bing

'Ultimate Bolivia'

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.

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 'Ultimate Bolivia' holiday

Itinerary

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

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Ultimate Bolivia'

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
BLD

A tranquil oasis in Bolivia

Today be prepared to be amazed and blown away from the incredible scenery and switch-off experience that you will have at Refugio Los Volcanes were you will spend the next 3 nights. From Samaipata You will drive for approximately 2 hours, the first hour in paved road and the second one off road in a difficult terrain. The lodge is located in a remarkable, marvellous and tranquil oasis, surrounded by several tall cliff sides. Run very efficiently by a local family, who will prepare fresh, delicious but simple farm food and will guide you on the different treks you can do while you are staying here. The staff at the lodge only speaks Spanish but they will make your stay the most welcoming experience that you will not soon forget. Today you can enjoy the grounds and the wilderness that surrounds the lodge. There are couple of gentle walks that you do on your own or just sit by the terrace behind the dining area to read a book with a cold drink with the waterfall refreshing your view.

DAY 3
BLD

To Amboro national park

The lodge is approximately 3-4 hours walk from the Amboro National Park border. Today you may decide to have an early start and take the trail to the border with Amboro. The trek will take you all day. Wildlife viewing opportunities on this day will be high, you may see Spectacled bear, Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, Giant Ant-eater, Giant Armadillo, spider monkey, butterflies, reptiles and many different bird species. When you return to the lodge be sure of dip your feet in one of the waterfalls closest to the lodge, highly recommend it.

DAY 4
B

Sucre

After breakfast you will be transfererred for to Santa Cruz airport for a short 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 5
B

Potosi

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. 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
B

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
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 9
B

Lake Titicaca & The Islands of the Sun

After breakfast your guide collects you for a drive to 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. 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.

DAY 10
BL

Copacabana & Tiwanaku

In the morning after breakfast you visit Copacabana's main square and the church. You will then drive for 3 hours 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. Transfer to La Paz (approximately 1.5 hour journey).

DAY 11
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 'Ultimate Bolivia'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mix of tourist and mid-range hotels, private touring 2 people sharing £3,100
Upper-range hotels (where possible)
Prices are per person and include:
  • all accommodation
  • private tours and transfers as described
  • meals as indicated (B= breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • all flights within Bolivia
  • private services of an English-speaking guide on day 1 and days 4-11
  • shared services of Spanish-speaking walking guides at El Refugio
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
  • tips and gratuities

Customer reviews for 'Ultimate Bolivia'

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 'Ultimate Bolivia'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Santa Cruz de la Sierra 31°C rainfall 199mm
2 El Refugio 29°C rainfall 138mm
3 El Refugio 29°C rainfall 138mm
4 Sucre 22°C rainfall 155mm
5 Potosi 17°C rainfall 102mm
6 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
7 Uyuni 21°C rainfall 47mm
8 La Paz 17°C rainfall 120mm
9 Copacabana 15°C rainfall 182mm
10 Copacabana 15°C rainfall 182mm

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 'Ultimate Bolivia'

Days 2 - 3

Refugio Los Volcanes

Amboro National Park

Refugio Los Volcanes
Day 4

Hostal de su Merced

Sucre
rating

Average rating 4.8 (8 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 5

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 6 - 7

Tambo Aymara

Uyuni town
rating

Average rating 4.5 (2 ratings)

Tambo Aymara
Courtyard
Day 8

Hostal Naira

La Paz
rating

Average rating 4.7 (7 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 9

Hotel Rosario del Lago

Copacabana
rating

Average rating 5.0 (1 ratings)

Hotel Rosario del Lago
Exterior
Day 10

Hostal Naira

La Paz
rating

Average rating 4.7 (7 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