- Tour the famed Cerro Rico mine in Potosí
- Explore the otherworldly Salt Flats of Uyuni
- Hike to indigenous communities around Lake Titicaca
- Discover southern Bolivia's colorful lakes, home to bright pink flamingos
- See Jalq'a weavings produced in the villages of the Maragua Crater
|Day 1||Arrive in Sucre||Sucre|
|Day 2||Explore the Ciudad Blanca of Sucre||Sucre|
|Day 3||Day Trip to the Maragua Crater||Sucre|
|Day 4||Transfer to Potosí & Visit the Casa de Moneda||Potosí|
|Day 5||Sightsee in Potosí & Transfer to Tupiza||Tupiza|
|Day 6||See Ghost Cities & Super Volcanoes||Quetena Chico|
|Day 7||Discover Lakes, Geysers & Hot Springs||Laguna Colorada|
|Day 8||Spot Flamingos in the Wild at Laguna Colorada||San Juan|
|Day 9||Explore the Salar de Uyuni & Isla Incahuasi||Overnight Bus|
|Day 10||Free Day in La Paz||La Paz|
|Day 11||Travel to Lake Titicaca||Isla del Sol|
|Day 12||Tour Isla del Sol||Isla de la Luna|
|Day 13||Hike on Isla de la Luna||La Paz|
|Day 14||Depart Bolivia|
Day 1: Arrive in Sucre
Welcome to Bolivia! Begin the trip in the UNESCO-protected colonial city of Sucre. At around 9,000 feet (2,745 meters) above sea level, Sucre is filled with whitewashed buildings and narrow cobblestoned streets. It was once the home of the Spanish aristocrats who were made rich by the silver mines of Potosí and came to this temperate valley to escape the harsh climate near the mines. You can spend the afternoon strolling the bustling streets of the historic town, pausing in quiet plazas under the stone walls of centuries-old cathedrals and mansions. It's an ideal place to rest and adjust to the altitude before heading higher up into the heart of the Bolivian highlands.
Day 2: Explore the Ciudad Blanca of Sucre
Venture into the heart of the city this morning with a stroll through the busy central market. On a guided tour of Sucre, you will learn about the city's role in Bolivian history and in the history of Latin America. You will visit La Casa de la Libertad, where Bolivia's proclamation of independence from Spain was signed. You will also visit the Museum of Indigenous Art (ASUR), featuring textiles from the southern Andes, art by indigenous groups from the region, and original pieces by local artists.
Day 3: Day Trip to the Maragua Crater
Today you'll trade the white walls of Sucre for the towering red-rock wall of the Maragua Crater. Amazingly, there are villages inside the crater. The region is known for the Jalq'a tapestries that are hand-woven in village homes. As you pass, Quechua villagers may invite you into their adobe huts to show you their looms. Continue exploring the crater, keeping your eyes open for fossils embedded in petrified Jurassic mud. Then return to Sucre for a relaxing evening.
Day 4: Transfer to Potosí & Visit the Casa de Moneda
After breakfast this morning, a guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you on a three-hour journey to the colonial city of Potosí, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once you arrive, you'll go on a walking tour of the city, strolling down streets lined with colonial architecture, stopping into the artisan market and the Cathedral Basilica of Potosí, and visiting the famous National House of the Mint (Casa Nacional de la Moneda). Considered one of South America’s finest museums, it takes up a whole city block. Since its construction in the mid-18th century, the building has also served as a prison and the headquarters of the Bolivian army.
Day 5: Sightsee in Potosí & Transfer to Tupiza
Above Potosí's stone mansions and cathedrals, Cerro Rico rises up. The name means "rich mountain," which makes sense — Cerro Rico was the source of huge quantities of silver mined by the Spanish during colonial times. You'll visit the historic mine today. You'll be outfitted with a hard hat and headlamp before venturing down twisting passageways to see mining crews hack at stone walls with their pickaxes. If you are feeling inspired, leave an offering at the monument to the god of the underworld. In the afternoon, you'll enjoy a scenic four-hour drive to Tupiza, a jumping-off point for exciting excursions into the wild.
Day 6: See Ghost Cities & Super Volcanoes
This morning you'll drive through the red-rock canyons around Tupiza, the road winding up to a high plateau of the Andes. On the barren slopes of a volcano, the wind hisses through the abandoned stone city of San Antonio de Nuevo Mundo, once a booming silver mining center in the 1600s. Today it's an eerie ghost town. The road continues across rivers and llama-filled plains to Quetena, a herders' village set among slot canyons. Above it is the Uturuncu Volcano, the highest in the area. According to one study, the supervolcano likely sits atop a pool of magma the size of Lake Superior.
Day 7: Discover Lakes, Geysers & Hot Springs
Rise early and head to the Sol de Mañana geyser field, where you can jump through plumes of warm steam hissing up through subterranean cracks. The streams with no geothermal source may be iced over and sparkling like jewels strung out across the desert, but you won't have to suffer from the cold: the warm waters of the Polques Hot Springs invite you to take a soothing soak.
After a relaxing dip, the journey continues south to the Salvador Dalí Desert, where strange rock formations resemble the artist's surrealist paintings. Beyond the desert, near the Chilean border, are the emerald waters of Laguna Verde. Later, make your way to your hotel near Laguna Colorada, the crown jewel of the high lakes in the region.
Day 8: Spot Flamingos in the Wild at Laguna Colorada
At dawn, you'll skirt the edges of Laguna Colorada and travel north to the rock formation of Árbol de Piedra (the Stone Tree). The route passes by a string of high-altitude lakes — Cañapa, Hedionda, Ch-arkota, Honda, and Ramaditas — each with their distinct coloration and resident waterfowl, including three species of flamingo.
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 landscape becomes even more magnificent as you near the Ollagüe Volcano, a massif on the Chilean border. After crossing the salt flats of Chiguana, you'll arrive at the village of San Juan to spend the night.
Day 9: Explore the Salar de Uyuni & Isla Incahuasi
From San Juan, you'll venture onward to the famed Salar de Uyuni salt flats. This immense white expanse, about the size of the US state of Connecticut, is the flattest place on the planet. Use the endless horizon to take pictures that play with perspective. A thin layer of rainwater turns the flats into a perfect mirror, suspending you in an ethereal world of sky and clouds. Then you'll stop at the cactus-studded Isla Incahuasi (Incahuasi Island). Climb to the island's peak to appreciate the vastness of the salt flats. The journey then continues to Uyuni. Tonight, you will take an eight-hour sleeper bus to La Paz.
Day 10: Free Day in 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 11: Transfer to Lake Titicaca
Today you'll move on to Lake Titicaca. Drive along the lakeshore, crossing the Strait of Taquina to arrive at Copacabana. The main port town on the Bolivian side of the lake, Copacabana has indigenous origins and important Inca ruins. Take some time to explore the village before boarding a boat to Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun). On the island, ascend the 500 steps of the famous Escalera del Inca staircase to viewpoints overlooking the stunning azure waters below. A local guide will take you along the crest of the island above the terraced slopes, still farmed by the Aymara people. As the light fades, enjoy the sunset over the highest navigable lake in the world.
Day 12: Tour Isla del Sol
Spend a relaxing day on the lake's islands. After visiting the Inca temple of La Chinkana, the most important Inca ruin on the south side of Isla del Sol, you'll take a boat to the lesser-traveled Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon). You'll share a traditional meal with members of the Aymara community and learn about the landscape and culture of the island. You'll have the chance to try your hand at reed-net fishing, the natives' traditional fishing method. Then stay overnight at a homestay on the island.
Day 13: Hike on Isla de la Luna
This morning, you'll board a private boat and cruise to the village of Yampupata on the mainland. Trek along the ancient stones of a pre-Colombian path. The trail leads you through Sampaya and Jinchaca, two villages untouched by tourism. You'll see residents hoeing fields and tending to their herds of llamas between the bright blue expanse of the altiplano sky and the sparkling waters of the lake. Later, transfer back to La Paz. You'll have one more chance to sample the city's culinary and cultural delights before the trip ends.
Day 14: Depart
The trip ends today. Enjoy one last look from the airplane window — look for the Amazon on one side and the shimmering waters of Lake Titicaca on the other — before the adventure is officially over. Safe travels!
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