The landscapes and vistas in Bolivia are truly matchless. This landlocked Andean nation boasts some of the most extreme, diverse topographies on the planet. At a dizzying 3,650 meters (11,975 feet) above sea level, La Paz is a city amongst the clouds, with snow-capped mountains framing the expanse of the metropolitan area. Pristine Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, is so grand it almost looks like an ocean from its shores. The Salar de Uyuni is iconic in its otherworldly splendor, and Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve is not only visually spectacular, but filled with a fascinating mix of flora and fauna. Bolivia’s rusticity can make it testing as a destination to travel in, but the rewards are plentiful for seasoned travellers with a sense of adventure. This itinerary, Highlights of Bolivia, takes you through Bolivia’s most incredible sights and is designed to take your breath away.
- Transport yourself to another world with the mystical landscape of the Moon Valley
- Visit the Sacred Incan Fountain on Sun Island to taste the water believed to provide eternal youth and happiness
- Gawk at the mesmerizing white expanse of the Salt flats of Uyuni, a photographer's paradise
Day 1 La Paz Arrival in La Paz. Overnight at ATIX.
Day 2 La Paz City tour of La Paz, taking in the Witches’ Market, a cable car ride over the capital, and the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore. Table reservation at Ali Pacha. Choose from a selection of afternoon activities like a visit to Moon Valley or Salar Art Gallery. Overnight at ATIX.
Day 3 La Paz - Lake Titicaca Transfer to Copacabana on the edge of Lake Titicaca. Cruise to Sun Island and hike to Pilkocaina temple. Dinner and overnight at Ecolodge La Estancia.
Day 4 Lake Titicaca - La Paz Visit the Inca Grand Stairs and Sacred Fountain then have lunch and visit a handicraft market. Visit Moon Island before a transfer back to La Paz. Dinner at acclaimed restaurant Gustu. Overnight ATIX.
Day 5 La Paz - Uyuni Domestic flight to Uyuni. Full day at Salar de Uyuni including visits to Cochani, Ojos de Agua, and Incahuasi Island. Dinner and overnight at Luna Salada Hotel.
Day 6 Eduardo Avaroa National Park Full day at Salar de Uyuni exploring Eduardo Avaroa National Park: Visit to Coquesa, Thunupa Volcano, or Small Lagoons in rainy season. Optional star gazing. Dinner and overnight at Luna Salada Hotel.
Day 7 Uyuni - La Paz Visit to Galaxy and Devil's Cave in Uyuni. Domestic flight to La Paz. Departure via international flight
An English-speaking Aracari representative will greet you at your international arrival with a customized welcome pack, complete with a booklet of your trip itinerary and other useful information. You will then be whisked off to your hotel in La Paz and assisted with all check-in procedures. Once you have settled in, your guide will pay a visit to go over your program while you enjoy a light lunch.
Guided City Tour of La Paz
The city of La Paz and its surroundings are rife with a living history where indigenous, colonial, and modern customs collide, all under the watch of the majestic Illimani mountain. Peruse the Witch's Market, where mysterious treasures await around every corner, ride the cable-car public transport system for panoramic views of the city and take in the historic centre. During the morning, take a short break for salteñas, a savoury Bolivian baked empanada. During your tour of La Paz, stop for a visit to the impressive Museum of Ethnography and Folklore which showcases regional particularities and unique characteristics of the many cultures of Bolivia.
Enjoy lunch at Ali Pacha (table reservation), meaning Universe of Plants in the native Aymara language, this exciting new restaurant has a menu entirely based on plant products, with the aim of showcasing under-used produce and championing micro-producers from around Bolivia.
In the afternoon you can choose your activity based on your interests, with Aracari offering a selection of La Paz highlights and exclusive experiences:
Drive out of La Paz to the Moon Valley, a series of polychromatic clay formations created by the persistent wind and water erosion of the area's mountains. What remains are a maze of canyons and giant spires in a beautiful variety of hues from beige to tones of red and purple. It’s a serene setting, full of wonder and intrigue.
Spend time in the Salar Galeria, featuring work by Gastón Ugalde, Bolivia’s most celebrated living artist. Ugalde is known internationally, considered a visual arts leader in the region and referred to by critics as the ‘Andean Warhol’. Salar Galeria is Ugalde’s La Paz gallery, showcasing his contemporary work as well as that of other carefully curated international artists represented by the gallery.
Partake in a workshop with Mario Sarabia. Working in ceramics for over 35 years and from a family of artists, Mario looks to represent in his art, the soul of the mountains from which he personally digs up clay. His work features colourful patterns and depictions of llamas, birds, indigenous people and more.
Take the cable car high above La Paz to the El Alto plateau (meaning ‘The Heights’ in Spanish), one of Bolivia’s fasting growing urban centers. Here you will understand the socio-economic story behind the colorful and flamboyant Cholets buildings found here, designed by famed architect Freddy Mamani. You will have the opportunity to see a selection of these buildings from the outside, and go into one.
Visit popular local's spot and the first gourmet coffee shop in the center of the city of La Paz, Writer's Coffee. The Writer’s Coffee is located inside the Librería Gisbert on Calle Comercio, half a block from Plaza Murillo. The bookshop is one of the best in the city.
Small, Craft Brewery Artesana was founded by four friends and produces beers made using Bolivian ingredients from the area of Chuquisaca, outside Sucre. A short visit to the brewery allows for an explanation of the production process and story behind the brewery. You’ll be taken through the three varieties of beer they produce and offered a sample of them all.
La Paz – Lake Titicaca
Visit to Huarina or Tiwanaku & Transfer to Isla del Sol
Leave the bustle of burgeoning La Paz this morning for the tranquility of local lifestyles on Lake Titicaca. From La Paz you will drive to the village of Huarina, the first village on the shores of Lake Titicaca. En route you’ll visit a workshop where traditional totora reed boats are made by the younger generation of the Limachi family, who built the reed boat used by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdhal in his Kon-Tiki raft expedition across the Pacific Ocean.
Alternatively, you can take another route to the lake, and from La Paz first head to Tiwanaku, an archaeological site named after one of the most important pre-Inca civilizations and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the local museum and the archaeological site including the Kalasasaya Temple, Sun Gate, Ponce and Fraile monoliths and the Akapana pyramid. You’ll have lunch at a local restaurant before continuing the journey to Copacabana.
Known for its 16th-century Cathedral, Copacabana offers a fine example of Moorish-style architecture, it houses the statue of La Virgen de la Candelaria and has long been a pilgrimage site. From here, you’ll take a short boat transfer to Sun Island. Stop for a picnic lunch on the island shores (unless you came the Tiwanaku route), featuring traditional Apthapi, a local Aymara meal for travellers. Then you’ll have the option to hike to visit the Pilkocaina temple out to the southern tip of the island, before walking to your accommodation, where you’ll enjoy dinner before settling in for the night.
Lake Titicaca - La Paz
Expert Guided Tour of the Sun & Moon Islands & Transfer from Isla del Sol to La Paz
Enjoy an early breakfast and then a short hike to the village of Yumani, with scenic agricultural terraces along the way. Descend the “Grand Stairs” of over 200 steps built by the Incas, and visit the Sacred Fountain to taste the water believed to provide eternal youth and happiness. Afterwards, enjoy lunch on Sun Island.
After lunch at a local restaurant, board a boat for your private transfer to Moon Island. The structures on this island were similarly built by pre-Incan civilizations and the Incas added to them. Here you will visit the notable Sacred Temple of the Virgins of the Sun, Iñak Uyu. Young women were housed on the island to keep an eternal sacred fire lit. Afterwards, return to La Paz, via Copacabana.
Tonight enjoy dinner at leading restaurant Gustu (table reservation), from the founder of Denmark's acclaimed two-Michelin star restaurant, Noma.
La Paz - Uyuni
Flight from La Paz to Uyuni
After breakfast, transfer from your hotel in La Paz to the airport, where you will take a flight to Uyuni. Your guide will greet you at the airport in Uyuni to begin your excursion for the day.
The largest salt flat on Earth, Salar de Uyuni affords visitors with stunning scenery unmatched anywhere else in the world. Covering 12,000 square kilometers (4,633 square miles) of Bolivian Altiplano, the vast salt flats are an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon and highly photogenic at any time of year. In the dry season, surreal pentagons of bright white crystalline salt form, while in rainy season the salt flats see a layer of water develop which acts as a natural mirror, reflecting the sky for a fantastic, other-worldly visual display.
In the dry season you’ll see the bubbling ojos del sal ‘eyes of the salt’ and can reach Incahuasi Island, notable for its giant cacti. A short walk here on a petrified coral path offers views, before enjoying a picnic lunch in the middle of the salt flats. In the rainy season, thanks to the layer of water covering the crystalline salt you cannot drive across the salt flats but rather enjoy the spectacular ethereal sight and photography opportunities produced by the salt flats when it has rained. You can also visit the mummies of K’aka. Your exact route will be adapted to the weather conditions and season at the time of your visit. To round off the day, admire sunset over the salt flats.
Full day at Uyuni
Following breakfast at your hotel, explore more of the sites around Uyuni. In the dry season you’ll cross the salar, heading north to the village of Coquesa where you’ll see the massive Thunupa Volcano rising up in front of you at an elevation of 5,321 m (17,457 ft). The village of Coquesa provides excellent views. You can take a short walk up the hill to the entrance to a cave containing the Coquesa mummies. Afterwards you will enjoy a picnic lunch on the salt flats, with more opportunities to take photos that play with perspective on the seemingly never-ending blanket of white.
In the rainy season, you’ll instead head south to visit the small lagoons of this area, including Laguna Hedionda and Laguna Negra, home to pink flamingos. A box lunch is included for this route. Laguna Hedionda is a small lagoon that has a characteristic smell of sulphate due the mineral composition of its water. Afterwards, return to your hotel for the night.
Upon prior request, you will have the opportunity participate in a special presentation by an astronomy specialist, who will share detailed knowledge about the southern celestial bodies and constellations. The unobstructed expanse of the isolated salt flats makes this a truly spellbinding experience, as the full breadth and immensity of the night sky can be observed and appreciated.
Uyuni - La Paz
Overland transfer to Uyuni. Full day at Salar de Uyuni.
Today’s excursion will take you south of Uyuni to the southern shores of the salt flats. Admire the unusual subaquatic formations found in Galaxy Cave – their unusual appearance provided the inspiration for the cave’s name.
Nearby is a second cave, Cueva del Diablo, or Devil’s Cave. This site is an old cemetery from pre-Inca civilizations. Learn about how these places were found and the local legends and traditions associated with them. Time permitting can stay to watch the sunset before returning to Uyuni.
You will be met by your guide in the lobby of your hotel before your flight departure, in order to assist you with checkout, and then escort you to Uyuni airport for your domestic flight to La Paz. After you have checked in your luggage, he will accompany you until you pass through to the departure area. An Aracari representative will then be expecting you from your domestic flight with a sign bearing your name. He will assist you with all check-in procedures and escort you to the departure area to catch your international flight.
ALTERNATIVE DAY 5-7
Upgrade to a Deluxe Airstream Camper.
What better way to experience Uyuni than staying on the salt flats themselves? As an upgrade, Aracari can offer a special Salar de Uyuni experience, staying in a luxury camper, towed behind a jeep, right on the salar. The three-day program varies slightly from the outline above, but visits the same key attractions, including Incahuasi Island, Thunupa volcano, the village of Coquesa and more.
Your own mobile “hotel” has bedding for two, private bathroom facilities with a hot shower, a sofa, heating, a mini-bar and even an iPod docking station with speakers. The camper is followed by another smaller supporting wagon carrying kitchen supplies and other necessities like an oxygen tank, radio and satellite phone, in case of emergencies. Delicious meals are served under the stars on the vast white expanse. Following dinner and cocktails, your guide and chef vanish, leaving you to fully immerse in this beautiful destination.
Itinerary pricing as of 2017
Pricing Info - US$3,732
This is an example itinerary and can be entirely customized to suit you. Just get in touch and we’ll design your own tailor-made itinerary according to your interests, travel style and budget.
- Based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy
- Price is per person for this 7-day itinerary
Pricing Alternatives - US$5,739
- With the upgrade to the luxury airstream camper
This itinerary is based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy, excluding flights (international and domestic).
- Includes all specified services in the itinerary description
- All transfers and entrance fees
- A welcome pack on arrival including: a pre-loaded cell phone to contact your travel consultant at any time, a printed booklet packed with insider tips alongside your detailed itinerary and up-to-date recommendations on dining and shopping
- Hand-selected English-speaking guides
- Specialist guides (where noted)
- 24-hour support from our locally based team
- 6 nights in a hand-picked and personally tested selection of Bolivia’s finest hotels
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