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'Bolivia Photographic Odyssey'

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.

Picture-perfect industrial heritage

Picture-perfect industrial heritage

Pulacayo mine

Visit the atmospheric remnants of an important global silver mining centre of the late 19th Century and the first railroad to ever reach Bolivia.

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.

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 Photographic Odyssey' holiday

Itinerary

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

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Bolivia Photographic Odyssey'

DAY 1
L

Arrive Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is Bolivia's most populous and wealthiest city due to its industry. Located in the tropical region of Bolivia, it is the gateway to Amboro National Park, Samaipata and its Inca fort, The Che Guevara trail, The Jesuit Missions and the most extreme National Park in the Bolivia: Noel Kempff Mercado and Kaa-lya del Gran Chaco. Overnight flights from Europe generally arrive into the city's airport in the early or late morning. You are met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. After lunch your local guide collects you from your hotel for a short tour of the palm tree-lined colonial centre of an otherwise commercial city. You visit the city's main square, the 'Plaza 24 de Septiembre' in which stands its photogenic cathedral (La Basilica Mayor de San Lorenzo). You also take in the Casa de La Cultura (Santa Cruz cultural centre), the Etnofolkloric museum and Noel Kempff Natural History museum. The afternoon is free to rest at your hotel.

DAY 2
B

Sucre city tour

After breakfast a quick morning flight to Sucre, a Unesco World Heritage city steeped in colonial history and culture and the constitutional capital of Bolivia. In the afternoon your local guide takes you to the well-appointed Recoleta Mirador to experience the best views of Bolivia's prettiest city. You 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 among other attractions. A highlight of the district is an excellent indigenous art museum (ASUR) showcasing Bolivia’s highly-prized traditional dyed and woven textiles.

DAY 3
B

Visit to Tarabuco village

Today an early start for a drive of an hour and a half to Tarabuco village, 60km from Sucre. Here you get to see first-hand Bolivian indigenous community life. Try to time your trip for a Sunday visit here for the experience of Tarabuco's vibrant Sunday market specialising in traditional textiles of the Yampura community. While in Tarabuco your guide arranges for you to participate in a photographic portrait session with a local textile worker. You are driven back to Sucre in the afternoon.

DAY 4
B

Travel to Potosi

You are collected early today for the drive up into the Andes on good roads to the Unesco city of Potosí which is situated at 4050 metres above sea level. This colonial city sits at the foot of 'Sumaj Orko' the mountain of silver. In colonial times Potosí was an eminently wealthy city with a highly prosperous elite due to the enormous amounts of silver that were extracted from the mountain to support the Spanish Empire. A polarised society, its miners had to endure atrocious working conditions to survive. While walking through Potosi's atmospheric streets you will be able to take in its charming colonial heritage sites that attest to its historic pre-eminence.

DAY 5
B

Travel to Uyuni

Potosí's silver continues to be mined today and your morning here allows you to learn about Bolivia's mining tradition: you will visit the present day miners’ market and take a tour of the Casa de la Moneda (the National Mint of Bolivia). You could also visit one of the working mines, but this is controversial and you may prefer not to engage with the miners’ hardships in this way. You will then visit the Museum of Santa Teresa and the Tower of the Company of Jesus. It is then time to travel to Uyuni, stopping en route to visit Pulacayo mine, currently on the Unesco World Heritage tentative list. Pulacayo was Bolivia’s most important mining centre in the 19th Century. The first train in Bolivia is one of many rusting locomotives that sit decaying in the hills near this characterful mining town, which was also where Bolivia’s most important revolution was planned. The mine once belonged to ex-President Aniceto Arce during the town's heyday and you visit his house here. Your day ends on arrival at Uyuni Salt flats.

DAY 6
BL

Full Day Uyuni Salt Flats

A three day jeep tour of one of the world's most breathtaking landscapes begins today. The Uyuni Salt flats 'Salar de Uyuni' are the remnant of lakes that once covered Bolivia’s high lands (Altiplano). It is the largest salt pan in the world and is the world’s largest reserve of Lithium. This journey will take you into one of the world’s most isolated areas where you will be surrounded by a glittering white landscape. It starts with a brief stop in a small settlement called Colchani where the local people bring the salt that they have dug from the salt flat, weigh it and bag it for sale at an artisanal scale. Then you set off onto 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. 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 have made these islands their own. It is not permitted to drive this far when the salt flats are flooded. At midday stop for a buffet lunch of local produce in the middle of the salt flats. All year, in the afternoon you visit Uyuni’s train graveyard. 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 nineteenth Century. Progress was never sustained and the trains have been abandoned as silent witnesses to Bolivia’s mining heyday. Now, after over 100 years, you can wander around, even board the remains of the carriages as they slowly rust away. A photographers / train enthusiasts dream! You will stay for one night either in the town of Uyuni or if you prefer, you could upgrade to stay at one of the unusual hotels built from salt blocks on the edge of the salar. IMPORTANT: NB.- During the rainy season it is impossible to venture far onto the salt flats to see these attractions; you will only be able to go as far as 5 km in from Colchani. The full day programme will concentrate on enjoying the otherworldly effect of the reflection of water on the salt flats and taking photos.

DAY 7
BLD

Uyuni - Ojo de Perdiz

Today the journey continues towards the Siloli desert and Coloured Lagoon. En route you will observe Volcano Ollague, Bolivia's only active volcano, as well as various coloured lakes, where 3 different types of Flamingos can be spotted. You arrive at the Desert Hotel at Ojo de Perdiz where you will stay the night.

DAY 8
BLD

Bolivian desert

Opportunities for dramatic photos are to be had on this day of the itinerary in the High Andes at the Green Lagoon at the foot of Volcano Lincacabur, salt plains of Chalviri, the Valley of the Ladies of the Desert, and some high altitude lagoons.

DAY 9
BL

Bolivian desert - Hotel Jardines de Uyuni (Uyuni town)

A visit to the Morning Sun geysers at 5,000m above sea level means an early start today before travelling back to the Uyuni Salt flats. Before heading to your hotel you have the opportunity to experience and photograph the sunset at the salt flats. Free evening to rest at your hotel.

DAY 10
B

Travel to La Paz

You catch a morning flight to La Paz (about 50 minuntes). Your guide meets you at La Paz airport, based in the satellite city of El Alto and you are driven to the cable car stop. From here you and your guide travel to central La Paz by cable car taking in spectacular views of La Paz, its topography, local living and and also the Cordillera Real mountain range. Your luggage awaits you at your hotel courtesy of your driver. On arrival at your destination cable car stop, you explore the Church of San Francisco, La Paz's fruit, vegetable and 'Witches' markets and the 'Plaza Murillo' with its imposing Government Palaces. In the afternoon a tour of el Alto provides you with the unique opportunity of photographing the architectural phenomenon of 'Cholets'. The return to La Paz leads to a portrait session of Bolivian cholitas.

DAY 11
B

La Paz- Tiwanacu - Lake Titicaca

In the morning you leave La Paz for the 90 minute drive to the archaeological site of Tiwanaku, close to the border with Peru, one of Latin America’s most famous heritage sites. Tiwanaku was established as a culture around 500 years before the rise of the Incas, and the empire lasted for several centuries. The ceremonial site you visit is part of a citadel that is yet to be explored. Some of the well preserved examples of the Tiwanaku culture that you see on the site are the Gateway of the Sun, the Pyramid of Akapana, the Temple of Kalasasaya and the Semi-subterranean Temple. You have the chance to visit the archaeological site’s museum to see pieces of immeasurable wealth and understand, with your guide’s help, the relationship between Tiwanaku and other empires, both contemporaneous and subsequent. In the afternoon you transfer to Copacabana to enjoy the intense blue waters of Lake Titicaca and the quaint Aymara villages along the way. Crossing the Straits of Tiquina by boat and continuing by road to El Santuario de la Virgen Morena de Copacabana, you visit the church and admire local traditions and handicrafts before lunch on the shores of the lake. In the afternoon you visit the archaeological site known as the Horca del Inca, an Inca observatory.

DAY 12
BL

Explore Bolivia's Sun Islands on Lake Titicaca

A full day's excursion by boat to explore Bolivia’s hilly islands of solid rock amid Lake Titicaca. 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 taking 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 13
B

La Paz and airport transfer

Morning collection from your hotel for transfer to La Paz's international airport for your onwards flight.

Guide prices for 'Bolivia Photographic Odyssey'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Budget class hotels 2 people sharing £3,295
Mid-range hotels 2 people sharing £3,710
Upper range hotels 2 people sharing £3,875
Prices are per person and include:
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • all travel in Bolivia
  • excursions and local guides as described
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • airport and departure taxes if these are not included in the flight ticket
  • travel insurance
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Bolivia Photographic Odyssey'

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 Photographic Odyssey'

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 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
6 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
7 Ojo de Perdiz 15°C rainfall 25mm
8 Ojo de Perdiz 15°C rainfall 25mm
9 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
10 La Paz 17°C rainfall 120mm
11 Copacabana 15°C rainfall 182mm
12 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 Photographic Odyssey'

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

Hostal de su Merced

Sucre
rating

Average rating 4.8 (4 ratings)

Hotel Su Merced is a family-run hotel located in the heart of Sucre. This traditional house which has been converted into a small boutique hotel packs historical charm and character. Each of the 23 rooms offers guests a calm, warm and comfortable place to stay. Visitors are invited to enjoy the buffet breakfast with home-made specialities, admire the amazing city views from the terrace, or relax on the patios surrounded by birds and flowers.

Hostal de su Merced
Standard room
Day 4

Hostal Patrimonio

Potosi city centre

Hostal Patrimonio POTOSI is centrally located. It is only 200 metres away from the Casa de la Moneda and other popular museums. The rooms are decorated in a simple, classic style, all fitted with central heating, a mini bar, a security box and a fully equipped bathroom.

 

 

Hostal Patrimonio
Standard single room
Days 5 - 6

Tambo Aymara

Uyuni town

Tambo Aymara
Courtyard
Days 7 - 8

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 9

Tambo Aymara

Uyuni town

Tambo Aymara
Courtyard
Day 10

Hostal Naira

La Paz
rating

Average rating 4.8 (4 ratings)

Located in a colorful, colonial-style building in the heart of La Paz. Near to the Basilica of San Francisco and a 5-minute walk from El Mercado de las Brujas, ('Witches' market').

Hostal La Naira contains 32 rooms, all including free wifi and cable TV. Room service is available.

Other aminities: international restaurant/café, pub, warm TV lounge and charm and delightful courtyard.

 

Hostal Naira
Courtyard
Day 11

Hotel La Cupula

Hotel La Cupula
Superior suite
Day 12

Hostal Naira

La Paz
rating

Average rating 4.8 (4 ratings)

Located in a colorful, colonial-style building in the heart of La Paz. Near to the Basilica of San Francisco and a 5-minute walk from El Mercado de las Brujas, ('Witches' market').

Hostal La Naira contains 32 rooms, all including free wifi and cable TV. Room service is available.

Other aminities: international restaurant/café, pub, warm TV lounge and charm and delightful courtyard.

 

Hostal Naira
Courtyard