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16 days

Highlights of Bolivia

Experience the highlights of Bolivia with beautiful colonial towns and indescribable nature experiences in the Andes, at Lake Titicaca and, not least, on the Salar de Uyuni salt flat.

Highlights of Bolivia Highlights of Bolivia
16 days

Highlights of Bolivia

Experience the highlights of Bolivia with beautiful colonial towns and indescribable nature experiences in the Andes, at Lake Titicaca and, not least, on the Salar de Uyuni salt flat.

Choose this tour because…

Bolivia is an ‘out of the way’ country without direct access to the sea, but it is home to some of the most incredible treasures in South America. On this trip, you will experience Santa Cruz, the biggest city in Bolivia, famous for its beautiful colonial buildings, and the capital city Sucre, which is also known as ‘The White City’ on account of its numerous whitewashed houses. Other attractions include a visit to the old silver mine of Potosí at El Cerro Rico – 4,909 masl – which is known today for its colonial buildings and Baroque architecture. The landscapes of Bolivia are truly incredible, featuring red and green lakes, sputtering geysers, the biggest salt flats in the world, and red-brown mountains that stand out starkly against the deep blue of the sky. Your trip finishes in La Paz – the highest altitude administrative capital in the world – where you will visit ancient Inca ruins, the ‘lunar landscape’ of Valle de Luna, and the magical island called Isla del Sol, which provides a breath-taking view out over Lake Titicaca. What better way to round off such a magnificent holiday?

What is included in the price?
This package includes the following
  • Flights from the UK to Santa Cruz
  • Flights from La Paz to the UK
  • Private transfers from and to airports
  • 1 domestic flight: Santa Cruz – Sucre
  • Boat trip: Copacabana – Sun Island – Copacabana
  • 12 nights’ accommodation in good hotels incl. breakfast
  • 1 night in train between Uyuni – Oruro
  • 7 x lunch (days 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 )
  • 3 x dinner (days 8, 9, 12)
  • Individual tour with private transport and local English-speaking guides
  • Emergency hotline staffed 24/7 throughout your trip
  • ATOL certificate included
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants

Comprehensive package of excursions:

  • Half-day tour of Santa Cruz
  • Half-day tour of Sucre
  • Half-day visit to Tarabuco market / Jatun Yampara
  • Half-day tour of Potosi
  • Full-day excursion to the Uyuni salt flats
  • Full-day excursion in the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve with its lagoons and flamingos
  • Full-day excursion to the geysers and Laguna Verde
  • Visit to the Tiwanaku ruins
  • Walking tour of Sun Island
  • Tour of La Paz, including Moon Valley
  • Admission tickets to the attractions mentioned except Incahuasi Island at Uyuni and the Eduardo Avaroa Reserve (to be paid on site)
See all pictures
Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Flight to Bolivia

Departure day, where you will fly to Santa Cruz with connecting flights along the way.

Day 2: Arrival in Santa Cruz

You will arrive in Santa Cruz, the largest city in Bolivia, where you will be met in the arrivals hall by a guide who will drive you to your hotel.

Santa Cruz was founded in 1560 by the Spanish explorer Ñuflo de Chávez. The city is now the growth centre of Bolivia and home to an interesting ethnic mix on account of the huge numbers of people who have flocked here to share in the economic development. Santa Cruz is one of the most important cities in the country and the largest industrial area in Bolivia. Attractions include excellent entertainment, tempting restaurants, fascinating museums and exciting culture centres. The city is especially well-known for its numerous buildings dating back to the Spanish colonial era.

Day 3: Tour of Santa Cruz

The day starts with a half-day tour of the centre of Santa Cruz, which will take you to the famous Plaza 24 de Septiembre square where you will see many significant buildings from the colonial age, including the cathedral, city hall and culture centre. The tour ends on Monseno Rivero Boulevard, where you will have time to enjoy some refreshments.

Day 4: By plane from Santa Cruz to Sucre

You will be collected from the hotel and driven to the airport for your flight to Sucre, capital of Bolivia. A guide will meet you at the airport and drive you to your hotel.

Day 5: Tour of Sucre

Sucre was founded in 1538 and remains the official capital of Bolivia, even though the parliament and government buildings are located in La Paz, the administrative capital. The city is located in a valley surrounded by mountains. Sucre is also known as ‘The White City’ on account of the numerous whitewashed houses with their red tiled roofs. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Bolivia – and, indeed, in South America – thanks to its magnificently preserved centre, which is liberally dotted with attractive buildings from the colonial era.

The tour will introduce you to the friendly population and take you along streets lined with neoclassical façades and splendid colonial buildings. You will also visit historical places and buildings, of which the most notable include the central square – Plaza 25 de Mayo – which is ringed with significant buildings including the cathedral and the Casa de la Libertad. The latter is one of the most important historical monuments in the country, as it was here that the events leading to the country’s independence took place. The city is also home to a host of interesting religious buildings including the beautiful San Francisco Church. In addition, the tour includes a visit to La Recoleta, the Franciscan monastery from where there is an amazing view out over the city.

Day 6: Tarabuco market/Jatun Yampara – Potosi

Sunday is market day in the village of Tarabuco, where farmers and weavers from the local countryside join together in a festive atmosphere to trade foodstuffs, fine weavings and socialise.

Arriving on another day, you could instead visit the traditional village Jatun Yampara, known for its handicrafts, textiles and ceramics. A walk through the city will show the sharp focus on preserving its ancient art forms and help you understand how agriculture is part of the villagers everyday lives. There are also visits to the city’s local museum available.

From here, the trip continues on to Potosi.

Day 7: Half-day tour of Potosi – Uyuni

Located at an altitude of 4,090 metres above sea level, Potosi is the highest city in the world. It is actually an old mining town that grew up around the Cerro de Potosi Mountain – also known more prosaically as ‘Rich Mountain’. The Incas knew that the mountain contained silver, but did nothing to exploit it. The Spanish, however, were quick to establish mining operations and soon discovered that the mountain contained the biggest deposits of silver ever seen. They forced the local population to work in the mines, and thousands died there under terrible conditions. The riches of the town thus proved to be a curse on the locals – and they labour under their misfortune to this day. The town that helped finance the economic development of Europe for centuries is now a forgotten Third World backwater.

Potosi is known for its Baroque architecture and buildings from colonial times. What you can see today, however, is only a shadow of the colonial city from the 1600s, when Potosi was around the same size as London at that time, and much more resplendent. It is one of the few colonial towns in South America to have preserved most of its original nature. During your visit here, you will have the chance to explore the town’s surroundings, visit the historical Plaza 6 de Agosto and Plaza 10 de Noviembre squares, admire the beautiful churches, call in at the famous House of Currency Museum, and drop by the local market. From here, the tour heads off to Uyuni.

Day 8: Uyuni – San Pedro de Quemes

The day starts with a visit to the ‘Train Graveyard’, where you can see locomotives and carriages dating back to the nineteenth century. It is then time to move on to the town of Colcachi to watch the local salt production process. You can also buy local arts and crafts and typical salt crystals here. The tour continues on to ‘Salar de Uyuni’, the biggest salt flats in the world, which extend over an area of 10,500 km2. The lake is located close to the border with Chile at an altitude of 3,653 metres above sea level. It can be quite cold here, so make sure to bring some warm clothes with you.

The surrounding landscape is dominated by red-brown mountains and volcanoes, which make a neat contrast against the deep blue sky. The view is truly breath-taking, and seems to stem from another world. There are lakes of different colours on account of the minerals and algae they contain. You will then make your way to the old Hotel de Sal to admire the salt architecture before continuing on to Isla Incahuasi, to drink in the magnificent view out over the salt lake.

Day 9: San Pedro de Quemes – Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve

The day starts with an early departure from the hotel so that you can see the desert in the magical light of the sunrise. As you make your way into Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve, keep a sharp eye out for the wild desert rabbits, which are known locally as ‘Yaretas’ or ‘Vizcachas’. Next stop on the itinerary is at the red lake – ‘Laguna Colorada’ – with its population of flamingos. From the lake, the trip continues on to Ojo de Perdiz, where you will spend the night.

Day 10: Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve - Hito Cajones – Uyuni – Oruro

The day begins with an early departure from the hotel to see the geysers at Sol de Mañana, as they are most active in the first rays of the sun. The landscape here is amazing, marked by holes filled with lava, and the air smells of smoke and sulphur. You then have the opportunity to take a dip in the hot springs before the trip continues to ‘Laguna Verde’ (the Green Lake), which is an absolute gem. Watch how the colour changes from emerald to an even deeper shade of green. The water is rich in copper minerals and its colour is attributable to copper deposits. From here, you will also be able to see the Licancahur volcano in the distance. There will be a stop for lunch en route before you return to the town of Uyuni where there is time to sit back and relax before catching the midnight train to Oruro (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday).

Day 11: Oruro – La Paz

After a train ride of several hours, you arrive in Oruro early in the morning. You will be met at the station by your guide, who will drive you to La Paz. When you reach La Paz, the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish. It is a good idea to take some time to relax and unwind after your long train journey.

Day 12: Tiwanaku – Sun Island

The itinerary for the day starts with a trip out to the archaeological area of Tiwanaku, which is 72 km from La Paz. Tiwanaku is built of giant blocks of stone, many of which are extremely intricately carved. Make the most of the opportunity to visit the museum and view the ceramics, Aymara mummies and Inca skulls on display, before moving on to the Tiwanaku ruins, where you can see sights such as the impressive Sun and Moon Gates. You will have plenty of time to take in the Kalasasaya Temple and the Akapana Pyramid as well.

The trip then continues to the small town of Copacabana, which is famous as the home of the ‘Virgin del la Candelaria’, the patron saint of Bolivia. The day ends with a boat trip to magical Sun Island, where you will spend the night.

Day 13: Sun Island – La Paz

After breakfast, you leave the hotel for a tour of the island. The trip starts at the highest point of the majestic island, from where you can admire the magnificent view out over Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.

The tour then continues along a pre-Inca trail that leads to innumerable ruins and temples dating back to the age of the Inca empire. After visiting the sights and attractions of the island, it is time to take the boat back to Copacabana from where you return to La Paz.

Day 14: Tour of La Paz – including Moon Valley

The day is given over to a tour of the city of La Paz. You will start in the centre of the city at Plaza Murillo, a square rich in tradition and the site of the presidential palace, which is heavily inspired by Italian architecture. The narrow streets stretch up the mountainside behind Plaza San Francisco with the large stone church that is the site of a statue of Jesus with a luminous blue halo. The surrounding area is usually packed with Bolivian ‘campeninas’ (country women) in colourful clothes selling items such as blankets, nuts, herbs and woolly jumpers decorated with pictures of lamas. It is then time to visit one of the most charming parts of the town around Calle Jaén, a cobbled street free from motorised traffic and lined with colonial style buildings. Here you can visit the outdoor museum devoted to the Tiwanaku culture. The tour then moves on to ‘Valle de la Luna’ (Moon Valley), which is named for the strange rock formations that dominate the landscape.

Day 15: Departure from La Paz

The time has now come to leave La Paz. You will be collected from your hotel and driven to La Paz airport. You will fly to the UK with connecting flights along the way.

Day 16: Return trip

Arrival back in the UK.

Single supplement (when two or more travelers) £550
Single supplement (when single traveler) £1975
Discounts are available for groups of 3 or more people
When would you like to travel?
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Contact travel consultant Neil Smith

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