Arrive Santa Cruz Or La Paz
This holiday can start in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in eastern Bolivia or La Paz in the west. Either way, a representative will be waiting to meet you and drive you to your city hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure, allowing you to rest and adjust to your new surroundings as you look forward to the holiday.
Well rested, you will be collected and taken to the airport for the short flight to Sucre (40/50 minutes). The views from the air are superb and the city has an attractive array of white-washed buildings, courtyards and grand colonial edifices. A guided tour will take in the highlights of the city starting at Recoleta Mirador where you can see the city spread out below you. You take in the Museum of the Recoleta and the ASUR Textile Museum along with the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museum of the Merced, San Lazro and Santo Domingo churches, and the Casa de la Libertad, one of the most important buildings in the country. Next you see the elegant courtyard of the University of San Francisco Xavier and take a stroll around the Parque Bolivar. Having worked up an appetite you can enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch you tour the Convent of San Felipe Nery and then visit the General Cemetery to see the many impressive mausoleums. At the end of the tour you are taken to your hotel.
A rather different day is in store as you are driven 60km into the countryside to Tarabuco. This small village is one of the best preserved in the Bolivian valley and is home to members of the Yampara ethnic group. You can see people wearing traditional dress, reminding you of the textiles you saw yesterday in the ASUR Museum. Red is the predominant colour here, and the bright ponchos are a striking sight. The picturesque main square is lined with trees, there is also a church, museum and scattering of restaurants. If you visit the village on a Sunday, you can see the lively market and rub shoulders with locals among the busy stalls. Later you are driven back to your hotel in Sucre.
Sucre To Potosi
Today you travel south-west to Potosi. During the drive, which takes around four hours, the scenery changes as you leave the Andean highlands behind and descend into the valley, only to climb back up to 4,067 metres above sea level to Potosi. This city, founded in 1545, was a centre of silver mining, and its wealth attracted the Spanish who built mines and sited their colonial mint here. The rest of the day has been left free so you can relax after the drive and enjoy a leisurely evening.
After breakfast your guide will collect you for a tour of Potosi. This begins at the miners market where you see the tools used by present day miners to extract the silver ore and other minerals. You then venture, with a guide, into one of the mines in the Cerro Rico, which translates as Rich Hill. It is quite an eye-opener to witness the arduous work firsthand. At the end of the visit you are taken to lunch. In the afternoon you have a tour of the main historical sites including the church of San Francisco, and The Tower of the Company of Jesus, a fine bell tower with commanding views over the city. Before returning to the hotel you visit the Convent of Santa Teresa, founded in 1685, it is home to a small group of Carmelite nuns. The museum here has some interesting artworks.
Potosi To Uyuni
Today starts at a more leisurely pace as you prepare to leave Potosi after a relaxed breakfast. Your route leads further south to Uyuni and the drive takes about three hours. You will have ample time to sit back and enjoy the varied scenery. On arrival you are taken to your overnight hotel. Nothing has been planned for the remainder of the day, so you are free to unwind at the hotel or explore.
Uyuni Salt Flats
An exciting day lies ahead as you travel out to see the vast salt flats which cover more than 12,000 square kilometres and are the largest on the planet. These are the remnants of a giant saltwater lake that has long since evaporated under the sun. Your guide takes you to Incahuasi Island, a rocky outcrop in the middle of the flats, a great vantage point for surveying the lake. The island is known for its large numbers of giant cacti. Standing among these tall spiny plants, the salt lake has an almost otherworldly feel. Lunch is next on the agenda, followed by a visit to see the Coquesa mummies in the nearby caves, and the Chantani Museum with its eclectic collection of artefacts and information about local culture. Tonight you stay at a hotel near the salt flats.
Colchani To Ojo De Perdiz
After an early breakfast you set out for the deserts and lakes region, travelling through the highlands with the backdrop of spectacular mountains. The journey takes you into the Siloli Desert where you see the famous Stone Tree, a distinctive rock formation. You also pass several picturesque lagoons. As the drive continues watch out for llamas and vicunas among the hills and streams, as well as local people going about their daily tasks. Your destination is Ojo de Perdiz and your overnight hotel.
Ojo De Perdiz To Uyuni
The first stop today is Laguna Colorado, named for its rich colour. Here you can expect to see three species of flamingos: Chilean, Andean and James. The landscape is stunning and is sure to have you reaching for your camera time and again. There are geysers and steam pools, all evidence of geothermal activity, and hot springs at Polques, reputed to have therapeutic qualities for arthritis and rheumatism. When you reach Laguna Verde, you are almost on the Chilean border. The water colour varies from emerald to turquoise depending on weather conditions and it's set against the dramatic backdrop of Licancabur Volcano. The drive continues until you arrive back in Uyuni at the salt flat hotel.
Uyuni To La Paz
After breakfast you are transferred to the local airport for the flight north to La Paz, the country's largest city. It's a short flight and takes just under an hour. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish so you can choose whether to relax at the hotel or to set out on some independent exploring.
The day starts with a guided tour of the city. The setting is breath-taking, the buildings seem to cling to the sides of a canyon. The tour includes some of the best-known sites such as the 16th century San Francisco church, and the Witches Market, run by local witch doctors known as yatiri. They sell all sorts of potions, totems and medicinal plants. There should be time to visit one of the museums in the city centre too. Next you travel to Plaza Murillo in the old town, the central square of the Spanish colonial city. From here it is a 20-minute drive through residential neighbourhoods down to the Valley of the Moon, the eerie formations having been created by wind and rain erosion. Afterwards you head back to the southern zone of the city, an affluent area and a good place to buy locally made jewellery, alpaca clothes and other luxury goods. You are then taken back to the hotel.
La Paz To Copacabana
Today's drive takes you to the small town of Copacabana on the shore of Lake Titicaca. You travel across the highland plain and get fine views of the Cordillera Real mountains. Copa has long been a religious centre and still attracts pilgrims from far and wide. There is also much Inca culture in evidence here. You take a boat trip out to the Island of the Sun where you climb the Inca steps that lead to the Fountain of Eternal Youth, a natural freshwater spring. Still on the island you can see Andean agricultural terraces and get views of the Andes Mountains in the distance. The boat will take you back to Copacabana where you have lunch and can spend the afternoon looking around town or relaxing at your hotel.
Copacabana To Pariti And La Paz
Having had breakfast, you are collected for the drive to Huatajata, from where you travel by boat to Pariti. This is an important archaeological site, where as recently as 2005 ceramics dating back to around 900 AD were discovered. The variety of subjects, including animals and people, and their condition - it seems that many were deliberately broken - has invited much speculation. These pieces are now on display so you can see them for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Afterwards you are driven back to La Paz.
Today's destination is Tiwanaku, one of Latin America's most famous historical sites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is much to see today that tells of former city's wealth and grandeur: temples, palaces, gates and monoliths as well as strange carvings of alien-like faces. There is also evidence of a complex underground drainage system that controlled the flow of rainwater. Your guide can help you understand the site and significance of the various structures. The tour includes a visit to the museum and the remains of the Pumapunku step pyramid. From here you go out to the surrounding fields where you will see the remains of Inca irrigation channels and raised cultivation beds, testament to their agricultural prowess. Afterwards you are driven back to your hotel in La Paz.
Today is your last day in Bolivia. After breakfast at the hotel you will be driven to the international airport in time to check in for your flight home.
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