Day 1: Santa Cruz. Start your tour of Bolivia in Santa Cruz, its second largest city situated in a unique zone where the dusty Chaco region meets the rich Amazon and Yungas Forests at the foothills of the Andes. What was once a backwater cattle town on these borders, the city has become one of Bolivia’s most vibrant cities. Your afternoon sightseeing tour that takes you to the Plaza 24 de Septiembre, the heart of the old town surrounded by colonial architecture, and El Arenal Park to see the mural of the city’s history completed by Bolivian artist Largio Vaca. This evening enjoy an included welcome dinner.
Day 2: El Fuerte. Leave this morning on a full day excursion out to the town of Samaipata to visit the pre-Inca ceremonial site of El Fuerte. Some say it was built as far back as 1500 BC but to this day its real purpose remains a mystery. Erich von Däniken claimed it was a take-off point from space craft. A visit to the archaeological museum in Samaipata town will give you some insight into this enigma, and the little town will enchant you with its cobblestone and mud streets. Opt to visit the site on horseback from Samaipata, or by regular 4-wheel drive jeep. Return to Santa Cruz for dinner.
Day 3: Sucre. Board an early flight this morning to transfer to Sucre, the capital. Any Bolivian will tell you that “The White City” is the most beautiful in the country and probably the most peaceful. See the building where the Bolivian Declaration of Independence was signed on our guided sightseeing tour and visit the museum of indigenous art to watch local weavers at work and learn about the colorful cloth production which has been practiced for centuries. Then go up to the Recoleta area for spectacular views of the city. This afternoon jump on the Dino Truck that will take you out to Cal Orko and the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world that have been preserved in the walls of a cement factory quarry.
Day 4: Tarabuco. Full day excursion to the colorful small town of Tarabuco. The Indians living here belong to a culture that is one of the most ancient indigenous cultures and the market attracts sellers from all over the area who display their colorful wares. A perfect place to look for those alpaca sweaters, ceramic pieces, brightly woven rugs and Conquistador style leather helmets.
Day 5: Potosi. This morning we begin our ascent to the Alto Plano highlands as we transfer to the former silver mining town and true jewel among towns in Bolivia: Potosi – a Unesco world heritage site- that sits majestically at 4,000 meters above sea level. On our guided sightseeing we will visit the Royal mint, the cathedral and the “Pasaje de Siete Vueltas” (street of seven turns) whose distinct architectural construction shows how early settlers tried to build their residences and shops to protect them from the lay winds of the Alto Plano. Later this afternoon we will visit a mine and see how the miners carried out rudimentary works.
Day 6: Transfer to the Uyuni Salt Flats. Full day transfer to the Uyuni Salt Flats. In the extreme south west of the country, this is the most remote of the highlands of Bolivia.
Day 7: Uyuni Salt Flats. Today discover the Uyuni Salt Flats, the largest deposit of salt in the world. A fascinating full day excursion takes you out to the gleaming whiteness of this salt desert where at least 10 billion tons of salt still remain. Stop at Colchani, the salt hotels and Isla de los Pescadores, a small, hilly outpost city covered in cactus in the heart of the salt flat. Watch the locals carve furniture out of pure salt or purchase your own little salt llama as a souvenir.
Day 8: Train journey to Oruro. Board the local train today on journey from the south western regions of Bolivia north through some of the world’s flattest terrains. You can even catch glimpses of the great salt sea as you travel. Arrive in Oruro. (Train journey time 7 hours).
Day 9: Oruro. Morning sightseeing of the town of Oruro, famous for its Diablada celebration, the most colorful of the carnival festivities in the country. It is the Alto Plano’s only real city, known by the inhabitants as the “cradle of Folklore”, where 90% of the inhabitants still have true Indian heritage. Visit the museo etnografico minero which is housed in an old mine tunnel. Board an afternoon bus that will take you to La Paz for the next few days. (Coach journey time 3 ½ hours).
Day 10: La Paz. La Paz, the de facto capital of the nation, founded by the Spaniards in pursuit of gold and the revenue the mines would bring the Empire. Today the gold is all gone but visitors looking to the modern El Alto settlement at night will swear that “there is still gold in them there hills!”. Begin this morning with a short excursion outside of the city to the “Valle de la Luna” (valley of the moon) and incredible natural park set in a canyon; the rock and earth formations will make you feel like you have really left earth and are walking on the moon. Return to the city where a guided sightseeing tour introduces you to the Plaza Murillo, the cathedral and the Presidential Palace. Finish up by visiting the Mercado de Hecheria (witches’ market) where you can watch Aymara women selling traditional cures for just about anything that ails you.
Day 11: Full day Lake Titicaca. A full day excursion to Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. Take a ferry boat out on the lake to the Island of the Sun where it is believed the first Inca was brought into being and sent out to colonize. Stroll around the Copacabana and visit the impressive Moorish style cathedral. Then return to La Paz. This evening take part in our Bolivian evening at one of the many Penas in the city, tasting traditional Andean food and being entertained by Andean music played on Zamponas, quenas and charangos.
Day 12: Homeward Bound or Continue to the Amazon. Fly home today or complete your knowledge of Bolivia by adding on our 3 day Amazon Jungle extension to Rurrenabaque. Rurrenabaque is the starting point into the Bolivian Amazon and the northern rainforests. It is situated 400 km north of La Paz at an altitude of only 262 m above sea level. The mighty river Beni flows through this region and it is an ideal location to visit the unspoilt side of the Amazon basin. We invite you to spend a few days at a community based eco-lodge and to discover the Madidi National Park. Take part in activities such as bow-and-arrow fishing, rainforest hiking and visits to other native communities as well as wildlife and bird-watching treks, canoe trips and nocturnal walks.
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South America Bolivia Local Culture Sightseeing Cultural Journey