Overland 4×4 Journey: Bolivia’s Southern Altiplano – 14 Days
This tour is designed to incorporate travel along the length of the Altiplano – including Lake Titicaca, Cordillera Real, Salar de Uyuni and the incomparable Sud Lipez region including the colonial and UNESCO cities of Sucre and Potosi.
After acclimatizing around La Paz, the Altiplano and Lake Titicaca we head south into the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat before continuing south into the Sud Lipez region in the remote southwest corner of Bolivia. We visit the Red and Green Lagoons as well as geysers, boiling mud pits and high-altitude moonscapes created by exploding volcanoes millions of years ago. We return via Uyuni to the colonial cities of Potosi (UNESCO) and Sucre where we learn about 500 years of Spanish rule and our ties with the Old World. A complete trip with adventure, panoramic vistas and history. This is a wonderful introduction into the links between the Bolivian highlands and the Altiplano and how it influenced the centuries of exploitation by the Spanish and the current state of affairs. This is not a luxury trip but an adventure to share with your best friends, your significant other, your spouse, your kids and grandchildren.
Prices are in US $ and include all services as per the itinerary.
International airfare is NOT included in this itinerary. For airline tickets, please contact our ticketing agent GEO Travel 1-800-938-7285.
Included are: airport transfers, hotel accommodations (as per the itinerary), meals as noted (B,L,D) , bi-lingual guides, private vehicles, our decades of experience and local knowledge
– Tiered Pricing –
7-10 people 4,195.00/per person
4-6 people 4,545.00/per person
2-3 people 5,525.00/per person
1 person 6,695.00/one person
Please contact us with any questions.
Anyone can book a single spot on any tour at any time. These prices reflect the cost for one person, based on the total number of fully-paid people booked on a trip. If you have more people in your group and/or if the total number of people rises, the cost per person goes down. These prices are NOT based on a person or complete group bringing in a set amount of people on a tour. As more people book a spot on a tour the lower price is spread among all the participants. Thus we encourage you to include friends and family to join you so everyone gets a lower price.
– 2016 Dates –
July 10-23, 2016 SOLD OUT
November 2-15, 2016
– 2017 Dates –
June 11-24, 2017
July 2-15, 2017
September 3-16, 2017
Please note: We can run this trip at any time, so please let us know your date preferences and we will create a custom departure date for you and your group.
– Itinerary –
Typically, flights to Bolivia depart late in the evening from Miami and arrive in La Paz the next morning. Depending on your airline, you would arrive at different times on day 1 in La Paz. Please let us know your flight info so we can coordinate pick-ups and other services.
Day 1: Arrival in La Paz – Afternoon City Tour
Arrival at El Alto International Airport in La Paz in the early morning. Transfer to hotel and free morning to rest and acclimatize. Lunch at the hotel. We have a city tour in the afternoon to see the impressive setting where La Paz sits. There is a group meeting in the early evening with trip leaders and participants to check plans and prepare for the trip. Dinner on your own. *To acclimatize better, we recommend plenty of rest, eating lightly and drinking lots of water and mate de coca (coca tea). Overnight at Hotel Oberland (3*) (L)
Day 2: La Paz – Tiwanaku – Achocalla – La Paz
After breakfast you depart to the ancient port city of Tiwanaku with a professional bi-lingual guide that will share knowledge as to the reason why this civilization vanished and its importance in the middle Andean region. Lunch en route. Afterwards we will return to La Paz via another valley called Achocalla that offers striking views of the Cordillera Real and the canyons next to La Paz and arrive in the Valley of the Moon in the early afternoon. The rest of the day is free to visit La Paz at your own pace and to go shopping for the famous Bolivian Alpaca sweaters and other handicrafts. Dinner on your own. Overnight at Hotel Oberland (3*) (B,L)
Day 3: La Paz – Lake Titicaca – Copacabana
After breakfast we depart north to the portside town of Copacabana on the shores of mystical Lake Titicaca. As we bypass the smaller part of the lake and cross the Altiplano we drop down into the Strait of Tiquina where the vehicle will cross on a barge and you will take a motorized boat to the Peninsula of Copacabana. Once across you will continue your journey high above the lake with spectacular views of the Altiplano, Lake Titicaca and the Islands of the Moon and Sun before arriving in Copacabana. Lunch upon arrival. We will check into the hotel Rosario del Lago then head to the Cupula, high above the town to get a better sense of the relationship between the lake the mountains and this pilgrimage site. The views from this promontory are vast and you will get a chance to catch the sunset this evening and if you are an early-riser the sunrise next morning. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight at Hotel Rosario del Lago (3*). (B,L,D)
Day 4: Copacabana – Oruro – Colchani
An early morning departure from Copacabana is necessary in order to get to Colchani today. The drive heads south along the Altiplano and you will stop in Oruro along the way to get gas and have lunch. The paved road ends soon thereafter as you head south on the only major road to the Salar de Uyuni. A couple of rivers need to be crossed along the way and the journey continues along valleys and ridges until we arrive in Colchani – one of only a few entry points into the salar – in the early evening. Upon arrival we check-in and have dinner. Overnight at Hotel Luna Salada (4*) (B,L,D)
Day 5: Colchani – Salar de Uyuni – Jirira – Tahua
After breakfast we enter the Salar de Uyuni where you will see the salt miners doing their work. You will have time to visit with these people and see how they gather salt and get a sense of the manual labor required to mine tons of salt on a yearly basis, most of it done with picks and shovels. Lunch en route in the middle of the world’s largest salt flat. We continue to the northern edge of the salar and exit via the village of Jirira which sits below Thunupa Volcano. We will visit the village of Coquesa and drive up the volcano to see mummies that are kept in a cave under lock and key. We continue overland to the village of Tahua where you will check into the salt hotel Tayka for the night. Dinner and rest. Overnight at Hotel Tayka de Sal (3*) (B,L,D)
Day 6: Tahua – Salar de Uyuni – San Pedro de Quemez
After breakfast we embark on the journey to the Sud Lipez region staying in comfortable hotels along the way. Today we re-enter the salar and head south to one of the islands called Incahuasi located in the center of the salar. There is time to stop and take a walk to the top of the island in order to enjoy the amazing landscape and beauty of this place. Lunch en route. We exit the salar on the southern edge and head south along the Altiplano gaining height the further south we go. Our destination is the village of San Pedro de Quemez a few hours south of the Salar de Uyuni. The setting is very picturesque and the hotel sits on a hill surrounded by volcanoes. Dinner and rest. Overnight at Hotel Tayka de Piedra (3*). (B,L,D)
Day 7: San Pedro de Quemez – Ojo de Perdiz
After breakfast you will have time for a short walking tour of the area before heading south once again, crossing the Salar de Chiguana and gaining height as you head ever closer to Eduardo Avaroa National Park in the extreme southwestern corner of Bolivia. Today you will have plenty of time to stop and take pictures along the way of volcanoes and vast landscapes and have lunch en route. You will arrive at Ojo de Perdiz in the late afternoon, a location that is surrounded by a painted high-altitude desert of red, beige and rust colors surrounded by the rugged Andes mountains. Dinner and rest. Overnight at Hotel del Desierto (3*). (B,L,D)
Day 8: Ojo de Perdiz – Laguna Colorada
If you want to shoot the flamingos while they are still stuck in the frozen lagoon we need to leave before daylight as the drive is more than an hour long. We can have breakfast at Laguna Colorada after the first few hours of shooting flamingos if you like. It’s a big lagoon so be prepared to walk in order to get to the best photo spots. You can decide how much walking you want to do so the vehicle can pick us up or wait while we are out hiking and shooting. Lunch will be someplace protected from the wind, depending where we are at the time. There is a lot to photograph here so we will stay until after sunset then return to our basic accommodations at the edge of Laguna Colorada in the early evening. Dinner and overnight at Laguna Colorada. Basic accommodations for the night. (B,L,D)
Day 9: Laguna Colorada – Laguna Verde
We depart after breakfast and head south to Laguna Verde that lies below the 6,000 meter Llicancabur Volcano that stradles the Bolivia-Chile border. Along the way there will be innumerable opportunities to shoot incredible landscapes of volcanoes, multi-colored deserts, vast lava flows, sandy washes, schizofrenic rock outcrops as well as wildlife that you will see in this moon-like landscape. You will have an opportunity to soak in some natural hot springs early on the way south so make sure you have your bathing suit handy. Lunch en route. The journey is an incredible one that covers the highlights of the Sud Lipez region like; The Red lagoon, Sol de Manana geyser field with boiling mud pits (they are dangerous – so stay away from the edges!), the Dali Desert full of archaic rock formations that are severely eroded and the amazing Laguna Verde (green lagoon) just a few kilometers from the Chilean border. This is a very high-altitude region and tends to be cold and windy so be prepared for those conditions. We will stay in a basic hotel for the night that offers warmth and shelter from the winter-like conditions outside. Dinner and overnight at a hostel in Laguna Verde. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Laguna Verde – Alota – Uyuni
Today is a long day so we will need to depart soon after an early breakfast towards the village of Alota. You will see more of the spectacular landscape found in the high-altitude Sud Lipez region full of multi-colored lagoons, salt flats, lava flows, andean puna marshes, rocky canyons and sandy desert landscapes. Upon arrival in Alota we will have lunch before continuing north to Uyuni. The Altiplano is full of amazing landscapes and this segment takes you through the Red Desert, named for the red-colored sands and soils found in this region. After crossing a few small rivers we should arrive in Uyuni for a much deserved rest and a hot shower in the late afternoon. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at a Hotel Magia de Uyuni. (3*). (B,L,D)
Day 11: Uyuni – Potosi – Sucre
In the morning we head east to the imperial colonial city of Potosi and onwards to the capital of Bolivia, Sucre. The terrain and scenery along the way encompasses river canyons, ridges and active as well as abandoned and active mining centers. The red earth and weeping willows are a beautiful contrast to the desert-like Altiplano we just left. In the late morning we will arrive in the world’s highest major city, Potosi that sits at 3,960m/12,989′ asl. The setting is nothing short of spectacular and its height will take your breath away, literally. The drive from Uyuni is about 3 1/2 hours on a mostly paved road and very impressive. We will have lunch in Potosi upon arrival then continue to Sucre that has a much nicer climate and is much lower in elevation and sits at 2,835m/9,397′ asl’. The drive to Sucre is about 2 1/2 hours on a paved road with spectacular views of mesas, canyons and agricultural lands. Upon arrival we will check into our hotel for a shower and some rest before heading out for dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at Hostal De Su Merced (4*) (B,L,D)
Day 12: Sucre
Today we get to enjoy the climate and much lower altitude of Sucre (also known as Charcas) a very pretty and quaint colonial city. We will visit some of the most prominent landmarks and a museum that will show the splendor of Colonial Bolivia as well as shed light on the cruel history of the mines as well. Lunch at a local restaurant in Sucre. The afternoon is dedicated to enjoying Sucre’s climate and walking around town to get a better sense of the place which is fascinating, especially the colonial architecture which is maintained very well. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at Hostal De Su Merced (4*) (B,L,D)
Day 13: Sucre – Potosi – Cayara
After breakfast we head up to Potosi and you should be well acclimatized at this time so it’s appropriate to experience one of the unique opportunities available to us in Potosi – visiting the mines of Cerro Rico. Upon arrival we will have lunch. Afterwards we visit a mine cooperative that allow non-miners to enter into the heart of Cerro Rico. We will be provided with all the gear we need to enter the mine, just bring your camera, a fast lens and a flash. It gets very warm inside the mines, even though it may be quite cold outside so we will address how and what to wear. This mountain is the source of the seemingly never-ending wealth of which the Spanish monarchy eagerly exploited in order to enrich themselves. It has been said that a bridge made of silver could have been built from Potosi to Madrid based on the quantities of silver extracted from this one mountain! It will be dark, cramped, dirty and somewhat hazardous but it provides amazing photo ops! Then we visit the Casa de la Moneda (The Spanish Mint) to get a better sense of money, wealth and slavery and how it all ties to Bolivia’s convoluted history. Walking the narrow alleys and streets of Potosi is the best way to find great photos that show the character and sense of what Potosi is all about. We will spend the night in a colonial-era hacienda called Cayara which is a living museum and a great place to re-live Bolivia’s colorful history. The hacienda sits well below Potosi and is about 30-minutes away. We can enjoy the Mediterranean climate and have time to freshen-up before dinner at the hostal. Overnight at Hostal Cayara (3*) (B,L,D)
Day 14: Cayara – Oruro – La Paz
The drive to La Paz is pretty spectacular because it stays high in the mountains for the first half of the trip and it’s on a paved road all the way to La Paz so, it’s fast and comfortable. Along the way you will see multi-colored valleys, high peaks, green puna with llamas and alpacas grazing. The closer we get to La Paz you will see the glacier-covered peaks of the Cordillera Real rising above the Altiplano. The scenery is truly amazing and should provide plenty of visual appeal along the entire route. We should arrive in La Paz in the early evening. Group dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate a wonderful and adventurous journey of the Bolivian highland region. Overnight at Hotel El Rey Palace (4*). (B,L,D)
Tonight marks the official end of this tour but we provide complimentary shuttle service to the airport the next day. Please let us know your flight schedule ahead of time to coordinate the shuttle service.
Day 15: Depart La Paz – Home
We provide a complimentary shuttle service to the airport for those departing today.
End of our services.
Below is a regional map of the route (subject to change) where we will spend two weeks covering the surreal Lake Titicaca highlands and the incomparable Southern Altiplano.