Despite sharing a rich Inca and Spanish colonial heritage, not to mention stunning mountain scenery, with its neighbour Peru, Bolivia remains largely unexplored by visitors. This itinerary unlocks the secrets of this isolated country high in the Andes.
You begin in the picturesque grandeur of the Peruvian Andes and the legendary Inca strongholds of Cusco, Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo, before travelling overland via Lake Titicaca to La Paz. Here, in the world’s highest capital city, you’ll find an enchanting mix of colonial architecture and lively Indian street markets.
You then travel south to explore the stunning salt pans of the Salar de Uyuni, before finishing in the vibrant city of Santa Cruz where you will have access to a wealth of exciting outdoor activities.
London – Madrid – Lima
Day 1: Check in at London Gatwick for your flight to Madrid, where you will connect with an onward flight to Lima.
Day 2: Arriving in Lima, the ‘City of Kings’, in the early morning, you will be met at the airport and driven to your centrally located B&B.
Founded by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, Peru’s capital has become a thriving metropolis whilst keeping in touch with its cultural legacy. A private tour will show you the historic downtown area with its wonderful baroque churches, impressive colonial architecture and internationally respected museums. Continue on to San Isidro and the fashionable Miraflores district. If you’re an enthusiastic foodie, you’ll be thrilled to know that Lima boasts two of the top ten restaurants in the world – Central and Maido.
Stay: One night in a balcony room at Hotel De Autor – bed & breakfast
After breakfast you will board a short flight to Cusco, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the heart of the Urubamba Valley. Otherwise known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Urubamba region is awash with relics of this ancient civilisation. You can explore the colourful markets of Pisac; wander around the imposing fortress and canals of Ollantaytambo – the oldest continuously occupied village in the Americas; and visit the salt mines of Maras. Don’t miss a visit to the huge agricultural terraces near Moray which were used as a botanical lab by the Incas.
Stay: Two nights in a superior casita at the Sol y Luna Hotel – bed & breakfast
On day four of your trip the Vistadome train will whisk you away to Aguas Calientes, gateway to the legendary Machu Picchu. A testament to the might of the Inca Empire, this ancient citadel lay hidden in the jungle for centuries until uncovered by explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911. The terraces of time-forgotten buildings tumbling down the side of the mountain, the temples, staircases and palaces of this site are all beautifully preserved. Without doubt one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Stay: One night in a superior room at the Inkaterra Macchu Picchu Hotel – half board
You’ll have time this morning for a private guided tour of the ruins before boarding the train back to Cusco. The former capital of the Inca Empire and now on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, Cusco is a real joy to explore. Walking around the city’s cobblestone streets, you’ll find the impressive Inca remains of the Temple of the Sun, beautiful Andean Baroque-style architecture and elegant colonial mansions. The mighty walls of the Sacsayhuaman Fortress are just 10 minutes outside the city.
Stay: Two nights in a Patio suite at the Inkaterra La Casona – bed & breakfast
Today you will embark on a long but incredibly scenic train journey to Puno. Crossing the valleys of the altiplano and the mighty Andean mountains, this is a superb way to see the country. Once there, you will be taken to your hotel which has a privileged position on the shores of Lake Titicaca, just minutes from downtown Puno.
Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, the legendary Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and sits in an area of supreme natural beauty. Here you will discover the rich cultural heritage and archaeological wonders left by the Aymara and Quechua Indians who pre-date the Incas some 1,000 years. Boat excursions to the floating Uros reed islands, the islands of Taquile and Amanatani, and the Isla Del Sol – believed to be the birthplace of the first Inca – are all on offer.
Stay: Two nights in a superior room at the Libertador Esteves – bed & breakfast
Your journey now takes you into Bolivia. A private transfer will take you to Copacabana, where you will embark on a hydrofoil cruise to Sun Island. Here you’ll visit the Inca ‘Grand Stairs’ and the Sacred Fountain – believed to grant eternal youth and happiness to those who drink from it. After lunch, there’s time to visit the Sun Virgins Temple on Moon Island before boarding the cruise to Cocotoni, after which you will be taken to your hotel in La Paz.
Circled by the impressive Cordillera Real mountain range, La Paz is a melting pot of cultures and home to the largest indigenous population in South America. You’ll explore the colonial heart of the city with visits to the San Francisco Church, Gold Museum and Murillo Square. You can browse the Witch Doctor’s Market with its interesting handicrafts and artefacts, and jump on the recently installed cable car to admire the beauty of the city from up high.
Stay: Two nights in a superior room at the Atix Hotel – bed & breakfast
Now it’s time to catch a flight to Uyuni, where you will be met by your driver/guide and begin your journey to the mesmerising Salar de Uyuni. The world’s largest salt flat at over 12,000 square kilometres, the surreal beauty and flatness of this vast expanse will take your breath away. Included in your stay is a visit to the fascinating Isla Pescado in the centre of the salt pan where you will find a unique oasis-type ecosystem. Your hotel – made almost entirely out of salt – is an attraction in itself.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at the Luna Salada Hotel – half board
The last stop on your holiday is Santa Cruz, staying in one of the city’s most exclusive and lively areas – Equipetrol Norde. Santa Cruz’s tropical climate, low altitude, incredible wildlife and exciting nightlife make it unique to other parts of the country. It’s also the gateway to some of Bolivia’s most adventurous outdoor activities, which include sand boarding, river rafting and hiking. Enjoy a private tour of the city in the afternoon.
Stay: One night in a standard room at the Camino Real – bed & breakfast
Santa Cruz – Madrid – London
Today you will be privately transferred to the airport for your overnight flight to Madrid. Connect with the onward flight to London Gatwick.