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Home > MYSTICAL CIVILIZATIONS

MYSTICAL CIVILIZATIONS

Bolivia is like a multi-faceted gem…
It is also the country with the largest Indigenous population on the continent. Isolated at the heart of South America, Bolivia receives little outside influence, which explains why its culture and traditions are so strongly preserved.

We discover Tiwanaku, whose civilization goes back over 3500 years. The Empire’s decline after its peak about 1000 years ago left room for the Aymara lords, soon overthrown by the Inca invaders from Cusco. This New Empire –extending all the way to the fort of Samaipata, which was erected to repel the attacks of the Guarani Indians- was nonetheless rapidly devastated by the new intruders: the Spanish "conquistadores".

While the Quechuas labored in the silver mines of Potosí, a more pacific invader confronted the Indians from the low lands: the Jesuit missionaries who would unify them in the famous "reducciones" of the Oriente. As for the Aymaras, the few centuries of Inca domination on the Altiplano territories never managed to completely subjugate them. This is why still today, the traditions and the Aymara language survive with a surprising vigor.

An historical journey to reveal the tumultuous past of the New World, this circuit also traverses some of the most astounding natural landscapes. Bolivia offers an unsuspected wealth…

Map

Itinerary

  • Day 1: Santa Cruz
  • Day 2: Santa Cruz - Concepción
  • Day 3: Concepción - Santa Cruz
  • Day 4: Santa Cruz
  • Day 5: Santa Cruz - Sucre
  • Day 6: Sucre
  • Day 7: Sucre - Potosi
  • Day 8: Potosi
  • Day 9: Potosi - Uyuni
  • Day 10: Uyuni - Tahua
  • Day 11: Tahua - Uyuni - La Paz
  • Day 12: La Paz
  • Day 13: La Paz
  • Day 14: La Paz - Copacabana - Tiwanaku - Copacabana
  • Day 15: Copacabana - La Paz
  • Day 16: La Paz - El Alto Airport

TRAVEL BOOK

Day 1: Santa Cruz


Your guide and a private driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel.
Our guide will pick us up at 02:00 pm at the hotel lobby for a city-tour of Santa Cruz. We will walk along the main square (Plaza 24 de Septiembre) and visit the buildings that surround it: the San Lorenzo basilica, the cathedral and the Casa de la Cultura. We will visit the Contemporary Art Museum and the Museum of Natural History Noel Kempff, before going to the zoological garden. Here we will see a great diversity of endemic South American species. With its great geographic diversity and important Amazon territory Bolivia shelters the 13th greatest biodiversity in the world.
NOTE: Depending on the day, the visit of the closed museums will be replaced by visit of the butterflies’ garden. On Sundays the city-tour will start at 04:00 pm in order to visit the Cathedral Museum, the only one that opens on Sundays.

Night at hotel Cortez****
Included : local guide, transfer arrival, entrance fees, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 2: Santa Cruz - Concepción

Departure from the hotel at 8:30am by private vehicle to drive to San Javier, the first stop of our trip (3 hours on sealed road). This first Jesuit Mission, founded in 1691, also hosted the first music school, as well as a workshop dedicated to the fabrication of violins, harps, harpsichord…
After lunch, we will head towards the village of Concepción, 70km to the East (1hh30) with a stop to the “Piedras de Paquió”, some geological formations of balanced rocks.
Free time for the rest of the day.





Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks), english speaking guide, entrance fees, private transport, lunch

Day 3: Concepción - Santa Cruz

In the morning, visit of the church and the Mission’s museum, located in the house in which was born General Hugo Banzer (dictator then President of Bolivia in the 70th and the 90th). Lunch in Concepción. Then return to San Javier and to Santa Cruz at the end of the afternoon.




Night at hotel Cortez****
Included : room & breakfast, lunch (no drinks), english speaking guide, private transport

Day 4: Santa Cruz

We will enjoy great views on the scenic and sealed road going to Samaipata, where we will start hiking.
Visit of the archaeological museum before walking through the picturesque village of Samaipata and then to the important Inca Fortress, a ceremony and admisnistartive place for the amazonian and inca cultures.
This fortress was used by the Incas to resist or control the invasions of the Guarani peoples. We will hike for 2 hours, passing by the biggest Carved Stone in the world, a World Cultural Heritage Site, and through the ruins of both Inca and Amazon peoples homes. Along the way we can see “The Face of the Inca,” a geological rock formation on the mountain side with the exact shape of an Inca man.
After lunch we will walk to the “Cascadas de Cuevas,” where we can enjoy a refreshing dip under the waters of three beautiful waterfalls, all in an wondeful natural reserve.
Return to the hotel in Samaipata.


Night at hotel Cortez****
Included : lunch (no drinks), english speaking guide, entrance fees, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 5: Santa Cruz - Sucre

A private driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport.
Domestic flight Santa Cruz - Sucre.
A private driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel.

Night at the Su Merced hotel***.
Included : transfer departure, domestic flight, transfer arrival, room & breakfast

Day 6: Sucre

Departure at 09:00am in a private vehicle to go to the village of Candelaria (2½-hour drive), in the middle of the “Tarabuco” country, this ethnic group is well known for its fabrics. This charming village kept its authenticity (most of the inhabitants only speak Quechua). Visit of the small museum in the company of a weaver who will open the doors of her workshop for us. We will share lunch with her family before going for a walk in the area and then returning to Sucre.
Lunch included. Dinner not included.


Night at the Su Merced hotel***.
Included : english speaking guide, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 7: Sucre - Potosi

Meet at the hotel at 09:00am for a guided visit (in english) of the colonial city which was classified as Human Heritage by the UNESCO. The Convent of La Recoleta with its four squares and its thousand year old cedar tree, the Casa de la Libertad (closed on Mondays), the San Felipe Nery monastry.Departure from the hotel at 4 p.m. with our private vehicle. We cross the peculiar Río Pilcomayo Bridge (further south, this river separates Argentina and Paraguay). We then leave the Chuquisaca Valleys for the high plateau of Potosí (el. 4100 m.a.s.l.) where we arrive at the end of the day (3-hour; paved road).
Lunch and dinner open. Hotel.


Departure from the hotel by private vehicle. We will cross Sucre bridge with its anachronical design, over the Río Pilcomayo (the river separates Argentina and Paraguay further South). We will then leave the Chuquisaca Valley to climb to the Potosí plateau (4100 m.a.s.l.) where we will arrive 3 hours later (asphalt road).

Night at the Santa Teresa hotel***.
Included : entrance fees, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 8: Potosi

Today we will get to know the history and current life of Potosí, city listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO (full-day tour). Our guide will pick us up at 09:00 am at the hotel lobby and we will go to the Cerro Rico to visit the mine and see the miners at work. This encounter can be overwhelming since the miners (of all ages) work in very hard conditions. We will then go back to the city-center to visit the Casa de la Moneda. The coins of the Spanish crown were minted in this beautiful colonial house until the 19th century. It is now an important historical museum.
NOTE: It is possible to visit the mine everyday but the miners do not work on Sundays and the activity is greatly reduced on Saturdays and Mondays. The Casa de la Moneda is closed on Sundays afternoon and Mondays.

Night at the Santa Teresa hotel***.
Included : entrance fees, english speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 9: Potosi - Uyuni

We will leave Potosí in a private car and cross the Cordillera de los Frailes to reach Uyuni, a small town at the shores of the Uyuni salt flat, 3650 m.a.s.l. On the way, we will stop in Pulacayo, village that sheltered the second largest silver mine in South America in the 17th and 18th century. It is now almost a ghost town but the museum relates its glorious past. We will arrive in Uyuni at the end of the day (total ride today: 3 to 4 hours, 205 km).


Meal at the La Loco restaurant.

Night at the Tambo Aymara hotel***.
Included : private transport, dinner (no drinks), room & breakfast

Day 10: Uyuni - Tahua

Today we will discover the world’s largest salt desert! At 9 a.m. we leave the hotel with our jeeps to the Salar de Uyuni (el. 3650 m.a.s.l.). After an half an hour ride, we stop in the village of Colchani to visit its salt exploitation and salt hotel (closed since 2001). We will then ride 73 km on the salt desert (around an hour and a half) to reach the Island of Incahuasi. This surprising island lost in the middle of the salar, offers an incredible view over the salt desert and the several volcanoes that surround it. Of volcanic origin, it is covered with stromatolites and giant cacti (stromatolites are fossilized bacterial colonies, first traces of life on earth). In the afternoon, we will keep riding 46 km on the white desert (around half an hour) to reach its northern extremity. Here, on the feet of the Tunupa volcano (5432 m.a.s.l.) we will spend the night in the small village of Tahua. Before arriving, we will stop in the neighbor village of Coquesa, famous for its “chullpas”: mummies of the Chipaya culture.

Night at the Hotel de Sal***.
(availability of double room with matrimonial bed not guaranteed)
Included : entrance fees, lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), private transport, room & breakfast

Day 11: Tahua - Uyuni - La Paz

We start the day early to climb up the volcano Tunupa, a colorful mountain located only few kilometers from the salar. Tunupa is the name of the pre-Inca god of volcanoes and thunderstorms.
Our jeep drops us off at the end of the track above the village, at an elevation of 3850 m.a.s.l. We then trek 3 to 4 hours to the mirador (el. 4700 m.a.s.l.). What an exceptional panorama! It almost seems like we are above the clouds or the sea, but it’s the world’s largest salt flat we are looking at! The summit (el. 5400 m.a.s.l.) cannot be attempted since the path is too dangerous.
We walk back to Tahua in the afternoon and from there we drive to Uyuni, where we will arrive at the end of the afternoon. We will stop on the road to visit a salt hotel and a salt exploitation.
Trekking time: 4h
Elevation gain: +850m/-850m
Departure at 8 p.m. to La Paz by a confortable direct night bus. You will have the option to take a shower for a small amount of money before departure. Arrival in La Paz at 7:30 a.m on the following day.

Night at the Rosario hotel***.
Included : lunch (no drinks), local guide, private transport, bus ticket, room & breakfast

Day 12: La Paz

A private driver will pick you up at the bus station and drive you to your hotel.
Meet at the hotel with your guide at 2:00pm for a tour of La Paz, a city located at almost 4000 m.a.s.l.: the Sagárnaga street and its local handicraft market (one of the most famous of South America), the witches’ street, the San Pedro's food market, the historical center and the colonial area.

Night at the Rosario hotel***.
Included : private transport, local spanish-speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 13: La Paz

Our private driver will pick us up in the hotel lobby at 09:00 am for a half-day tour around the best points of view over the city and into the Moon Valley. La Paz, world’s highest capital elected in 2014 as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities, is surrounded by the high picks of the Andes. From many parts of the city we can admire the white summits of the Cordillera Real and the imposing Illimani, protector of the city. From the K’Illi K’Illi mirador and the Laykakota Park we will enjoy a panoramic view over the capital. The Montículo, in the bohemian Sopocachi is the classical meeting point of lovers and newlyweds for romantic pictures. Since 2014 La Paz is proud of its new gondolas. From the sky the panorama over the city and the mountains is unique and we can get an impression of the social gaps while flying over different neighborhood. We will then drive to the south, cross the rich "Zona Sur" and get out of the city to enter the Moon Valley. Here we can enjoy the quietness and walk among the lunar rock formations during an hour.
NOTE: The K’Illi K’Illi mirador and the Laykakota Park are closed on Mondays.

Night at the Rosario hotel***.
Included : entrance fees, private transport, local spanish-speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 14: La Paz - Copacabana - Tiwanaku - Copacabana

Departure from the hotel in our private vehicle for a trip to the archaeological site of Tiwanaku (1h30). Guided tour of the pre-Colombian ruins considered as the most important of the continent. We will then drive along the shores of the Lake Titicaca and the Cordillera Real to Copacabana.


Half day visit of the pre Inca site of Tiwanaku. Guided presentation of the pre colombian remains considered as the most important in South America. Do not miss the recently built lithic museum which keeps some monumental pieces found on the site.
Return to La Paz in the afternoon.

Night at La Cúpula hotel***.
Included : local guide, entrance fees, private transport, box lunch, room & breakfast

Day 15: Copacabana - La Paz

In the morning, a motorboat will take us to the Northern extremity of the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) (2 to 3 hours depending on the weather conditions). Visit of the Inca site of Chincana and of the Sacred Rock of the Incas, from where the Viracocha God gave birth to his son Manco Capac, the first Inca. Short hike on the island to the village of Challapampa, with the museum of Marka Pampa. Our boat will then take us to the Fuente del Inca (Fountain of the Inca) and the Pilkokaina site, in the South of the island. Return to Copacabana by boat in the afternoon.



We will return to La Paz in private transportation (about 3½-hour).

Night at the Rosario hotel***.
Included : private transport, box lunch, room & breakfast

Day 16: La Paz - El Alto Airport

A private driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport.
Included : transfer departure

Hotel Cortez   Santa Cruz

Level : 5*
Included : room & breakfast

The Cortez Hotel is the ideal choice for large conferences, group tours, private dinners and weddings. Upon entering the hotel you will immediately feel welcomed with exceptional levels of service. The hotel has one of the city largest conference facilities with a banquet room, shed which also gives access to wireless internet. The hotel offers spacious rooms with air conditioning, heating, excellent workspace and WIFI access.

Hotel de Su Merced ****   Sucre

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

This 4 -star hotel, built in 18th century, has a privileged location in the centre of the colonial city, Sucre.This hotel is famous for its beautiful antique furniture, nicely decorated rooms and peaceful sunny terraces full of flowers, which take you back to ancient times. From the highest terraces you may enjoy one of the best panoramic views over our ancient white city, the green mountains behind it and the intense blue of skies.They offer you not only the grand style of the colonial past, but also the convenience and comfort of the modern world, given that all their rooms have been designed to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.

Hotel Santa Teresa   Potosi

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

The hotel is situated in the historic area of Potosí just a few steps from the historic and touristic landmarks such as churches, monasteries, monuments and Main Square. The building style dates from the colonial era, which is why the facilities were built with a cozy design to provide a warm atmosphere and makes your stay enjoyable.

Hotel Tambo Aymara   Uyuni

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Welcome to THE Ethno-Hotel of Uyuni with singles, twins and double rooms all with heating and private bathroom. The hotel has a restaurant, a charming Ethno-bar, a video library and a parking.

Salt Hotel   Tahua

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

The Hotel de Sal Tayka is located on the north shore of the Salar de Uyuni, at the bottom of volcanTunupa at a height of 3700 meters. The hotel is built entirely of salt blocks, and the roofs are covered with straw. The hotel offers two courtyard equipped with translucent roof materials to retain heat. It also has a comfortable and welcoming restaurant where you can enjoy the warmth of a fireplace.

Hôtel Rosario   La Paz

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

The original house where now Hotel Rosario is located was built in 1928. It's first name was Residencial Rosario. In year 2001 Residencial Rosario changed to Hotel Rosario, because it met all the requirements to be categorized as an hotel with three stars.This hotel offers an excellent comfort and a great quality of services.

Hotel La Cupula   Copacabana

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

La Cúpula is nestled on the hillside of lake Titicaca, a location, which overlooks both the lake and the Village of Copacabana in Bolivia. La Cupula lies 3,899 meters over sealevel. The hostal has a touch of arabic architecture with colonial and precolombian elements, giving it an unique and an unforgettable feeling. Each of the 17 comfortable and clean rooms are individually designed, with a variety of artistic details.

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