Immerse yourself in a historical and cultural odyssey across the southern portions of Bolivia, discovering vibrant cities, lake villages and islands, salt flats, and a volcanic park full of unique wildlife. This 10-day Secrets of South Bolivia classic tour also provides you with your choice of the best 4-star and 5-star accommodations for a truly unforgettable experience.
Begin in the Breathtaking City of La Paz
Discover the secrets that southern Bolivia holds with a start in the breathtaking city of La Paz. Cozily situated beneath the Illimani mountain, the city itself is a combination of modern, colonial, and indigenous worlds perfect for exploring.
Roam the historic center and bustling squares. Discover its cathedrals, palaces, and local landmarks. You can also venture to nearby Moon Valley and its lunar landscape and ride across the sky aboard the Teleferico, the highest and longest cable car in the world.
Enjoy explorations of the famous Lake Titicaca and its surroundings, including a variety of unique cities, villages, and islands. Begin with the village of Copacabana and move on to La Isla de la Luna (Moon Island).
Spend time getting to know La Isla Del Sol (Sun Island) with its numerous ancient ruins and historical sites, including the Pilcocaina Palace, the birthplace of the Incan Sun God. This palace offers stunning carvings and artwork, and you’ll want to linger here for a while.
The village of Huatajata also awaits, providing a unique destination full of historical sites, museums, and indigenous relics to discover.
Charming City of Sucre and Surroundings
The city of Sucre is one of the most charming and beautiful cities in South America. Roam its streets and learn about its colonial past. Visit the spectacular textile museum and sample the local cuisine and exciting nightlife.
Another south Bolivia secret on the tour is the UNESCO-listed silver trading hub of Potosí, with its silver mines nearby. Visit the Royal Mint here as well as the colonial city itself and learn about its unique history.
The Salt Flats of Uyuni & Beyond
In Uyuni, you’ll find the largest salt flat in the world and stay overnight in a hotel made entirely of salt blocks. The Luna Salada Hotel provides guests with comfortable accommodations and access to its hot tub and spa for extra relaxation during your stay.
Nature lovers will be in awe as you spend time in the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve, a volcanic park at the southernmost tip of Bolivia. Here you can watch the active Sol De Manana geysers and gaze out over the dazzling emerald lake.
Venture to Coquesa, a small hamlet at the base of the Tunupa Volcano, and see flocks of Andean flamingos. For a closer look at the volcano, hike the nearby trails before returning to La Paz for your flight home.
Itinerary & Prices
Welcome to Bolivia!
After arriving at La Paz Airport you’ll be warmly greeted by your awaiting bilingual guide and private transportation for the half-hour journey downtown to your chosen hotel. Along the way, your guide will provide their passionate insight into this breathtaking Bolivian city, the highest de facto capital city in the world at 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level.
This afternoon you’ll enjoy a half-day tour of the city’s highlights, including a visit to Moon Valley and chance to take the Teleferico. Beneath the majestic Illimani mountain, La Paz is a chaotic carnival of color and noise, where indigenous, colonial and modern worlds meet and new adventures lurk around every street corner. Explore the local landmarks of its historic center, taking in the bustling squares, palaces and cathedrals, not to mention the mysterious Witches’ Market.
Later, visit the lunar landscape of the nearby Moon Valley – a nickname given by Neil Armstrong himself in 1969 when he came to La Paz after the region reminded him of his famous moonwalk – and admire its colossal clay spires steeped in legend. For the finale, you’ll hop aboard the city’s towering Teleferico for a sky-ride between the depths of Zona Sur to the heights of El Alto, and enjoy the incredible views that only the world’s longest and highest cable-car can afford.
La Paz & Sun Island
On day two, you’ll get picked up at your hotel in La Paz after enjoying a delicious continental breakfast. From the city, you’ll take a ride to the gorgeous village of Copacabana, tucked at the bottom of Lake Titicaca. The city houses a shrine to the Dark Virgin, who has performed miracles in the area for centuries. If you’re visiting in early February, you can potentially participate in the local festivals that honor her contributions. You’ll get to spend some time in Copacabana before taking a boat over to La Isla de la Luna (Moon Island) to see the well-preserved Sun Virgins Temple “Iñak Uyu”.
Next, you’ll head over to La Isla Del Sol (Sun Island), which is one of the largest islands in the lake. It has several ruins, including that of the Pilcocaina Palace, which is the supposed birthplace of the sun god. This temple is mostly intact, and has some incredible artwork and carvings for you to enjoy. You’ll enjoy lunch nearby with incredible views of the lake.
After lunch, you can explore the rest of the island before dinner at your hotel. You’ll spend the night on Sun Island so that you can enjoy a magnificent sunrise in the morning.
Meals (B, L, D)
Sun Island & La Paz
Rise and shine and take in the gorgeous sunrise on Sun Island. After breakfast, you can continue to explore the island on your own, or ask your guide for recommendations. Around noon, you’ll visit the Inca Grand Stairs and the Sacred Fountain. Legend says that the fountain can give those who drink from it eternal youth and happiness.
For lunch, you’ll dine at the Uma Kollu Archeological Restaurant, which offers outdoor dining and stunning lakeside views. There’s also a market nearby where you can buy souvenirs and handcrafted items. After lunch, you’ll take the boat to shore at Cocotoni Bay, then ride out to the town of Huatajeta. This city has many historical sites, including the Andead Roots Eco Village, the Altiplano Museum, and relics from the local Urus Chipayas people (who still live in the region).
After Huatajata, you’ll head back to La Paz, where you’ll check into your hotel. If you have time, be sure to explore the city’s nightlife before heading to Sucre in the morning. Since dinner isn’t provided, now is an excellent chance to experience the dining options that La Paz has to offer. You can sample traditional Bolivian dishes or opt for something more modern.
Meals (B, L)
La Paz & Sucre
After breakfast, you’ll take a shuttle to the La Paz airport and head to Sucre. Sucre is the second capital of Bolivia, which is the constitutional capital of the country (although the government runs everything from La Paz).
Once you arrive in Sucre, you’ll participate in a half-day tour that shows you all of the colonial history of the city. Highlights from this tour include the Recoleta Monastery, the House of Liberty where Simon Bolivar made Bolivia an independent nation, and a textile museum ASUR. Sucre is also known as the White City because many of the colonial buildings were whitewashed.
After your tour, you’re free to explore Sucre as much as you like. Be sure to sample some local delicacies before heading back to your hotel for the night. Sucre’s nightlife is bold and exciting, and there are plenty of activities to do. If you love prehistoric parks, you might head up to Cretaceous Park, which has many dinosaur fossils and spectacular cliffs streaked with their footprint trails.
Potosí Through The Ages
On day five, you’ll take a ride out to the colonial city of Potosi after enjoying breakfast at your hotel. Although Potosi is small, it was a silver trading hub, thanks to the output of nearby mines. The mountain that housed that silver still towers over the city, providing a jaw-dropping backdrop for any photos you might take. In fact, the town produced so much silver in its heyday that legend says it could build a bridge from Potosi to Madrid.
While you’re here, you’ll visit the Royal Mint, which still has original wooden machinery to create Spanish silver coins. Afterward, you can explore the rest of the city, including the colonial center and the various markets. Potosi is very welcoming to tourists, and you can buy many unique souvenirs and handcrafted items to take back home.
Both Potosi and Sucre have been named “Historical and Cultural Legacy” sites by UNESCO, and the cities wear their colonial heritage with pride. Here is one of the best places to see Spanish colonial architecture and culture alive and well. You’ll get to explore the city yourself and spend the night under the shadow of Cerro Rico (the Rich Mountain).
After a delicious breakfast in Potosi, you’ll ride three hours to the city of Uyuni. This town is world-famous because it houses the largest salt flat on the planet. You’ll spend the day exploring Uyuni, including having lunch close to giant Trichocereus cacti, which have stood for hundreds of years. Lunch will be in an oasis called Lake Incahuasa, where you might get to see some local flamingos.
Uyuni is also home to the Luna Salada Hotel, which is entirely made of salt. The hotel is on the eastern side of the flat, and it’s a gorgeous sight to behold. If you’re looking for incredible photos, Uyuni has tons of stunning scenery.
After your full-day tour in the salt flat, you’ll spend the night in Uyuni and have dinner at your hotel. Nighttime in Uyuni is peaceful and serene since there is not an urban center nearby. Here is where you can experience the breadth and beauty of the stars, as there are no lights to dim their shine.
Meals (B, BL, D)
Eduardo Avaroa National Park
Day Seven has many natural sights for you to experience. After breakfast at your hotel, you’ll slowly make your way to the Eduardo Avaroa National Park, which is at the southern tip of the country. Along the way, you’ll get to see herds of llamas, vicunas, and other local wildlife. You’ll also stop at the Laguna Colorada, which is just outside of the park. This lake is notable for its reddish waters and flamboyances of flamingos.
Inside the park, you’ll witness the Sol De Manana geysers, which are quite active and will put on a show for you and your group. The whole area is volcanic, so you’ll get to see lots of geological activity during your journey.
Since the park is close to the Chilean border, you’ll get to see the Licancabur Volcano, which straddles the line between the two countries. You’ll also visit Laguna Verde (Green Lake), which has dazzling emerald waters, thanks to a high magnesium content. After the volcano, you’ll make the trip back to Uyuni, with a picnic lunch provided en route. Again this evening you will spend the night in the luxurious comforts of the Luna Salada Hotel, with dinner provided.
Meals (B, L, D)
Coquesa & Thunupa Volcano
Today you’ll drive over the salt flats on an excursion to the small village of Coquesa, at the foot of Thunupa Volcano, the so-called Guardian of the Salt Flats. Small ponds located at its base are home to flocks of Andean flamingos wading through their shallow waters. A checkerboard of stonewall pens decorate the slopes as herders walk with their llamas and plant quinoa in the fertile soil of the volcanic earth. Toward the volcano’s crater, different layers of sediment are visible giving way to a spectacular smorgasboard of color under the vivid blue sky.
Climbing up the trails of the volcano, you’ll witness some of the most beautiful vistas of the Salt Flats the area has to offer. After a stroll through the village you’ll hike to the cave of the Coquesa Mummies, ancestors of the ancient Urus Chipayas civilization. Believed to have been killed together by poisonous gases leaking up from underground, they have remained untouched for over 1,200 years; though some speculation as to how they died and whether or not they are in fact related still remains as archaeological research has yet to be conducted. Due to the dry air and their protected enclave, the bodies are remarkably preserved with the colors of their clothes and even fingernails still visible.
Meals (B, BL, D)
Return to La Paz
After another breakfast next to the salt flats, you’ll head to the airport to return to La Paz. From there, you’ll head over to the archaeological site of Tiwanaku, which was active for over five hundred years until 1,000 B.C.. You’ll spend the whole day at Tiwanaku, where you’ll see stunning ruins, including the Sun Gate, the Temple of Klasasaya, and the Pyramid of Akapana.
The Tiwakanu people were different from the Inca, but they were no less civilized or advanced. This site was home to many farms and other agricultural sites. You’ll marvel at the ruins of a long-deceased culture, which died out because of a prolonged drought. After your guided tour, you can explore as much of Tiwakanu as you like. At night, you’ll head back to La Paz and your hotel.
Farewell to Bolivia
Today we bid a fond farewell to Bolivia. After breakfast, you’ll be transferred from your hotel to La Paz Airport, approximately half an hour from downtown, in good time for your international flight home.