Its main city of Santa Cruz offers Inca ruins with enigmatic rock carvings dating back hundreds of years. Sucre has a market where the locals still wear Conquistador-style leather helmets. Potosi has an ancient silver mine and Royal Mint with original wooden machinery. La Paz is the ideal base for visiting Tiwanaku’s museum, its Sun Gate, monoliths, temples and the Akapana Pyramid.
And then there are the natural marvels. Glittering white salt pans, a desert with weird rock formations and a stone tree, a geothermal region with spouting fumaroles and active geysers…
Nigel Richardson travelled with The Ultimate Travel Company to Bolivia and wrote about his experience for The Sunday Telegraph, rating this itinerary 10/10! Read article here >>
London – Miami – Santa Cruz
Check into London Heathrow for your flight to Santa Cruz via Miami, arriving early the following morning.
You’ll be staying in one of the city’s most exclusive and lively areas – Equipetrol Norde – just five minutes from downtown Santa Cruz. So you’ll be ideally placed to catch the atmosphere of the area. You’ll also be able to take an optional tour to see the mesmerising Inca ruins of Samaipata with their intriguing rock carvings. Afterwards you can bathe at Las Cuevas and El Chorro waterfalls.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room in Hotel Camino Real.
A short flight lands you in the colonial city of Sucre. Here you can browse through the history of Bolivia, via the cathedral, churches and cloisters of La Recoleta, San Felipe and Guadalupe. You’ll visit the significant House of Liberty, where Simon Bolivar signed the Declaration of Independence, and the University Museum to see displays of anthropological research, colonial and modern art. On Sundays, you can take an optional tour to the traditional Tarabuco market and native fair where locals still wear leather helmets inspired by the Conquistadors.
Stay: Two nights in a junior suite at Parador Santa Maria La Real.
Today you embark upon a three hour drive through gorgeous scenery to arrive at the ancient silver mining town of Potosi – proclaimed by UNESCO to be the ‘Historical and Cultural Legacy of Mankind’. Explore the city’s narrow, winding streets that contrast with the towering mountains nearby, and enjoy a visit to the local miner’s market.
Stay: One night in a standard room at the Museo Cayara Hotel – breakfast & dinner
Before leaving Potosi you will visit the Casa da le Moneda (the Royal Mint) with its preserved Spanish wooden machinery, the cathedral and the cloister of San Francisco. Afterwards you continue your journey, stopping en route at the Train cemetery to see the old steam locomotives.
Uyuni is the largest salt flat on Earth, located on the Bolivian Andean High Plateau. It’s a totally silent, surreal place with great pentagons of crystalline salt, vast skies, deep blue lagoons and the Isla “Incawasi” featuring fossils and 12 metre high cacti. Today your hotel, built almost entirely out of salt, is a destination in itself.
Stay: One night in a deluxe room at Luna Salada Salt Hotel – breakfast & dinner
Today your amazing journey continues to Soniquera and your remote desert hotel. Though small and rustic, you’ll find yourself perfectly situated for exploring the spectacular nearby lagoons.
Stay: One night in a standard room at the Takya del Desierto – breakfast & dinner
Today you visit Laguna Colorada with its incredible red-coloured waters. The lagoon hosts an array of unique wildlife such as llamas, vicunas and vizcachas, and a host of birds including three different types of flamingo; the red-plumed tokoko, white chururu and the pinkish jututu. Your tour will also take you to the highly active Sol de Manana Geysers – a geothermal region of volcanic craters, fumaroles spouting superheated steam, and statuesque rock formations. Next come the emerald green waters of Laguna Verde, coloured by magnesium, before returning to the Salt Hotel.
Stay: One night in a deluxe room at the Luna Salada Salt Hotel – breakfast & dinner
Fly over to La Paz, a culturally diverse city surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of Illimani and the Cordillera Real of the Andes. You’ll have time to tour the native, colonial and modern areas of La Paz, including the Indian Market, the Museum of Tiwanaku and the Witchdoctor’s Market. Finish with a cable car ride for sensational views.
Stay: One night in a deluxe room at the Atix Hotel – bed & breakfast
Transfer to Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake, where you’ll board a Hydrofoil cruise bound for Sun Island. You’ll visit the Pilcocaina Sun Temple, before taking a llama trek to Posada del Inca. The afternoon is at your leisure, which you can spend exploring the bucolic surroundings.
Stay: One night in a standard room at the Posada del Inca – breakfast & dinner
Before travelling back to La Paz you’ll visit the Inca Staircase and Sacred Fountain with waters believed to bestow eternal youth and happiness. After browsing through a handicraft market you’ll take a Hydrofoil to Moon Island, home of the Sun Virgin’s Temple, followed by Copacabana and the shrine of the Dark Virgin. Next you journey to the Andean Roots Village at Huatajata to learn more about the heritage of the Aymaras and the Incas. You’ll see mud igloos and traditional fishing villages, even meeting the family who helped build the rafts Thor Heyerdhal used for his Atlantic crossings.
On your second day in La Paz a tour will take you to Tiwanaku, the birthplace of the Inca culture. At one time considered to be the largest city in the world, it is still capable of impressing you with its Sun Gate, monoliths, Kalasasay and Kontiki temples, the Akapana Pyramid and superb examples of Inca metal and ceramic art work.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at the Atix Hotel – bed & breakfast
La Paz – Miami – London
Depart from La Paz Airport bound for Miami, where you’ll meet your connecting flight home.