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'Bolivia High Lives'

What makes this trip special?

Colonial world heritage and traditional markets

Colonial world heritage and traditional markets

Sucre

Bolivia's most beautiful city and constitutional capital features on Unesco's list for its well-preserved architecture dating back to the 16th Century. Sucre also offers great pre-colonial traditions such as the Tarabuco market.

Silver mining capital of the colonial world

Silver mining capital of the colonial world

Potosí

The highest city in the world has a brutal but fascinating history that offers visitors a rich cultural and photographic experience.

The largest salt lake in the world

The largest salt lake in the world

The Uyuni Salt Flats

Traverse the stark white expanse of the vast Uyuni Salt Flats, with relief from the glare provided by a stop on a cactus-filled island.

Silent witnesses of Bolivia's mining heyday

Silent witnesses of Bolivia's mining heyday

Uyuni's train graveyard

Uyuni was founded as a railway junction to facilitate the mining trade links between Argentina and Chile. It was a symbol of cutting-edge progress at the end of the 19th Centuary but this progress was unsustained and trains now lay decaying outside the town of Uyuni.

Giant cacti and vizcachas

Giant cacti and vizcachas

Fish & Incawasi islands

Drive across expansive salt flats and visit either Fish or Incawasi islands, where you will see giant cacti, birds and vizcachas - close relations of chinchillas.

Volcanic colours

Volcanic colours

Tunupa Volcano

Tunupa is located in the northern side of the Uyuni salt flats and its startling colours include orange, russet and red. Walk up the to the viewpoint for unique photographic opportunities of the Salt Flats and Bolivia's unxplored south-west Altiplano.

The rugged south-west

The rugged south-west

Colourful lagoons and snow-capped volcanoes

Witness spectacular rock and cave formations, Daliesque desert landscapes where colours melt into one another and flamingoes flying over volcanic lagoons where minerals have coloured the waters shades of blue, green and red.

Technicolour life at 12,000 feet

Technicolour life at 12,000 feet

La Paz

The world's highest capital city, La Paz sprawls across a large bowl enclosed by snow-capped Andean peaks. It offers sublimely colourful markets and sights ranging from indigenous ladies in bowler hats to the sensory overload of contemporary Cholet architecture. In 2014 the capital's unmissable cable car mass-transport system started up.

A unique pre-Columbian capital city

A unique pre-Columbian capital city

Tiwanaku archeological site

The Tiwanaku Empire pre-dated the Inca Empire by many centuries and was distinct from all the other pre-Columbian empires. Stand in an ancient city whose pioneering architectural and agricultural features changed the Andean region forever. Visit the Kalasasaya ceremonial site, Gateway of the Sun, the Pyramid of Akapana and a semi-subterranian temple.

Sacred site

Sacred site

Copacabana

Copacabana is the gateway to the Isla del Sol and Luna, the Inca sacred island and is also Bolivia's most important Catholic pilgrimage destination. The Moorish-style Basilica of Nuestra Senora de Copacabana dominates the town's main Plaza while Cerro Calvario provides the best views of the Andes and Lake Titicaca.

Spiritual cradle of the Inca Empire

Spiritual cradle of the Inca Empire

The Island of the Sun

The largest and most notable island of Bolivia's Lake Titicaca was believed by the Incas to be the sacred birthplace of the sun. Hikes on the island, which has no motorised transport, reveal archaeological gems and amazing views. A climb of 200 stairs set in ancient agricultural terraces leads you to the mythical "Fountain of Eternal Youth".

Itinerary map for Bolivia 'Bolivia High Lives' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Santa Cruz de la Sierra
  • 2 Sucre
  • 3 Sucre
  • 4 Potosi
  • 5 Potosi
  • 6 Uyuni
  • 7 Uyuni
  • 8 Uyuni
  • 9 Ojo de Perdiz
  • 10 Uyuni
  • 11 La Paz
  • 12 La Paz
  • 13 Copacabana
  • 14 La Paz
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Bolivia High Lives'

DAY 1
L

Santa Cruz

Your overnight flight from Europe arrives either early or late morning into Santa Cruz, a brash cosmopolitan city in tropical lowlands just below Bolivia's Central Valleys. You are met at the airport and have the option of either being driven straight to your hotel or taken for a short tour of the leafy colonial centre of an otherwise commerical city. The rest of the day is free at your hotel.

DAY 2
B

Sucre

A short morning flight to the beautiful city of Sucre in the foothills of the Andes. A Unesco World Heritage site since 1991, its architecture is a unique blending of European and vernacular styles; it is also the constitutional capital of Bolivia. In the afternoon your local guide takes you to well-appointed Recoleta Mirador to experience the best views of Bolivia's prettiest city. You can then explore the Casa de la Libertad, where Bolivia’s independence was signed, and the two well-preserved colonial churches of San Lazaro and San Felipe Neri. A real highlight is the excellent ASUR indigenous art museum showcasing Bolivia’s highly-prized traditional dyed and woven textiles. You also visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museum of the Merced, the patio of the University of San Francisco Xavier, and the Parque Bolivar.

DAY 3
B

Tarabuco

After breakfast you set off for the hour and a half drive to the thriving traditional Andean village of Tarabuco. Try to time your holiday for a visit here on a Sunday to experience its vibrant market specialising in high quality textiles made by the Yampura community. Return to Sucre in the afternoon.

DAY 4
B

Potosí

Today you leave early to ascend by car on good roads up to Potosí in the eastern sierra at 4050m. Potosí sits at the foot of 'Sumaj Orko', the mountain of silver whose mined riches sustained the Spanish Empire until the mid-17th Century. During those times a polarised society operated here: the Potosí elite flourished while its workers endured appalling conditions. You see key sites from that period and learn their history. Visits to the Museum of Santa Teresa and the Tower of the Company of Jesus are also scheduled.

DAY 5
B

Vast quantities of silver were extracted from the mountain. Some was minted into the nation’s currency at Potosí’s Casa de la Moneda, which you visit today. The silver mining industry continues here to this day and your guide takes you to the miners’ market to see it for yourself. Conditions for the miners are far from acceptable even now. You could also visit a working mine, but this is controversial and you may prefer not to engage with the miners’ hardships in this way.

DAY 6
BL

Uyuni Salt Flats

You start your day descending from the sierra to the high plains and world-famous salt flats of the Altiplano on a three hour drive. Your destination is a hotel made of salt outside the small town of Uyuni at 3,650m. Uyuni was founded as a railway junction to facilitate trade links between Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. It was Bolivia’s main gateway to the outside world and the engineering involved was a symbol of cutting edge progress at the end of the 19th Century. Progress was never sustained and the trains have been abandoned as silent witnesses to Bolivia’s mining heyday in a ‘train graveyward’. Now, after over 100 years, you can wander around, even board the remains of the carriages, as they slowly rust away. You stop to explore a photographer's/train enthusiast's dream en route to your lodgings.

DAY 7
BL

Salt Flats by 4WD

The Salar de Uyuni is the largest set of salt flats in the world - a glittering landscape of pure whiteness beneath pure blue skies covering 4,000 square miles. Today you begin five days of visiting some of the world’s most breathtaking and inspiring landscapes, travelling by 4WD with your own driver/guide. Heading out from your hotel you make a brief stop at the small settlement of Colchani where locals bring salt to weigh and bag for sale. Next you you arrive at the salt flats where, depending on the season, you can see small pillars of loose excavated salt, piles of salt blocks used for building, dark water hole “eyes”, and usually in January and February the sky reflected across the entire vista. This is perhaps the most spectacular time to visit, although the options for driving on the salt flats will be more limited. In the dry season, (usually late March-late November) you will be driven across the salt flats to visit either Fish Island (Isla del Pescado) or Inca House Island ('Isla Incahuasi' in Quechua) where you will see giant cacti and can find birds and vizcachas (giant rabbit-like rodents) that inhabit them. Overnight back at your salt hotel.

DAY 8
BL

Today you set out in your 4WD to Tunupa volcano on the northern shore of the Bolivian Salt Flats. It’s a fascinating trip, with short stops to visit the small Chantani museum, the Coquesa cave mummies preserved from Incan times, and the remains of a pucará fort constructed by pre-Incan nomads. You should reach the foot of Tunupa around lunch time for a picnic lunch. It’s a moderate walk up the volcano to reach the Chillima lookout point for its truly spellbinding views and there is often a wonderful sunset on the way back to your salt hotel outside Uyuni.

DAY 9
BLD

Through the Bolivian Desert

Today begins a three day journey to explore the magnificent Bolivian desert, including areas protected by the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve. Leaving the salt flats behind, you travel across a dramatic highland area of desert bordered by spectacular volcanic mountains. Here and there a small stream or lagoon supports llamas and vicuñas and even small communities eking out a living in a totlally desolate world. You skirt around Volcano Ollague, Bolivia’s only active volcano, and travel deep into the area known as the Siloli Desert, a sparse landscape of desert, volcanoes, rock formations and coloured lakes. You pass the Blanca, Hedionda, Chiarcota and Ramaditas lagoons, which variously support three different types of flamingo: Andean and Chilean flamingos, and the very beautiful James flamingo. You stop to see photogenic Stone Tree rock, and arrive at the Desert Hotel in tiny Ojo de Perdiz for two nights.

DAY 10
BLD

An early start this morning to see the ‘morning sun’ geysers steaming in the cold air at 5,000m. As the day unfolds you head to the dramatic red Laguna Colorada and the shimmering Green Lagoon at the foot of Volcano Lincacabur and on to view the other side of the magnificent volcano crossing the border to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. You drive on to the hot springs of Polques, the salt plains of Chalviri and into the ‘Valley of the Ladies of the Desert’, with stops at some high altitude lagoons, completing a wide loop to arrive back at the Desert Hotel.

DAY 11
BL

Today you set out for the Valley of Rocks, where strange shapes have been carved into rock by the wind. You continue through majestic desert landscapes to the little town of San Cristobal, eventually re-joining the road that brings you back to Uyuni, where you stay at a hotel in the town.

DAY 12
B

La Paz

A morning flight of only about 50 minutes to La Paz where your local guide will meet you at the airport outside the city in El Alto. You are driven to the cable car stop at El Alto, where you and your guide will zoom slowly down to the centre of La Paz with spectacular views across the city against a backdrop of the Andean peaks of the Cordillera Real mountain range. Your luggage is taken by road to your hotel in the meantime. Exploring La Paz, your guide shows you the Church of San Francisco, the Witches’ Markets and Plaza Murillo with its Government palaces. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore more of La Paz, or take it easy at your hotel.

DAY 13
BL

The Valley of the Moon & Palca Canyon

La Paz is surrounded by wonderful places to explore. Today your guide takes you through its outskirts down to the eerie landscapes of the Valley of the Moon and the Valley of the Souls, whose rocks are eroded into spires or organ pipes. At the small community of Palca you might take a short walk with the snowy peaks of Illimani in the background, and then you pass through small Aymara communities on a quaint road far from the noisy streets of La Paz. Return to your hotel in La Paz after a light picnic lunch.

DAY 14
B

Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca

After breakfast your guide collects you for a drive of an hour and a half to the archaeological site of Tiwanaku, one of Latin America’s most significant pre-Columbian sites. The Tiwanaku culture developed 500 years before the rise of the Incas, and flourished for several centuries. The ceremonial site you will visit is one part of a larger citadel that is still yet to be properly explored. On the site you will see the Gateway of the Sun, the Pyramid of Akapana, the Temple of Kalasasaya and a semi-subterranean temple. The site's excellent museum contains important pieces and explains, with your guide’s help, the relationships between Tiwanaku and other cultures of that time, and their key importance to the Incas that followed. In the afternoon you arrive at Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca’s intense blue waters, passing traditional Aymara villages along the way. You cross the Straits of Tiquina by boat and continue by road to visit the church of El Santuario de la Virgen Morena de Copacabana, before lunch by the lake shore. There are plenty of opportunities to see and buy local textiles and handicrafts. In the afternoon you visit the site of an Incan astronomical observatory, returning to stay at your hotel in Copacabana.

DAY 15
BL

The Islands of the Sun

Today you have a full day's excursion by boat to explore Lake Titicaca's rock islands. These islands are home to a few small communities of Aymara and Quechua speaking people who cultivate the islands, graze sheep and make handicrafts. There is no motorised transport on the islands! The navigation over to the Sun island takes approx 90 minutes, you disembark at Yumani dock from where there’s an unavoidable climb of 200 stairs. Ascending them takes you past Incan agricultural terraces which follow the contours of the island and the Inca’s terraced garden to the “Fuente de la Eterna Juventud” a natural spring that is said to be the source of eternal youth. From here there is a 20-minute walk to visit the ruined Pilkokaina Palace of the Incas which offers commanding views down upon the blue green waters of the lake in the bay below. A short (25mins) boat trip takes you to the nearby Moon Island, where you are likely to be able to participate in a typical local Aymara lunch, called Apthapi. Traditionally this meal is eaten communally with all diners sat on the ground in two long rows either side of a great spread of local delicacies. The principal ingredients are local potatoes, of every shape, size and hue, large white boiled maize kernels, yucca, llama meat, locally caught fish, fresh or fried cheeses, tortillas and eggs. All are set off by the highly colourful picnic cloths creating a photographers delight [a box lunch will be supplied just in case you would prefer to feast on the Apthapi with your eyes only!]. After lunch you visit the 'Palace of the Virgins' or Iñaq Uyu Temple. The Inca chief was the only male allowed to enter the Temple on Moon Island. Here daughters of noble Inca families were sent to live in seclusion where they made fine clothing and textiles for use by those in high society. These nustas, princesses of royal blood, were considered secondary wives of the Inca and a suitably precious commodity to make ideal offerings to the gods whenever an important sacrifice was required. Upon your return to Copacabana in the late afternoon you can visit the town’s beautiful cathedral, usually shining in the altitude’s bright sunlight. Transfer to La Paz (approximately 4 hour journey).

DAY 16
B

This morning you are collected from your hotel and transferred to La Paz’s international airport for your flight home or onwards.

Guide prices for 'Bolivia High Lives'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Staying in mid-range hotels 2 people sharing £4,355
Staying in upper range hotels where possible 2 people sharing £4,800
Prices are per person and include:
  • all transport in Bolivia
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • excursions and local guides as described
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Bolivia High Lives'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average

Seasonal information for 'Bolivia High Lives'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Santa Cruz de la Sierra 31°C rainfall 199mm
2 Sucre 22°C rainfall 155mm
3 Sucre 22°C rainfall 155mm
4 Potosi 17°C rainfall 102mm
5 Potosi 17°C rainfall 102mm
6 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
7 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
8 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
9 Ojo de Perdiz 15°C rainfall 25mm
10 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
11 La Paz 17°C rainfall 120mm
12 La Paz 17°C rainfall 120mm
13 Copacabana 15°C rainfall 182mm
14 La Paz 17°C rainfall 120mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Bolivia High Lives'

Day 1

Yotau

Santa Cruz

Yotau hotel is located 15 minutes away from the airport. All rooms are suites. There is a swimming pool, restaurant, gym and spa area where guests can relax.

Yotau
Days 2 - 3

Villa Antigua

Sucre

The Villa Antigua Hotel is a restored mansion dating from 1860. It still maintains its original structure and the balconies offer you panoramic vistas over the White City of Bolivia.

The interior of the hotel is designed to give guests a sense of space and tranquillity. The antique structure has been integrated with minimalist architecture to ensure a high level of quality.

Villa Antigua is centrally located, within walking distance to the main square (Plaza 25 de Mayo), the Cathedral, the Casa de la Libertad, and other popular tourist sights.

Villa Antigua
Standard suite
Days 4 - 5

Coloso

Potosi

Coloso is located in the centre of Potosi, within walking distance to the Casa de la Moneda (National Mint), the Cathedral, and other tourist sights. The hotel offers standard rooms and suites, all with modern décor. The hotel has a bar, restaurant, gym, sauna and swimming pool.

Coloso
Views of Cerro Rico
Days 6 - 7

Luna Salada

out on Salt Flat
rating

Average rating 4.4 (5 ratings)

Located at the shores of the Uyuni Salt Flats this hotel is built almost exclusively from blocks of salt. There are 49 rooms, with private bathrooms and some are overlooking the Uyuni salt flats. There is a restaurant on site with a bar and lounge as well as a small shop and café. From the hotel it is possible to organise some tours, and hire bicycles.

Luna Salada
Lounge area
Days 9 - 10

Tayka del Desierto

Siloli Desert

The accommodation is basic but comfortable, and located right in the Siloli desert. From the hotel restaurant, guests can enjoy a wonderful view of the majestic desert. The hotel runs on solar energy and has a heating system based on circulating hot water. All rooms have private bathrooms with hot water.

Tayka del Desierto
Dining area
Day 11

Jardines de Uyuni

Uyuni town
rating

Average rating 4.5 (2 ratings)

Jardines de Uyuni is an attractive small hotel, well located close to the centre of Uyuni town. Staff create a friendly atmosphere and the 25 rooms are very well kept, all with electric or central heating and hot water. There is Wi-Fi in the communal areas, whilst there is also a small swimming pool and spa area, along with a restaurant and bar.  

Jardines de Uyuni
Matrimonial room
Days 12 - 13

La Casona Hotel Boutique

La Paz
rating

Average rating 5.0 (2 ratings)

La Casona Hotel Boutique is located in the historic center of La Paz, and was built in the 17th century. The 45 comfortable rooms have parquet floors, free Wi-Fi, saftey deposit boxes, central heating and min fridges. There are Balconies overlooking the city on the 3rd floor rooms, and other amenities include: 24-hour front desk, bicycle rental, restaurant, business center, concierge service and dry cleaning.

La Casona Hotel Boutique
Day 14

Hotel Gloria

Copacabana

The hotel is located in Copacabana with views of Lake Titicaca.

The hotel has parking facilities, a restaurant serving Bolivian and international cuisine, a laundry room and a games room.

All rooms have a private bathroom with hot water. Room number 20 has views of the lake.

Hotel Gloria
Exterior
Day 15

Ritz

La Paz

The Ritz is located in a peaceful residential zone that allows easy access to Miraflores and South districts. The Ritz Apart Hotel has 70 different suites ranging from single to family size. There is a restaurant that serves national and international cuisine. There is also a café which offers a variety of sandwiches and salads, perfect for lunch or snacks.

 

Ritz
Deluxe suite