Immerse yourself in the stark beauty of the Atacama Desert and the snow-capped Andes on this journey around Chile and Bolivia. Explore the strange rock formations of the Valley of the Moon and drive across the endless, dazzling white of the Uyuni Salt Flats. You'll see steaming geysers shooting out of the earth, go for a dip in natural hot springs, and find bright pink flamingos in the wild along the journey. Then contrast the space and silence with a visit to the bustling streets of La Paz, the highest capital city in the world.

Highlights

  • Explore the Valley of the Moon and the lakes of the Atacama Desert
  • Watch flocks of flamingos in the Laguna Colorada 
  • See the steaming plumes of the Sol de Mañana geysers 
  • Experience the otherworldly Salt Flats of Uyuni
  • Discover a mix of ancient and modern culture in the world's highest capital city

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Hike Around the Valley of the Moon Atacama Desert
Day 2 See the Lagoons of the Atacama Desert Atacama Desert
Day 3 Cross into Bolivia & See the Sol de Mañana Geysers Huayllajara
Day 4 Observe Smoking Volcanoes & Flamingoes in the Wild San Juan
Day 5 Discover the Salt Flats of Uyuni Uyuni
Day 6 Day of Sightseeing in La Paz La Paz
Day 7 Depart Bolivia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Hike Around the Valley of the Moon

The Valley of the Moon

Welcome to Chile! Arrive in Calama and transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, your jumping-off point for exploring the strange and beautiful landscapes of the Atacama Desert. Go on an excursion to the Valley of the Moon to see a panorama of the Andes, the Atacama Salt Flats, the Cordillera de la Sal mountain range, and the Lincancabur Volcano. Watch the sun go down over the mountains from the Piedra del Coyote (Coyote Rock).

Day 2: See the Lagoons of the Atacama Desert

Vicuñas along the shore of Laguna Miscanti.
Vicuñas along the shore of Laguna Miscanti

Today you'll enjoy an outing to the Miscanti and Meñiques lagoons, located high up in the Andes. You'll visit the village of Socaire and travel along the Atacama Salt Flats to the Chaxa Lagoon. At these lagoons, inside the national flamingo reserve, you'll have a chance to see ostentatious pink flamingos. The itinerary today also includes the Piedras Rojas (Red Rocks) area, the Tropic of Capricorn, and the Qhapac Ñan (Inca Road).

Plan your trip to Bolivia
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 3: Cross into Bolivia & See the Sol de Mañana Geysers

The Laguna Verde and its surrounding volcanoes.
Laguna Verde and its surrounding volcanoes

Cross into Bolivia through a high plateau with views of the massive Lincanabur volcano. The road cuts through the Salvador Dalí Desert, featuring strange formations and stark lines that resemble the painter's surrealist works. At this high altitude, mountain streams may be iced over, sparkling like jewels strung out across the desert. But you won't suffer from the cold: the warm waters of the Polques Hot Springs await you.

After a relaxing soak, you'll head to the Sol de Mañana geyser field, where plumes of warm steam rise up through subterranean cracks. The day ends at the Laguna Colorada, a red lake where you can see thousands of pink flamingos.

Day 4: Observe Smoking Volcanoes & Flamingos in the Wild 

The hearty, high-altitude flamingos of the Laguna Colorada.
The high-altitude flamingos of the Laguna Colorada

At dawn, you'll continue on to the Arbol de Piedra (meaning "tree of stone") and other ethereal rock formations. The route passes by other high lakes, each with its own distinctive coloration and native waterfowl, including Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiarkota, Honda, and Ramaditas. As the route descends slightly and leaves the harshest high-elevation terrain behind, keep your eyes open for the vicuña, a cousin of the alpaca and llama, and the ñandu, an Andean ostrich.

The backdrop for this wildlife becomes more and more magnificent as you near Ollague Volcano, a massif on the Chilean border. Cross the salt flats of Chiguana to arrive at the village of San Juan for the night.

Day 5: Discover the Salt Flats of Uyuni

Exploring the Salar de Uyuni

From San Juan, journey across the Salt Flats of Uyuni, an immense white expanse the size of the US state of Connecticut. This is the flattest place on the planet. The flatness and the region's unusual reflections provide an amazing opportunity to take pictures that experiment with perspective. You'll stop at the cactus-studded archaeological site of Incawasi, then continue on to Uyuni. From here you'll transfer to La Paz

Day 6: Day of Sightseeing in La Paz

Cable cars high above La Paz

Spend the day exploring 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 the day with a cable car ride, taking in panoramic views of La Paz.

Day 7: Depart Bolivia

Mt. Illimani, the undisputed monarch of La Paz.

Mount Illimani in La Paz, Bolivia

The trip comes to an end today. Transfer to the airport to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

More Great 7-Day Bolivia Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Bolivia? Check out these other 7-day Bolivia itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

Map

Map of Discover Chile & Bolivia - 7 Days
Map of Discover Chile & Bolivia - 7 Days