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Eastern Lowlands And Altiplano Tour

Eastern Lowlands And Altiplano Tour Packages
Itinerary in Brief This tour starts at a low altitude (430m/1.411ft) in the eastern lowlands in the heart of the department of Santa Cruz where we visit the Jesuit Missions, the Amboro National Park, and . .
Country: Bolivia
City: Santa Cruz De La Sierra
Duration: 18 Day(s) - 17 Night(s)
Tour Category: Classic Tours
Departure Date: Thu 01 Jan '99

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Package Itinerary

Itinerary in Brief

This tour starts at a low altitude (430m/1.411ft) in the eastern lowlands in the heart of the department of Santa Cruz where we visit the Jesuit Missions, the Amboro National Park, and Samaipata. We continue to Sucre which is also called “the White City” and Potosi where we visit the mines of Cerro Rico. We head south towards Uyuni from where we visit the famous 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 the southern direction, we cross the Lipez desert with its volcanoes, Lagunas as well as its rich animal life (Llama, 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 administrative capital of Bolivia, La Paz and we visit Copacabana, Lake Titicaca, and Sun Island.

Day1. Arrival in Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Today you arrive in Santa Cruz de la Sierra at the International Airport Viru Viru from where you will be transferred to your hotel. There are no activities planned for today and you can take the time to explore Santa Cruz on foot.

Day2. Santa Cruz de la Sierra – San Javier – Concepción

We leave at 08h00 after breakfast to visit the Jesuit Missions San Javier (San Xavier) and Concepción. We pass by the villages of Puerto, Pailon, and San Ramon where we stop for lunch, and in the afternoon we visit the Jesuit church of San Javier, the National Museum, and the handicraft center. We continue to visit “Las Piedras del Paquio” (Buffalo farm) before continuing toward Concepción. We get installed in the hotel around 18h00 and the rest of the evening is free.

Day3. Concepción – Santa Cruz de la Sierra

We leave around 09h45 after breakfast to visit the church of Concepción, the National Museum, and the handicraft workshop (except on weekends) as well as the anthropology museum or the Casa España. We visit the viewpoint of the Zapocó dam where we can observe different birds of prey and after lunch, we return to Santa Cruz (around 18h00) and the evening is free.

Day4. Santa Cruz de la Sierra – Samaipata – Santa Cruz de la Sierra

We leave Santa Cruz after breakfast to reach the high valleys in order to visit Fort Samaipata “El Fuerte de Samaipata” which was declared a cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 1998. Upon arrival, we leave on foot along with our local guide to discover the archaeological site.

The ceremonial center of Samaipata is the most important pre-Hispanic work of South America and ancient cultures have carved figurines of animals (snakes and pumas), channels, and triangular niches on a stone block. After this impressive visit, we return to Santa Cruz where the rest of the day is free.

Day5. Santa Cruz de la Sierra – Park Amboró – Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Today we leave to visit the exuberant jungle of the Amboro National Park situated 2 hours from Santa Cruz. We start our visit from the “Refugio” which is well hidden at the bottom of a valley and allows for impressive panoramic views of the exceptional place. On one side we have volcano summits and on the other side tropical rain forest.

We spend the day getting an insight into the local flora and fauna and return to Santa Cruz late afternoon where the evening is free.

Day6. Santa Cruz de la Sierra – Sucre City Tour

After breakfast, we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Sucre (departure times vary depending on the day). Arrived in Sucre we were transferred to the hotel and after lunch, we left 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 the order of Pizarro, Sucre was destined to become the residence and the center 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 on August 6, 1825 (all visits may vary depending on the day because the museums are closed on Sundays and public holidays). The evening is free to enjoy Sucre.

Day7. Sucre – Potosi City Tour

At 08h00 we leave Sucre by bus for Potosi. Potosi was once one of the largest cities in the world with a population of over 200.000 people and is one of the highest cities in the world. It lies beneath the Cerro Rico Mountain (“rich mountain”) which was the reason for the town’s historical importance because of its important silver ore.

Arrived in Potosi we went for a tour of the city which is still considered one of the most beautiful cities in Bolivia. We visit the Casa de la Moneda, the museum and the Santa Teresa Convent, the Cathedral, and the Compañía de Jesus Tower. The evening is free to enjoy Potosi.

Day8. Potosi – Visit of the Mines (Cerro Rico)*

At 08h00 we leave to visit the miner's market. Customs 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 to Cerro Rico starts with 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. The afternoon and evening are 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

Day9. Potosi - Uyuni

After breakfast, we were transferred to the bus terminal for the bus to Uyuni. This small town east of the Salar de Uyuni was once a railway transit town and still has two train lines thanks to the Chuquicamata mine in Chile and tourism. From Potosi, we drive through the beautiful landscape of the volcanic Cordillera Los Frailes and we expect to arrive in Uyuni around 16h00. The evening is free to enjoy Uyuni before our visit to the Salar de Uyuni in the morning.

Day10. 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 whose 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, jewelry, 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 that 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 was 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!

Day11. 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 afar, 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 color 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 that are not accessible at all times!

Day12. 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 – La Paz

Our tour continues in the 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 colors of 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 color from the high concentration of lead, arsenic sulfur, 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 back to La Paz.*

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

Day13. Arrival in La Paz – City Tour

We expect to arrive back in La Paz around 07h00 and you will be transferred to your hotel where you can leave your bags before going for breakfast (not included).

After lunch, we go for a visit to 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 colored 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 in San Pedro. The rest of the evening is free to enjoy the highest capital in the world.

*Departure and arrival times subject to changes

Day14. La Paz – Copacabana

At 7:30 a.m. we take the bus to Copacabana. The road runs parallel to Lake Titicaca and the Royal Cordilleras to Copacabana and we require allow for approx. 3 and a half hours to reach the city. After checking in at the hotel and having lunch, we will visit the city of Copacabana.

We first visit the Basilica of Copacabana with its famous figure of the Virgin Mary, which attracts thousands of local tourists every year, and then we can climb the Cerro Calvario (Mount Calvary), which was considered a holy mountain even before the rule of the Incas and is still a popular pilgrimage destination today. The evening is at leisure.

Day15. Copacabana – Isla del Sol (Sun Island)

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 of 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.

Day16. Isla del Sol – Copacabana – La Paz

In the morning we descend the Inca Staircase (204 steps). This staircase which is still in 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. Upon arrival in La Paz, we are transferred to the hotel and the evening is free.

Day17. La Paz – Tiwanaku – La Paz

We leave around 08h30 for our visit to the ruins of Tiwanaku, the capital of the pre-Inca empire. Tiwanaku was one of the oldest civilizations 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 into the 13 centuries of history that make Tiwanaku the oldest civilization in Latin America. After our visit to the site, we had lunch (not included) in a typical restaurant where we had the opportunity to taste quinoa; the most important grain of the Andes. After lunch (not included) we return to La Paz and the rest of the day is free.

Day18. La Paz Departure

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

Important: The 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: Jesuit Missions, Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Sucre, Potosi, Salar de Uyuni, South Lipez, Laguna Colorada, La Paz, Copacabana, Lake Titicaca, Sun Island

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 your chosen language. Please contact us directly to receive a personalized 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.

- National flight Santa Cruz - Sucre

Accommodation: 13 nights in hotel/hostel, 1 night in Eco Lodge, 1 night in the bus, and 2 nights in the 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.

Tour Leader: 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: 13 nights in hotel/hostel, 1 night in Ecolodge, 2 nights in shelter and 1 night in bus
- Meals as mentioned in the program
- The assistance of specialized 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
- National flight Santa Cruz - Sucre

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 is available for the nights with accommodation in a shelter, homestay, or camping.
- Possible visa expenses
- International flights

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