Essential Bolivia will make sure that you will have an unforgettable journey full of outstanding discoveries with real insight and a taste of every place that you visit. You will hike along Lake Titicaca with snow-capped mountains in the back ground, you'll discover Tiahuanaco, one of the most mysterious archeological sites in South America. You will walk along the colonial cities of Sucre and Potosi, you will travel across the world's largest salt planes of Uyuni, and you'll drive on 4 wheeled vehicles along the most vibrant colorful lakes of Laguna Colorado, Laguna Verde and multicolored volcanoes.
You'll have the morning to acclimatize to the altitude and the afternoon for a walking tour of the Valley of the Moon, an eroded hillside maze of canyons and pinnacles composed primarily of clay and sandstone that has been eroded by strong winds and time. You may be lucky enough to witness a beautiful sunset.Included: Lunch
We will take a cable car to downtown and considering that the city buildings are literally built on the canyon walls and the city itself spans 600 m/2,000 ft., this is the best way to move around. A guided tour of the downtown will start with the ethnographic museum, the Murillo Square, and the colorful markets. La Paz is considered to be the highest capital in the world at 3,660 m/12,000 ft. Throughout the narrow and congested streets, the Aymara, in their captivating traditional dress can be seen working hard at the bustling markets, selling beautiful handmade products, fresh local products, as well as a variety of potions, medicinal plants, spells, and spiritual advice. In contrast to this traditional lifestyle is a cosmopolitan vibe, with modern cafes, clubs, bars, and restaurants lining the city.Included: Lunch
Our drive will take us along the scenic Altiplano out to Lake Titicaca in Puno. At 13,000-14,000 ft., the Altiplana-Puna Plateau is the highest plateau associated with abundant magmatism and is the second largest after the Tibetan Plateau in height and reach. First we'll stop at Tiahuanaco, one of the mightiest ancient civilizations in the Americas. We will admire what is left of the megalithic city. At its largest extent, the empire dominated the Altiplano plains and stretched from the Peruvian coast to northern Bolivia and even included parts of northern Chile. Today is is one of the most controversial societies for our archeologist and historians due to their incomprehensible style of construction, such as Puma Punku. The easy answer is to blame the aliens. We'll have a chance to see for ourselves at a museum with a very poor infrastructure but a unique display of pieces.Included: Lunch.
The mystical waters of Lake Titicaca are one of the largest lakes in South America and the highest navigable bodies of water in the world. To the local Aymaras and Quechuas it is known as Mama Cocha, or mother water. We'll drive to Lake Titicaca across the high plateaus parallel to the majestic and imposing Royal Range towards Lake Titicaca. Here you'll see the Cordillera Real de los Andes, which includes mountains with heights that fluctuate between 5,500 m/18,400 ft. and 6,400 m/20,999 ft. We'll hike into the strait of Tikina to travel across the strait on a ferry boat.
Once on the peninsula of Copacabana we'll arrive at what is considered to be a pilgrimage place by the PazeÃ±os and which looks a lot like Italy's Amalfi Coast. After lunch we will visit the Sanctuary. It is said that the Virgin of Copacabana extends the life of machines and humans alike. Any time you buy any car, your first road trip must be here to Copacabana to have it blessed for safe journeys going forward. We'll have a climb up to El Calvario to enjoy the sunset.
Today we'll arrive by boat at the sun island and the birth place of one of the greatest civilizations - the Incas. The Andean people believe that the island is where the sun came to be a human being like everyone else. It's also the site where the founders of the Inca Dynasty, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, were sent by the Sun God in search of a holy land, which today is Cusco city. We will hike to the southern tip of the island which is entirely covered in terraces meant for agriculture purposes and built by the Tiahuanaco people. The terraces are built out of stones from the surrounding area but are filled with very dark earth imported from the main land. Our highest hike will be to the top of the island where we'll visit with Pilcocaina ruins, the community of Yumani, and finally onto the highest point at the El Faro Island. Our descent will be along Incan footsteps to the fountain of youth. After lunch, we will head back to Copacabana and in the afternoon we will drive back to La Paz.Included: Lunch
This day we'll enjoy a morning flight to Sucre, known as the city of four names: Charcas, La Plata, Chuquisaca, and Sucre. With beautiful, whitewashed colonial buildings, it has an easy and seductive charm that is lacking in most cities across the continent. In 1991 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in in recognition of its beauty and historical significance. We'll experience a walking tour of a textile museum and learn about ASUR, a non-profit social development organization working with Andean communities to preserve the knowledge of exquisite handmade textiles. Then we'll have a tour of Casa de la Libertad. Many colonial churches have survived in south central Bolivia, including the 17th century Basilica Metropolitana.
This is where we will visit The Virgin of Guadalupe, a shrine which wealthy colonial parishioners have adorned over the years with precious jewels, estimated to be around 298,000 pearls and about 21,000 diamonds. The total value of the shrine is so high that it is believed the sale of these gems would make Bolivia one of the richest countries in Latin America.
A unique Sunday market steeped in Yampara culture where bartering still happens, Tarabuco offers perhaps the best representation of Bolivia's distinctive ethnic traditions. Today the people of the Yampara culture still wear traditional dress, not only to preserve their identity, but also to advertise their location of origin to other outside communities. One thing you'll notice while walking around the town is that Yamparas love their hats, each of which have their own special style and significance.
Tarabuco is the hub for families to make most of their purchases for the week from the myriad of stalls lining the streets and hundreds come from the surrounding countryside to sell their wares or stock up on goods.
We will take a morning drive along beautiful valleys to Potosi, which is reputed to be the world's largest industrial complex during the 16th century, also perhaps the Dubai of our century, the richest city on earth due to the silver mine. Potosil became an imperial city after the discovery of the New World's biggest silver loads in the Cerro de Potosil. By the 17th century there were 160,000 colonists living in Potosil along with 13,500 Indians who were forced to work in the minds under the system of mita, and Incan system of mandatory labor.
The Cerro de Potosil reached full production capacity after 1580, when a Peruvian developed mining technique known as patio, in which the extraction of silver ore relied on a series of hydraulic mills and mercury amalgamation was implanted. The industrial infrastructure comprised 22 reservoirs, from which a forced flow of water produced the hydraulic power to activate 140 ingenios or mills to grind silver ore. The ground ore was amalgamated with mercury in refractory earthen kilns, moulded into bars, stamped with the mark of the Royal Mint and taken to Spain. After lunch we will have a walking tour of the city and drive up to the miner's market, then we continue to Cerro Rico to visit a mine which was the richest silver deposit the world has ever known, we'll also interact with miners.
La Casa de la Moneda, the Mint house, is the place where we will discover the history of the first global currency which is fascinating. The overall cost of the first mint house construction exceeded the equivalent of around ten million us dollars, the walls are more than a meter thick, elegant, and strikingly beautiful. It's a building that takes up a whole city block and the biggest attractions in this house are the lamination machinery used to wedge coins as well the valuable samples of paintings.
After lunch we will travel through the inter Andean valleys with the chance to see Vicunas and llama farms, all the way to the salt planes of UYUNI. After we check in we will enjoy the sunset on the salt planes.
We will board our 4-wheeled vehicles to spend the day on the salt flats. With the blinding white endless scenery, it will be a day to remember and a photo spot to play with proportions and perspectives. These are the biggest salt flats in the world, covering more than 10,000 square kilometers. There is no place like it in the world. The level surface is used to calibrate the altimeters onboard satellites. On a still day the thin layer of water covering the salt forms a great mirror reflecting the sky and beneath the shiny expanse is a brine rich in lithium salts that have huge commercial potential. According to the latest report by the US Geological Survey, Salar of Uyuni contains 9 million tons of lithium, more than a quarter of the world's known resources.
When weather and water let us visit we will drive as far as the Island of Inka Wasi, a natural island entirely composed of petrified coral. Millions of years ago it used to be one of the largest coral reefs before the tectonic plates pushed them up to where they are located now.
A picnic lunch in the middle of the salt planes will feel like eating in another world.
On the way back we will visit Colchani were local famers extract salt and commercialize their product. It's a great place to get souvenirs made of salt.
Once again we will drive across the salt planes, this time from north to south on our way to the high deserts of Bolivia. For some people it seems like the end of the world but is just so pretty; the desolate, tranquil and fascinating landscape of white deserts and multicolored volcanoes and lagoons such as Hedionda Lake, across Cañapa and San Pablo villages is a wonderful experience. Finally we will climb up to Siloli desert.Included Lunch & Dinner.
On our route to the national reserve, our first stop will be at the unique formation of Arbol de Piedra, or stone tree, a rock carved in a shape of a tree by the strong winds carrying sand and eroding the soft sandstone. Laguna Colorada needs no presentation. Located in the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve with outstanding Andean fauna and flora, which fascinates with amazing landscapes, our day will go as far as Laguna Verde. We'll enjoy walks along Geysers and the high Andean desert of Salvador Dali. Out of the world places today, breathtaking views as well literary due to the high altitude.Included Lunch & Dinner.
We'll take a scenic drive to Uyuni airport along weird rock formations such as Itilia Perdida, and many other rock formations where you will have a chance to hike and let your imagination fly as you get to see as many shapes as possible. Finally we're back to Uyuni where we say good bye to our driver and our 4 wheeled drive vehicle and return to la Paz with a short flight.Included: Lunch
Early morning flight back home
The hotels are located near a range of restaurants, museums, you can easily navigate and explore more of every place.