Colorful canyons and lagoons: from Tupiza to Uyuni
Multicolored mountains, giant saguaro cactus, canyons with tortured shapes, monumental rock formations ranging in color from white to blood red, turquoise blue, brick red, emerald green lagoons. Welcome to the lands of southern Bolivia.
We invite you to discover the many geological curiosities of the region with this off-beaten track 4WD expedition from Tupiza to Uyuni !
PROGRAMME DAY TO DAY
Tupiza - Guadalupe
From Tupiza, we ascend the beautiful canyon until Palala Sillar where the diversity of landscapes (canyons, craters ...) make it a lunar spot with colors both warm and intense, and pasteles and pale.
We continue our way up to desolated mining areas of Nazarenito, Chilcobija, Trapiche and San Pablo de Lipez (capital of the South Lipez ), before arriving in the late afternoon in Guadalupe where we spend the night.
Night at the Guadalupe accommodation (basic comfort).
Guadalupe - San Pablo de Lipez
In the morning, we leave the village of Guadalupe for a short hike around the Guadualupe formations (also known as " Ciudad de Roma" ). The peak is bristling with numerous rocky penitents that are remind us of the Algerian Tassili. From the top, we discover an extraordinary landscape of eroded monumental rock formations whose tones vary from white to red passing through all shades of ocher and gray. Accompanied by your guide specialist of the area, you will see incredible rock formations of amazing forms: Catedrale, crocodile, condor, llama etc. The landscape is surrounded by several snow-capped volcanoes, including the wide range of Cerro Lípez ( 5930 m). We explore the site before going back to Guadalupe and continue our road to San Pablo de Lipez.
Basic confort accomodation in San Pablo de Lipez.
San Pablo de Lipez - Quetena
We visit the ancient village of San Antonio del Nuevo Mundo. According to the legend, the village was suddenly abandoned because of a massive and unexplained invasion of viscachas (typical rodent of the area). We pass by the strange geological formation of the “Torreón”, clear a pass at an elevation of 4500 m.a.s.l., before descending to Laguna Morejón. We make a detour to the remote Laguna Celeste. Then get back on the road and head towards the village of Quetena.
Night at the Doña Braulia accommodation (basic comfort).
Quetena - Laguna Colorada
We head west, in the direction of Laguna Colorada. This laguna owes its intense red-brick color to the light sensitive phytoplancton present in its water. We keep heading south 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 the lagunas Blanca and Verde, at the foot of volcanoes Juriques and Licancabur (el. 5960 m.a.s.l.) at the end of the afternoon. Curious phenomenon: when the wind picks up, the waters of Laguna Verde change to a spectacular emerald color. Return to Laguna Colorada at the end of the day.
Night in Latitudes hostel (basic confort).
Laguna Colorada - San Juan
We head north along the Chilean border on the scenic “route of the Jewels” owing its name to all the lagunas along its way: lagunas Honda, Ch’arkota, Hedionda, Cañapa, sanctuary to 3 varieties of flamingoes. We stop at the mirador of volcano Ollague. This volcano is still active and sheters one of the world’s highest open pit copper mines. The track then descends from 4200 to 3600 meters of altitude. We cross the small Salar de Chiguana located at the foot of volcano Tomasamil (el. 5900 m.a.s.l.), before reaching the village of San Juan, where are located the famous mommies of the “lords of Lipez” (1200 A.D.) and a little museum.
Night at La Cabaña de Sal hostel* (basic comfort).
San Juan - Uyuni
Today we leave the Sur Lipez and go for a unique moment: driving across the world’s largest salt flat! First, we will stop on the way to visit the Galaxy Cave, famous for its very finely sculpted stalactites. After a two hour ride we will reach the famous Salar de Uyuni (el. 3650 m.a.s.l.). We will then ride half an hour on the salt desert (34 km) to reach the Island of Incahuasi. This surprising island lost in the middle of the salar, offers an incredible view over the Salar and the several volcanos 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 continue loosing ourselves on the white desert during an hour and a half more (73 km) until arriving to the city of Uyuni. Just before leaving the Salar, we will stop in the village of Colchani to visit its salt exploitation and salt hotel (the only one built on the Salar, closed since 2001).
Night at the Tambo Aymara hotel***.