Terra Bolivia » Multi-Country » The wide open spaces of the Altiplano in 14 days: Chile and Bolivia

The wide open spaces of the Altiplano in 14 days: Chile and Bolivia

This expedition along the Andean Cordillera immerses us in the geological vastness of the Altiplano. After Chungara Lake, the world's highest lake dominated by snow-covered volcanoes and Lauca Park, heading south for Salar de Surire and Coipasa, then multicolored lagoons populated by flamingos at nearly 5000m. In culmination, the largest salt desert in the world, the salar of Uyuni. We return then to Chile, in the desert of Atacama, one of the most arid in the world.

Multi-country, 4WD tour
15 Days

MAP

PROGRAMME DAY TO DAY

Chile

DAY
1

Santiago Airport - Santiago de Chile

Your driver welcomes you at Santiago Airport and takes you to your hotel.
An English-speaking guide will picks you up at the airport and drives you to your hotel in Santiago.
Welcome to Chile! According to your international flight schedule, your driver picks you up at the airport and drives you to your hotel.
Later, and again with your guide, you head to the discovery of the Chilean capital, a big, charming city nestled at the foot of the Andes. Although Santiago has become over the years a modern and very active city, some neighborhoods have preserved their romantic charm and atmosphere. From the central Plaza de Armas to the colorful street of the Bellavista quartier, passing through the Santa Lucía hill, during this half-day tour you will learn about the turbulent and fascinating Chilean history.


Night in the Eco Hotel Carmenere ***.

DAY
2

Santiago de Chile - Calama Airport

Domestic flight from Santiago to Calama (around 2h, flight indicated in option).

DAY
2

Santiago de Chile - Calama Airport - San Pedro de Atacama - Tebenquinche laguna

Your driver takes you from your hotel in Santiago to the airport.
Arrival at Calama airport where your driver takes you to San Pedro de Atacama, a small oasis in the middle of the desert.
Later, in the afternoon, you head to the Ojos del Salar to discover these two small lagoons shaped like a pair of eyes. Depending on the season, you can refresh yourself swimming in the salty waters of the Cejar lagoon, where you can float as in the Dead Sea.

Finally, you take a walk around the Tebenquinche lagoon, while our team prepare a nice cocktail to enjoy a magnificent sunset and later return to San Pedro de Atacama.



Altitud max. 2.500m

Note: swimming is 45 minutes max. and it’s forbidden for children under 6.


Later, in the afternoon you meet with your guide who will pick you up to take you north to the Salar de Atacama.

You head to the Ojos del Salar to discover these two small lagoons shaped like a pair of eyes. Depending on the season, you can refresh yourself swimming in the salty waters of the Cejar lagoon, where you can float as in the Dead Sea.

Finally, you take a walk around the Tebenquinche lagoon, while our team prepare a nice cocktail to enjoy a magnificent sunset and later return to San Pedro de Atacama.

Altitud max. 2.500m

Note: swimming is 45 minutes max. and it’s forbidden for children under 6.
Night at Hotel Poblado Kimal ***, standard room.

DAY
3

Moon valley - Rainbow valley - San Pedro de Atacama



Night at Hotel Poblado Kimal ***, standard room.

DAY
4

Aguas Calientes\/Piedras Rojas Salar - San Pedro de Atacama





Today, get ready for a colorful day...

Early in the morning, your guide will pick you up at your hotel to go to the Salar de Aguas Calientes and Capur, better known as Piedras Rojas for its red stones produced by iron oxidation.

On the road, stop in the small traditional village of Socaire where you can find the oldest tower of Chile. Late lunch in a typical village restaurant.

You then discover the beautiful lagoon Tuyacto of a milky blue color and surrounded by mountains, later you retake the road towards the altiplanic lagoons Miscanti and Miñiques.

Return to San Pedro de Atacama in the late afternoon passing through the village of Toconao to visit its church, Central Square and craft market.

Altitude max. 4500m
At nightfall, you will join an astronomer at San Pedro de Atacama semi-professional observatory, for an unforgettable session observing the southern sky, undoubtedly the most beautiful in the world. Enjoy this 2 hours observation session in a pleasant ambiance mingling between the astronomer's explanations and the site’s 10 telescopes. You end this excursion with a hot beverage and a chat to later return to San Pedro.

Note: the excursion is in small group. It cannot be done during full moon periods and is subject to weather conditions. Take warm / thermic clothes with you (temperature can go down to-15ºC during winter)

Visit in English, Spanish or French, according to availability, to be confirmed at reservation time.
Night at Hotel Poblado Kimal ***, standard room.

DAY
5

San Pedro de Atacama - Paso Hito Cajon

Leaving the village of San Pedro, a steep road up the Altiplano takes you to the border post of Hito Cajón, entry point of the Southern Lipez region in Bolivia.

Note, in case of bad weather conditions, the border post can close for security reasons. To continue your journey, it will be necessary to reach the border post of Ollague - 300 kilometers more (190 miles - approximately 3h) generating additional costs.

DAY
5

Paso Hito Cajon - Laguna Colorada

We meet our Bolivian driver at the border post of Hito Cajón, entry gate to the South Lipez area. Today we will ride around 100 km in our private jeep, across spectacular landscapes, crossing altitudes between 4200 and 4750 m.a.sl.
Late in the morning, we will reach the Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verde, at the foot of volcanoes Juriques and Licancabur (el. 5704 and 5960 m.a.s.l.). We will then cross the Dali Desert (4750 m.a.s.l.). Here the strong wind has created surprising rock formations that reminds the paintings of the Spanish master. Riding along the Laguna Salada, we will reach 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 of volcanoes. We will then jump back into the jeeps to reach the geysers Sol de Mañana (4850 m.a.s.l.), a volcanic crater with sulphur springs and boiling mud. Last stop today: the Laguna Colorada (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 spend the night close to this lagoon.
Night in Latitudes hostel (basic confort).

Bolivia

DAY
6

San Juan - Laguna Colorada

Night at La Cabaña de Sal hostel* (basic comfort).
Today we continue enjoying the landscapes of the Sur Lipez area… 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.

DAY
7

Jirira - San Juan

Night at the Doña Lupe accommodation*.
Today we will cross 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 salt flat 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 will keep riding 46 km on the white desert (around half an hour) to reach its northern extremity. Here, at the foot of volcano Tunupa (5432 m.a.s.l.) we will spend the night in the small village of Jirira. Before arriving, we will stop in the neighbor village of Coquesa, famous for its mummies of the Chipaya culture.
Salar Sector Room.

DAY
8

Jirira

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 will drop 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.) cannot be attempted since the path is too dangerous. In the afternoon we will walk back to Jirira, where we spend a second night.
Trekking time: 4h - Elevation gain: +850m/-850m
Night at the Doña Lupe accommodation*.
Salar Sector Room.

DAY
9

Jirira - Paso Pisiga

After discovering the world’s largest salt flat, we will cross today the second largest of the country and fifth in the world: the Salar de Coipasa. Located at the same elevation as Uyuni, this Salar is seldom visited. We will probably only cross path with the huge trucks transporting the salt which is extracted here. We are at the heart of the Altiplano, surrounded by arid landscapes and by the many volcanoes that borders the Chilean border. After riding 170 km (around 3.5 h) we will reach the border post of Pisiga, located on the west side of the Salar de Coipasa. Our Chilean driver is awaiting us to bring us to Colchane or Cariquima.

Chile

DAY
9

Paso Pisiga - Colchane

Expedition of 4 days by car with a private Spanish-speaking driver.

Leave Bolivia by crossing the border at Paso Pisiga-Tambo Quemado and reach Colchane, Chile. You will go over the mountain pass of Portezuelo (5,075 m) and around the Cariquima Volcano (5,390 m) before reaching your destination.

Overnight in a hotel.
Night in standard room at the Inka Thaki hotel (basic comfort).

DAY
10

Colchane - Salar de Surire - Guallatiri - Putre

Head north, towards Volcán Isluga National Park and cross the colonial villages of Isluga (3,980 m alt.) and Enquelga (3,850 m alt.). A narrow track which seems to play hide and seek with the border leads you to the Surire Salt Flat (4,245 m alt.), which takes its name from the ostrich (“suri” in Aymara). You will observe three varieties of flamingos, as well as many llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas. Lunch near the hot springs. You will then take a track, guided by the Guallatiri Volcano and sulphuric fumes, through Las Vicuñas Nature Reserve to arrive at the village of Putre in the late afternoon.

Night in the Hotel Terrace Lodge ** in standard room.

DAY
11

Putre - Lauca National Park

Option 1: Begin the day with the Chungará Lake, then go down to the Lagunas de Cotacotani (3-hour walk). The guide shows you the way and picks you up at the end of the hike. After that, go down to Parinacota and Putre.
Option 2: Begin the day with a 30-minute walk on Las Cuevas Trail and visit the village of Parinacota. After that, head to the Lagunas de Cotacotani (without doing the hike) and continue to the Chungará Lake. Drive back to Putre at the end of the day.
Night in the Hotel Terrace Lodge ** in standard room.

DAY
12

Putre - Arica

Leave the Andes for an incredible descent of 3,500 m to the ocean, in a little more than 150 km (about 6-hour drive, with stops). You'll enjoy beautiful views of the Nevados de Putre (5,824 m alt.), candelabra cactus on the edges of the canyon, the terraced fields of Socorama the Pukará of Copaquilla, the San Geronimo Church of Poconchile as well as petroglyphs and geoglyphs.
Night at the boutique Hotel Casa Beltran***.

DAY
13

Arica - Santiago de Chile

Domestic flight from Arica to Santiago (around 2h30, flight indicated in option).

DAY
13

Arica - Santiago de Chile - Valparaiso

Your driver takes you at your hotel to bring you to the airport of Arica.
Your driver welcomes you at Santiago airport and drives you to Valparaíso.
Day at leisure in Valparaiso. Visit the different neighborhoods, the Alegre and Concepción hills, registered as world heritage by UNESCO. Take one of the 100-year-old lifts to help you get up the hills, and enjoy the bohemian peacefull lifestyle of this coastal town.


Night in the Hotel Fauna ***, standard room.

DAY
14

Valparaiso

Your guide takes you for a visit of Valparaíso and its old quarters, listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO. With its many hills crowned with picturesque houses and warehouses, its steep narrow streets, its cable cars and street artists, the city has a particular identity and a very special atmosphere. Seize the opportunity to have lunch in a typical seafood restaurant. Visit of La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda's houses.

By foot and in public transport.

La Sebastiana is closed on Mondays.

In case of rainy day, posibility of guided tour with private vehicule (extra fees to your charge).


Night in the Hotel Fauna ***, standard room.

DAY
15

Valparaiso - Santiago de Chile

Your driver picks you up at your hotel in Valparaíso to Santiago airport.
After breakfast, you take a private transfer from your hotel to Santiago airport. It is time to say Chile goodbye, the head full of incredible memories and wonderful landscapes... and your camera too!

End of our services.