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UYUNI HIGHLANDS EXPLORER – BOLIVIA

January - December 31, 2019

10 days
Land Arrangement only

$5095

About your trip

Discover the best of Bolivia, one of South America’s most colorful, natural and insulated nations, captures the imagination of adventure travelers. It comprises the most intact indigenous culture on the continent, with dozens of native languages still spoken alongside Spanish. Bolivia is home to the world’s most high-altitude capital city, La Paz (11,930′ feet above sea level!). World-famous Salar de Uyuni – the planet’s biggest salt flat – has become an iconic landscape, with its vast otherworldly whiteness. Visitors who venture into landlocked Bolivia are warmly received in its pleasant Spanish-colonial cities. The history-rich mining town of Potosi and vibrant local markets give a snapshot of traditional Andean life. A visit to the mythical Lake Titicaca, a crown jewel of the region, completes the Bolivian highland experience.

Tour Highlights

Walk the cobbled streets of Sucre’s colonial district

Hunt for handicrafts at the colorful open-air market of Tarabuco

Take in the vastness of Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat

Explore the pre-Inca ruins site of Tiahuanaco

Meet local boat builders in the Lake Titicaca community of Huatajata

Hike ancient trails on Island of the Sun on Lake Titicaca

Sight-see in La Paz, where modernity and indigenous culture intersect

Inclusions
  • Comprehensive pre-departure planning packet and expert travel advice.
  • All in-country transfers as scheduled (transfers on different days are additional). Ground transportation in spacious and comfortable private vehicles minivan or minibus style, with professional drivers, unless noted as seat-in-car. In this latter case, Southwind guests will join with other travelers.
  • Expedition style 4X4 vehicles for Uyuni (Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol or similar vehicle equipped with fire extinguisher, bottle of oxygen and a first aid kit).
  • Hydrofoil transportation where applicable on a seat-in-boat basis.
  • Local and return flight reconfirmation, in-country airport check-in and luggage assistance.
  • All accommodations in First-Class (4 star) hotels as listed (or at similar hotels, the best available in smaller towns such as Uyuni) on a shared basis with private bath. Double beds for couples (king/queen) can be requested in advance, but cannot be guaranteed, as most hotels offer few rooms with double beds.
  • Single Supplement provides single room accommodations in all hotels. Due to the limited number of rooms at the small hotels in Uyuni and Lake Titicaca, there is a maximum of 2 singles allowed per group. If you require single accommodations, we recommend advanced reservations.
  • All meals indicated on the itinerary (B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner). Vegetarian diets accommodated on request (advance notification required). For other diets, consult your travel specialist before signing up.
  • All guided tours (as listed) conducted on a private basis by knowledgeable, English-speaking local guides (includes applicable entrance fees).
  • A local English-speaking guide/escort is provided for the Sucre-Uyuni segment (Days 02-07) and the La Paz/Lake Titicaca segment (Days 07-10).
Itinerary

DAY 01 (FRI): USA

Depart on an overnight flight to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with a stop at the Altiplano capital, La Paz.

DAY 02 (SAT): LA PAZ / SANTA CRUZ / SUCRE

Reception at the Santa Cruz airport (1,365’) by a Southwind representative and assistance for your connecting 30-minute flight to Sucre (9,215’). Arrive to Sucre and check-in to our boutique hotel, conveniently located in the historical center and near the main square (Plaza 25 de Mayo). Take some time at leisure for a light lunch on your own and to begin acclimating to the invigorating elevation. In the afternoon, we join our guide for a city tour of Sucre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and quaint colonial city that is in fact the constitutional capital of the country. During Spanish colonial times, Sucre was the administrative, political and religious center of the country. Nowadays it showcases well-preserved Spanish architecture from the 18th and 19th century – elegant churches, mansions, and museums. We will see the most prominent landmarks that show the splendor of Colonial Bolivia, visiting The Recoleta Convent and San Francisco Church, the House of Liberty where Simon Bolivar signed the declaration of Independence of Bolivia on August 6th 1825, the Palacio de la Glorieta (former palace owned by a wealthy entrepreneur), and the second-oldest university of the continent, which houses the Universitario Charcas Museum (colonial and contemporary Art). This evening we join our guide for a welcome dinner at the traditional El Solar restaurant. Overnight at Parador Santa Maria La Real. (D)

DAY 03 (SUN): TARABUCO / SUCRE

Today we’ll set off on a day excursion to the famous Tarabuco fair, hosted by the indigenous Yampura people in the town of Tarabuco, located 41 miles southeast of Sucre. On Sundays, Tarabuco displays a very picturesque market, one of the most authentic in the country and well-known for its wonderful weavings. Local people, preserving the traditions and customs of the past, still wear leather helmets similar to those used by the Spanish Conquerors. Their clothing patterns and colors represent each of their communities. Farmers and weavers from the countryside join together in a colorful atmosphere to trade foods, fine weavings, agricultural products, and clothing while catching up with friends and relatives. We also visit the small church where occasional wedding ceremonies take place, and take advantage of the good shopping opportunities to find tapestries, shawls, sweaters, ponchos, bags and other handicrafts. Lunch today will be in a traditional restaurant. This afternoon another fun excursion awaits. Sucre has one of the largest collections of dinosaur footprints in the world! Over 5000 footprints are set into the Cal Orck’o cliff, just three miles from the city. Discovered on the grounds of the local cement company, the footprints have been preserved as an attraction for travelers, with the creation of a dinosaur-themed park and museum. See a collection of life-size dinosaur sculptures, including the enormous titanosaurus. Called Parque Cretácico, the park can easily be visited from Sucre in a couple of hours. Overnightat Parador Santa Maria La Real.. Driving distance: 100 miles or 3 hours. (B,L)

DAY 04 (MON): POTOSI / UYUNI

Start an early overland journey to Potosi (13,420’). The drive is about 3 hours on a paved road, gaining altitude as we go. Take in spectacular views of mesas, canyons and agricultural lands en route. Founded in 1546, Potosi was once the largest city in the Americas and one of the most important urban centers in the world during colonial times, renowned for its silver mines. According to historic records, 45,000 tons of silver were mined from Cerro Rico from 1556 to 1783. The metal-rich mountain towers over the city. Visit The Casa de la Moneda (Royal Mint), with its wooden machinery that was used to make the silver coins for Spain during the colonial era. UNESCO has declared Potosi a “historical and cultural legacy of mankind”. Lunch at the Colonial restaurant in town. Continue overland to Uyuni for 3.5 more hours on a paved road, traveling through canyons and past adobe villages where time seems to stand still. We cross a pass reaching over 15,000 feet of altitude before arriving to the rustic and remote Uyuni town (11,995’) at the edge of the salt flats. We begin to see native people extracting salt using well preserved ancient methods. A short distance further is the community of Colchani, where the majority of Bolivian salt is produced. Our hotel is located on the edge of the salt flats – a very unique rustic abode constructed mainlyof salt. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Luna Salada. Driving distance: 235 miles or 7 hours. (B,L,D)

DAY 05 (TUE): UYUNI

Today is dedicated to exploring the expansive Uyuni region. Enjoy a full day excursion in a 4X4 expedition-style vehicle to the small village of Tahua, located at the foot of the extinct Tunupa Volcano (17,457′), a sacred mountain of the Aymara people that is located on a peninsula of the Uyuni salt field. Tunupa is one of the most important pre-Hispanic sanctuaries, containing some 24 identified archaeological sites. In the lagoon at the base of the mountain we may spot some flamingos. Every November, Uyuni is also the breeding grounds for three 2 Bolivia: Uyuni Highlands Explorer species of South American flamingos (Chilean, James’s and Andean). Drive across a section of the immense salt flats, perhaps stopping for pictures and noticing the piles of salt in pyramidal shape (this is part of the harvesting process). Uyuni is the largest salt flat on earth, covering a total of 4,635 square miles. The Bolivian Andes offer a stunning backdrop along the horizon. The flats inspire poems and art, described as “an area of magnificent beauty. It looks like an ocean of salt, impressive in its vastness and pure white surface.” Arriving in Tahua, stroll through the village and encounter locals who grow quinoa and raise herds of llamas. Hike to the cave of the Coquesa Mummies, then see pre-Columbian ruins and burial sites to learn about the ancient process of mummification. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch amidst the dazzling scenery. In the afternoon we’ll make the return trip overland to our hotel. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Luna Salada. Driving distance: 135 miles or 3.5 hours. (B,L,D)

DAY 06 (WED): UYUNI

For another full day dedicated to the salt flats, we’ll be picked up from the hotel for an excursion to the Isla Pescado. We’ll have stops along the way to take in the sound of still silence, the surreal polygon shapes of crystalline salt, the pure sky, the cacti and the rare flamingos. It certainly makes you feel that there is no other place like this on the planet. After visiting “Ojos de Agua” on the border of the salt flats (holes where the water from underneath this ancient lake still bubbles up through geothermic pressure), we drive to Isla Pescado, located in the middle of the salt flats. Also called “Incahuasi”, it is an oasis with formations of algae and fossils (fossilized seaweed known as Estromatolitos). The island is covered by thousands of giant columnar cacti, which live to be more than a hundred years old and grow to a height of over 40 feet. The landscape against the background of the salt makes it an ideal place for photography. Lunch is at a cozy restaurant at Isla Pescado. Further explorations reveal indications of pre-Hispanic culture in the area, nearby large sculptures of eroded rocks. We keep an eye out for flamingos, flightless rheas, vizcachas, llamas and vicuñas. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Luna Salada. Driving distance: 140 miles or 3.5 hours. (B,L,D)

DAY 07 (THU): UYUNI / LA PAZ / TITICACA LAKE

Early in the morning and before breakfast, those interested can catch the sunrise over the salt flats and enjoy one last photo opportunity. Afterwards, we visit a salt factory and receive an explanation from one of the residents about the economy of the salt industry, which governs the life of the people in this area. Also we stop at a quinoa processing plant. Sacred to the Incas and revered as the “mother of all grains”, quinoa is a high-protein relative of spinach and beets. Then we drive towards Uyuni town and visit the train graveyard, finding the first locomotives in Bolivia that were used to carry minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports. Continue to town to enjoy lunch at a nice local restaurant. This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to La Paz (11,930′). Reception at the airport and overland transfer to Huatajata, on the shores of Lake Titicaca (12,505′), the highest navigable lake in the world. After check-in, visit the hotel’s Andean Roots Eco Village, the mud igloos and the mortuary towers of the Urus Chipayas. Meet the Limachi family, builders of the RA II and Tigris rafts, learn about the typical totora reed rafts – vessels which are still built and occasionally used by the local Aymara fishermen. Take in an audiovisual experience of “The Mystic World of the Kallawayas”, natural healers of Bolivia. They believe that you first have to heal the soul in order to heal your body. Tata Benjo, our Kallawaya, will bless visitors and answer questions by casting his sacred coca leaves. Overnight at the Inca Utama Hotel & Spa. (B,L)

DAY 08 (FRI): LAKE TITICACA

This morning an exciting Hydrofoil boat ride on Lake Titicaca allow us to enjoy the beauty of this highlands region. The Lake covers an area of 3,240 square miles and has an average depth of 350 feet, making it the largest lake in South America by volume of water. We navigate first to the mystical Moon Island to visit the Sun Virgins Temple Iñak Uyu. Here the most beautiful maidens were chosen to become the wives of the Inca nobles. The Virgins of the Sun were responsible for maintaining an eternal fire in devotion to their Inca God, Viracocha. Continue to the sacred Island of the Sun. According to Andean mythology, the Sun God Viracocha sent his son and daughter to earth to found the Inca Empire. Visit the Inca “Grand Stairs” and the Sacred Fountain, and taste the water believed to give eternal youth and happiness. After a short walk, lunch is at the Uma Kollu archaeological Restaurant with panoramic views of the Lake. After a brief visit of a small handicraft market, continue cruising on Lake Titicaca. Afternoon arrival in the pleasant port town of Copacabana (12,600′). This area has been a pilgrimage center since it was established by the Incas in honor of the Sun and his first children. In town we tour The Basilica, the shrine and the Dark Indian Virgin of the Lake – a statue of the Virgin Mary sculpted by a native craftsman in 1576. Believed to work miracles, this is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Bolivia. Overland journey to back to Huatajata. After dark, opt for a visit of the Native Observatory Alajpacha to learn from the Aymara vision of the cosmos and watch the southern hemisphere’s constellations. Overnight at the familiar Inca Utama Hotel & Spa. (B,L)

DAY 09 (SAT): TIAHUANACO / LA PAZ

Following breakfast, we depart for a 45-mile drive across the Altiplano, or high plain, back to the city of La Paz. With the towering peaks of Huayna Potosi (19,975′) and Condoriri (18,557′) as a backdrop, we enjoy expansive views as we approach the pre-Inca ceremonial center of Tiahuanaco, one of the oldest civilizations in the Americas (1,580 BC-1,000 AD). Tiahuanaco society excelled in agriculture, hydraulics, architecture, and medicine, as well as in social organization. We join our guide for a walking tour of Tiahuanaco’s main center, built from some of the most imposing megaliths found among the Pre-Columbian cultures of South America. Our visit includes: the ritual platform of the Kalasasaya Temple; the 52-foot high Acapana pyramid; the 45-ton Gate of the Sun, whose surface is adorned with carvings of celestial bodies, indicating that it may have been used as a calendar to predict solstices and equinoxes; and the Puma Punku site where several other massive stone slabs (some weighing up to 120 tons!) have been unearthed. We’ll have a boxed lunch and then continue to La Paz. This afternoon, we begin a guided tour of the city (combination of walking and private vehicle). On foot, we explore the steep cobbled streets of La Paz’s colonial section, including the San Francisco and Murillo squares, and the Cathedral. A visit to the Archaeological Museum, where the gold ornaments found at Lake Titicaca are displayed, gives us insight into Bolivia’s ancient cultures. Next, we drive to the Valley of the Moon at the lower end of the city and walk through bizarre formations of eroded clay and sandstone. Dinner is on your own this evening to try the hotel’s Bella Vista restaurant on the 16th floor, featuring elegant and sophisticated cuisine and panoramic views of the city. Overnight at Hotel Presidente. (B,L)

DAY 10 (SUN): LA PAZ / USA

Transfer to the airport of La Paz. (B)

Transportation

US Domestic, International flights, nor local flights within Bolivia are excluded on this package, roundtrip airport transfers are included.

ESTTIMATED AIRFARE :

The Land Cost for this trip DOES NOT INCLUDE international or in-country flights. Round-trip international airfare arriving to La Paz-Santa Cruz, Bolivia and departing from La Paz is about $800-$1,100 from the Latin America gateway city of Miami. To match our itinerary we recommend flying into La Paz-Santa Cruz and out of La Paz. American Airlines is currently the only US carrier offering non-stop service to La Paz-Santa Cruz from Miami. The return is via La Paz. United, Delta and LAN fly via Lima to La Paz (may require an extra night in Lima). The incountry Santa Cruz-Sucre and Uyuni-La Paz flights are approximately $250 per person, total. Upon receipt of your deposit, Southwind will send you more information about booking your flights to match your land itinerary. Southwind will need your flight schedule within 45 days of your departure to arrange your transfers.

Additional Information

EXCLUSIONS

  • US Domestic, International flights, nor local flights within Bolivia
  • Visa for entry to Bolivia (current cost $135).
  • International airport tax: $ 25 and domestic airport taxes $2.50 each flight.
  • Tours, meals or other services not listed on the itinerary.
  • Alcoholic beverages, nor items of a personal nature; such as clothing, equipment, laundry and phone calls.
  • Tips to the local staff.
  • Expenses incurred in preparing for this program such as, but not limited to, non-refundable airline tickets or traveler’s insurance, and additional expenses resulting from flight delays, schedule changes, cancellations, or missed connections.

VISA INFORMATION

Travelers with a US passport DO REQUIRE a visa to visit any part of Bolivia. Canadian citizens do not need a visa. Visit www.projectvisa.com for entry requirements if your passport is from another country; or the US State Department website for further details pertaining to US citizens. Visa fee: The tourist visa for US citizens currently costs $160.00 at Bolivian consulates in the United States, and $135.00 if purchased at the airport or land borders in Bolivia. You can pay the fee in cash, by deposit to the Bolivian consulate’s bank account or by money order. If you choose to apply for your visa upon your arrival to Bolivia, you must pay the $135.00 in cash to immigration authorities. Remember to bring only crisp, fresh bills with no creases or rips.

WEATHER INFORMATION

Cool/cold in the Altiplano (Lake Titicaca, La Paz, and Uyuni) with daytime highs in the upper 60’s and nighttime lows between 28°F and 36°F.

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TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  1. YOUR HOLIDAY RESERVATION

On receipt of your deposit, subject to availability and at our discretion, World Juanderer will reserve your place on your selected holiday. A contract is only made between you and us upon your booking being confirmed and accepted by us.

  1. PRICE

Prices are subject to change without prior notice. Each package tour and its add-ons are subject to change based on the tour operators and number or participants in the tour.

  1. IF WE CANCEL OR CHANGE YOUR HOLIDAY

3.1 World Juanderer reserves the right to change or cancel your booking in accordance with operating requirements or circumstances beyond its control.

3.2 If an alternative is not available or acceptable, you will be entitled to either a full refund of monies paid by you to us or transfer to another World Juanderer holiday without payment of any transfer fee.

3.4 If the change or cancellation is due to force majeure (i.e. circumstances like political unrest, war or threat of war, riots, bad weather conditions etc.), we will give a full refund of any monies paid to us less reasonable expenses incurred by us in respect of your booking.

3.5 World Juanderer is not responsible for the costs of any other travel arrangements affected due to our cancellations or rescheduling of any trip departure.

  1. HOLIDAY DETAILS AND CONDITIONS

4.1 With our personal experience in traveling and joining these tour packages, World Juanderer will do our best, at our discretion, to select accommodation, sightseeing trips, and transportation to give you good value for money.

4.2 World Juanderer constantly strives to improve trip itineraries and features. If such improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute hotels. World Juanderer is not responsible for any other travel arrangements affected due to our cancellations.

  1. LIABILITY

5.1 We will be entitled to keep for each account any interest earned on such monies.

5.3 All monies paid by you to us, whether in respect of the deposit or full payment, may be disbursed by us as and when we see fit, in respect of the services to be provided and/or fees payable under your selected holiday. The payment of a deposit or any other monies in respect of your holiday shall be deemed to be an authorization to disburse thereof as aforesaid.

  1. BOOKING YOUR TRAVEL

1.1 In order to reserve your holiday, you must inquire and get in touch with the Travel Specialist to check the preferred travel package. World Juanderer accepts the deposit as a first installment of the holiday price only once World Juanderer has confirmed the booking in writing.

1.2 Deposit and final payment will be converted to the local currency (if payment is non-Philippines Peso) at point of booking. Conversion is based on the prevailing exchange rate at time of full/balance payment and what is released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

1.3 World Juanderer cannot guarantee special add-on requests nor will it assume any responsibility or liability if clients’ special requirements are not fulfilled.

  1. PAYMENT

2.1 If payment isn’t made by the due date, World Juanderer may assume that you have cancelled and World Juanderer will levy cancellation charges in accordance with clause 3 below.

2.2 Tickets and other documents will not be forwarded until we have received full payment.

2.3 In the case of Late Bookings made within 45 days of your departure from your home country, the full cost of the holiday will be payable immediately on booking and we reserve the right to provide all travel documents at the holiday departure point.