This exciting itinerary will take you through some of South America's most beautiful landscapes. You'll begin the journey in Santa Cruz and the historic settlement of Samaipata, then continue to high-altitude La Paz. Then enjoy a week of exploring natural wonders, traveling to the Uyuni Salt Flats, seeing flamingos in the wild at Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, and crossing over to Chile to see the otherworldly Atacama Desert.

Highlights

  • See wildlife at Biocentro Güembé and Eduardo Avaroa Nature Reserves
  • Ride high over the metropolis of La Paz in a cable car
  • Boat around the islands of 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 Visit the Historic Village of Samaipata Samaipata
Day 4 Trek through Amboró National Forest Samaipata
Day 5 Discover La Paz on a City Tour La Paz
Day 6 Boat Around Lake Titicaca  Isla del Sol
Day 7 Explore the Island of the Sun  La Paz
Day 8 Free Day in La Paz La Paz
Day 9 Tour the Uyuni Salt Flats Colchani
Day 10 Spot Wildlife in the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve Siloli
Day 11 Transfer to the Atacama Desert San Pedro de Atacama
Day 12 Visit the Valley of the Moon & the Valley of Death San Pedro de Atacama
Day 13 See the Tatio Geysers & Machuca Village San Pedro de Atacama
Day 14 Depart Chile  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santa Cruz de la Sierra

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

Welcome to Bolivia! You’ll arrive in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, a city of 1.5 million inhabitants. Considered Bolivia's commercial center, it's located at a staggering 1,312 feet (400 meters) above sea level. You can relax at the hotel and go for a dip in the pool before embarking on a guided city tour in the afternoon. You'll learn about how the city was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and visit Plaza 24 de Septiembre, the central square, home to the stately Metropolitan Cathedral

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 at Biocentro Güembé, a nature reserve located just 25 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz. Here, you can visit the enormous butterfly observatory and explore a treetop aviary, home to macaws, toucans, peacocks, and other tropical birds. After lunch, take a swim in one of the park's many refreshing swimming pools. Head back to Santa Cruz for dinner and another overnight.

Day 3: Visit the Historic Village of Samaipata

Fort of Samaipata World Heritage Site
The historic fort at Samaipata 

Leave Santa Cruz behind this morning and head to the town of Samaipata (the name means “rest in the heights” in Quechua). The Spanish founded this rural village in 1623. You'll have lunch in town, then visit El Fuerte (The Fort)—the world’s largest sculpted sandstone archeological site. The pre-Inca structure, recognized by UNESCO in 1998, offers fantastic 360-degree views from its crest.

Day 4: Trek through Amboró National Forest

Amboró National Forest
Amboró National Forest

After breakfast, you'll set off on a walk through Amboró National Forest. The park is renowned for its exceptional location: three distinct ecosystems converge here to make the forest one of the country’s most diverse natural wonders. First, you'll walk through a rainforest filled with giant tree ferns. You'll pass several astonishing viewpoints and perhaps spot the footprints of a puma. Amboró is a natural 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 forest's resident wildlife and local conservation efforts.

Day 5: Discover La Paz on a City Tour

Aerial view of La Paz
An aerial view of La Paz

Today you'll have your breath taken away (literally!) at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) above sea level in La Paz. You'll have time to explore the popular Witches' Market, where you can purchase medicinal herbs, and visit the San Francisco Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the city. You’ll see the main square, Plaza Murillo, continuing onward to the southern neighborhoods and a fascinating geological anomaly called Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) because of its bizarre, moon-like surface. End with a cable car ride, taking in panoramic views of La Paz.

Day 6: Boat Around Lake Titicaca 

Copacabana, Bolivia
Copacabana, a village on Lake Titicaca

Get an early start this morning. You will leave La Paz and head toward sacred Lake Titicaca. On the way, you will pass through El Alto, the second-largest city in Bolivia. Then you will travel through the altiplano, or high plain, and eventually reach Lake Titicaca, where you'll enjoy incredible scenery and see small farms and fishing villages. Stop for a picnic lunch on your way to Copacabana, a small lakeside village with indigenous origins and important Incan ruins. Go for a stroll around town before you walk down to the beach to catch a ferry out to the island of Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), your final destination today. 

Day 7: Explore the Island of the Sun 

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

Today, you will have a beautiful short trek to the southern part of the island, visiting the Inca Stairs and the Fountain of Youth. Isla del Sol is the legendary birthplace of the Inca and holds great spiritual and cultural significance for Bolivians and Andean people. You will learn about the significance of the island 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, transfer back to La Paz.

Day 8: Free Day in La Paz

La Paz, Bolivia
Colorful La Paz, Bolivia

Today you'll have more time to explore La Paz. One option is to go on a culinary tour of the city, sampling unique Andean ingredients and cooking styles. You might sample a sanduíche de chola (pork sandwich), cuñapé (cheesy bread), or if you're feeling especially adventurous, anticucho (a skewer of beef heart with potatoes). Later in the day, head over to El Alto, the epicenter of the Aymara community (and of social change) in Bolivia. At night, you can catch a popular show featuring a wrestling match between cholitas — think native Andean culture meets the WWF.

Day 9: Tour the Uyuni Salt Flats

Salar de Uyuni
Jeeps in the Salar de Uyuni

It's an early start today as you head to El Alto International Airport for a short flight to the southern town of Uyuni, the gateway to the Uyuni Salt Flats and the 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. It's full of rusting train cars that were once used to transport cargo and passengers to and from Uyuni.

You'll then continue to the salt-harvesting village of Colchani to see how locals harvest and produce salt. Later, you will reach the vast Uyuni Salt Flats. Visit Incahuasi Island, covered in enormous cacti, and enjoy amazing views of the flats. Watch an unforgettable sunset in the middle of the endless expanse of glittering salt and before returning to Colchani.

Day 10: Spot Wildlife in the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve

Stone Tree at Siloli Desert
The Stone Tree in Siloli Desert

Continue the adventure with a long, scenic drive through the high desert. You will see lunar-like landscapes, volcanoes, deserts, and colorful lagoons as you approach the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. The reserve is also home to Andean wildlife like pink flamingos and llamas. Go on a short walk around the reserve, enjoying a picnic lunch next to one of the region’s many-colored lagoons, then continue on to the Siloli Desert. You'll see the famous Stone Tree, formed by years of wind erosion. The excursion will end with a visit to the Red Lagoon (Laguna Colorada). Then transfer to your hotel in Siloli for some well-earned rest.

Day 11: Transfer to the Atacama Desert

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

After an early breakfast, go for a dip in natural thermal waters. Then continue on your journey through the landscapes of the southern Siloli Desert, passing by the Green Lagoon along the way. From here, you'll go towards the Chilean border and travel to the Atacama Desert, one of the planet's driest ecosystems. The landscapes here are often compared to those of the moon and other planets. You'll get out and explore them tomorrow. This evening, after checking into your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama, relax and hydrate! The town is small and easy to explore on foot, so you might go for a short walk and sample Chilean cuisine in a local restaurant. Make sure to look up and enjoy the view of an incredibly starry sky before you turn in for the night.

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

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

Today you'll venture into the desert's vast landscapes. First, you'll see the Valley of the Moon, with its unique stone and sand formations carved by wind and water erosion. You'll also get to see the Valley of Death, known for giant sand dunes that you can climb. If you're up for it, go on a sandboarding excursion — it's one of the most popular activities in the area. Or you can just hike around and enjoy the views from the rocky outcrops that surround the dunes. Off in the distance, you'll see snow-capped volcanoes. Stick around for sunset: the dramatic pink and purple sky, framed with rock formations and mountains, is a marvelous sight to see. 

Day 13: See the Tatio Geysers & Machuca Village

Tatio Geysers at Atacama Desert
Geysers in the Atacama Desert

You'll wake up before dawn today for an excursion to the Geysers del Tatio geothermal field. You'll arrive in time to see a spectacular sunrise — this is the time of day when the geysers are the most active, often steaming smoke up to 98 feet (30 meters) high! Enjoy a delicious outdoor breakfast as you watch this natural spectacle. Then you'll visit the village of Machuca, one of the most remote communities in the region. Walk past the town's small houses and tiny church, then return to San Pedro de Atacama for one last dinner before the trip ends.

Day 14: Depart 

San Pedro de Atacama
A quiet road leading to San Pedro de Atacama

Today the trip comes to a close. You'll head to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

More Bolivia Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Bolivia? Check out these other 14-day Bolivia itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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Map

Map of Highlights of Bolivia & Chile - 14 Days
Map of Highlights of Bolivia & Chile - 14 Days