Bolivia: Carnival in the Andes and Uyuni Salt Flats (14 days)
Bolivia's Ururo Carnival is a unique and rewarding pre-Easter celebration.
The small town of Oruro marks the event with dances, music, street dramas and a traditional parade. La Paz sits majestically at the foot of Illimani volcano and holds unique attractions in its colonial and modern districts. We travel to Oruro to celebrate Carnival in the Andes. After the festival we enjoy the colonial city of Sucre and the traditional Tarabuco Market and then embark on an exciting adventure to the unspoilt Salt Flats of Uyuni. Here, we will encounter mutli-coloured landscapes, flora and fauna endemic to this unique world. While in Uyuni we stay in the Salt Hotels.
2017 Departure Dates and Costs
February 23 - March 8
Tour cost: $ 3,280 USD from La Paz, per person based on twin share, includes domestic airfare
Single Supplement: $ 880 USD
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Feb. 23: ARRIVE LA PAZ (D)
Arrival in La Paz, reception at the airport, assistance and transfer to Hotel Plaza. Balance of the day to acclimatize to the high altitude. Welcome dinner.
Feb. 24: TIWANAKU (B,L)
A half-day tour to Tiwanacu ruins. Tiwanacu was during its splendor period, the largest city in the World and it is considered to be "the Cradle of the American Civilizations". The Sun Gate, the Monoliths, the temples of Kalasasaya and Kontiki, the Akapana artificial Pyramid and their metal and ceramic art work are some examples of the advanced development achieved by this culture. Departure at 8:00 am and return to La Paz. Afternoon at leisure.
Feb. 25: LA PAZ/ORURO (B)
La Paz is a unique blend of cultures. Located within breathtaking panoramas of the Andes mountains. A morning city tour includes the Native, colonial and modern areas, Indian Market, Open Air Museum of Tiwanacu, Witch Doctor's Market and Moon Valley. Transfer to bus station and overland line bus transportation to Oruro. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Terminal.
Feb.26: ORURO CARNIVAL (L,D)
Breakfast and a full day Carnival Tour with preferential seats for the traditional parade. Box lunch included. The carnival is visited by tens of thousands of Bolivians and quite a few foreigners during this pre-lent celebration, which is one of the most colourful events in Latin America. The famous devil dancers and other performers blend elements of both indigenous myths and legends and Christianity introduced by Spanish conquistadors. The day includes seats located next to the Presidential site, in a touristc zone with a special box lunch).
Feb. 27: ORURO - TAHUA (L,D)
Departure from Oruro in the morning towards the Uyuni Salt Flats. The first part of the trip will be around an extense lake, known for its large number of birds, mostly flamingos. They will be the first anouncement of the surprises we will find during our expedition. We will see the lake from the Mirador de Quillacas, where we will have our lunch, enjoying the view of the lake and the salt flats. Next, we will stop at a great natural depression caused by a meteorite millons of years ago. From this moment and for two days, we will be able to see the dominant silhouette of the Tunupa Volcano. We will arrive to Salinas Garci Mendoza, almost at the base of the volcano, we will visit here the town's church, characterized for its colonial style. The edges of Tunupa have whimsical and changing shades of terracottas, similar than those on the crater. Many travellers are overwhelmed by the grandeur and remote beauty when they first site the white salt flats. Arrive Tahua. Here, we will spend the night at the comfortable Salt Hotel of Tayka's Hotel Network. Private bathrooms, hot water and heating.
Feb. 28: TAHUA - SAN PEDRO DE QUEMEZ (B,L,D)
Caves, fossiles and Islands are the attractions of today during an unforgettable trip through 12.000 km of fantastic landscapes of salt. Prepare your cameras! The blinding white fabric in Uyuni's salt flats resembles an immense glacier.
In winter (dry season, from May to October), when the surface hardens, almost geometric figures are formed by the salt particles conglomerated in polygonal shapes. In summer (rainy season from November to February) the saline desert becomes a gigantic mirror that melts into the purest sky in America.
We will continue our trip for 20 min. toward Chillguilla, where we will ascend for 20 minutes to the pucara (Pre-colombian ruins) until the summit of the hill. After receiving an explanation about the archaeological value of this ritual center, we will continue the walk, this time descending for one hour, facing the salt flats, until we reach the salt again, that's where our driver will be expecting us in the car that will transport us next, to the cave of the fossil whale in Chiquini. Next, we follow the road that will take us to the Mummies of Coquesa in the skirt of the volcano. We will have an outdoor lunch break at the Fish Island, located in the middle of the salt flats. After lunch, we will have a walk toward the summit of the island from which we will see the sea of salt once again in all its fullness. We will also observe stromatolites (calcareous mineral silts that are testimony of the activity of the first unicellular inhabitants of the planet). Heading south through the salt flats, we will encounter Bell Islands enroute to San Pedro de Quemez. Here, we will spend the night at Stone Hotel of Tayka's Hotel Network with private bathrooms, hot water and heating.
Mar. 1: SAN PEDRO DE QUEMEZ - OJO DE PERDIZ (B,L,D)
Crimson Lakes, Flamingos and Multi-coloured deserts make for an unfortegable day. We will have an early start this morning, We will visit the Burnt Town nearby the hotel and further south we will see Refuge Town, both towns are built with stones which have inspired
the Hotel's design. On the way back, we will pass and have enough time to take photographs of the regions magnificent still active volcano.
Heading toward south, we see the following lagoons: Honda, Canapa, Hedionda and Chiarkhota, in which a large number of flamingos, belonging to the three different species. Other birds, such as gulls and ducks accompany the flamingos in these lagoons flanked by volcanos of eternal snow. These volcanos present green shades of brave straw, yareta and thola, which are mixed with the ocher colors that the wind has drawn through the millennia. There are also many rare colors that come from the borax and sulfur contained in these exotic lagoons. Lunch will take place at the shores of one of them.
We will enter the enormous desertic surfaces of sand and stone, leaving behind any sense of defined routes and set directions. These fantastic deserts own all the shades in the terracottas palette. Red, orange, ocher, bronze, brown and beige follow each other in every curve of the road, demanding the traveler's attention. We have chosen this wonderful scenery to build the Desert Hotel, with private bathrooms, hot water and heating. After freshing up at the hotel, we will take the car for a drive in the desert, the sunset lights will allow us to see the untamable vicunas with their splendid figures; these auquenids travel in small groups. We will have the first contact with the Protected Area of Andean Flora and Fauna Eduardo Avaroa (R.E.A.), once we look at the Stone Tree, vizcachas and yaretas. Befote returning to the hotel, we will have a walk up to see the Silala Waters.
Mar. 2: OJO DE PERDIZ - UYUNI (B,L)
We will make a very early start to the day because of the distance we need to cover.
Inside the Protected Area (R.E.A), we will visit Crimsone Lake. This is the main center of nesting for the three species of flamingos. The solar radiation activated algae and the wind give both, the lagoon and the birds' their peculiar red and pink colors. On our way to Chalviri, we will also see the famous Geysers of the Morning Sun. The Chalviri's Desert and salt flat is another area of extraordinary beauty, which combines the white of the snow and the borax, the ochre of the desert and the blue of the water. In one of its corners, we can take a bath in the termal waters and enjoy a field breakfast. After leaving, another great extension of land will open in front of us: The Ladies of the Desert with rocks that have resisted the wind per millennia. And almost as an excess for the senses, when leaving this desertic valley, we will find the Green Lagoon, at the base of the Licancabur Volcano.
We will arrive at the Green Lagoon at lunch time, just in time for seeing its waters turn from an emerald color to a more opaque green. In the distance, in the Soniquera region, Stone City is recognizable. Whimsical and sometimes artistic shapes are sculpted by the wind in the stones through the millenia. In the final stage of our journey, we will visit the authentic towns of Alota, and Culpina K, which have made great efforts to present themselves to the tourists with their antique urban values. We will say goodbye to the last llamas and alpacas that have accompanied us through our trip from the beginning. We will still be looking for the elusive suri or Andean nandu. Check-in to our Hotel on arrival in Uyuni.
Mar. 3: UYUNI - POTOSI (B)
Early departure by bus to Potosi City. On arrival transfer in to the Hotel Claudia. In the afternoon enjoy a half day city tour in Potosi visiting The Mint (Museum), The Cathedral (Exterior), The Tower of the Company, The Historic Arch of Cobija, The Church of San Lorenzo, The Church of San Francisco (Exterior) and the Handcraft Market.
Mar. 4: POTOSI - SUCRE (B)
In the morning visit the Cerro Rico mines. We begin by visiting the Miners Market (Calvary) Climb up Sumaj Orcko (4,500 meters above sea level) Panoramic views of the city. Entry into the mine, explanation of the customs of the miners and observation of the different minerals. Transfer to the bus terminal for the bus transportation to Sucre. ON arrival you will be met and transferred to the Hostal de Su Merced.
Mar. 5: TARABUCO MARKET (B,L)
Full day tour to Tarabuco. This colonial township situated some 65 kms from Sucre. The famous Indigenous handcraft fair takes place every Sunday, in which members of the surrounding village communities sell their products and textiles. One can purchase textiles and handcrafts. Lunch at the location. Return to Sucre.
Mar. 6: SUCRE (B)
Morning city tour of Sucre visiting: The Convent Museum of the Recoleta, the Museum of Indigenous Art - ASUR, the Convent of San Felipe Nery, Bolivar Park and the principal historical monuments.
Mar. 7: SUCRE - LA PAZ (B)
Transfer to airport for a morning flight to La Paz. Transfer to the hotel. Balance of the day at leisure.
Mar. 8: DEPART LA PAZ
Transfer to the airport for the flight out.
OPTIONAL EXTENSIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS
- Lake Titicaca
- Chalalan Amazon Program
- Floetel Renia de Enin Amazonia Program
We customize trips to Bolivia on a daily basis for individual travellers throughout the year.
Promotional airfares are available from North American cities. Ask us for details.