This exciting itinerary will take you through some of Bolivia's most varied landscapes. You'll begin the journey in Santa Cruz and transfer to the cultural patrimony city of Samaipata. The journey continues in La Paz before a week of natural wonders, as you travel to the Uyuni Salt Flats, visit Eduardo Avaroa Natural Reserve, and cross over to Chile to traverse the otherworldly Atacama Desert.

Highlights

  • Visit Biocentro Güembé and Eduardo Avaroa Nature Reserves
  • Be dazzled by the highland metropolis of La Paz
  • Relax on beautiful Lake Titicaca
  • Tour the awe-inspiring Uyuni Salt Flats
  • Cross over to Chile to explore the Atacama Desert

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santa Cruz de la Sierra Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Day 2 Day-Trip to Biocentro Güembé Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Day 3 Samaipata, a Hidden Patrimony of Humanity! Samaipata
Day 4 Trek through Amboró National Forest Samaipata
Day 5 La Paz City Tour La Paz
Day 6 Lake Titicaca & the Island of the Sun Isla del Sol
Day 7 Island of the Sun - La Paz La Paz
Day 8 Free Day in La Paz La Paz
Day 9 The Great Uyuni Salt Flats Colchani
Day 10 Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve Siloli
Day 11 Eduardo Avaroa Andean Flora and Fauna Reserve San Pedro de Atacama
Day 12 Visit the Valley of the Moon & the Valley of Death San Pedro de Atacama
Day 13 Tatio Geysers & Machuca Village San Pedro de Atacama
Day 14 Travel from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama - Buen Viaje!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Jesuit church in Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Jesuit church in Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Welcome to Bolivia! Today you’ll arrive in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, a lowland city of 1.5 million inhabitants perched at a staggering 1,312ft (400m) above sea level. You will be picked up at the Viru Viru International Airport (VVI) and transferred to your accommodation in the city. You can relax at your hotel, enjoying La Paz' average 86°F (30°C) weather. 

After having a lunch of your choosing, your bilingual guide will take you on a 3-hour tour around the city center. Afterward, you'll have time to rest.

Day 2: Day-Trip to Biocentro Güembé

Butterfly inside the observatory at Biocentro Güembé
Butterfly inside the observatory at Biocentro Güembé

Today, you'll experience the biodiversity of the Bolivian lowlands with a day-trip to Biocentro Güembé, a nature reserve located just 25 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz. Here, you can visit the enormous butterfly observatory, or explore the treetop aviary where you will be able to see macaws, toucans, peacocks, and other tropical birds.

You'll have lunch on your own, and after that you can take a swim in the numerous refreshing swimming pools surrounded by ornamental gardens and natural lagoons that border the 53-acre park.

The evening back in Santa Cruz will be free to enjoy as you like.

Day 3: Samaipata, a Hidden Patrimony of Humanity!

Fort of Samaipata World Heritage Site
Fort of Samaipata World Heritage Site

Leave Santa Cruz behind and head to the town of Samaipata, which means “rest in the heights” in Quechua. The Spanish founded this rural 4,400-inhabitant village in 1623. You'll arrive after 2 hours and have some time to relax and have lunch on your own at one of the town's local eateries.

In the afternoon, you'll visit what locals refer to as El Fuerte or The Fort—the world’s largest sculpted sandstone archeological site, dating from long before the rise of the Inca empire. Declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 1998, the site provides a fantastic 360-degree view from its crest.

Day 4: Trek through Amboró National Forest

Amboró National Forest
Amboró National Forest

After a delicious, homemade breakfast, you'll set off on a walk through Amboró National Forest. The park is renowned for its exceptional location, where three distinct ecosystems converge to make it one of the country’s most diverse natural wonders.

Once in the park, you will walk through a primary rainforest covered with giant tree ferns. You'll pass through several astonishing viewpoints and perhaps come across the footprints of a puma—or maybe even the real thing! Amboró provides habitat for more than 800 species of birds and 130 species of mammals, as well as thousands of species of plants and insects. Your guide will share knowledge about the inhabitants of the forest, as well as the conservation efforts being done.

Day 5: La Paz City Tour

Aerial view of La Paz
Aerial view of La Paz

Today, you'll take a flight to La Paz, the highest administrative capital in the world.

Upon arrival, your guide will meet you and take you on tour around the city. You'll explore its central neighborhood, passing through the Witches' Market, where you can find medicinal herbs and spices, as well as spiritual and superstitious artifacts. Next, you’ll see the city's main square, Plaza Murillo, the location of the most important government buildings.

Continuing with the tour, you’ll head to the historical center of La Paz and then visit the southern neighborhoods, including Valle de la Luna  (Valley of the Moon), named for its fascinating bizarre, moon-like landscape. Before the tour ends, you'll take the cable car to get aerial views of the city.

Afterward, your guide will bring you back to the hotel to check-in.

Day 6: Lake Titicaca & the Island of the Sun

Copacabana, Bolivia
Copacabana, Bolivia

Wake up bright and early to make your way towards the sacred Lake Titicaca. To get there, you'll pass through El Alto, a suburb of La Paz that is now Bolivia's second-largest city.

Once out of the metropolis, you'll travel through the altiplano or high plains, eventually reaching the lake, which is the highest body of water in the world. Lake Titicaca crosses Bolivia and Peru and is one of the largest lakes in the entire continent. Enjoy the fantastic scenery of farms and fishing villages on the way to Copacabana.

"Copa" is a small town on the edge of the lake where you will enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant and take a stroll around town. You can then head down to the beach, and take a ferry to the Island of the Sun, your final destination for the day.

Day 7: Island of the Sun - La Paz

Local woman in traditional clothes at Isla del Sol
Local woman in traditional clothes at Isla del Sol

Isla del Sol, or Island of the Sun, is the legendary birthplace of the Inca and holds great spiritual and cultural significance for Bolivians and Andean people.

Today, you will have a beautiful short trek to the southern part of the island, visiting the Inca Stairs and the Fountain of Youth. You will learn about the significance of the island to Inca cosmogony as you take in marvelous views.

Once the tour is over, you'll head to the island's small port for a return journey to Copacabana, and from there back to La Paz.

Day 8: Free Day in La Paz

La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz, Bolivia

After a week of intense and exhilarating activity, you'll get to travel at your own pace with a free day in La Paz. You can have the day to yourself or chose to participate—at additional cost—in one or two local programs, such as hiking to nearby Huayna Potosi Mountain, or a visit to local museums and handicraft stores. 

If you opt to explore on your own, there is plenty to see. You can walk through its colonial streets, try local food at Plaza San Francisco, or do as the locals do and enjoy an afternoon tea. If you want to skip the tourist spots, go to the Coca Museum, see a cholita (women in traditional braids and petticoats) wrestling match, or visit the eerily beautiful Central Cemetery.

Day 9: The Great Uyuni Salt Flats

Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni

It's an early start today as you head to El Alto International Airport for a 60-minute flight to the southern town of Uyuni—the gateway to the Uyuni Salt Flats and Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. You'll be picked up from the airport, and the journey will begin with a short visit to the famed train cemetery, which full of rusting train cars that were once used to transport minerals and people to and from Uyuni.

You'll then continue to the salt-harvesting village of Colchani to see how locals harvest and produce salt. After this, you will reach the vast Uyuni Salt Flats. Visit the bizarre Incahuasi Island, covered in enormous cacti, and enjoy amazing views of the flats.

Enjoy a beautiful sunset in the middle of the endless expanse of glittering salt and before returning to Colchani.

Tour time: Approximately 8-10 hours with stops

Day 10: Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve

Stone Tree at Siloli Desert
Stone Tree at Siloli Desert

After breakfast, you'll continue your adventure through the lunar landscapes of the southern altiplano at Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. As the country's most visited protected area, the reserve boasts volcanos, deserts, colorful lagoons, and unique Andean wildlife, such as flamingos.

Enjoy lunch next to one of the region’s multi-colored lagoons. Then, you'll continue to Siloli Desert, where you'll witness the wonder of the famous Stone Tree, formed by years of wind erosion. The tour will finish with a visit to the red-colored Laguna Colorada before heading to your accommodation for a well-earned rest.

Tour time: Approximately 8-10 hours with stops

Day 11: Eduardo Avaroa Andean Flora and Fauna Reserve

Green Lagoon at the nature reserve
Green Lagoon at the nature reserve

After an early breakfast and optional dip in local thermal waters, your journey through the landscapes of the southern altiplano continues. Travel through the Siloli Desert, passing by the Green Lagoon along the way.

From here, you'll go towards the Chilean border and cross over to San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 12: Visit the Valley of the Moon & the Valley of Death

Sunrise over Valley of the Moon
Sunrise over Valley of the Moon

The Atacama Desert is one of the planet's driest ecosystems, and the landscapes found here are often compared to those of the moon and other planets.

Today, a driver will take you to two of the desert's most famous sites. First, you'll see the Valley of the Moon, with its unique stone and sand formations carved by wind and water erosion. If you'd like, you can watch a dramatic sunset paint the rocks pink and purple.

You'll also get to explore the Valley of Death, or Mars Valley, known for its giant sand dunes that you can climb and sandboard or witness from surrounding rocky outcrops. Off in the distance, you'll see volcanoes that reach six thousand meters above sea level!

Day 13: Tatio Geysers & Machuca Village

Tatio Geysers at Atacama Desert
Tatio Geysers at Atacama Desert

Start an early day and head out to explore the Geysers del Tatio geothermal field. You'll arrive to see a spectacular sunrise—the time of day when the geysers are the most active, often steaming smoke up to 98ft (30m) high! Enjoy delicious breakfast as you witness this natural show. 

Then, you'll visit the village of Machuca, one of the most remote communities in the region. The entire town is made up of 20 small houses and a tiny church.

Day 14: Travel from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama - Buen Viaje!

San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama

Thank you for visiting the Andes! After breakfast, a driver will take you from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama Airport.

¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Bolivia & Chile Highlights: From La Paz to Uyuni & Atacama - 14 Days
Map of Bolivia & Chile Highlights: From La Paz to Uyuni & Atacama - 14 Days