Terra Bolivia » Cultura » Immersion and discovery of the mystical civilizations of Bolivia

Immersion and discovery of the mystical civilizations of Bolivia

Bolivia is like a jewel ... It is also by far the country with the largest indigenous population. Isolated in the heart of South America, Bolivia receives few influences from the outside, which explains why cultures and traditions are so strongly preserved here. We will discover Tiwanaku, whose civilization dates back more than 3500 years and reached its peak nearly 1000 years ago. The declining Empire then gives way to Aymaras seigneuries, soon overthrown by the Inca conquerors from Cusco. This new Empire - which will extend to the fort of Samaipata, built to contain the attacks of the Guarani Indians - and yet quickly devastated by newcomers: the Spanish "conquistadores".
A historic journey to discover the turbulent past of the New World, this tour also covers the most breathtaking natural landscapes. Bolivia is of unsuspected wealth.

15 Days

MAP

PROGRAMME DAY TO DAY

DAY
1

Santa Cruz - Potosi

Your guide and a private driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel.
Free time.
Night at the Colonial hotel***.

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.

DAY
3

Concepción - Santa Cruz - Potosi

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 the Colonial hotel***.

DAY
4

Santa Cruz - Potosi

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 the Colonial hotel***.

DAY
5

Santa Cruz - Sucre

Domestic flight Santa Cruz - Sucre.

DAY
5

Santa Cruz - Sucre

A private driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport.
A private driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel.
Free afternoon.
Night at the Su Merced hotel***.

DAY
6

Sucre

Our driver will pick us up at 8:00 am to visit the traditional market of Tarabuco.

We will drive around 1.5h (70 km) in our private vehicule to reach this traditional village, which Sunday market is known in the whole country. It is one of the biggest traditional markets of the continent. Buyers and sellers come from all over the region in traditional clothing: they wear the same leather hats as those of the Spanish “conquistadores” and very colorful clothing. The sound of the “charango” (small Andean guitar) brings a nice festive atmosphere. We will then drive 20 km south (around 1h) to Candelaria, a very authentic small village at the heart of the Tarabuco culture, famous for its textile art.

We will have lunch with a weaver family who will show us their weaving shop and the museum of the village.
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).
Our guide will pick us up at 2:00 pm 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 Sunday afternoon and Mondays.
Night at the Colonial hotel***.

DAY
8

Potosi - Uyuni

This morning we will get to know the mines of the “Rich Hill”. Our guide will pick us up at 9 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.

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.
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
9

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)

DAY
10

Tahua - Uyuni

Partial ascent - no technical difficulties - good physical condition required

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 will 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. 5432 m.a.s.l.) can not be attempted since the path is too dangerous.

We will walk back to Tahua in the afternoon and from there drive to Uyuni, where we will arrive at the end of the afternoon after a 2.5 h ride (140 km). We will stop on the road to visit a salt hotel and a salt exploitation.

Trekking time: 4h - Elevation gain: +850m/-850m
Night at the Tambo Aymara hotel***.

DAY
11

Uyuni - La Paz

Domestic flight Uyuni - La Paz.

DAY
11

Uyuni - La Paz

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

DAY
12

La Paz

Our private driver will pick us up in the hotel lobby at 9:00 am for a full-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 cable cars. From the sky the panorama over the city and the mountains is unique and we can have a feel of the social gaps while flying over different neighborhoods.

We will then drive to the south, across the rich "Zona Sur" and get out of the city to enter the Moon Valley. Here we can enjoy the quietness and walk amongst the lunar rock formations during an hour.

wander around

In the afternoon we will go back to the historical center and wander around its colorful markets.

NOTE: The K’Illi K’Illi mirador and the Laykakota Park are closed on Mondays.
Night at the Rosario hotel***.

DAY
13

La Paz - 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.
Bilingual guide
Night at La Cúpula hotel***.

DAY
14

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.
Boat available for the full day.
Bilingual guide
We will return to La Paz in private transportation (about 3½-hour).
Night at the Rosario hotel***.

DAY
15

La Paz - El Alto Airport

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

DAY
15

La Paz - Lima

Flight La Paz - Lima.