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Fauna & Flora boliviana

Bolivia is a jewel. In the heart of South America, still hard-dial, it has preserved its traditions and a strong culture. This country is also a priceless natural treasure. The basin of the Amazon to the highest peaks of the Andes where all ecosystems are represented.
We will explore the National Park Amboro, the grand desert Altiplano, the Lake Titicaca and its legends, before finishing with an expedition in the Amazon pampas. Wildlife we meet throughout our pilgrimage evokes the exoticism: toucans, howler monkeys, capihuaras, ñandus, vicunas, marabouts, tapacarés,...
We will also visit the high places of the Bolivian colonial history: the imperial cities of Sucre and Potosí, witnesses of a magnificent past.

Ecotourism, 4WD tour
22 Days

MAP

PROGRAMME DAY TO DAY

DAY
1

Santa Cruz

Your guide and a private driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel.
In the afternoon, departure to La Rinconada, a hidden paradise at 7 kilometers of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. In this beautiful leisure park located to the west of the Rio Pirai, the inhabitants of Santa Cruz come to relax amidst beautiful tropical gardens. The artificial lake is populated by various colorful fish and aquatic plants including the impressive Victoria Regia, the world's largest water lily from the Amazon. Playgrounds are available for children and there is a restaurant where guests can enjoy regional specialties in a beautiful setting. It is also possible to enjoy the swimming pool.
After this half-day in the wilderness, we return to Santa Cruz at the end of the day.
Night at the Armonia hotel***.

DAY
2

Santa Cruz - Samaipata

Departure from the hotel at 8:30 a.m. to go to the Inca fortress of Samaipata by private vehicle. Beautiful area between the Amazon and the Andes where we can see the remains of the most isolated Inca fortress of the empire, built to control the invasion of the Guaranis Indians.

Visit of the site. Lunch and dinner included.

Night in bungalows.

DAY
3

Samaipata - Amboro Park

Departure at 8:30 a.m. to go to the Amboro Park´s forest, where we can observe a few species of giant ferns only found in Bolivia (Dicksonia Sellowiana and Alsophila Incana) as well as many wild orchids species. Hike before the return to Samaipata.

Cold lunch included. Dinner included.

Night at the volcanos´ shelter.

DAY
4

Amboro Park - Santa Cruz

We enjoy a delicious tropical breakfast in the morning before heading out on the heights of the shelter to enjoy a panoramic view of the park Amboro. With a little luck we will have the opportunity to observe some typical bird species of the region.
Back to the shelter to enjoy a deserved swim in the natural pools nearby.
Then transfer by car to Bermejo after lunch.
Back to Santa Cruz in the late afternoon.
Cold lunch included.
Night at the Armonia hotel***.

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.
Your guide and a private driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel.
Today we spend the day in the beautiful “white city” of Sucre. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the constitutional capital of Bolivia is famous for its flair of quietness, its beautiful colonial architecture and its numerous churches.

Our guide will pick us up at 9 am in the lobby of the hotel to guide us through the most famous buildings and museums of the city. We will start with the Convento de la Recoleta, monastery of the Franciscan order built in 1601. We will then learn more about the culture of the region and the country in the Museum of Indigenous Art (ASUR) and about the Bolivian history in The Casa de la Libertad, where the Independence Act was signed in 1825.

We will end the day visiting the Monastery of San Felipe Nery, enjoying a beautiful view over the city from its terrace.

NOTE: Museums are closed as following: Convento de la Recoleta, ASUR and Monastery of San Felipe Nery on Sundays, Casa de la Libertad on Mondays.
Night at the Su Merced hotel***.

DAY
6

Sucre

Departure at 09:00 am by private 4WD for the Chataquila village (el. 3550 m.a.s.l.) and its charming church sheltering the Virgin of the same name. We will then walk down by the beautiful Inca trail to Chaunaca (6 km / about 3-hour hike). We will return to the vehicle to arrive to the Maragua crater, and take there a cold lunch near a waterfall.
Digestive walk in the crater to Irupampa. On the way back to Sucre we will stop at the Maragua viewpoint from where we can see the crater and at the Mirador of Sucre from where we can view the entire city. Arrival in Sucre around 6:30 p.m.
Cold lunch (included).
Hiking time: 3h; Elevation gain/loss: +70m/-770m
Night at the Su Merced hotel***.

DAY
7

Sucre - Potosi

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).
This afternoon we will get to know the mines of the “Rich Hill”. Our guide will pick us up at 02:00 pm 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.
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.
Night at the Colonial hotel***.

DAY
8

Potosi

Our guide will pick us up at 09:00 am to visit the Casa de la Moneda, one of the most important historical buildings of the city - one of those which owed the city to be listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Until the 19th century the coins of the Spanish crown were minted here. This beautiful colonial house is now an important historical museum.
NOTE: The Casa de la Moneda is closed on Sundays afternoon and Mondays.
Night at the Colonial hotel***.

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).
Night at the Tambo Aymara hotel***.

DAY
10

Uyuni - Villamar

We begin today our journey across the Sur Lipez area, elevated region of colorful landscapes and lagoons, rock formations and volcanoes. We will start the day at 09:30 am with the visit of the train cemetery on the outskirts of Uyuni. Here a collection of old rusted train engines remind the glorious mining past of the region.

We will then ride south and make different stops on the road to visit villages, in particular the model urbanization of Culpina K. Here the population has decided to waive working in mines and organized to ensure that the whole community can live from the culture of quinoa and from community based tourism.

We will have lunch in the village of San Cristobal, where we can visit a beautiful colonial church if we are lucky (it is not always open). We will then cross the region of Rio Grande to reach the village of Villamar (4022 m.a.s.l.) at the end of the afternoon. Distance covered today in our private jeep: 190 km.
Night at Las Piedritas hostel* (basic comfort).

DAY
11

Villamar - Laguna Colorada

During our second day in the Sur Lipez we will discover the most famous highlights of the region. We start the day with the Laguna Colorada (el. 4278 m.a.s.l.). This immense lake of pinkish water owes its name to the presence in its waters of light sensitive phytoplankton, which also attracts thousands of flamingo part of the year.

We will then visit the geysers Sol de Mañana (el. 4850 m.a.s.l.), a volcanic crater with sulphur springs and boiling mud. Next stop: the Polques thermal springs. You are almost 4200 m.a.s.l. but get ready to jump into hot water (86°F/30°C), surrounded by an amazing frozen landscape. We will then jump back into the jeeps and ride along the Laguna Salada and the Dali Desert (el. 4750 m.a.s.l.). Here the strong wind has created surprising rock formations that reminds the work of the Spanish master.

Short before midday we will reach the Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verde (el. 4350 m.a.s.l.), at the foot of volcanoes Juriques and Licancabur (el. 5704 and 5960 m.a.s.l.). After having driven around 170 km we are here at the very south of Bolivia, close to the border with Chile. From here we will drive 90 km back to the Laguna Colorada, where we will spend the night.
Night in Latitudes hostel (basic confort).

DAY
12

Laguna Colorada - San Juan

This morning we head north to the Siloli Desert (el. 4700 m.a.s.l.) and its famous “Stone Tree”. Keep your eyes wide open: it is not unusual to spot some viscachas (Andean rabbits) in this area. We will then ride along the Chilean border on the scenic “Route of the Jewels”, which owes its name to all the lagoons along its way: Honda, Ch’arkota, Hedionda, Cañapa.

These lagoons are home to three species of flamingoes. We will stop at the view point of volcano Ollagüe (el. 5868 m.a.s.l.). This volcano is still active and shelters one of the world’s highest open pit copper mines and then cross the small Salar de Chiguana located at the foot of volcano Tomasamil (el. 5900 m.a.s.l.). After a 230 km ride we will reach the village of San Juan (el. 3600 m.a.s.l.), where we will spend the night. This small village is famous for its surprising mummies of the “Lipez Lords” (1200 after J.C) and its interesting small museum.
Night at La Cabaña de Sal hostel* (basic comfort).

DAY
13

San Juan - Uyuni

Today we leave the Sur Lipez and go for a unique moment: driving across the world’s largest salt flat! 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 (closed since 2001).
Night at the Tambo Aymara hotel***.

DAY
14

Uyuni - La Paz - Copacabana

A private driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport.
Domestic flight Uyuni - La Paz.
A private driver will pick you up at the airport and drive you to your hotel.
Departure from the hotel at 2 p.m with a private vehicle. We will follow the Lake Titicaca and the Cordillera Real until Copacabana (3 ½ hours).
spanish speaking guide half day
Night at La Cúpula hotel***.

DAY
15

Copacabana - Yumani

By motorboat, we reach the cave of Lourdes. Our trek on the Yampupata peninsula starts from there. We cross the timeless village of Zampaya...

Later on we reach the village of Yampupata. A boat takes us to the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), where we disembark at the old Inca Palace of Pilkokaina.A 30 to 40-minute walk brings us to the village of Yumani, from where there is a magnificent view of the lake.

Cold lunch and dinner.

Note: During the following 2 days a boat will be at our disposal to transport the group as well as the gear during the walks.

Hiking time: 5h; Elevation gain: +550m/-350m
For lunch we will share a traditional meal called “Apthapi”. This tradition of the Aymara people probably takes its source into the Tiwanaku pre-Inca culture. It is a moment of sharing within the community: everyone brings some products of it land or livestock to the "table" and the meal is shared around a piece of traditional cloth (Aguayo) laid on the floor. Traditionally you will find corn, cheese, fish, fried or dried meat, quinoa and a great variety of potatoes from the Altiplano. After our lunch, a traditional healer (“Yatiri”) will realize a ceremony dedicated to Mother Earth (“Pachamama”). We will enjoy these unique moments in the heart of the pre-Inca and Inca traditions: the Isla del Sol (“Island of the Sun”) owes its name to its important role in the cult to the Sun God “Inti” during the Inca Empire area. Here the people care about preserving the nature and their traditions.
Private boat available for two days.
Night at the Puerta del Sol hotel*.
Dinner included.

DAY
16

Yumani - Copacabana - La Paz

In the morning, a short hop by motorboat first takes us to Pilkokaina temple, south of the island. This palace was built by Inca Tupac Yupanqui for its pilgrimages on the island. We then head to Isla de la Luna where we visit the temple of the Ñustas, The Inca virgins. We then come back to Copacabana.

Cold lunch (included). Dinner open.
We will return to La Paz in private transportation (about 3½-hour).
Night at the Naira hotel***.
The boat will take us back to Copacabana.

DAY
17

La Paz - Rurrenabaque

A private driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport.
Domestic flight La Paz - Rurrenabaque.
Night at the Maya hotel***.

DAY
18

Rurrenabaque - Bala Camp

Departure for a 2,5 hour-trip with our private 4WD (depending on the track conditions) to the Bala camp near the Yucuma river, via the village of Santa Rosa. In the afternoon, a motorboat tour will be a great opportunity to watch many animals around the river. And particularly many different species of birds (toucans, parrots, tapacarés, king fisher, herons and other wading birds…), freshwater turtles, caimans and monkeys (howling, whistling, chichilos).
Return to camp at the end of the afternoon. After dinner we will go for a night walk to observe the nocturnal wildlife.
Lunch and dinner included.

DAY
19

Bala Camp

In the morning, we will walk on the local tracks searching for the sicuri, the famous anaconda of up to 12 meters long and aged up to hundred years old. During this hike, we can also see some capihuaras (the biggest rodent in the world), tapirs (with a bit of luck) and some medicinal plants, still used by the local inhabitants.

n another canoe or motor boat tour in the afternoon, we will fish piranhas. When back to the camp, we can safely swim in the Yacuma River with the Bufeos (pink dolphins) present in the waterways of the great Amazon Basin.

Cold lunch. Dinner included.

DAY
20

Bala Camp - Rurrenabaque - La Paz

Return to Rurrenabaque by 4WD. We will stop on a lagoon along the way to try one last time to fish some piranhas or bentons, small carnivorous fishes, prisoners of the small lagoons left after the rainy season.

Transfer at the airport for the return flight Rurrenabaque - La Paz in the afternoon.

Lunch and dinner are not included.
Domestic flight Rurrenabaque - La Paz.
A private driver will pick you up at the airport and drive you to your hotel.
Night at the Naira hotel***.

DAY
21

La Paz

Our guide will pick you up at 09:00 am at the hotel lobby. Today you will discover the most traditional side of the city, walking into the day-to-day life of the “paceños” (inhabitants of La Paz). You will first enter the indoor market of the Plaza San Francisco (Mercado Lanza) where many workers have breakfast. You will then take the cable car going up to El Alto and enjoy a unexpected view over the city and the mountains that surround it. You will fly over different neighborhoods and the general cemetery, in which you will then enter to discover the Andean post-mortem traditions: here the families leave elaborated offerings on the graves. Walking from the cemetery down to the historical center you will walk through the traditions of clothing and traditional celebrations of the city. Do you remember the “cholitas”, the women using traditional Andean clothing? In every street you will find an item of their outfit: skirt, heat, shoes, jewelry… nothing is missing! In the Los Andes Street you will feel like carnival is coming. It is the tailor’s street and every shop is filed with colorful costumes and masks. You will end our tour in the Witches Market (“Mercado de las Brujas”) where the locals buy all the necessary artifacts for ceremonial offering to the Pachamama (Mother Earth): coca leaves and other medicinal plants, miniature figurines in sugar and lama fetuses.
Night at the Naira hotel***.

DAY
22

La Paz - El Alto Airport

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