Day 1: Arrivals in La Paz
No one will forget their first view of the city whether it’s from the plane coming in to land at El Alto airport or from the bus driving down into the town 400m below; the valley of La Paz, guarded by the soaring Illimani at 6,438m, is simply breathtaking. Your BBE guide will be waiting for your arrival at El Alto Airport to meet you and transfer to our hotel. We stay at the four-star Rey Palace Hotel in the Sopocachi district in the center of the city. Everyone will feel the effects of the altitude and will need to take things easy for this first day. La Paz is a beautiful city with many interesting sights to see, both natural and man-made. After some free time for rest and lunch your guide will meet you at the hotel for a team briefing, before you set off on foot to enjoy a short (2 hour) and gentle walking tour of some of the nearby markets of La Paz: the Indian Market and the Mercado de las Brujas (Witches Market) where various potions and even dried llama foetuses are dispensed for ritual use. Later you return to the hotel for a free evening for an earl night before an early start tomorrow. Overnight Rey Palace Hotel. Meals included today: B. (B = Breakfast; L = lunch; D = dinner.)
Day 2: Uyuni Salt Flats
An early breakfast before transfer to the airport to catch a local flight at 08:15 to Uyuni town in the south of Bolivia. Arrival in Uyuni at at 09:00. With our 4wd waiting to pick us up we make a quick getaway from the airport and immediately begin exploring this fascinating area. Passing the town of Uyuni en route, we first visit the Cemetery of Trains – a collection of the oldest trains of Bolivia introduced by the British and dating back years. We then head to Colchani, gateway of the Salt Flats, and the start our 4-day salt adventure. 1 hour’s drive across the trackless Salar de Uyuni brings us to the ‘Island’ of Incahuasi rising abruptly above the surface of the salt. Formed by piles of volcanic rock covered with huge cacti growing on a fertile soil, these islands (there are several of them dotted across the Salar de Uyuni) provide an amazing sight. Continuing on for an hour we arrive at the village of Coquesa (3690m) where we encounter several bird species in the salty lagoons of Coquesa, also home to flocks of pink flamingos. The last section of the day is a 2 hour drive the village of Quemes stopping en route to visit the “galaxia” caves and its interesting karst formations. Overnight at the remote Hotel Tayka de Rocas (shared rooms). (B,L,D).
Uyuni Town was founded in 1889 and stands isolated in a desert landscape in the southwestern corner of Bolivia. Despite the harsh conditions, it is a cheerful town and the gateway to the Salar de Uyuni. Uyuni remains an important military base, and mining plays a significant role with the world’s largest lithium reserve – about 100 million tons – lying beneath the nearby salt flat.
Day 3: San Juan Mummies and Ojo de Perdiz
Today we visit the Graves of San Juan, the lava flows of Ollague, and a series of colourful lakes (Chiguana, Hedionda, Honda), which are home to intense concentrations of birdlife. During our approach to the Siloli Desert we enjoy extraordinary and rock formations before the last vegetation disappears completely, giving way to the dunes. After a journey of around 6 hours we arrive at a remote hotel in the middle of the desert where we will spend the night at 4600m. Overnight Tayka Hotel del Desierto (B,L,D).
Day 4: Laguna Colorada, Geysers, and the Dali Dessert
This morning we drive for around an hour and a half until we arrive at breathtaking Laguna Colorada. Minerals lining the shores sustain a large concentration of flamingos. We then continue to the extreme south west of Bolivia, on the border with Chile, passing en route the Geysers of Sol de Mañana and the hot springs of Chalviri with a stop off for a hot bath. We then reach stunning Laguna Verde passing the Salvador Dali desert en route, and stop for lunch in Verde, before returning to Ojo de Perdíz for a second night. Overnight at Tayka Hotel del Desierto (B,L,D).
Day 5: Uyuni and La Paz
Today we have a 5 hour drive to return to Uyuni following a direct route via a breathtaking canyon where lama herds graze. We arrive back in Uyuni by mid-afternoon with some free before a short transfer to the airport to catch our flight at 20:40. Once back in La Paz, we transfer to the hotel Rey Palace for the night (B,L).
Day 6: La Paz and Copacabana
Today we focus our attention on the most outstanding areas of La Paz city, starting a tour at 08:30. We begin by heading to the main square Plaza Murillo, and Jaen street where we find colonial architecture of the 16Th century. We later visit the Museum of Music Instruments, and finally take a fascinating trip in the city’s new cable car system flying over the city from north to south. At the other end we meet our vehicle to continue to the Moon Valley. Return to La Paz at 11:00 with free time for lunch. At 14:30, we meet our driver to drive to the Titikaka Lake visiting in the way the museum of Paulino Esteban, the Bolivian Indian that built for Heyerdal the boat RA II which crossed successfully the Atlantic ocean. After around 4 hours we reach the pretty town of Copacabana (3,825m) on the shores of Lake Titicaca. This is a popular resort and pilgrimage area. Accommodation in hotel Las Olas or Cupula. (B).
Day 7: Isla de La Luna and La Isla Del Sol
Waking up in this peaceful town after busy La Paz, we have an early breakfast and board our private boat at 08:30. Our first stop is the Moon Island (La Isal de La Luna) to visit the temple of the Inca virgins of the Aclla Huasi. We will enjoy a 90 minute walk enjoying superb views of the Illampu and Ancohuma mountains, part of the Cordillera Real. Afterwards, our boat awaits for a short and final water transfer to the Sun Island (La Isla Del Sol), where we disembark at the Pilkokaina palace (Inca ruins at the extreme southern side of the Sun Island) where we also stop for lunch. Our hotel is then a further hours hike away, but we will have already taken care of delivering your luggage! The Ecolodge Palla Kasa is located in the village of Yumani. Later in the day we take a short walk (30 minutes) to the highest point of the island (4,080m) to enjoy the colorful sunset over the lake, enjoying the peace and quiet of the magical and historical island whose only traffic is people and donkeys. Return to the lodge for diner. (B,L,D).
Day 8: La Paz
In the morning, from the hotel, we descend 1 hour to the Incas garden which is an idyllic florid spot which boasts an Inca spring considered by the locals as a fountain of youth. With our boat we have a transfer of an hour and a half to return to Copacabana beach. In the town we visit the Indian market to see exotic produces. The church where is located the famous virgin of Copacabana. We also participate in the traditional ceremony of blessing cars at the main square where the Franciscan priest comes out to bless them. Finally, at 12:00 we start moving from Copacabana to return to La Paz, stopping en route to have lunch (fresh trout). Arrival at the hotel Rey Palace in La Paz. (B,L).
Day 9: Departures for Home
After breakfast, group transfer to the airport. B.
EXTENSION HUAYNA POTOSI CLIMB
Day 8: Huayna Potosi Base Camp
Our group will split in two today. Those doing the mountaineering extension will board a 4x4 close to La Paz as far as the base of Mount Huayna Potosi. We drive to the Zongo Pass Area today and head to our accommodation in the Casa Blanca Mountain Refuge (B,L,D).
Day 9: Huayna Potosi High Camp (5,270m)
Our 2-3 hour hike to Huayna Potosi High Camp will be assisted by porters, following a rocky trail via the base of the moraine towards the East Ridge below the glacier. Afternoon relaxing, hydrating and preparing for summit attempt, night at high camp (shared dormitory in refuge: basic accommodation in an alpine refuge where we sleep in bunks but definitely we sleep warm). (B,L,D)
Day 10: Huayna Potosi Summit Day (6,088 m /19,968 ft)
Normal Route North Ridge. Difficulty grade: FR: AD-. Average slope angle: 40º. It is the 88 m over the magic 6000 m figure and on the other hand, the 26th under the magic 20000 ft figure. It is located in the middle of the whole Cordillera Real range and it is Bolivia’s most straightforward 6000 metre peak!
Pre-dawn start for the 5-6 hour ascent. With a dramatic sunrise over the Amazon Basin below, we set off on our summit day enjoying interesting roped up glacier travel and intermittent sections of moderately steep ground. We climb via the North Ridge. The summit of Huayna Potosi awaits us at the end of a beautifully sculptured ridge, providing and exhilarating finish to a great series of climbs. The last 180 meters we scramble between ice and snow and rocks in a 35ª-40º angled slopes. Once on the top we are rewarded by an impressive view of the whole Cordillera Real. The descent to Zongo Pass takes around 5 hours, and we arrive at the trialhead for lunch before we return to La Paz to meet the rest of the group. Overnight Rey Palace Hotel. (B,L.)
Day 11: Departures for Home
After breakfast, group transfer to the airport. B.