26 days Colourful Bolivia Trip
- Varied landscape: plateau, Andes, desert, salt flats, volcanoes, lakes, jungle, pampas
- Jeep tour through the Salar de Uyuni
- Downhill biking on the Most Dangerous Road in the World
- Sailing on Lake Titicaca
- Jungle and pampas tour
- Colonial cities Sucre and Potosí, and special cities La Paz and Copacabana
- National parks: N.P. Amboró, N.P. Avaroa, N.P. Madidi
This Colourful Bolivia Trip gives you a very complete picture of all the beauty that Bolivia has to offer.
During this trip you will travel at high altitude. To prevent as much as possible that you suffer from altitude sickness, the trip is composed in such a way that you travel step by step to higher altitude. That way your body can get used to the altitude. We advise you to read information about altitude sickness.
Compose your own Bolivia Trip.
This is an example trip; it can be customized in consultation.
Route: Santa Cruz - N.P. Amboró, El Refugio Los Volcanes - Samaipata - Sucre - Potosí - Tupiza - Salar de Uyuni / N.P. Avaroa - Uyuni - La Paz - Copacabana - Rurrenabaque - pampas - Yolosa - La Paz
Day 1: Arrival in Santa Cruz (450 m)
This day you can recover from the trip and get an impression of the city centre with its cosy Plaza. In the Manzana I you can view a temporary exhibition of art.
Day 2: Santa Cruz - El Refugio Los Volcanes, N.P. Amboró (900 m)
Day 3: El Refugio Los Volcanes, N.P. Amboró (900 m)
Day 4: El Refugio Los Volcanes - Samaipata (1,650 m)
After breakfast you will be picked up at the exit of El Refugio and in 1½ hour you will be taken to your hotel in Samaipata. You have the rest of the day at leisure in this pleasant village in a beautiful green setting. If you want you can also use the afternoon to visit the pre-Inca ruins of El Fuerte, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1998. The heart of El Fuerte is the largest carved rock in the world with a size of 220 x 60 m, which mainly served in rituals.
|Day 5: Samaipata cloud forest or condors spotting (1,650 m) |
The cloud forest of N.P. Amboró is mysterious, with hanging mosses, bromeliads and ancient giant fern trees that grow up to 12 m high. Today you can go see the fern trees or look for the condor, the king of the Andean sky.
Day 6: Samaipata - La Higuera (2,150 m)
Today begins the 3-days Old Trade Route from Samaipata to Sucre, the first day being the Che Guevara route. In Vallegrande you will learn about the history of Che Guevara. You visit the museum, the hospital where Che's body was shown to the world press and to the people after his execution and the mausoleum at the place where Che had been buried for over 30 years. You also visit the spot where Tania Bunke was buried, the only female guerrilla fighter who died during the battles. In the afternoon you drive through the authentic village of Pucará to La Higuera. On the way you will enjoy beautiful views, you have the chance to see condors and you can see people working the land. It was in this region that Che Guevara was captured and executed by Bolivian forces because of his role in the guerrilla fight in Bolivia in 1967. You will enjoy a candle-lit dinner in the evening and spend the night in La Higuera in a romantic hostal. In the time of Che Guevara, it was the telegraphist's home. From here it was announced that Che Guevara was in the neighbourhood and a reward was offered to turn him in.
|Day 7: La Higuera - Villa Serrano (2,150 m) |
Today you visit the small museum in the former school building where Che Guevara was executed on the 9th of October, 1967. In the morning you can take a walk to the place in the Quebrada (ravine) del Churo where Che Guevara was ambushed and captured by Bolivian forces. Instead, you can visit a waterfall in the afternoon. Depending on your choice, you will have lunch in La Higuera or have a picnic on the go. The chance that you will meet other tourists today is almost nil. From La Higuera you descend to the Río Grande while you enjoy a beautiful desolate landscape. You cross the Río Grande and enter an area where Quechua is spoken. If you choose to visit the waterfall, you will stop just before the village of Nuevo Mundo and drive to the end of a narrow dirt road. Then you walk in an hour to the waterfall of 90 to 100 m high. At the end of the afternoon you arrive in Villa Serrano, a traditional town. Here you will visit the museum in honour of Mauro Nuñez, a versatile artist who meant a lot to the town. In the museum you can admire the largest charango in the world, a musical instrument that looks like a guitar, with a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records.
Day 8: Villa Serrano - Sucre (2,750 m)
If this day falls on Sunday, you will travel directly from Villa Serrano to Tarabuco, where a colourful traditional market is held in the heart of the Yampará culture. It is wonderful to stroll through the streets and see the people negotiate. You can try your own negotiation techniques when purchasing weaving or other souvenirs. You will have time until after lunch and after that it will be another 1½ hour drive to Sucre.
If it is not Sunday your first stop will be in Tomina where you can view the old church. Once you have arrived on the asphalt road, you will drive up the mountain Calle Calle just before Zudañez. Just under the top you can take a short walk between beautiful rock formations. From the mountain top you have magnificent views of the area where freedom fighters Manuel Padilla and Juana Azurduy waged their fights. Further on, at the canyon of Lamboya, you have a chance to see the endemic cliff parakeet or the Hummingbird Gigante, with 22 cm the biggest hummingbird in South America. Then the road climbs to a flat area where potatoes, corn and quinoa are grown. Via Yamparáez and Tarabuco you travel to Sucre, where the Old Trade Route ends.
|Day 9: Sucre (2,750 m) |
You have this day at leisure in Sucre.
If this day falls on Sunday you will most likely want to make a trip to the famous traditional Sunday market of Tarabuco. From surrounding villages people come here to buy and sell merchandise and you can find beautiful souvenirs. The ride takes about 1½ hours.
You can also visit the Mercado Campesino, the largest local market of Sucre, or the ASUR-textile museum in Sucre; the region is known for its weaving.
If you want to be more active, you can walk the Inca Trail and view the Maragua Crater.
Day 10: Sucre - Potosí (4,100 m)
In the morning you have the opportunity to further explore Sucre. In the afternoon you take the bus from Sucre to Potosí, the ride takes about 3 hrs. Potosí is the highest city in the world. You may have to gasp for breath and it's recommended to take it easy and drink some (coca)tea.
Day 11: Potosí (4,100 m)
Once Potosí was one of the richest cities in the world because of its wealth of silver. During a visit to the impressive Silver Mine of Cerro Rico just outside the city centre you can see miners at work. Attention: the miners do not work on Sundays.
You can also choose to visit the Santa Teresa Monastery, or the probably most beautiful museum of Bolivia, La Casa de la Moneda (the Mint).
|Day 12: Potosí - Tupiza (2,850 m) |
In the morning you go on the bus to Tupiza. The bus ride takes about 6 hrs. The area of Tupiza is characterized by a desert-like landscape with huge cacti and jagged multi coloured rock formations, it breathes the atmosphere of the Wild West. At the beginning of 1900 the two outlawed bandits Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid descended here. In the afternoon you have time to explore Tupiza.
Day 13: Tupiza - Quetena (4,190 m)
Today you start your beautiful 4-days Jeep tour through N.P. Avaroa and the Salar de Uyuni. You will depart from Tupiza at 07.30 hrs to visit the Quebrada de Palala, where you will see red rock formations that resemble medieval castles.
After this you will continue to the Sillar where you will enjoy the dramatic landscape before you continue to Nazarenito, a small gold mining community. Then you will head through the abandoned ghost town of San Antonio, a village once famous for its wealth in gold. According to local legends the devil ruled here and forced the suffering villagers to flee... After San Antonio you will pass Laguna Morejón and the area with the same name, with eroded volcanic rock formations.
You will arrive in Quetena where you will spend your first night. If you can stand the cold (-18/-20°C), we recommend to go outside for a few minutes to appreciate the immense Milky Way above you. There is no light pollution here and the sky is truly breath taking.
|Day 14: Quetena - Huallajara (4,200 m) |
You will have to get up early as today is the longest day of the tour. You will pass Laguna Kolpa, where raw material is extracted for making soap. Continuing through the Salar the Chalviri you will arrive at the hot springs where you can take a bath.
Your next stops will be at the Lagunas Verde and Blanca, found at the foot of the Volcano Licancabur (5,868 m), which represents the border between Chile and Bolivia. For your interest: Laguna Verde's rich green colour is caused by the high arsenic and magnesium content in the water.
You will stop in the Dalí Desert, a place with mountains of surrealistic colours, reminiscent of the works of Salvador Dalí and rock formations of petrified lava. Then you will arrive at the Sol de Mañana Geyser (5,000 m above sea level). This area is intensely volcanic and the temperature within the mud pools can reach up to 90°C. From here you will head on to Huallajara where you will spend the night.
Day 15: Huallajara - Villa Candelaria (3,600 m)
The first attraction on the third is Laguna Colorada, where you will see flamingos. The lake is fairly shallow with interior islands of borax and ice. Its red colour is caused by chlorine bacteria and sediments in the water.
Heading on, you will pass through the Desierto de Silolí to visit the famous Árbol de Piedra, a tree-shaped rock formation, which has been eroded over the years by sand driven against its sides by the wind to form that distinctive shape. From here you will drive past a series of lagoons to arrive at Laguna Hedionda to have lunch. Here you will see flamingos, vicuñas and possibly even an Andean fox.
After lunch you will pass by Volcano Ollagüe, which is classed as semi-active, as its crater is constantly releasing smoke and continue through the Salar de Chigüana. From here you will head to Villa Candelaria, where you will spend the last night of this expedition.
|Day 16: Villa Candelaria - Uyuni (3,600 m) |
On the last tour day you will cross the immense salt plain of Uyuni, stretching away in all directions as far as the eye can see. From here you can see Volcano Tunupa. The salt flats are made up of 11 separate layers with a thickness that ranges from 2 to 20 m. It is the biggest reserve of minerals such as lithium, magnesium, potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus and borax in the world. It has 14 small islands, the most important are Incahuasi and Isla del Pescado. Leaving the salt flat, you will visit Colchani, the village where the salt is processed. Here you can buy souvenirs, both made from salt and Alpaca wool, which are the two main industries in the area.
Finally you will reach the train cemetery just outside Uyuni. Here you will see Bolivia's first fleet of trains, powered by steam and now decommissioned. The tour ends in Uyuni in the early afternoon.
In the evening you take the tourist night bus to La Paz.
Day 17: La Paz (3,600 m)
If you are awake during the last part of the bus trip from El Alto (4,100 m) to La Paz (3,600 m), you will enjoy the descent! You arrive at the bus station of La Paz around 6.30 am. The rest of the day you can explore this fascinating city full of contrasts: rich, poor, modern, traditional, old, new, high, low. You can visit the small museums on Calle Jaén, take the cable car to El Alto (if you did not wake up in the morning, or if just want to see it again), check out the articles offered on the witches' market or visit the Coca Museum.
Day 18: La Paz - Copacabana (3,800 m)
Day 19: Copacabana - Lake Titicaca - Isla del Sol - Copacabana - La Paz (3,600 m)
Day 20: La Paz - Rurrenabaque - 4-days jungle (N.P. Madidi) and pampas tour (250 m)
You will fly in half an hour from La Paz along peaks of over 6,000 m high and over N.P. Madidi to tropical Rurrenabaque. Here begins your 4-days tour to the jungle of N.P. Madidi and the pampas.
You will depart around 9.00 hrs. in the morning by boat from Rurrenabaque over the River Beni.
A boat ride of some 3 hrs. will take you to the Eco Lodge that is located on the bank of the River Tuíchi.
After having lunch you can rest a short while in a hammock.
In the afternoon, you will go for a walk with your guide through the jungle where you will have the possibility to see wild animals as various species of monkeys, deer, wild pigs (peccaries), capybaras and birds.
After dinner you will go on a night walk to appreciate the sounds of the forest and to observe night animals.
|Day 21: Jungle, N.P. Madidi (250 m) |
After breakfast you will visit a sector that is called Caquiawara, a natural salt bearing spot (clay-lick) where you can observe parrots and macaws. From a mirador you will have a spectacular view and good possibilities to take pictures of the parrots and macaws that arrive to eat the loamy and salty earth.
Than you will return to the lodge to have lunch.
In the afternoon you will go fishing in the River Tuíchi or in a lagoon in the forest. Fish species most appreciated by tourists in this area are: surubí, black-spotted catfish, white pacú, mamuri, striped surubí and sábalo.
If you rather take a bath in the River Tuíchi or undertake another walk in the forest that's also possible.
Later on dinner will be served.
Day 22: Jungle, N.P. Madidi - pampas (250 m)
On the third day you will depart after an early breakfast to take the boat back to Rurrenabaque where you will arrive around 8.30 hrs. Here you will have a small break before you will continue by car to Santa Rosa del Yacuma.
You will step into a boat to sail on the River Yacuma to the Caracoles Eco Lodge. Here you will have lunch and a short rest. In the afternoon you will sail the river and go to the Pampas to see the wildlife. The animals are quite easy to find and to photograph. The best season to visit the Pampas is in the dry season when many capybaras, turtles, black caiman and maybe an anaconda are warming up in the sun or are hunting. You will see the river dolphin, the black caiman, monkeys and many bird species.
You will enjoy your dinner at the lodge and in the evening you can listen to the sounds of the pampas by night.
Day 23: Pampas - Rurrenabaque - La Paz (3,600 m)
On the last day you will go for a boat ride on the River Yacuma to see squirrel monkeys in big groups running through the trees.
After lunch at the lodge you will return by boat and 4x4 Jeep back to Rurrenabaque for your return flight to La Paz.
Day 24: La Paz - downhill biking to Yolosa - La Paz (3,600 m)
If you don't want to do the downhill biking tour you can choose one of these options:
Day 25: La Paz (3,600 m)
This day you have at leisure in La Paz. You can explore the city further and buy souvenirs. There are beautiful quality alpaca sweaters and ponchos for sale.
Day 26: End of journey - return flight
Your wonderful varied Bolivia trip has come to an end. Today you will travel back home.