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Wonders of Chile and Bolivia Tour: Salt Flats to Deserts

offered by supplier M16432 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 13 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 99 people
Destination(s): Bolivia   Chile  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 6413 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 7472 US Dollar (USD)

Starting in La Paz, the highest capital in the world, we then move to the border between Bolivia and Peru, where we explore Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. The Uyuni salt flats beautifully reflect the sapphire-blue Altiplano sky. Crossing the highlands we move into Chile and the Atacama Desert, the highest desert in the world. After seeing volcanoes, hot springs and salt flats see the modern Chilean capital of Santiago.

This tour will show you the most exciting parts of Bolivia and Chile. We start in La Paz, at 12000 feet, it is the highest capital in the world. It is surrounded by the majestic Royal Andean Range, with a view of the Illimani Peak at 21000 feet. We will cruise across the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, with sapphire blue waters and skies, the region gives a very mystical feeling. One of the greatest “natural wonders”, the Uyuni salt flats are the biggest salts lakes in the world. 12,000 sq km of salt at an elevation of 12,000 ft, create a truly unforgettable experience as the flats reflect the sapphire-blue Altiplano sky. San Pedro de Atacama is the place to visit for history buffs, as it is full of incredible archaeological treasures. San Pedro’s scenery is sensational as well, with the Andes Mountain range providing a fabulous backdrop to the town. We will also spend two days in Santiago to visit this fascinating and modern city.

Itinerary:
Day 1: International Flight to La Paz
Take the overnight flight to La Paz, Bolivia. Look out for the magnificent views of the city and the Royal Andean Range when landing.

Day 2: City Tour of La Paz
Upon arrival in La Paz airport, transfer to the hotel. Afternoon, city tour of La Paz. Head through the colonial part of the city with the San Francisco Church, Gold Museum, Murillo Square and the outdoor replica of Tiahuanaco Temple. One will also visit the street markets, rich in handicrafts, weavings and witchcraft artifacts that represent the traditional beliefs of the Ch'alla (ritual of offerings) and Pachamama (mother earth and symbol of fertility). See the modern part of the city and the dramatic drops in elevation. Finally, leave the city to enter the Valley of the Moon and enjoy its natural geological formations.

Day 3: La Paz – Copacabana
Enjoy a private trip from La Paz to Copacabana with a wonderful view of Lake Titicaca. Visit the famous Virgen Morena and its church, and take a stroll through the town, before taking the boat to the Island of the Sun. Upon landing in Huacani port, have a typical lunch, "Aptapi". From here, hike about one hour to the Ecolodge La Estancia, offering spectacular views of the mountains and the lake. La Estancia is located in the southern part of Sun Island on Lake Titicaca. It was built preserving the Andean architecture and combines modern comfort with respecting the harmony of the surrounding nature and habitat. Overnight on Sun Island. Dinner tonight is included.

Day 4: Exploring Chincana Ruins
After breakfast there will be an opportunity to enjoy the sunrise. Then take a boat north to visit Chincana ruins and the Sacred Rock. After the excursion, travel by boat to the Island of the Moon and explore the the Inak Uyu ruins before finally reaching Copacabana. After lunch (included) return to La Paz.

Day 5: La Paz – Uyuni
This morning, transfer to Uyuni. The trip starts from la Paz going southwest through the highlands by bus to Oruro. From there take a train to Uyuni, crossing a big portion of the highlands.

Day 6: Trekking Through the Salt Flats and Pucara de Aique
This morning, take a trip to Colchani, to see locals producing salt. Enter the great Uyuni salt flats to Isla Incahusai, a special habitat of volcanic rocks and giant cactus. Continue north to see the pre-Colombian Pucara de Ayque fort and the nearby chullpares. Return to Colchani.

Day 7: Exploring Frog’s Valley
This morning, head south, visiting the cemetery of old trains. Then travel through the highlands, passing the villages of San Cristobal, Clpina K until the high and rich valley of Alota. Continue on to see the areas with great stone formations done by the erosion. Continue through high valleys until the village of Villamar.

Day 8: Uyuni – San Pedro de Atacama
Depart early in the morning for la REA reserve, visiting Laguna Colorada, going through Polkes, geysers, Sol de Ma, Chalviri lagoon and its natural hot springs of Polques. Continue through the high desert of Pampas de Dali until Laguna Verde, a beautiful green lagoon at the foothill of the Licancabur Mountain. Continue until the Bolivian border Hito Cajon. Enjoy lunch en route to and change cars before continuing to the hotel in San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 9: Tulor, Quitor, Atacama Salt Lake and Toconao
Morning, half-day archeological tour to Tulor and Quitor. Departure at 9 am to visit the Padre Gustavo Le Paige Museum, which has an important anthropological collection of the Atacemenan culture. Then continue to the indigenous fortress of Quitor where the first shepherds of this civilization lived. Continue on to one of the "ayllus" or settlements which reflect the social system and communal aspects of this subsistence society and the ruins of Tulor, which is composed of a series of round rooms connected to each other and with communal patios. Today, this site is covered partly by the sands of the desert and represents an archaeological enigma. Afternoon, half-day excursion to the Atacama Salt Lake and Toconao. Upon leaving San Pedro de Atacama (3 pm in the winter, 4 pm in the summer), head along the side of the huge salt flat and continue until arriving at Toconao, a village where the inhabitants dedicate themselves to the working of the local liparite stone. Visit the old church and wander around the handicraft shops before a short visit to the Jeri Valley, an oasis in the center of the desert. Continue to the Chaxa Lagoon, where three types of pink flamingos breed. Return to San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 10: Tatio Geysers with Machuca Village
Early departure (around 4am) from San Pedro towards the El Tatio Geysers. A guided walk around the geothermal field as the fumaroles of steam which appear at dawn rise into the sky. Journey through the Andes mountains, with wonderful views of the Putana volcano and the peaks of Torcopuri. Return to San Pedro, stopping on the way to visiting Machuca, a picturesque village of shepherds where the ancient llama caravans used to rest from their travels on the "Inca Highway".

Day 11: San Pedro – Calama – Santiago
This morning transfer to Calama airport to take the flight to Santiago. Upon arrival at Santiago airport, transfer to the selected hotel in the heart of the city. This afternoon, enjoy a private city tour of Santiago. The tour begins from the Funicular de Santiago (Gondola), which provides a stunning and panoramic view over the city from the top of San Cristobal Hill. Travel to the heart of the city and Plaza de Armas the spot from where the city has grown throughout the centuries. Each Latin city has a plaza de Armas as when cities were founded the center was also where the armory and military base was established - hence the name Plaza de Armas (Plaza of Arms). Visit some of the more important buildings such as the Cathedral, the City Council, the Central Post Office and the National Historical Museum. Continue to the Presidential Palace La Moneda; the current seat of the government. Wander the streets that were once elegant at the beginning of the 19th century and now are a commercial center. Also visit some the original colonial neighborhoods such as Concha y Toro Square. Characterized by its cobbled streets and old mansions that reflect the elegance and richness of the early twentieth century the neighborhood grew to prominence between 1870 and 1876 with the influx of wealth as a result of mining and the discovery of Silver. Many Chileans achieved great wealth, including Enrique Concha y Toro founder of the famed winery. Return to the hotel for the evening.

Day 12: Casablanca Valley with Valparaiso and Vina del Mar
This morning, meet at the hotel and transfer to the Casablanca Valley, approximately 50-miles (80-kilometers) from Santiago. The Casablanca Valley is one of Chile’s most important regions for cultivating the grapes that produce crisp white wines, most notably Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Here guests will enjoy a tour, tasting and lunch at one of the local wineries situated along this thriving wine route. After lunch, leaving the Casablanca Valley, visit Valparaiso, the oldest and most important port in Chile. Here there will be an opportunity to walk along the city’s winding streets and enjoy the scenery and culture of this charming port-city. Continue to Vina del Mar, a resort city that was founded in 1874, famous for its beautiful gardens and flower clock. Late in the afternoon return to the hotel in Santiago. Lunch is included today.

Day 13: International Flight Home via Santiago. Transfer to airport for international flights back home.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

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