Photo Workshop: Bolivia’s Ancient Andean Highlands – 7 Days
This photographic journey is led by Sergio Ballivian and Raymond Gehman (a National Geographic Photographer for 15+ years) , offering a hands-on teaching and learning workshop from a native-born son La Paz, Bolivia.
It is specifically designed to concentrate in the regions on the western Andes mountains of Bolivia. The extreme variety of terrain, vistas and climates as well as a smorgasbord of different native people make this photo tour an all-encompassing regional tour-de-force. The trip begins in La Paz (av, height 12,500′/3,810 mts.), a unique city that hides inside a massive bowl at the foot of triple-crowned Mt. Illimani (21,163′/6,452mts.) with a population of close to a million people, all clamoring to extract a place to live as the city crawls up the sides of the bowl and spilling onto the wind-swept Altiplano. There is no other city like this one anywhere in the world. It won the recognition as one of the 7 urban owners of the world in 2014. A series of rugged canyons extend from the center of La Paz in all directions while the Altiplano overlooks the spectacle and is where our journey continues as we head to the jewel of the Andes and the birthplace of the Incas – the Island of the Sun on sacred Lake Titicaca. At almost every point along the route the massive Cordillera Real looms above everything else and is part of our route as we photograph it from below, at mid-height and from Lake Titicaca as well. There is plenty of time to visit the canyons that make up the crumbling arms of the arid valleys near La Paz that are mostly made of ancient multi-colored mud that are extremely photogenic. Lake Titicaca, Copacabana and the Island of the Sun (Isla Del Sol) is our base for a few days to experience it’s different moods and faces as it changes from the cool morning blues to the sun-drenched afternoons where sunsets tend to be extremely colorful. The people are always busy tending to their animals or crops so we will have many opportunities to photograph life in a simple and mostly unchanged manner that has been around for centuries. Once acclimatized we will head into the heart of the Cordillera Real so you can get eye-to-eye with a 20,000′/6,000 m peak only a couple of hours from downtown La Paz. We will end our photographic journey in La Paz before you head back home with fond memories and great images to share.
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: 3,495.00/per person
4-6 people: 3,980.00/per person
2-3 people: 4,490.00/per person
1 person: 5,475.00/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.
– 2017 Dates –
May 21-27, 2017 (Sat-Sun)
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 airport shuttle schedules and other services.
Day 1 / Sun / May 24: La Paz – City Tour – La Paz
Pick-up and transfer IN from the airport to Hotel Oberland Hotel in Mallasa located in the Valley of the Moon district. The rest of the morning is free for you to rest and relax and acclimatize. Lunch on your own (we suggest the restaurant at the hotel). At 2:00 PM we depart on a city tour of La Paz’s canyon, visiting different neighborhoods, scenic points of view and open-air markets as well as nearby outskirts for scenic views of this city. Dinner together at the hotel. Overnight at Hotel Oberland (3*). (D)
Day 2 / Mon / May 25: La Paz – Andean Foothills and Valleys – La Paz
After breakfast we depart in the morning and head south along the canyons that lead south and east out of La Paz into the Rio Abajo region. The geographical ruggedness of this region is stunning and you will see a great deal of canyons, cliffs, a wide river valley and never-ending stacks of mountains. This is an agricultural area that produces flowers, potatoes, corn, fruits and a host of other vegetables. Great photographic opportunities abound of people working the fields with stunning backgrounds. The sentinel of La Paz, the glacier-covered gigantic peak called Mt. Illimani, will be in the background as we travel through the higher altitudes of this Andean landscape. We will have lunch at a local restaurant while en route. We return to the Hotel in the late afternoon. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at Hotel Oberland (3*). (B,L,D)
Day 3 / Tue / May 26: La Paz – Tiwanaku – La Paz
After breakfast we depart at 8:00 AM to the ancient port city of Tiwanaku (The Cradle of the Andean Civilizations) with a professional bi-lingual guide that will share insights as to the reason why this civilization vanished and its importance in the middle Andean region. Tiwanaku will provide a glimpse into the strong indigenous culture that is part of the Bolivian social fabric. We will have lunch at a local restaurant afterwards. In the afternoon we will begin our journey back into La Paz and will visit an open-air Indian market as well as the old quarter where you can photograph the truly colonial part of La Paz. We will return to you hotel in the late afternoon so you can rest or head out into La Paz and explore it at your own pace. Dinner on your own tonight. Overnight at Hotel Oberland (3*). (B,L)
Day 4 / Wed / May 27: La Paz – Lake Titicaca – Isla Cohani – La Paz
An early departure out of La Paz will ensure we have plenty of time to get to this island. The drive is about two hours from La Paz. This island is connected by a man-made stone bridge to the mainland and has wonderful views of the Cordillera Real and the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Titicaca mixed in with extensive totora-reed beds. We will visit the local Aymara fishermen and see how they harvest fish for market and the totora reeds used as fodder for their domesticated animals. Picnic-style lunch en route. The route circumnavigates the island and we will return to La Paz in the late afternoon. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at Hotel Oberland (3*). (B,L,D)
Day 5 / Thu / May 28: La Paz – Copacabana – Isla del Sol
After breakfast we depart La Paz’s canyon and onto the Altiplano once again. The road will head north to the Peninsula de Copacabana and across 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 the lakeside town of Copacabana. Lunch upon arrival. Afterwards it will be time to board the boat to the Island of the Sun. The trip is approximately 1 hour long and you will land on a dock on the southern edge of the Island. A breath-taking hike to the top of the Island will get you to your hotel for the night. The views from this promontory are nothing short of stunning and you will get a chance to catch the sunset this evening and the sunrise next morning. Dinner at the main lodge. Overnight at Estancia Eco-Lodge (3*). (B,L,D)
Day 6 / Fri / May 29: Isla del Sol – Copacabana
It is necessary to get up early this morning. For those that like sunrises don’t miss this one in the morning – as the views south to Illimani and the Cordillera Real are stunning! We have experienced some of the most amazing sunrises from this location and we always come back for more! After a leisurely breakfast we will have time to do a trek north to the Chincana Inca ruins and get to see people doing their daily chores of farming, tending to their animals and living at 13,000′ above sea level. We will have a picnic-style lunch en route. In the afternoon we begin our journey back to the mainland which heads down the Stairs of the Inca and the Sacred Water Fountain before boarding the boat back to Yampupata where our vehicles will be waiting to continue overland to Copacabana via a spectacular road high above the lake where we will check into a Hotel Rosario del Lago for the night. We recommend heading to the Calvario, high above the town of Copacabana for views of the sunset on the lake. We will have dinner together at a local hotel. Overnight at Hotel Rosario del Lago (3*). (B,L,D)
Day 7 Sat / May 30: Copacabana – Cordillera Real – La Paz
After breakfast we depart Copacabana, cross the Strait of Tiquina and head east – directly towards the glacier-covered peaks of the Cordillera that we have been looking at these past few days to see them up close and personal! We will go to a village named Tuni Condoriri – a typical Andean village at the foot of the mountains and a large reservoir where much of La Paz’s water comes from. Lunch en route. Afterwards we head south through the backroads of the Cordillera Real to the base of Mt. Huayna Potosi – one of Bolivia’s highest and most beautiful peaks that rises close to 20,000 ft asl. This magnificent peak is only one and a half hours from downtown La Paz! We will stay until sunset and hope that mother nature cooperates as the views of this massive peak are stunning at sunset. We return to La Paz in the early evening. Dinner together at a local restaurant. Overnight at Hotel Oberland (3*). (B,L)
Tonight marks the official end of this photo 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 8 / Sun / May 31: 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 a glorious week making great photos!