Take in the ever-changing landscapes and culture of Bolivia on this two-week itinerary. You'll start with a trip out to Samaipata, an archaeological and geological site in the Andean midlands. Explore the city in Cochabamba, then return to nature with canyon treks and caverns in Torotoro National Park. Scope out historical architecture in Sucre and Cayara before you finish your trip with the famed Uyuni Salt Flats.

Highlights

  • See the world's largest sandstone archaeological site at Samaipata
  • Trek through caverns and dinosaur prints in Torotoro National Park
  • Tour the witches' market and ride a cable car in La Paz
  • Take in the famous expanse of the Uyuni Salt Flats
  • Experience life on an afro-Bolivian coca leaf farm

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santa Cruz & City Tour Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Day 2 Travel to Samaipata Samaipata
Day 3 Amboro National Park Hike Samaipata
Day 4 Samaipata to Cochabamba Cochabamba
Day 5 Torotoro National Park & Umajalanta Cavern Toro Toro
Day 6 Torotoro Trekking Toro Toro
Day 7 El Vergel Canyon & Return to Cochabamba Cochabamba
Day 8 Cochabamba to Sucre & City Tour Sucre
Day 9 Sucre to Hacienda Cayara Cayara
Day 10 Cayara to Uyuni Colchani
Day 11 Uyuni Salt Flats to La Paz La Paz
Day 12 La Paz City Tour La Paz
Day 13 Tocaña Community Coca and Culture Tour La Paz
Day 14 Depart La Paz  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santa Cruz & City Tour

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

Welcome to Bolivia! You'll arrive in the lowland city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, home to 1.5 million inhabitants at only 1,312 feet (400 m) above sea level.

You'll be transferred from the airport to your hotel, where you can take some time to settle in and eat lunch. After you've finished, you'll embark on a 3-hour tour around the city center to get you acquainted before you retire for the evening.

Day 2: Travel to Samaipata

View of the Fort of Samaipata
View of the Fort of Samaipata

Leave the city behind and travel to Samaipata, which means "rest in the heights" in Quechua. The rural village was founded in 1623 and today is home to 4,400 inhabitants in its spot between the Andes and the lowlands.

After a drive of roughly 2 hours from Santa Cruz, you'll arrive in Samaipata for lunch. In the afternoon, visit El Fuerte (The Fort), the world's largest sculpted sandstone archaeological site. It dates back to before the Incan empire and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Climb the hill up to the complex and take in both the structure itself and the panoramic views.

Day 3: Amboro National Park Hike

Tropical tree frog found in Bolivia
Tropical tree frog found in Bolivia

Set out for a hike through Amboro National Forest, located at the convergence of three distinct ecosystems. You'll walk through the primary rainforest surrounded by giant tree ferns, with stops at several viewpoints. Keep an eye out for puma footprints or even the cat itself, along with the other 129 species of mammals and 800 species of birds.

Day 4: Samaipata to Cochabamba

Views on the road
Views on the road to Santa Cruz

Start with a free morning in Samaipata to take another walk or sit and enjoy the town. After you've had lunch, you'll return to Santa Cruz to catch a short flight to Cochabamba. This mid-elevation city is known as the "city of eternal spring" thanks to its pleasant year-round temperatures.

After you've settled into your hotel, you'll set out for an afternoon city tour. Listen for the mixture of Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara spoken on the streets of this 650,000-inhabitant city.

Day 5: Torotoro National Park & Umajalanta Cavern

Inside the caves
Inside the caves

Embark on an expedition to Torotoro National Park, a highlight for both adventure lovers and dinosaur fans. You'll pass landscapes ranging from farming villages to high desert plateaus to green rivers on your way to the colonial town of Torotoro and its 700 inhabitants.

In the afternoon, you'll head to the Umajalanta Cavern, a 4-mile (7 km) cavern full of rock formations and several waterfalls. You'll be getting damp and dirty as you crawl through dark, narrow passages and use ropes to get between some sections of the cavern on this physically demanding course. An alternate afternoon activity can be arranged if this doesn't sound like your cup of tea.

Day 6: Torotoro Trekking

Rock formations within Torotoro [Havardtl [CC BY 4.0]
Rock formations within Torotoro [Havardtl [CC BY 4.0]

Stay above ground today with hikes through Torotoro, taking in the colorful mountain chains, giant stone tunnels, and even fossilized dinosaur footprints. More than 2,500 dinosaur footprints have been found in the park alongside bone fragments from the Cretaceous era.

Day 7: El Vergel Canyon & Return to Cochabamba

View over Cochabamba
View over Cochabamba

Spend your last morning in Torotoro on a trek of more than 100 steps down into the bottom of El Vergel canyon. You'll be compensated for your efforts with the refreshing greenery and cool temperatures alongside the dinosaur prints.

Return to Torotoro for lunch, then transfer back to Cochabamba.

Day 8: Cochabamba to Sucre & City Tour

Museum in Sucre
Museum in Sucre

Transfer to the airport this morning for a flight to Sucre, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved colonial buildings. Take a city tour to learn more about its streets and their contents, including La Casa de Libertad, where Bolivia's proclamation of independence from Spain was signed, and the Asur Museum, a living museum with exhibitions on the rich history of textiles in the southern Andes and art by indigenous groups from the region.

Day 9: Sucre to Hacienda Cayara

Preserved dinosaur footprints
Preserved dinosaur footprints

Your morning in Sucre, the White City, is up to you to spend at your leisure. Wander the city or sign up for a guided experience, such as a visit to the Cal Orcko Footprints, the largest concentration of dinosaur tracks in the world. You'll spend the evening at Cayara, a former hacienda farm.

Day 10: Cayara to Uyuni

Cayara Hotel-Museum near Potosi
Details at the Cayara Hotel-Museum near Potosi

The valleys around Potosi were essential farmlands for the miners working in the Cerro Rico silver mines and their families. While most of the haciendas that emerged to feed them during the mine's peak are gone, the Cayara Hotel-Museum is a restored hacienda that preserves many of the practices of colonial life and farming. Take a walk around the farm and its buildings in the morning.

Depart for Potosi, where you'll take a walking tour of the city before continuing to Uyuni, the gateway to the famous Uyuni Salt Flats.

Day 11: Uyuni Salt Flats to La Paz

Views from Incahuasi Island
Views from Incahuasi Island

Make your way out onto the Salt Flats this morning, starting with a visit to the train cemetery, filled with rusting train cars once used to transport both minerals and people to and from Uyuni.

Continue to the salt-harvesting village of Colchani to learn about salt harvest and production. Then get back on the road to the vast Uyuni Salt Flats, where you'll visit cacti-covered Incahuasi Island to enjoy the views of the flats. Watch the sunset over the expanse of salt before you catch a flight onward to La Paz.

Day 12: La Paz City Tour

Plaza Murillo
Plaza Murillo in La Paz

Start your day with a tour of the city. You'll be picked up from your hotel to explore La Paz's central neighborhood, followed by a trip to the witches' market to browse the medicinal herbs and spices alongside spiritual artifacts. Continue to the San Francisco cathedral, one of the oldest in the city and a regular local meeting point. Head to the main square of La Paz, Plaza Murillo, to learn about the government buildings along its sides, then into the city's historical center.

From there, head south to Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), named for its lunar geological features. Take in the views of the Andes mountains from the Cordillera Real, then look out over the city as you ride a cable car overhead.

Day 13: Tocaña Community Coca and Culture Tour

Local musicians in Tocana
Local musicians in Tocana

The coca leaf is one of the Yungas region's most important crops. Learn about its many uses and role in Bolivian culture on today's tour of Tocaña, an afro-Bolivian community where most of the residents are coca leaf farmers. You'll visit one of their farms to chat with the farmers and their families, learning about local music, food, and nature.

Return to La Paz in the afternoon to spend your evening at your leisure

Day 14: Depart La Paz

La Paz under the Andes
La Paz under the Andes

Enjoy one more Bolivian breakfast before you head to the airport for your flight home or onward to your next adventure.

Map

Map of Bolivian Landscapes, Cultures, and Communities: Cochabamba, Torotoro, Uyuni, La Paz, & More - 14 Days
Map of Bolivian Landscapes, Cultures, and Communities: Cochabamba, Torotoro, Uyuni, La Paz, & More - 14 Days