Travel to Bolivia and experience the highlights of this breathtaking region

Explore the best of Bolivia on this adventure through lively cities, breathtaking scenery and colourful market towns. From the extreme elevation of bustling La Paz through the history of Potosi and on to the surreal salt flats of Salar de Uyuni, there's a diverse mix of adventures and activities that deliver excitement, intrigue and pleasure. Discover the highlights of this fascinating part of South America and be swept away by the colour and beauty flourishing in this corner of the earth.


Start
La Paz, Bolivia
Finish
La Paz, Bolivia
Country
Bolivia
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
GGSV
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • See the many different sides to Bolivia in La Paz and let the city’s weird and wacky Witches Market cast a spell over you

  • Choose to explore the extra-terrestrial landscapes of Valle de la Luna, a maze of canyons and colossal clay spires that feels like the surface of the Moon

  • Discover the heart of Bolivia in the elegant colonial architecture and immaculately landscaped gardens of historical Sucre

  • Delve into the steep streets and Spanish colonial architecture of Potosi, once one of the richest cities in the world

  • Empty, haunting and spectacular, the laws of earthly physics bend on the surreal Salar de Uyuni saltpan – experience it on a three-day 4WD adventure across the rocky Atacama Desert

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.

  • You'll be spending a lot of time in a 4WD crossing some bumpy surfaces. This is the best way to see the sights in and around Uyuni, and is all part of the adventure.

  • In Bolivia (especially in Uyuni), sometimes things don't go to plan. For example, an attraction may be closed for the day with no notice or reason. Although this doesn't happen very often, please be prepared for the possibility.

  • Making your way across the Andean Desert and salt flats isn’t exactly luxurious. Temperatures in the area can be very cold, especially at night, so bring warm clothes with you. Meals are simple, toilet facilities are basic, showers can be cold and the multi-share accommodation is dormitory-style. This is all part of the adventure. Without a doubt, this amazing experience will be one of the highlights of your trip to South America.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Kamisaki! Welcome to Bolivia. At around 3,600 metres, La Paz feels like the top of the world its far from it! Although Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, La Paz is the centre of commerce, finance and industry. Despite the abundance of colonial architecture, La Paz's indigenous roots run deep, and the atmosphere in the market-filled streets is both modern and traditional. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. After the meeting, maybe head out into the city, situated in the middle of a vast volcanic crater. Breathe the ‘thin’ air, marvel at the vistas of buildings clinging to the canyonsides, and explore the lively streets like Calle Jaen.

Notes: Altitude Sickness – This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this. Death Road Biking To Coroico – Please note that our leaders are not able to organize this activity for you due to safety concerns. Injuries are very common and there have been a number of fatal accidents.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free for you to explore the city and its surrounds. Perhaps hop on a local bus out to the extraordinary landscape of Moon Valley. This isn’t a valley, but a maze of canyons and colossal clay spires. These rugged oddities, caused by erosion, make for staggering views. La Paz is also renowned for its many markets, including the Mercado de Hechiceria or Witches’ Market. Take a cable car 13,000ft to the twin city of El Alto and browse through the weird and wonderful stalls that sell everything from potions to incantations made from herbs, seeds and unidentified bits and pieces to cure any ailment. If this is all too much for you, try the more conventional markets where you'll find ponchos, gloves, hats and many other products made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials. If you want to discover more about the region’s fascinating history, maybe enjoy a half-day tour to the Tiwanaku ruins outside of La Paz. Another great optional activity is a full-day tour to the coffee and coca plantations of Coroico, situated in the rainforest below the city.

Notes: This trip is part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may have started their trip in Lima, 15 days ago on Peru and Bolivia Uncovered (GGSUC).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • La Paz - Food with Altitude - Urban Adventure - USD57
  • La Paz - To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond - Urban Adventures - USD41
  • Chacaltaya tour half day (Pool) - BOB80
  • Coca Museum - BOB8
  • La Paz - Moon Valley tour - USD10
  • La Paz - Visit to the 'Witches Market' - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel to Uyuni by private transport (approximately 9 hours), with stops along the way to stretch legs and enjoy the scenery. Arriving in Uyuni feels a bit like you've reached the end of the road, which in many ways is true. This remote small town sits on the edge of the high altiplano, a wilderness that extends for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. So it's hardly surprising that the town has a bit of a wild west feel about it. Uyuni is best known for its proximity to the Bolivian salt flats known locally as the Salar de Uyuni. The town was once a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals on their way to Pacific Ocean ports. In the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed and many trains were abandoned. Tonight you’ll stay at a hotel in Uyuni Town. The hotel is basic, however it’s clean, comfortable and has hot water (make the most of this as you may not have a hot shower for the next couple of days).
Accommodation
  • Basic Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The area is notorious for being extremely cold, so it’s important to pack warm clothing and base layers.
Uyuni is the starting point of your three-day 4WD excursion into Salar de Uyuni and the Andean desert. Stop by the Train Cemetery three kilometres outside of Uyuni Town, connected to it by the old train tracks, and see where families of geriatric locomotives rust slowly in the sun. The remainder of the day is spent mostly on the salt lake itself. Spanning over 12,000 square kilometres, and heaving with around ten billion tonnes of salt, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest saltpan. Pass salt-mines and visit Inkawasi – a rocky, cactus and coral-like structure covered island erupting from the monotonous salt crust like a hallucination. Spend time walking around admiring the unusual yet beautiful landscapes. The massive salt plains of Bolivia are an incredible sight and offer plenty of opportunities for bizarre, perspective-defying photos. Endless blue skies meet endless white salt on what was once a prehistoric lake. Make the most of your time here, taking as many photos as possible in this incredible place, as the following day you’ll leave the salt flats for the Andean Desert. At the end of the day, drive to your basic accommodation on the salt plains.

Accommodation
  • Dormitory (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
December to March departures:
Please be aware that from December to March, there’s a risk of the salt lake being flooded. If this is the case, the itinerary will be adapted to accommodate this.

Accommodation:
Our accommodation tonight is very basic. Toilet facilities are basic, showers can be cold and the multi-share accommodation is dormitory-style.
Today will be spent driving through the spectacular landscape of the Andean (Atacama) Siloli Desert, which is sprinkled with volcanoes and lakes. During this drive you’ll reach an altitude of approximately 4,800 metres above sea level, so it’s important to revisit the notes on altitude sickness (please see the ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections of the trip notes). Stop by Laguna Colorada (red lake), a rich red lake vividly coloured by algae and rich minerals. One of the strangest sights in such arid and inhospitable land is the abundant wildlife. Spot llamas, flamingos, vicuñas, and foxes.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Accommodation:
Accommodation in the desert is very basic. Shower facilities if any can be unreliable and cold, as the pipes often freeze in the winter months. Electricity is generated by solar panels and generators, so there won’t be enough power to charge electronic devices. The Desert is at high altitude and can experience extremely cold weather, particularly at night.



Apart from geysers and snow-capped volcanoes, the volcanic landscape also hosts some stunning natural hot springs. This morning stop by the desert’s natural thermal baths for a soak and then head back to Uyuni. ( Today will be a long day, approximately 12 hours before arriving back at Uyuni Town) Back in town wander around the streets of this outback settlement and just chill out before heading to Potosi tomorrow.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
In the morning take a local bus to Potosi (approximately 3-4 hours). The highest city of its kind in the world, Potosi has had a turbulent past, centred mostly around its mining successes and failures. During the Spanish colonial days, the extensive mining of Potosi's silver rich Cerro Rico was said to have kept Spain running for 300 years. During this time, Potosi briefly celebrated life as one of the richest cities in the world. In the 1800s, the supply of silver declined, as did the market price, and the city started to suffer. Working conditions in the mines were appalling and huge numbers of indigenous people died. African slaves were brought in to replace them and it's said that as many as 8 million people died in the mines during the Spanish era. Perhaps visit the Santa Teresa Convent Museum to observe the art and treasures on display inside the convent’s original walls.
Optional Activities
  • Potosi - Casa de la Moneda - BOB48
  • Potosi - Convento y Museo de Santa Teresa - BOB30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Potosi Mine Tours:
We strongly recommend against doing a tour that enters the mine, and should you do so anyway it will be at your own risk. Please note that our leaders are not able to organize this activity for you due to the safety concerns
A journey by local bus along a well-maintained road takes you to Sucre (approximately 3-4 hours). Descending more than 1,000 metres to the temperate valleys of Chuquisaca, small rivers, cactus fields, fruit and vegetable plantations dominate the valley. Sucre is a pleasant city set in a valley surrounded by low mountains and has retained the flavour of its colonial heritage in its churches, museums and ancient mansions. Bolivia's official capital, Sucre was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. Most of the town's colonial buildings have been whitewashed, earning it the nickname the 'White City'. On arrival, you'll have plenty of free time to explore the city and get your bearings.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The next two days are free to explore the town or partake in some of the optional activities available. Please speak to your leader for more information. You might like to visit the Museo de la Recoleta. This 400-year-old convent on top of the hill provides great views over the city and is home to a fascinating collection of sculptures and paintings. Maybe head to the Plaza 25 de Mayo to rub shoulders with Sucre's affluent residents and investigate the extravagant interior of the Senora de la Merced. For something completely different, compare shoe sizes with a dinosaur at Cal Orcko, where 68 million-year-old footprints have been discovered. This is the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world, over 12,000 of them! There’s also proud food culture in Sucre, so enjoy some delicious saltenas (Bolivia's version of empanadas) at a restaurant or fresh juice at the Central Market.
Optional Activities
  • Sucre - Casa de la Libertad - BOB21
  • Sucre - Dinosaur footprints at Cal Orcko - BOB35
  • Tarabuco Market - BOB45
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
Take a flight back to La Paz from Sucre airport today, which should only take around 30-40 minutes. The rest of your day is free to relax or explore more of the city. Maybe head to the Mirador Killi Killi Lookout, located on top of a steep hill in the neighbourhood of Villa Pabon, and one of La Paz’s most impressive viewing points. Nearby is the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, which exhibits a wide collection of stunning works that takes you through Bolivian history. Perhaps visit the Coca Museum, which isn’t too far from your hotel in the Rosario district. If there’s time, you might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure tours. When the sun sets and the temperature drops, gather together you travel buddies and join the locals in seeking warmth in a bar or restaurant, and celebrate the end of your Bolivian adventure.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Departure Tax: Please note you will be required to pay an airport departure taxt today which is approximately BOB11.
Your exploration of Bolivia's highlights comes to an end this morning. As there are no more activities planned, you're free to book your departure flights when you like and you can leave the accommodation at any time.
Optional Activities
  • La Paz - To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond - Urban Adventures - USD41
  • La Paz - Food with Altitude - Urban Adventure - USD57
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

10 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Plane, 4X4, Local bus, Private Vehicle

Accommodation

Dormitory (2 nights), Hotel (9 nights)

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS:
A single supplement is available on this trip except for Day 4 & 5 at Salar de Uyuni and the desert where accommodation is multi-share

GROUP SIZE IN UYUNI:
The excursion to Uyuni salt lake is on shared basis and your group size may be larger than12 travellers.

BOLIVIAN VISA FOR U.S CITIZENS
Nationals from the United States need a visa to enter Bolivia and you we highly recommend you obtain this visa in advance from your nearest Bolivian consulate or Embassy. Not obtaining the visa in advance is likely to cause long delays at the border.
Please see the visa information on these trip notes for more information.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Bolivia Highlights trips score an average of 4.59 out of 5 based on 46 reviews in the last year.

2016 Bolivia Highlights, October 2016

Marisa Warren

2016 Bolivia Highlights, November 2016

Judith Dedmon