Experience Bolivia & Machu Picchu

Bolivia is a beautiful landlocked country surrounded by Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Paraguay. As a result, this relatively isolated is undiscovered by many travelers.  Our small group travels from the immense salt lake flats to verdant mountain vineyards, and everything in between. As a result, you will have a unique opportunity to experience sample Bolivia’s diverse and rich native culture.

During our 15-day tour, we’ll visit local wineries in Tarija, the beautiful capital of Sucre, the World Heritage city of Potosí, the great Salt Flats at Uyuni, the magnificent Lake Titicaca and the bizarre witches markets in La Paz. Moreover, you will also have the opportunity to learn how to make the delicious Bolivian foods during a cooking class.

Join the optional tour extension to Machu Picchu and Cusco and experience the wonder and mystery of the Inca Empire.

We’ll stay in three-to-four-star accommodations selected for their comfort, location, and friendly staff.

 

Detailed Itinerary

 

Day 1. Arrival in Santa Cruz.

Second largest city in Bolivia, Santa Cruz enjoys a warm climate

The Central square of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

You’ll be met at the international airport Viru Viru and transferred to our boutique hotel in Santa Cruz. Take the time to unpack, unwind, and enjoy a dip in the pool. Also, we’ll go downtown to enjoy traditional fresh-baked pastries at the best bakery in Santa Cruz. In the evening, we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner prepared by Nicole and Manuel, hosts of their beautifully decorated boutique hotel.

Altitude: 1,365 feet

Lodging: Casa Patio Hotel Boutique

Meals included: Welcome Dinner

 

Costumed dancers fill the streets of Tarija, Bolivia celebrating the San Roque Festival

San Roque Festival in Tarija, Bolivia

Day 2. Tarija.

Today we will visit a Mennonite community outside the city.  Next, a butterfly sanctuary awaits us before flying to Tarija.  It is a small lovely city in southern Bolivia not far from the Argentine border. The climate in Tarija is ideal for grape-growing. For that reason we will visit wineries set in the beautiful mountain valley. Also, you will have free time later to explore Tarija on your own. It is a great place for shopping and photography.

Altitude: 6,400 feet

Lodging: Terravina Hotel del Vino

Meals included: Breakfast

Wines and cheeses produced in the region of Tarija, Bolivia

Day 3. Tarija.

Today, we will explore the colorful local morning market. In the afternoon, we’ll visit two wineries. One is small and traditional and the other is larger with state of the art production. For that reason, we will have dinner at the winery, enjoying the lovely sunset views of the valley.

Altitude: 6,400 feet.

Lodging: Terravina Hotel del Vino

Meals included: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 4. Sucre.

6-sucre-bolivia-courtyardThis morning we fly to Sucre, the capital of Bolivia. Famed for its all white colonial architecture, Sucre offers our first contact with the Quechua speaking people. These are the descendants of the Inca Empire. Afternoon is free after check-in at our hotel, which is conveniently located close to the main square. Finally, we’ll dine together at La Taverne, an excellent restaurant located a pleasant walk from our hotel.

Altitude: 9,000 feet.

Lodging: Boutique Hotel Mi Pueblo Samary

Meals included: Breakfast and dinner

 

Day 5. Free day in Sucre.

Today is  free. Consequently, you can relax at the hotel or roam the markets. Most noteworthy is the Casa de Libertador where Bolivia declared its independence from Spain in 1825 . For exercise, try the 30-minute walk to the lovely vista overlooking the city. Certainly, Sucre is worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage status.

Altitude 9,000 feet.

Lodging: Boutique Hotel Mi Pueblo Samary

Meals included: Breakfast and lunch

 

Colorful and fresh vegetables for sale in a Bolivian market.

Day 6. Sucre ~ Tarabuco ~ Candelaria ~ Sucre.

We will drive after breakfast to the Sunday market of Tarabuco. This is a renowned indigenous market where you’ll see campesinos from the surrounding region, wearing colorful clothing. Moreover, their leather helmets are styled after the Spanish conquistador helmets. Subsequently, we will continue to Candelaria, a small village famed for its weavers.  First of all,  we will have lunch in one weaver’s home. After visiting the charming weaving museum in Candelaria, we’ll return to Sucre.

Altitude: 10,790 feet.

Lodging: Boutique Hotel Mi Pueblo Samary

Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

 

Day 7. Potosí.

7-bolivia-mountains-near-potosiToday we drive to Potosí, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for it architecture and ancient mines. Most noteworthy, El Cerro Rico is the mountain which overlooks the city. Silver was discovered en El Cerro Rico in 1545, and the mines have been in continuous operation since then. After arriving at our hotel, we’ll visit one of Bolivia’s best museums, the Casa de la Moneda. This was a Royal Mint of the Spanish Empire. Finally, in the evening, we will dine at Phisqa Warmis, a women’s-owned and managed restaurant in downtown Potosi.

Altitude: 13,420 feet

Lodging: Hostal Patrimonio

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 8. Potosí –  Cerro Rico Mine ~ Uyuni ~ Colchani.

8-salar-de-uyuni-boliviaAfter breakfast, we’ll explore the mines of El Cerro Rico, the famed mountain overlooking Potosi. This is an incredible look into the challenging working conditions of Bolivian miners who work in this historic mine. Following lunch, we’ll drive from Potosi to Uyuni which is the portal to the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni. Indeed, even our hotel will be made of salt!

Altitude of the mine at El Cerro Rico: 15,000 feet.

Hotel: Luna Salada

Meals provided: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Day 9. Colchani ~ Uyuni Salt Flat ~ Colchani.

Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni or Uyuni Salt Flat is the largest in the world

On the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat

We’ll spend the day exploring the Salar de Uyuni, driving onto the salt flat, first to see workers extracting salt at Colchani and then onto Incahuasi island, a volcanic island in the middle of the salt flat which is covered with stromatolites (fossils) and giant cacti. In the late afternoon we’ll position ourselves to photograph sunset at this unique and unforgettable destination.

Altitude: 11,995 feet.

Lodging: Tayka de Sal

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Day 10. Colchani ~ Uyuni ~ La Paz.

Today, we’ll return to Uyuni to catch our flight to La Paz, Bolivia’s largest city and defacto capital. Our hotel is located in a fascinating neighborhood of La Paz, close to colorful downtown markets, the Plaza of San Francisco and the fascinating Witches Market. Free time in the afternoon and evening.

Altitude: 11,913 feet.

Lodging: Hotel Rosario

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 11. La Paz.

12-san-francisco-church-la-paz-bolivia

The Plaza de San Franciso in La Paz

After breakfast, we’ll have the optional cooking class or free time for exploring, shopping, photography or resting at the hotel. In the afternoon, we’ll be lead on a tour of La Paz by noted Bolivian architect Luis Alandia. With attention to architectural styles and history, Mr. Alandia will give us a glimpse of La Paz from the perspective of a resident expert. He will also take us to his favorite spot to sample salteñas, the delicious baked snack food popular with Pazeñas, the inhabitants of La Paz.

Altitude: 11,913 feet.

Lodging: Hotel Rosario

Meals included: Breakfast (Lunch for those in cooking class)

 

Day 12. La Paz ~ Copacabana ~ Lake Titicaca.

15-decorated-vans-copacabana-bolivia

Vehicles adorned for blessing by priests in Copacabana

This morning we depart for Lake Titicaca. Our first destination is Tiwanaku, the World Heritage archeological site of a pre-Inca civilization which dominated the southern half of the central Andes between the fourth and eleventh centuries AD. We continue on to Copacabana, a historic town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Copacabana holds great religious significance to Bolivians because of the miraculous healing powers of the Virgen de Copacabana, housed in the church on the main square.

Altitude: 12,602 feet.

Lodging: Hostal Las Olas

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 13. Lake Titicaca.

13-andes-mountains-lake-titicaca-bolivia

The snow capped Andes rise above Lake Titicaca

Today we’ll travel by motorboat to the northern side of Isla del Sol. This island is mystical center of the universe of the Incan Empire as it was here that the original two Incans came into being. You will have the option to hike for several hours on a trail which runs the length of the island and offers sweeping views of the lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains – a spectacular place to photograph, or to proceed directly to the village of Yumani. We’ll spend the night on the island at an eco-lodge located just outside of Yumani.

Lodging: Ecolodge La Estancia

Altitude: 12,507 feet

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

 

Day 14. Lake Titicaca – La Paz.

Today we’ll travel by boat to Pilkokaina temple, on the southern part of the island. This palace was built by Inca Tupac Yupanqui for the pilgrimages on the island. We then head to the Isla de la Luna (Moon Island) where we visit the temple of Nustas (the Inca virgins), before returning to La Paz in the afternoon.

Lodging: Hotel Rosario

Altitude: 11,913 feet.

Meals included: Breakfast and Farewell Dinner

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On the Prado in La Paz

Day 15. La Paz. Tour Ends

Today you’ll be transferred to the airport for your international flights home and our Despedida (Farewell) to you.

Altitude: 11,913 feet.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Cusco & Machu Picchu Extension Begins

Day 15. La Paz – Cusco.

Departure from the hotel with a private transport to the airport 3 hours before the direct flight La Paz – Cusco. Arrival in Cusco (3400m). Your private Tour leader will take you to your hotel. You’ll have some free time to get used to the altitud and relax a little bit or even go for a walk if you prefer.

In the afternoon, you´ll go for a city tour. Among the places you’ll have the opportunity to see: the Cathedral and the Qorikancha. You’ll enjoy walking through the narrow streets of Cusco and especially in the typical district of San Blas, passing by the 12 Angled Stone. Your visit will take you to the colorful Central Market of San Pedro, where they mainly sell food, but not only … Free time after the visit.

Altitude: 11,150 feet.

Meals included: Breakfast

Hotel 3*

The incomparable Machu Picchu, hidden in the Andes Mountains

Day 16. Cusco – Ollantaytambo – Machu Picchu

In the morning, your private English speaking tour leader and your driver will take you on a trip to the Sacred Valley. You’ll first visit the site of Moray.

Next, your visit will continue with the visit of the Salt Pans of Maras, unique spectacle which clearly shows us human ingenuity which has managed to put in place a real open-cast salt, at more than 3000m of altitude…

Then visit of Chinchero. The pre-Hispanic remains are amazing, even after having been harshly marked by the Spanish settlement. You’ll carry on your trip with the visit of Ollantaytambo. In the atfernoon you’ll take the train to Machupicchu Pueblo. During the trip, the landscape and climate change at all: you’re now in a semi-tropical region.

Free time the rest of the time. Meals included: Breakfast

Altitude: 7,000 feet.

Hotel 3*

 

Day 17. Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo

Early in the morning, you’ll take the bus to go up to Machupicchu. Encounter at the entrance with your private tour leader and beginning of the visit of the site.

You’ll visit the main places of this Ancient Lost City and will have free time to walk around and explore this amazing and unique place. Back to the village to take your train for Ollantaytambo.

Meals included: Breakfast

Altitude: 9,350 feet.

Hotel 3*

 Day 18. Cuzco – Ollantaytambo – Cuzco

Inca amphitheater outside of Ollantaytambo, Peru

Excursion Sacred Valley / English private service

Early morning you’ll visit the site of Ollantaytambo. This place remains one of the main religious sites from the former Inca empire. A morning visit is idealistic with the light.

Then, departure with your private transport and guide to Pisaq. The road leads to Pisaq (3000m). Visit of the craft market and the ruins of Pisaq (3400m).

Meals included: Breakfast

Altitude: 11,150 feet.

Hôtel 3*

Day 19. Cuzco – Lima. Tour Ends

Domestic flight Cusco ~ Lima and connection for your international flight

Transfer to the airport of Cusco and boarding for your flight to Lima. Arrival in Lima and connection for your international flight. Free meals. End of our services.

What’s Included in Bolivia Tour

  • Fourteen nights in 3-4 star hotels, for two people sharing
  • Transfers to and from all airports in Bolivia
  • Domestic flights within Bolivia
  • Local ground transportation, driver, guides.
  • Admission to attractions
  • Breakfast everyday, seven lunches and eight dinners
  • A personalized packet of information including market buying tips, restaurant recommendations and information on places you will visit.

What’s Included in Cusco/Machu Picchu Extension

  • Four nights in 3 star hotels, for two people sharing
  • English speaking guides in Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
  • Flight Cusco – Lima
  • Meals as indicated on the itinerary
  • Private transport as mentioned in the program. All airport transfers.

What’s Not Included

  • Bolivia Tourist Visa ($135), airfare to and from Bolivia, trip insurance, tips, some lunches and some dinners, drinks, personal expenses and optional cooking class ($50).
  • Single Room Supplement for rooming alone.
  • International exit tax from Bolivia ($25 US per person).
  • Airport tax for flights within Bolivia ($3 per person/flight).
  • Flight La Paz to Cusco. (Approx cost $200)
  • A tourist visa to Peru is not required for US and European visitors
  • Beverages and personal expenses
  • The comprehensive travel, rescue and repatriation insurance
  • The accommodation supplement for sole occupancy
  • The international flights from US/Europe to Bolivia & Peru
  • Gratuities

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“Bolivia was one of the most exciting tours we have ever been on. We will definitely go again. Benjamin was so knowledgeable and fun!”  – Seth & Cindy, Asheville, NC