Bolivia - From the Lowlands to the High Andes


Bolivia - From the Lowlands to the High Andes

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 15 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 - Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Arrive in the atmospheric city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra where you will be met and transferred to your hotel to relax after your flight. In the afternoon begin a city walking tour at the busy main square of 24 de Septiembre, including the main sights such as the church of San Lorenzo, the History Museum, and the handicrafts market of Recova Vieja. Overnight at Hotel Americana or similar.

Day 2 - Chiquitania:Jesuit Churches- Santa Cruz de la Sierra -San Javier (approx. 3hrs 30 mins driving time) – Concepcion (approx. 1 hr 30 mins driving time)

After breakfast we begin a day of exploring the Chiquitania region of eastern Bolivia with its picturesque hamlets and unique Jesuit churches. We arrive in the village of San Javier, home to the oldest of the churches, and a number of traditional “ateliers” where a variety of local handicrafts and musical instruments are made. Continue to the village of Concepcion and finish the day with a visit to some of the restoration workshops. Overnight at Hotel Chiquitos or similar (BLD)

Day 3 – Santa Cruz de la Sierra

This morning we will take the opportunity to admire the eye catching Cathedral of Concepcion before returning to San Javier for lunch. We then return to Santa Cruz de la Sierra where the rest of the day will be at leisure. Overnight at Hotel Americana or similar. (BL)

Day 4 – Sucre

This morning we transfer to the airport to catch the short flight south to “The White City” of Sucre (2.700m). We will begin our exploration with a drive to the Recoleta viewpoint for panoramic views across the city, and visit Museo Asur to learn something of the development of textiles in the region. We will continue on foot to enjoy close up, the wonderful colonial buildings and churches, stopping at the Convent of Santa Clara, and finish by climbing to the bell tower of the church of San Felipe Neri for the opportunity to capture photos across the city. Overnight at Hotel Monasterio or similar (B)

Day 5 –Sucre- Dinosaur Footprints

This morning begins with a visit to the Museum Casa de la Libertad, the site of the declaration of independence, for an insight into the history of Bolivia. A short drive will take us to the impressive paleontological site of Cal Orck’o to see the rock face with its thousands of dinosaur tracks, before returning to Sucre for lunch. After some time at leisure we will visit a busy local market and stroll through Bolivar Park with its smaller replica of the Eiffel Tower. Overnight at Hotel Monasterio or similar. (B)

Day 6 – Sucre – Potosi (156 kms, approx. 3 hours driving time)

This morning will be at leisure before we depart Sucre for Potosi City driving through beautiful landscapes. We will stop at Lajasmayu and walk for twenty minutes or so to look at ancient rock paintings believed to date back to the Neolithic age. We should arrive in Potosi by early evening. Overnight at Hostal Colonial or similar (B)

Day 7 – Potosi

This morning we will travel by bus to visit the mines of Potosi. After donning appropriate clothing (helmet, torch etc.) we take a short ride to the Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain). Every day the miners celebrate the ritual of the Challa with offerings to Tio, the demon who is said to own the underground mineral riches. This afternoon we visit the Money Museum with its artefacts of a bygone age including machinery, utensils and coinage. Overnight at Hotel Santa Teresa or similar (B)

Day 8 – Potosi– Uyuni

This morning there is free time to explore the city, and after lunch we travel by road to the town of Uyuni. Overnight at Hotel Tambo Aymara Hotel or similar (B)

Day 9 – Salt Flat of Uyuni – Quemes

This morning we take a short journey to visit the “graveyard of trains” a collection of historic steam locomotives and railcars, dating back several hundred years. We continue to the village of Colchani and witness how the locals transform the natural salt to edible salt using rustic ovens and tools. Colchani is the entrance to the fabulous salt flat of Uyuni, and we will take an impressive 3 hour cross country drive across the salt flat, with only track ways as points of reference. We stop en route at Incawasi Island to explore an area of giant volcanic ash rocks accompanied by hundreds of giant cactus rising up all around. Our journey across this remote area is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip. We finally move out of the salt flat towards the hamlet of Quemes. Overnight at Tayka Hotel de Piedra or similar (BLD)

Day 10 – Desierto Siloli

Today we pass by the lava flows of Ollague, and a series of colourful lakes (Chiguana, Hedionda, Honda), which are home to great concentrations of Andean birds. On the approach to the Siloli Desert (Ojo de Perdíz) stand huge Aeolian formations of surreal figures, before the shrubby vegetation disappears completely, giving way to dunes. After a journey time of around 6 hours we arrive at a country hotel in the middle of the desert where we will sleep at 4600m. Overnight at Tayka Hotel del Desierto or similar (BLD)

Day 11 – Laguna Verde

This morning we drive for around an hour and a half until we arrive at Laguna Colorada which is a burnt orange colour as a result of algae in the water. Generous mineral deposits line the shores and sustain a large concentration of flamingos. We continue to the extreme south west of Bolivia passing by the geysers of Sol de Mañana at 4950m , before arriving at the hot springs of Chalviri for a late breakfast, with some time for bathing. We reach stunning Laguna Verde passing the Salvador Dali desert en route, and stop for lunch in Verde, before returning to Ojo de Perdíz for a second night. Overnight at Tayka Hotel del Desierto or similar (BLD)

Day 12 – Uyuni

Today we return to Uyuni following a more direct route but passing by the Canyons of Mallu, the Valley of Rocks and the Negra Lagoon and arriving by mid-afternoon where you will have some time at leisure. Overnight at Hotel Tambo Aymara or similar (BL)

Day 13 – La Paz and Tiwanaku

This morning we catch a flight to La Paz at 8.30am and transfer to the city and on arrival. we will take the 2 hour drive to the archaeological ruins of Tiwanaku to explore the temples and palaces originating from Pre-Inca times. We will return to La Paz in the late afternoon. Overnight at Hostal Naira or similar. (B) Sleeping at 3636m.

Day 14 – La Paz

Today will be spent discovering the sights of La Paz starting with main square Plaza Murillo and the streets around it where we can still find colonial architecture from the 16th century. We will visit the Museum of Magic Instruments and the Indian market. We will also take in the Witches Market known for the potions and magic amulets. We will drive to the cable car for a journey across the city from north to south, and drive to Moon Valley which is actually a maze of canyons and pinnacles formed by erosion. Overnight at Hostal Naira or similar (B)

Day 15 – Depart

At your convenience we transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)