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SALAR & SAJAMA

This unique trip allows us to rally Uyuni to Paz, by the desolated roads of the Urus country on the Chilean border.
This 4WD expedition caters to wide open space lovers as well as to those of immense scenery: the park of Sajama, a perfect mix of volcanoes, hot springs and geysers and populated by an abundant variety of local animal species, the sepultures of Río Lauca, the Salar de Coipasa and finally the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world.
Take your cameras and let’s go !

Map

Itinerary

  • Day 1: La Paz - Sajama
  • Day 2: Sajama - Tomarapi
  • Day 3: Sajama - Tomarapi - Salinas
  • Day 4: Tomarapi - Salinas - Jirira
  • Day 5: Salinas - Jirira - San Juan
  • Day 6: Jirira - San Juan - Laguna Colorada
  • Day 7: San Juan - Laguna Colorada - Villamar
  • Day 8: Laguna Colorada - Villamar
  • Day 9: Villamar - Uyuni

TRAVEL BOOK

Day 1: La Paz - Sajama

Departure from the hotel at 9 a.m. in a private vehicle for the beautiful traverse of the altiplano. We head south to Patacamaya, from where we turn to the West and let ourselves be guided by the majestic Sajama Volcano.
On the way, we stop by chullpas (carangas sepultures) empty today after their systematic pillaging. Short stop in the village of Curahuara de Carangas with its colonial church known as the Sixteen chapel of the Altiplano. The church, indeed, possesses some perfectly preserved intricate frescoes, contrasting with the abandoned atmosphere of the village.
The paved road now climbs through a surprising panorama of canyons and rock formations, and then we find ourselves on Sajama’s desolate plateau. We enter the park by a dirt road taking us to the ranger station.
Lunch on the way. All included. Night at Doña Isabel and Don Marcelo’s (Basic comfort).

Night at the Oasis hostel*.
Included : lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), entrance fees, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 2: Sajama - Tomarapi

In the morning, we head to the geysers in our 4WD. This particularly active area offers a unique display of bubbling baths spread over hundreds of square meters. We can try cooking eggs in their slightly sulfuric water.
From there we follow the valley upriver until we reach Laguna Khasiri Kota (el. 5050 m.a.s.l. / 2½-hour hike). During our lunch break we will be able to observe different aquatic bird species, notably the Andean geese (Huallata in Aymara) that never go very far from their characteristic nest (large floating platforms made out of algae and grass.)
One more hour is necessary to reach the plateau where is nestled the beautiful Laguna Sorapata. This magical place, surrounded by impressive copper colored mountains, is conducive to contemplation and makes a suitable camp for the ascent of the surrounding peaks.
Cold lunch. All included. Bivouac.
Note: during the hike, mules do the portage of the bags.
Hiking time: 4h; Elevation gain: +600m

Night at the Tomarapi Ecolodge***.
Included : dinner (no drinks), private transport, equipment rental, guide (hiking), box lunch, room & breakfast

Day 3: Sajama - Tomarapi - Salinas

We circumnavigate Laguna Sorapata in the direction of the pass as we spot numerous viscachas (interesting rabbit/squirrel like Andean creatures) as well as medicinal plants still used by the park’s inhabitants. After an hour climb we reach a lunar landscape, the highest point of our trek (el. 5065 m.a.s.l.). With the help of our guide and if we are lucky, we may be able to spot some Andean Puma prints on the volcanic ground. After a short descent we arrive at the last laguna on the trek, Laguna Chiar Khota (el. 5000 m.a.s.l.) that we skirt while enjoying the amazing view of volcano Sajama it offers. We then begin the long descent through impressive colonies of yaretas (plants thousands of years old growing very slowly (1 mm/year)).
We return to our 4WD and take the direction of the hot springs to enjoy a relaxing and well-deserved bath.
Cold lunch. All included. Night at the new “Albergue” of Tomarapi (comfort of a Hotel).
Hiking time: 5/6h; Elevation gain: +100m / -700m
Night at the Zucarani hotel**.
Included : dinner (no drinks), private transport, equipment rental, guide (hiking), box lunch, room & breakfast

Day 4: Tomarapi - Salinas - Jirira

We head south through the country of Urus following sandy and treacherous dirt roads. After crossing Río Lauca, appear some polychromatic chullpas, the most beautiful of Bolivia (chullpas were tombs of the Aymara lords; pre-Inca time).
We reach the village of Salinas.
Cold lunch. All included.



Night at the Doña Lupe accommodation*.
Salar Sector Room.
Included : lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), entrance fees, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 5: Salinas - Jirira - San Juan

In the morning, we take our vehicle once more to reach the base of Volcano Tunupa. The most courageous can climb to mirador (el. 4700 m.a.s.l.), which can be reached in 3 to 4 hours. They will be greatly rewarded by the exceptional view it offers over Salar De Uyuni.
In the late afternoon we return to the village of Jirira, on the shores of the Salar.
All included. Night in shelter (basic comfort).
Hiking time: 7h; Elevation gain: +850m / -850m


Night at La Cabaña de Sal hostel* (basic comfort).
Included : lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), local guide, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 6: Jirira - San Juan - Laguna Colorada

In the morning we visit Coquesa, little village on the shores of the Salar, famous for its Chipayas mummies. Then we enter the Salar of Uyuni (el. 3650 m.a.s.l), the biggest salt desert in the world. The sensation is unique: the eyes cannot find the horizon anymore and the immensity of the scenery invites us to silence. We stop in the heart of the Salar on Incahuasi Island. This island, of volcanic origin, is covered with stromatolites (fossilized bacteria representing the first traces of life on earth) and giant cacti. In the afternoon, we head south towards the village of San Juan (3/4h), were are located the famous mummies of the “Lipez Lords” (1200 A.D.) as well as a small museum.
Cold lunch. All included. Lodging with local host (basic comfort).



Night in a basic accommodation.
Included : lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), private transport, room & breakfast

Day 7: San Juan - Laguna Colorada - Villamar

After leaving San Juan, we cross the Salar de Chiguana. From there, the dirt road climbs from 3600 m to about 4200 m of altitude. We pass at the foot of volcanoes Tomasamil (el. 5900 m.a.s.l.) and Ollague (still active), on the Chilean border. We stop at the mirador of volcano Ollague, still active and sheltering one of the world’s highest sulfur mines. We then skirt the Chilean border going south following the “Road of the jewels”: lagunas Cañapa, Hedionda, Ch’arkota, Honda, sanctuary to three varieties of Flamingoes. The track continues on through the beautiful scenery of the Siloli Desert and its famous “Stone Tree” where we can sometimes spot viscachas, before arriving, in the afternoon, at Laguna Colorada. This laguna owes its intense red-brick color to the light sensitive phytoplancton present in its water.
Cold lunch. All included. Night in shelter (basic comfort).


Night at Las Piedritas hostel* (basic comfort).
Included : lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), private transport, room & breakfast

Day 8: Laguna Colorada - Villamar

We depart early in the morning for an excursion to the Sol de Mañana Geysers (el. 4850 m.a.s.l.) a volcanic crater from which escape sulfuric fumes and heavy water. We then stop for breakfast in Polques before skirting Laguna Salada and crossing the Dali Desert (named after the scenery reminiscent of one of his paintings). We reach Laguna Verde, at the foot of volcanoes Juriques and Licancabur (el. 5960 m.a.s.l.) before noon, to witness a curious phenomenon: the wind picks up and the waters of Laguna Verde change to a spectacular emerald color.
In the afternoon, we return to Laguna Colorada before heading north towards the village of Villamar.
Cold lunch. All included. Lodging with local host in Villamar (basic comfort).

Included : lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), private transport

Day 9: Villamar - Uyuni

Morning departure for our return to Uyuni (5 to 6 hours on a dirt road). On the way, we visit the Valley of Stones , Rio Grande, an area where abound vicuñas and ñandus (Ostrich family), the model village of Culpina K and the village of San Cristobal. Arrival in Uyuni in the late afternoon and visit the train cemetery on the outskirts of town.
Cold lunch (included). Dinner open (bar-restaurant La Loco recommended).
Included : lunch (no drinks), private transport

Hotel Oasis   Sajama

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

Cordial welcome. It's a clean hostel with warm water.

Ecolodge Tomarapi   Tomarapi

Level : 2*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

The ecolodge is a group of small houses which have been built by people from the community of Tomarapi. This ecolodge is a peaceful place close to Sajama Volcano. The rooms have been built with materials from the area. The dinning room has a chimney that makes the place warm. The food is simple but delicious.

Option : Guide’s accommodation

Hotel Sucarani   Salinas

Level : 2*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

The ecolodge Zucarani is by far the best option in Salinas. The hotel offers private and shared rooms, hot showers and all the amenities needed to rest near the Salar de Uyuni.

Option : Accommodation driver

Lodging Doña Lupe   Jirira

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

Doña Lupe is pleased to welcome you in her little hostal, situated at the northern part of the Uyuni's Salt Flat, at the bottom of the Tunupa volcano. The scenic view over the Salt Lake is simply incredible.The comfort is basic.Its rooms with private bathrooms and toilets, are not heated and the hot water is not always available.

Option : Salar Sector Room

Included :
room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

Hotel La Cabaña de Sal   San Juan

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

The Cabaña de Sal is a nice little hotel built with salt blocks coming from the salt flat lake. The rooms are comfortable with private bathroom and hot water. There is no heating in the rooms.

Option : Accommodation driver

Lodging Don Roman   Laguna Colorada

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast

Accommodation, offering basic comfort, located in the town of Hullajara about 6 km from Laguna Colorada. It offers a beautiful view of the lake in the morning. There is no private rooms only shared.

Las Piedritas   Villamar

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

This small inn in the village of Villamar is undoubtedly the best place to stay a night or two, enjoy a really fair comfort, good food prepared by the owner all of this for a very affordable price. The rooms are equipped with private bathroom and hot water.

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