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Bolivia Panorama Tour

Country: Bolivia
City: La Paz, Bolivia
Duration: 13 Day(s) - 12 Night(s)
Tour Category: Classic Tours
Departure Date: Thu 01 Jan '99

Package Itinerary

Itinerary in Brief

This tour starts on the Altiplano in the Bolivian administrative capital Nuestra Señora de La Paz known simply as La Paz. We begin with a visit to Tiwanaku where we can discover the wealth of this lost civilisation which played an important role in the history of Bolivia. Next we visit the highest ski-run in the world and the amazing Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) in the south of La Paz before continuing to Copacabana where we sail on the Lake Titicaca the highest navigable lake in the world and we go for a short trek across the famous Sun Island (Isla del Sol).

The tour continues to the Salar de Uyuni where we discover the island with the giant cacti and the vastness of this 10.582km²/4.086mi2 big salt desert. Still in southern direction we cross the Lipez desert with its volcanoes, Lagunas as well as its rich animal life (lama, vicuña, alpaca, viscacha, pink flamingos, foxes, Nandu, etc....). After this incredible visit to the most southern spot of Bolivia we head back north to the beautiful cities of Potosi and Sucre before our tours ends back in La Paz.

Day1. Arrival in La Paz

Today you arrive in La Paz. Flying into La Paz is always an experience; if you arrive at night you can admire the lights of the city between the mountains or during the day you might get a view of the Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake in the world. Once arrived in the International Airport of El Alto which is also the highest commercial airport in the world our team will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. After a short briefing there are no more activities planned and you can take the time to acclimatize to the altitude and explore La Paz on foot.

Day2. La Paz – Tiwanaku – La Paz - Peña

We leave around 08h30 for our visit of the ruins of Tiwanaku, capital of the pre-Inca empire. Tiwanaku was one of the oldest civilisations in the world and is recognized by Andean scholars as one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire. We visit the Pyramid Akapana and the semi-subterranean temple as well as the archaeological area where we can see the Temple of Kalasasaya one of the largest and oldest ceremonial centres of the world. We also visit the famous “Puerta del Sol” (Gateway of the Sun) which is a monolithic structure that weighs about 10 tons.

On the Puerta del Sol we can observe the Tiwanakota calendar which is expressed in 365.24 days distributed over 12 months. We visit the archaeological museum where we can observe the Monolith Bennet which measures approximately 7 meters and weighs 20 tons and we also get an insight in the 13 centuries of history which make Tiwanaku the oldest civilization in Latin America.

After our visit of the site we have lunch (not included) in a typical restaurant where we have the opportunity to taste quinua; the most important grain of the Andes. After lunch (not included) we return to La Paz and in the evening we go to a local “peña” to enjoy a folkloric dance show.

Day3. La Paz (3663m/12.020ft) - Chacaltaya (5300m/17.390ft) – Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley)

After breakfast, we leave to visit Chacaltaya – the highest ski run in the world (now closed due to lack of snow), which is only 1 hour drive from La Paz. The car already takes us very high and from here we only have to climb approx. 200m to reach the top from where we have a wonderful view of a big part of the Cordillera Royal, in particular the Nevado Illimani, the Huayna Potosi and the Condoriri.

We can also observe the Altiplano and the Lake Titicaca and if the weather permits we can also see the clouds over the Yungas (semi tropical part of Bolivia) as well as the volcanoes Sajama (highest summit in Bolivia – 6542m), Parinacota and Pomerata.

After lunch (not included) we descend to visit the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) in the southern part of La Paz. Because the area is composed of clay rather than rock erosion has worn away large parts of the mountain creating impressive formations that offer us a lunar landscape. We return to the centre around 15h30 and the rest of the day is free.

Day4. La Paz – Copacabana

We leave the hotel at 07h30 and after approximately 3½ hours we arrive in Copacabana. After getting installed in the hotel we leave to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana which is a 16th century church that houses the image the patron saint of Bolivia.

The church attracts thousands of local tourists throughout the year and it remains one of the two principal sacred places both for indigenous people and Catholics. After lunch we have the option to climb to the Calvario from where we have a beautiful view over the lake and the village or climb to Intiwatana or Horca del Inca which is believed to have been an astronomical observatory.

If time permits we can visit both the Calvario and the Horca del Inca and the rest of the day is free to enjoy Copacabana.

Day5. Copacabana – Isla del Sol (Sun Island)

After breakfast we walk down to the port of Copacabana from where a motor boat will bring us to the extreme north of the Isla del Sol (Sun Island) to the small village of Challapampa. First we visit the museum and from here we walk slowly to the ruins of Chincana also called the Inca Labyrinth.

From the ruins we start our trek of the Isla del Sol which along the crest of the island takes us from the north to the south to the village of Yumani. During our trek we have an unobstructed view of the sacred Lake Titicaca and if the weather permits in the background the Royal Cordillera with its snow-capped peaks. We spend the night in an Eco Lodge on the outskirts of Yumani.

Day6. Isla del Sol – Copacabana – La Paz - Uyuni

In the morning we descend the Inca Staircase (204 steps). This staircase which is still in a very good condition will take us to the Inca Fountain and the port of Yumani from where we take the boat back to Copacabana. We have time for lunch and at 13h30 we take the bus back to La Paz. At 19h30 you are transferred from your hotel to the bus terminal in La Paz.

The bus station is famous for having been built by Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower in Paris, France) and used to be the railway station of La Paz. At 21h00 we start our journey to Uyuni and our route takes us first to Oruro from where we descend through Challapata where the asphalt gives way to dirt tracks.

If the first 350km/218mi seemed easy, some of Bolivia’s worst roads lie ahead of us; holes, mud, river crossings, cold and detours. Finally after this adventure we arrive in Uyuni around 07h00 where we have time for breakfast before the tour starts.

Day7. Uyuni – Colchani – Salar de Uyuni – Incahuasi – Cueva de las Galaxias – San Pedro de Quemez

We start our journey around 10h30 in the morning and our first stop will be the locomotive cemetery which is a vestige of more prosperous times. From here we continue to Colchani which is a small village situated on the edge of the Salar and who’s inhabitants live from salt exploitation. In Colchani we discover how the salt is processed manually and we visit the small salt boutique, which also serves as a museum, where we can see large salt carvings and other objects (pottery, jewellery, tools, etc.).

After this impressive visit with the craftsmen on the top of the world we enter the famous Salar de Uyuni; the biggest salt desert in the world with acreage of 10.582km²/4.086mi2. One of the particularities of the Uyuni Salt Flat is that it contains a reserve of 9 million tonnes of Lithium which represents 40% of world production. We head to the Island Incahuasi which mistakenly is better known as the Fisherman’s Island.

This geological formation is a remnant of petrified coral and is covered in giant cacti that can get up to 12m/39.37ft high. From the top of the island we have a wonderful 360° view of the Salar de Uyuni. After lunch our journey continues in the direction of Puerto Chuvica.

We have the possibility to visit the “Cueva de las Galaxias” which is a strange phenomenon of fossil algae which reminds us that the ocean was present here all the way to Oruro. In the adjacent cave we can observe the Chullpares which are Inca funerary remains.

We climb to the viewpoint from where we have an unobstructed view of the desert and if we take a closer look we can also observe the fossil coral that once were part of an impressive coral barrier. After this impressive visit, we continue to San Pedro de Quemez situated at the doors of the Lipez desert. We arrive at San Pedro de Quemez around 16h00 and the evening is free.*

*Depending on the season and the weather the itinerary will change and there are some sights that are not accessible at all times!

Day8. San Pedro de Quemez – Salar de Chiguana – Ollagüe Volcano – Siloli Desert – Ruta de las Joyas Alto Andinas (Lagunas Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiar Khota, Honda et Ramaditas) – Stone Tree - Reserva Nacional de la Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa - Ojo de Perdiz

We continue our tour of south Bolivia and from Puerto Chuvica we pass the Uyuni – Ollague railway, which is the property of the FCA (Empresa Ferroviaria Andina), before crossing the Salar de Chiguana. We observe the still active volcano Ollague and even from far we can see its fumarole. We follow the famous Jewel Route which is composed of the Lagunas Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiar Khota, Honda and Ramadita.

Today we also visit the Stone Tree (please refrain from climbing on the rock) planted in the middle of the Siloli desert and at the end of the day we enter the Reserva Nacional de la Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa where we arrive at the Laguna Colorada.

This Alto Andina Laguna gets its name because of the red colour which is caused by microscopic shellfish which is the principal nutriment of the rose flamingos that live in this area. Due to climate changes (lack of rain) and the high evaporation of the Altiplanic basin the water level of the regions Lagunas is reduced rapidly which year after year also reduces the population of the flamingos. Mid-afternoon we leave to get installed in our hotel Ojo de Perdiz and the evening is free.*

*Depending on the season and the weather the itinerary will change and there are some sights which are not accessible at all times!

Day9. Ojo de Perdiz - Laguna Colorada – Geyser de Sol de Mañana – Polques Thermal Spring – Dali Desert – Laguna Verde – Licancahur (5971m/19.590ft) – Villamar – Valle de Rocas – San Cristóbal – Uyuni – Potosi

Our tour continues in southern direction to the Laguna Verde – one of the most southern points in Bolivia. We leave the Laguna Colorada in order to go even deeper into the Reserva Nacional de la Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa. We visit the boiling geysers of Sol de Mañana which is an impressive geothermal field with pits of boiling mud and strong smells of sulphur.

Our tour continues in the direction of the thermal bath of Polques, a natural source of hot water where we have the possibility to go for a swim. We continue through the South Lipez and we observe the “Damas del Desierto” which are enormous rocks planted in this barren landscape and carved by the wind and weather over the years. We also cross the Dali Desert, which was named in reverence to the Catalan artist because of the resemblance of the landscape with the unreal yet natural colours to the masters’ work.

We continue to the Laguna Verde and Blanca at the foot of the Licancahur where we stop to take a few pictures. The Laguna Verde gets its green colour from the high concentration of lead, arsenic sulphur and calcium – please refrain from bathing;-) From the Laguna Verde we start our drive back north.

We pass by the small village Villamar which seems lost in the middle of the gigantic Lipez desert before passing by the biggest mining project in Bolivian history at San Cristobal. We arrive around 18h00 in Uyuni just in time for a quick dinner before getting the bus to Potosi. Once arrived in Potosi you are transferred to your hotel.*

*Depending on the season and the weather the itinerary will change and there are some sights which are not accessible at all times!

Day10. Potosi – Visit of the Mines (Cerro Rico)* - Sucre

The morning is free and after lunch we start with a visit to the miners market. Custom says it brings good luck to buy Coca leaves, cigarettes, alcohol or even dynamite as presents for the miners that will receive us at their workplace. Once we have finished our purchases we visit one of the mines in the Cerro Rico mountain. The mines here are quite different from western mines, some of them are very old – dug out by hand by the slaves of the Inca Empire and later by African slaves during the Spanish occupation and very narrow and short (not for claustrophobics).

Our visit of the Cerro Rico starts by the “Tio” (uncle) who is the protector of the mines and to whom the miners on many occasions make offerings in order to be protected from bad spells. We visit the 1st level of the mine and have the possibility to descend up to 3 levels below – 500 or 600 m into the depths of the Cerro Rico.

After this impressive visit we return to the hotel to pick up our bags and are from here transferred to the bus terminal for the bus to Sucre. Once installed in the hotel in Sucre the rest of the evening is free.

*Depending on the day it is possible that we visit the mines in the morning and if today falls on a Sunday we do a city tour instead

Day11. Sucre City Tour – La Paz

After breakfast we leave to visit Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia also called the White City. This gem of Baroque art and the Renaissance is the most European cities in Bolivia and probably one of the most beautiful in Latin America. Founded in 1538 by order of Pizarro, Sucre was destined to become the residence and the centre of the Spanish bourgeoisie.

From an architectural point of view, Sucre has remained like a postcard of the 19th century which is of course part of its charm. Sucre is considered the most beautiful city in Bolivia, but apart from its beauty and atmosphere of the 18th & 19th centuries, Sucre also has the advantage of being the historic capital of Bolivia. We visit the various museums, the Convento de Santa Clara and also the Casa de la Libertad, which saw the signing of the Declaration of Independence August 6, 1825 (all visits may vary depending on the day because the museums are closed on Sundays and public holidays).

In the evening we are transferred to the bus terminal for the night bus back to La Paz.

Day12. La Paz Arrival - City Tour

We expect to arrive back to La Paz around 08h00* and you are transferred to your hotel where we get installed and have breakfast. After lunch we go for a visit of La Paz and our first stop is the Plaza Murillo (km 0), where we can see the Presidential Palace, the Parliament and the Cathedral.

We visit the colonial street Calle Jaén and the old part of the town from where we continue to the famous church San Francisco which was built by the indigenous people. From here we visit the popular commercial zone of La Paz with its coloured markets and we walk up the Calle Sagarnaga – the main shopping street for typical clothes and handicrafts.

From here we also visit the Calle de las Brujas (the Witches street) and we finish our tour with a visit to the Indian market San Pedro. The rest of the evening is free to enjoy the last evening in the highest capital in the world.

*Departure and arrival times subject to changes

Day13. La Paz Departure

According to your time of departure, you are transferred from the hotel to the airport. For international flights it is recommended to arrive at the airport 3 hours before scheduled departure.End of our service.

Important: Itinerary can change as a result of weather conditions and some sights are not accessible at all times – Lipiko Tours cannot be held responsible for any changes in itinerary and sights not visited as a result.

General Information

Highlights: Tiwanaku, Chacaltaya, La Paz, Lake Titicaca, Sun Island, Salar de Uyuni, South Lipez, Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, Potosi, Sucre

Support Team: English speaking tour leader for the entire tour for groups of 4 people or more. For smaller groups it is possible to book this tour without a tour leader. Instead you would have guided visits with a local guide in chosen language. Please contact us directly to receive a personalised quote.

Guaranteed departure: from 4 people

Group size: 4 to 12 people

Flights: Prices are valid only in certain tourist/economy classes which serve this destination. Therefore prices are subject to changes in case of unavailability at the time of reservation.

Accommodation: 7 nights in hotel/hostel, 1 night in Eco Lodge, 2 nights in bus and 2 nights in shelter (South Lipez)

Porterage: Your luggage will be transported either by plane, car, boat, or bus. You will have to carry the personal belongings (camera, water, etc.) which you need during the day.

Service: In groups of 4 to 12 people you will be accompanied by a tour leader in the chosen language. His role is to make sure that everything goes smoothly during the tour and that each individual and the group as a whole are safe. Don’t hesitate to ask him if you are unsure of anything and, very important, to follow his advice.

Included in the price:

- Water and land transfers as indicated in the program
- Accommodation in hotel/hostel in double rooms, Ecolodge, shelter, home stay, camping, bus and plane as indicated in the program : 7 nights in hotel/hostel, 1 night in Ecolodge, 2 nights in shelter and 2 nights in bus
- Meals as mentioned in the program
- The assistance of specialised local English speaking guides, their fees and expenses
- The assistance of our local teams; driver(s) and logistics department (24/7)
- Visits as outlined in the program

Not included in the price:

- Entrance fees to sites visited, national parks and museums as indicated in the program
- Meals not mentioned, drinks, tips, individual equipment, everything not mentioned in “included in the price” and all personal expenses
- Individual obligatory personal travel insurance (this could be included with your credit card – please check with your credit card provider)
- The supplement for a single room. Attention; no single room available for the nights with accommodation in shelter, home stay and camping.
- Possible visa expenses
- International flights

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