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 >>
After a days travelling, arrive in Santa Cruz 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.
An hour’s 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 Sunday 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. Your tour shows you narrow, winding streets that contrast with the towering mountains nearby, plus the original mine, the Royal Mint with its preserved Spanish wooden machinery, the cathedral and the cloister of San Francisco.
Stay: One night in a double room in Hotel Coloso.
Salar de Uyuni
Today your hotel is your destination. 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 Pescado featuring fossils and 12 metre high cacti.
Your amazing journey continues through a countryside studded with small lagoons and punctuated by the Desert of Siloli with its eerie landscapes and the famous Stone Tree. You’ll find an abundance of birdlife – flamingos, Andean gulls and ducks – gathering at the lagoons and your camera will also be busy capturing the volcanic and wind-carved rocks that pepper the scenery.
Stay: One night in a standard room at Jardines de Mallku Cueva.
Today you go in search of wildlife like llamas, vicunas and vizcachas, and a host of birds including three different types of flamingos; 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 green waters of Laguna Verde, coloured by magnesium, before returning to the Salt Hotel.
Stay: One night in a double room in Luna Salada Salt Hotel.
Fly over to La Paz and you’ll have time to explore this colonial city by bicycle, calling in at the El Tapado Museum along the way. On your second day in La Paz a tour will take you to Tiwanaku, at one time considered to be the largest city in the world and still capable of impressing you with its Sun Gate, monoliths, Kalasasays and Kontiki temples, the Akapana Pyramid and superb examples of Inca metal and ceramic art work. After Tiwanaku you’ll tour the native, colonial and modern areas of La Paz, including the Indian Market, the Museum of Tiwanaku, the Witchdoctor’s Market and Moon Valley.
Stay: Two nights in a suite at La Casona.
At the world’s highest lake you’ll skim the surface by hydrofoil bound for Moon Island to see the Sun Virgins’ Temple and on to Sun Island to visit Pilcocaina Sun Temple, followed by a llama trek to Posada del Inca. On day two you’ll have the option of a trek to Chincara Ruins close to the island’s sacred rock. Chiuncara has interesting trapezoidal doors and niches that later became a feature of Inca architecture. Your return journey is by motorboat.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Posada del Inca Eco-Lodge
Before travelling back to La Paz you’ll visit the Inca Staircase and Sacred Fountain with waters believed to bestow eternal youth and happiness. Then you move on to browse through a handicraft market and take a hydrofoil to Copacabana to visit 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.
Stay: One night in a suite in La Casona Hotel.
La Paz – Home
Depart from La Paz Airport bound for Miami, where you’ll meet your connecting flight home.