prehistoric lake. Make the most of your time here, taking as many photos as possible in this incredible place, as the following day you'll leave the salt flats for the Andean Desert. At the end of the day, drive to your basic accommodation on the salt plains. We will arrive at the Salt Flats accommodation at approximately 6:30pm. After settling in to the rooms, we will enjoy an included dinner.
➕ Day 5 Andean Desert
Today begins with an early wake up call in prepartion to leave at approximately 7am. It'll be spent driving through the spectacular landscape of the Andean (Atacama) Siloli Desert, which is sprinkled with volcanoes and lakes, including the active Volcanoe Ollague and Laguna's Canapa, Hedionda and Honda. Along the way keep your eyes peeled whilst passing Quinoa fields and plenty of Andean fauna including Andean Vicunas - one of two south American camelids, Llamas, Andean fox, Vizcachas - similar to Rabbits. Continuing on we will stop at Arbol de Piedra, a rock formation known as the Stone tree. One of the highlights of today is the visit to Laguna Colorada (red lake), a rich red lake vividly coloured by algae and rich minerals. One of the strangest sights in such arid and inhospitable land is the abundant wildlife, It's truly a photographers paradise. Look out for llamas, flamingos, vicunas, and foxes. During this drive you'll reach an altitude of approximately 4,800 metres above sea level, so it's important to revisit the notes on altitude sickness (please see the 'Is This Trip Right For You?' and 'Health' sections of the trip notes). Tonight's accommodation in the desert is located at 4230mts above sea level.
➕ Day 6 Uyuni Town
This morning we will be waking up nice and early in order to leave at 5am. Apart from geysers and snow-capped volcanoes, the volcanic landscape also hosts some stunning natural hot springs. Our first stop is Sol de Manana geysers (4926mts - our highest point in our trip). Next we will decend to Polques and stop by the desert's natural thermal baths for an optional soak, which we highly recommend. Continuing on we will drive through the Southern desert, making stops at Salvador Dali Valley, Laguna Verde and Volcano Licancabur. Be prepared for a long day of driving, approximately 12 hours before arriving back at Uyuni Town) Back in town wander around the streets of this outback settlement and just chill out before heading to Potosi tomorrow.
➕ Day 7 Potosi
In the morning take a local bus along a scenic road to Potosi (approximately 3-4 hours). The highest city at 4060mts above sea level of its kind in the world, Potosi has had a turbulent past, centred mostly around its mining successes and failures. During the Spanish colonial days, the extensive mining of Potosi's silver rich Cerro Rico was said to have kept Spain running for 300 years. During this time, Potosi briefly celebrated life as one of the richest cities in the world. In the 1800s, the supply of silver declined, as did the market price, and the city started to suffer. Working conditions in the mines were appalling and huge numbers of indigenous people died. African slaves were brought in to replace them and it's said that as many as 8 million people died in the mines during the Spanish era. Perhaps visit the Santa Teresa Convent Museum to observe the art and treasures on display inside the convent's original walls or the National Mint Museum.
➕ Day 8 Sucre
A journey by local bus along a well-maintained road takes you to Sucre (approximately 3-4 hours). Descending more than 1,000 metres to the temperate valleys of Chuquisaca, small rivers, cactus fields, fruit and vegetable plantations dominate the valley. Sucre is a pleasant city set in a valley surrounded by low mountains and has retained the flavour of its colonial heritage in its churches, museums and ancient mansions. Bolivia's official capital, Sucre was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. Most of the town's colonial buildings have been whitewashed, earning it the nickname the 'White City'. On arrival, you'll have plenty of free time to explore the city and get your bearings.
➕ Day 9-10 Sucre
The next two days are free to explore the town or partake in some of the optional activities available. Please speak to your leader for more information. You might like to visit the Museo de la Recoleta. This 400-year-old convent on top of the hill provides great views over the city and is home to a fascinating collection of sculptures and paintings. Maybe head to the Plaza 25 de Mayo to rub shoulders with Sucre's affluent residents and investigate the extravagant interior of the Senora de la Merced. For something completely different, compare shoe sizes with a dinosaur at Cal Orcko, where 68 million-year-old footprints have been discovered. This is the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world, over 12,000 of them! There's also proud food culture in Sucre, so enjoy some delicious saltenas (Bolivia's version of empanadas) at a restaurant or fresh juice at the Central Market.
➕ Day 11 La Paz
Take a flight back to La Paz from Sucre airport today, which should only take around 30-40 minutes. Check-in time at the hotel isn't until 2pm. Depending on flight availability, we may arrive prior to check-in. In this case there is luggage storage available at the hotel. The rest of your day is free to relax or explore more of the city. Maybe head to the Mirador Killi Killi Lookout, located on top of a steep hill in the neighbourhood of Villa Pabon, and one of La Paz's most impressive viewing points. Nearby is the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, which exhibits a wide collection of stunning works that takes you through Bolivian history. Perhaps visit the Coca Museum, which isn't too far from your hotel in the Rosario district. If there's time, you might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure tours. When the sun sets and the temperature drops, gather together you travel buddies and join the locals in seeking warmth in a bar or restaurant, and celebrate the end of your Bolivian adventure.
➕ Day 12 La Paz
Your exploration of Bolivia's highlights comes to an end this morning. As there are no more activities planned, you're free to book your departure flights when you like and you can leave the accommodation at any time.