Day 1: Santa Cruz. Start your tour of Bolivia in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s 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 the these borders, the city has become one of Bolivia’s most vibrant cities. Join our 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: Cochabamba. An early flight this morning will take you through the lower Andes to the bustling town of Cochabamba. Our guided sightseeing will introduce you to Bolivia’s largest market town. Visit the archaeological museum, one of Bolivia’s finest, that has artifacts that date back as far as 12,000 BC. Then travel the winding road that will take you up to the city’s own statue of Christ, even larger than the one in Rio de Janiero, which spreads its hands out over the city. Spend the afternoon wandering around the La Cancha market that sprawls out for several blocks around the bus station.
Day 4: Tarata, Cliza and Arani. A full day excursion will take us out into the countryside surrounding Cochabamba. Visit the town of Tarata a jewel of colonial architecture where we see the Franciscan convent of San Jose and can try the chorizo Tarateno. Then we travel on to the village Huayculli which is known for its pottery. The ancient techniques of working in clay has been passed down from generation to generation and are unique in all of Bolivia. In Cliza you will learn about the festival of the Virgin de Carmen.
In Punata, a small market town, is wear to hunt for the perfect Alpaca sweater or alternatively, to sample the best Chicha in the country. Finish the circuit in the tranquil village of Arani, known for a big round bread made of various grains, and to view the Virgen de la Bella situated in the restored Saint Bartholome church and the subject of a massive festival, dating from colonial times, that takes place every August.
Day 5: Fly to La Paz. Board your breathtaking morning flight for the most superb aerial views of the Andes you can imagine as you make your way to La Paz, the de facto capital of the country, founded by the Spaniards for the 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 sightseeing with a short excursion outside of the city to the "Valle de la Luna" 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 where you can watch Aymara women selling traditional cures for just about anything that ails you.
Day 6: 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 7: Sucre. Bord 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 8: 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 9: Potosi. Full day excursion to Potosi. This morning, begin your 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" 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. This evening, return to Sucre for a farewell evening in true Bolivian style. You may even want to try your hand at doing the Salsa.
Day 10: Homeward or Continuation. Return home today or choose to add one of our exciting extensions to the Uyuni Salt Flats or Rurrenabaque:
- Uyuni Salt Flats Extension: Situated in the extreme south west of the country, the Uyuni Salt Flats are the most remote of the highlands of Bolivia. In the next couple of days you will discover the Uyuni Salt Flats, the largest deposit of salt in the world. Fascinating excursions take you out to the gleaming whiteness of this salt desert where at least 10 billion tons of salt still remain. See Colchani, the salt hotels and Isla de los Pescadores, a small, hilly outpost city covered in cactus in the heart of the salt flat. If you are lucky, you'll be able to see the pink flamingos which are the same color as the salt deposits!
- 3 day Amazon Jungle extension to Rurrenabaque: Fly back to Santa Cruz to board the nostalgic 31 seater Douglas Super DC-3 plane which resembles the old-fashioned services that linked the Americans after WWII. These planes are unique in all of South America and on the ride to Uyuni, you will marvel at the landscapes passing below, almost so close that you feel that you could reach out and touch it. The flight alone is a superb highlight.
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 meters 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 Cultural Journey