Exp-Bol-Arg

 
  • Route: La Paz Bolivia to Santiago
  • Length: 20 days
  • Transport: 4x4, Bus, Overnight bus
  • Accommodation: Dormitory, Hotel, Overnight bus

Get off the tourist trail on this extraordinary adventure through Bolivia and Chile. Uncover the rural history of Potosi, explore the cities of La Paz and Sucre, and marvel at the landscapes of the Salar de Uyuni, before arriving in vibrant Santiago. There's plenty of thrills to be found in Salta or - for those seeking a more relaxed place - the genteel enjoyment of wine tasting in Mendoza. This overland journey has something for everyone.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2012

Due to our traveller's feedback, this trip's itinerary will feature the following changes from 1st January 2012.Day 10 The Uyuni Salt lake crossing trip finishes in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

Day 11 Is a long travel day from San Pedro de Atacama to Salta in a comfortable day bus.Full details will be released on 1st November.

trip-grade

 

Basic

Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.

 

countries-visited

Argentina

Argentina is a vast country which has a staggering diversity of climates and landscapes. With vibrant cities, the pampas, jungles and wind swept Patagonia it is a country with a very special character all of its own. Its initial appearance is fairly western but this disguises a long history of its own cultural heritage.

Buneos Aires is the capital of Argentina, lying at the mouth of the River Plate, it is a real viberant city. Full of life, from great local restaurants to local street markets and dances, showing the amazing local tango dance, Buenos Aires is the heart and soul of Argentina. Also home to some exquisite wine bars and an amazing nightlife, Buneos Aires is a must see city if you visit Argentina.

On the pampas the Gaucho people of Argentina spend their days working, riding their horses and protecting their cattle. This has resulted in worldwide export for beef, sunflower oil and wheat, making the Argentina Pampas famous for agriculture.

Deep in the south of the country is Patagonia. This beautiful area is known for its breathtaking landscapes, magnificent lakes and beautiful glacial scenery. It is a great place for outdoor activities, such as, trekking, horse riding, kayaking and mountain biking.

Patagonia is also full of culture, with the Welsh language kept alive for generations, and although it is starting to die out, there are many Welsh communities in Patagonia, especially around the Chebut river.

Heading further south is Tierra del Fuego. Lying across from the Magellan Straights, "The Land of Fire" is mainly in Chile, but 30% of it, including Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world, belongs to Argentina.

Argentina is also the home to some beautiful wildlife. The Valdez Peninsular, in the Atlantic ocean, is a protected area which is the habitat for whales, penguins and seals. At certain times of the year, there is a chance to see the killer whale. This is also the home for land animals such as the Patagonian fox, guanacos and hairy armadillos.

To the north of Argentina is the Esteros del Ibera reserve in an area of swampland. Near to the borders of Paraguay and Brazil, this is one of South America's most important wilderness areas and is also the place to spot the rare marsh deer, maned wolf, howler monkeys, capybara and over 350 different species of birds.

Bolivia

Salar De Uyuni Close Up

Bolivia's major attraction is its wild natural beauty, with much of the country being off the beaten track. The country is divided into two distinct regions, the Amazonas and the Altiplano. Between the two lie the Yungas or cloud forest. Bolivia is a country for the outdoor enthusiast, with horseriding, trekking, mountain biking and jeep trips available in many of the areas we travel through. It is a country that most visitors to the Andes miss as they seldom leave Peru and yet it has as much to offer the visitor as it's more popular neighbour. Its salt pans, high lakes and mountains and its beautiful jungle make it a great destination for any traveller.

The dizzying heights of the capital, La Paz are enough to take your breath away. With buildings that hug the side of the canyon, and the spectacular views of Mount Illimani, the city is over 3,650 metres (11,975 feet) above sea level and is one of the fastest growing in Latin America.

There are many area of natural beauty in Bolivia, and many that benfit from a low number of visitors such as the stunning lakes of the high altiplano. More famous are the perspective bending salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.

In the north in Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake and  home to the floating islets home to the Uros people.

Predominantly a Roman Catholic nation, the statue of Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba is a symbol of the influence of the religion in Bolivia. With nearly 60% of the population following this religion, it is a national landmark which provides inspiration to millions.

Agriculture is important in Bolivia, with soybeans being the main product sold into the Andean Community market. Many foods such as potatoes, rice and fruit and vegetables are harvested across Bolivia. National diet ranges from spicy lunches in the higher parts of Bolivia, to the less spicy dishes and mainly plantain or boiled maize in the lower parts. Made from fermented maize, the drink Chica is not an oppurtunity to pass upon. Although normally non alcoholic, it can be served as a brewed beer, and is one of Bolivias fine gastronomies. A taste of Bolivia could be the start of a wonderful adventure.

Chile

Cuernos Torres Del Paine National Park

With some of the most diverse landscapes in the world, Chile has the beauty of it all. From  the driest deserts in the world, to the breathtaking sites of huge glaciers, this country is made for the outdoor enthusiast. Chile is a country full of volcanoes, lakes, rivers and beaches, and there is always an exciting adventure waiting to be found. If you venture off the beaten track, be prepared to make friends for life out of the welcoming locals.

A visit to Chile has to include a trip to the amazing capital of Santiago. This city stands at an amazing 1700 feet above sea level, and it is another place full of amazing landscapes and a gorgeous Mediterranean climate.

With so many locations to visit, the culture of Chile can be exposed through the sound of the music. Ranging from traditional folk music, to popular and classic sounds, the tradition of Chile is seeped into every area of the country.

Seafood is Chile's main cuisine and with so many dishes to try, it is an opportunity not to be passed upon. With 2700 miles of astounding coastline, Chile is the perfect location for the variety of dishes available.

So make friends with strangers, feel the vibe of Chilean music, and let Chile get into your pores.

daily-itin

Days 1-2 La Paz

Imaynalla! Welcome to Bolivia.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

At around 3,600 m, La Paz feels like the top of the world. It's not far from it and vies with Tibet for the title of highest capital in the world. Although Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, La Paz is the centre of commerce, finance and industry. Despite the abundance of colonial architecture, La Paz's indigenous roots run deep, and the atmosphere in the market-filled streets is both modern and traditional.

La Paz is renowned for its many markets, including the Mercado de Hechiceria or Witches' Market. Browse through the weird and wonderful stalls which sell everything from potions to incantations made from herbs, seeds and unidentified bits and pieces to cure any ailment. If this is all too much for you, try the more conventional markets where you'll find ponchos, gloves, hats and many other products made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials.

Visit the Coca Museum and learn about this infamous plant that has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries.

Our hotel in La Paz is located in the Rosario district, which is very central. It's only about 2 minutes walk from the Witches' Market and close to restaurants and shops.

Late in the afternoon of our last day in La Paz, we jump on an overnight bus to Sucre (approx 12-13hrs).

On this overnight bus you can expect your seat to recline to a more comfortable position than you would expect on a plane. Buses normally have a toilet at the back which, with a bit of luck will work - however the bus will make one or two toilet stops on the way. Temperatures overnight can be very cold so ensure you take warm clothing with you.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS:

Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:

http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf

Optional Activities

  • Coca Museum, La Paz - BOB10.00
  • Chacaltaya & Moon Valley Tour, La Paz - USD12.00
  • Tiawanaku tour, La Paz - USD25.00
  • City Tour, La Paz - USD15.00
  • City Tour and Moon Valley, La Paz - USD15.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt), Overnight bus (1 nt)

 

Days 3-4 Sucre

Bolivia's official capital, Sucre was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. Most of the town's colonial buildings have been whitewashed, earning its nickname - the 'White City'. For great views of the city head up to Recoleta, an old convent on top of the hill.

Head to the Plaza 25 de Mayo to mingle with Sucre's well-heeled residents and have a look at the beautiful interior of the Iglesia de la Merced.

For something completely different, compare shoe sizes with a dinosaur at Cal Orcko, where 60 million-year-old footprints have been discovered.

Optional Activities

  • Dinosaur footprints at Cal Orcko, Sucre - USD5.00
  • Casa de la Libertad, Sucre - BOB20.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Days 5-6 Potosi

A journey by local bus takes us to Potosi (approx 3-4 hrs).

The highest city of its kind in the world, Potosi has had a turbulent past, centred mostly around its mining successes and failures. During the Spanish colonial days, the extensive mining of Potosi's silver rich Cerro Rico was said to have kept Spain running for 300 years. During this time, Potosi briefly celebrated life as one of the richest cities in the world. In the 1800s, the supply of silver declined as did the market price and the city started to suffer. Working conditions in the mines were appalling and huge numbers of indigenous people died. African slaves were brought in to replace them and it's said that as many as 8 million people died in the mines during the Spanish era.

Today Cerro Rico's mines yield tin and we have an opportunity to take an optional tour of one. The underground trip is uncomfortable and sometimes distressing. It iss however an incredibly eye-opening experience, as you will meet the miners, see their appalling working conditions and experience small muddy spaces.

Going underground is not everyone's cup of tea and for those who choose to stay firmly above ground, Potosi has a wealth of colonial art and architecture to explore.

Optional Activities

  • Convento y Museo de Santa Teresa, Potosi - BOB21.00
  • Silver mine tour, Potosi - BOB120.00
  • Casa de la Moneda, Potosi - BOB40.00

Accommodation

Hostel (2 nts)

Days 7-9 Uyuni/Salar de Uyuni

Travel by local bus from Potosi to Uyuni (between 5-7hs).

Arriving in Uyuni feels a bit like you've reached the end of the road, which in many ways is true. This remote small town sits on the edge of the high altiplano, a wilderness that extends for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. So it's hardly surprising that the town has a bit of a wild west feel about it. Uyuni is best known for its proximity to the Bolivian salt flats known locally as the Salar de Uyuni.

Uyuni is the starting point of our 3-day 4WD excursion into Salar de Uyuni. The first day is spent mostly on the salt lake itself. The massive salt plains of Bolivia are an incredible sight and offer plenty of opportunities for bizarre, perspective-defying photos. Endless blue skies meet endless white salt on what was once a prehistoric lake. From December to March there is a risk of the salt lake being flooded and the itinerary will be adapted to accommodate this.

The second day is spent driving through amazing landscapes. We stop by Laguna Colorado, a rich red lake vividly coloured by algae and rich minerals. One of the strangest sights in such arid and inhospitable land is be the abundant wildlife. Spot llamas, flamingos, vizcachas and foxes.

Apart from providing geysers and snow-capped volcanoes, the volcanic landscape also gives us the chance to relax in the region's thermal baths. The third day is a very early (and freezing) start with more driving ahead.

Accommodation in Salar de Uyuni is basic. The first night will be spent at a simple hotel in Uyuni. On the second night the accommodation will be more basic. There are no showers and electricity is generated by solar panel so not enough to charge electronic devices. Salar de Uyuni is at high altitude and can experience extremely cold weather, particularly at night. In the rainy season, the itinerary may be altered depending on the accessibility of roads.

Be aware, this trip can be tough going. There will be long travel days in 4WDs on dusty washboard tracks, freezing temperatures, basic toilet facilities and multishare accommodation. However, without a doubt, this amazing journey will be one of the main highlights of your trip to South America.

Accommodation

Dormitory (2 nts), Hotel (1 nt)

 

Days 10-11 San Pedro de Atacama

Our 4x4 adventure through the Salt Flat region comes to an end in San Pedro de Atacama - Chile.

San Pedro is a small oasis town in the Atacama desert. It is a quirky little place with low-lying adobe buildings lining narrow streets which lead to a sleepy tree-lined plaza that is home of a pretty white-washed church and a fascinating small museum, home to some interesting mummies and various other Indian artefacts.

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

 

Days 12-14 Salta

Today is a long travel day as we leave San Pedro de Atacama behind and move on to Salta - Argentina (approx 12 hrs)

Salta's rich history, colonial architecture, surrounding natural attractions and friendly locals make this town of half a million people one of Argentina's main attractions. The central square, Plaza 9 de Julio, has been called the nicest plaza in all of Argentina, with its lush gardens, fountains, statues and beautiful white buildings including the Cabildo, Cathedral and Casa del Gobierno (Government House).

For the active, there's a hike to the top of Cerro San Bernardo, the massive green mountain that looms over Salta. There are 1070 steps to the top, starting at the monument to Don Martin de Guemes and passing the Stations of the Cross along the way. It's a rugged and tiring hike but the view from the top is spectacular and there's a cafe for a nice refreshing drink. If you're not so active, there's a gondola. This is an amazing place to watch the sunset.

There's also all manner of adventure activities available, such as rafting, bungee jumping and horse riding. Or you can stroll the streets, take a paddleboat on the lake or pop into one of the many museums.

In the afternoon/evening of our last day in Salta we travel by overnight bus to Mendoza (approx 18 hrs). We arrive at about midday the next day.

The overnight bus on this leg of the trip is quite comfortable. You can expect the seat to recline to a more comfortable position than you would expect on a plane. These buses normally have a toilet that minimise the number of stops along the way.

Optional Activities

  • Gondola to Cerro San Bernardo, Salta - ARS30.00
  • Archaeological Museum, Salta - ARS30.00

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts), Overnight bus (1 nt)

 

Days 15-17 Mendoza

 

Mendoza is Argentina's most important grape growing region, producing 70% of the country's wine. Malbec is the region's signature variety.

The city centre is beautifully landscaped and full of trees, squares and parks. During the day Peatonal Sarmiento (Sarmiento pedestrian street) is the place to be. This coffee shop-lined street joins the busy San Martin St with Plaza Independencia making it a must destination for all mendocinos coming to the city. Near Plaza Independencia is Mercado Central (Central Market) a great destination to try the regional specialities such as empanadas (meat pastries), cheese, ham, marinated olives and local wines. Most commercial activity in Mendoza breaks from 1pm to 4pm to allow for the traditional siesta.

At night, attentions shifts to Av. Aristides Villanueva. The many restaurants, bars and pubs make this area the epicentre of Mendoza's night life. If you're feeling adventurous, try one of the most popular drinks in town: Fernet with Coke - a bitter alcoholic cocktail.

Spend a day tantalising the tastebuds. Tour the wineries and learn about the region's wine making history while sampling crisp whites and robust reds.

Optional Activities

  • Winery tour, Mendoza - ARS100.00
  • Canopy, Mendoza - ARS145.00
  • City Tour, Mendoza - ARS60.00
  • Mountain Tour, Mendoza - ARS200.00

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nts)

 

Days 18-20 Santiago

 

Travel by local bus across the spectacular Andes to Chile and its capital, Santiago (approx 7-9hs depending on boarder crossing conditions).

Although Santiago covers a large area, the city centre is quite compact and easy to get around. The city's centre is roughly triangular in shape with the Plaza de Armas, the main plaza and home to the Cathedral, sitting in the centre. Panning out from here are wall-to-wall shops, restaurants and parks. For a more serene look at Chilean life, head out to Barrio Bella Vista, Santiago's 'Paris Quarter'.

Your leader will take you on a walking tour of Santiago visiting the Plaza de Armas in the city's historic centre, the Central Market with its colourful seafood restaurants and the Palacio de la Moneda, the seat of government and presidential residence.

Take a cable car up to Cerro San Cristobal. If the weather permits you'll have impressive views over the city and the peaks of the Andes.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.

Included Activities

  • Leader-led walking tour

Optional Activities

  • Cerro San Cristobal cable car, Santiago - CLP1800.00
  • Valparaiso & Viña del Mar tour, Santiago - USD56.00
  • Concha y Toro Winery Entrance Fee, Santiago - CLP5000.00

Accommodation

Hostel (2 nts)

what-else

Itinerary Disclaimer

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.

included

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.

optional-extras

 

A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Imaginative Traveller nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Imaginative Traveller. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.

money

Money Exchange

The official currency of Bolivia is the Boliviano (BOB).

The official currency in Argentina is the Argentine Peso (ARS).

The official currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso (CLP).

With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.

Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.

It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.

VERY IMPORTANT:

US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.

 

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Tipping

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Imaginative Traveller destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.

Restaurants: Tipping is not expected in local markets and basic restaurants. However if you wish to tip, round your bill up to the nearest 5%. In more up-market restaurants we suggest up to 10%-12% of your bill. Some restaurants already include tipping on the final amount, which should be shown on the bill as: propina, servicio or cubiertos.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.

Porters (if applicable): While on the Inca Trail, we suggest PEN80-120 for all porters, assistants and cook.

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.

Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$1-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Departure Tax

All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

other-important-information

 See below

Group-Size

 

Maximum of 16 travellers per group.

your-fellow-trav

 

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.

 

Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

Single-Travellers

 

Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

Accommodation

 

Hotel (11 nts), Hostel (4 nts), Dormitory (2 nts), Overnight bus (2 nts)

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS

Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Imaginative Traveller trips than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

 

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

 

meals

 

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

 

Meals

17 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

USD 300.00

 

transport

 

Bus, 4x4, Overnight bus

Our overnight buses have reclinable seats - usually more comfortable than your average economy plane seats. You may be offered a simple dinner on board or stop at a service station to buy snacks and drinks. Before boarding an overnight bus, it's always a good idea to have music, a book, water, snacks and warm clothing ready.

 

group-leader

 

All Imaginative Traveller group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Imaginative Traveller endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Imaginative Traveller we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

joining-point

 

Hotel Sagarnaga

326 Sagarnaga St.

La Paz

La Paz

BOLIVIA

 

 

Join-point-instruct

 

Taxis from El Alto International Airport are inexpensive and reliable. You will find official taxis lined outside the airport’s main exit. While you will have to negotiate the rate beforehand, expect to pay US$6-8 for a ride to your hotel.

 

Arriv-complications

We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.

If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.

No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.

 

finishing-point

 

Eco Hostel

Gral. Jofré 349-B Santiago Centro

Santiago Centro

Santiago

CHILE

 

 

Finish-point-instruc

 

If you have pre-booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.

If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.

emergency

Emergency Contact

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, our local Argentina operations office can be reached on:

Outside Argentina: 0054 911 66919779

Outside Buenos Aires: 011 66919779

From Buenos Aires: 15 66919779

From mobile phones: 0054 911 66919779

Alternatively, please contact our Peru operations office on +51 9 9605 5559

We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

Emergency Funds

Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

visa-information

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.

We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.

 

BOLIVIA TOURIST VISA

Australia: Not required

Belgium: Not required

Canada: Not required

Germany: Not required

Ireland: Not required

Netherlands: Not required

New Zealand: Not required

South Africa: Not required

Switzerland: Not required

United Kingdom: Not required

United States: Yes - in advance

Please note: if you are required to apply for a visa to enter Bolivia, you will need the following to support it:

- a copy of the Imaginative Traveller voucher that you receive after purchasing your trip

- a copy of the Itinerary which you can obtain from the Trip Notes for your specific trip on our website.

ARGENTINA TOURIST VISA

Australia: Not required

Belgium: Not required

Canada: Not required

Germany: Not required

Ireland: Not required

Netherlands: Not required

New Zealand: Not required

South Africa: Not required

Switzerland: Not required

United Kingdom: Not required

United States: Not required

ARGENTINA RECIPROCITY TAX:

The Argentine government charges a reciprocity tax which applies to Canadian, US and Australian citizens. The amounts are as follows:
Australians - US$100 (multiple entry for up to 1 year from date of issue)
Canadians - US$75 (single entry) or US$ 150 (multiple entry for up to 5 years from date of issue)
Americans - US$140 (multiple entry for up to 10 years from date of issue)

This fee can only be paid on line through the following website:

https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/

For instructions on how to process this payment, please visit:

http://cnyor.mrecic.gov.ar/userfiles/Online_payment_instructions_0.pdf

A receipt for this payment must be produced at every border crossing into Argentina.

 

CHILE TOURIST VISA

Australia: Not required

Belgium: Not required

Canada: Not required

Germany: Not required

Ireland: Not required

Netherlands: Not required

New Zealand: Not required

South Africa: Not required

Switzerland: Not required

United Kingdom: Not required

United States: Not required

CHILE RECIPROCITY TAX:
All passengers with passports from Australia, Canada, United States and Mexico must pay a reciprocity tax before entering Interpol control. The amounts are as follows:
Australia - US$61
Canada - US$132
United States - US$131
México - US$23

 

This tax applies only to travellers entering Chile via its international airport in Santiago. This tax doesn't apply to those entering Chile by another form of transport.

 

Issues

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

 

what-to-take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

CLIMATE & CLOTHING:

Night time temperatures can be low in the height of the winter months and at altitude so bring a set of warmer clothes. Thermal underclothes, being small and light, can be very useful. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.

Please note the Salar de Uyuni can experience extremely cold weather, especially at night, any time of the year. The clothing items listed in your checklist should be enough to keep you warm, but bring one extra warm outfit if you are particularly sensitive to cold temperatures.

WATER BOTTLE:

Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day

IMAGES FROM HOME:

During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.

fitness

Health

All Imaginative Traveller travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Imaginative Traveller reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS:

Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

Before your trip.

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor

We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

During your trip.

While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.

Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:

http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf

YELLOW FEVER:

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

DENGUE FEVER:

Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.

WHO REPORTS:

The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.

safety

 

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Imaginative Traveller itinerary, and Imaginative Traveller makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:

While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

MONEY WITHDRAWAL:

In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.

TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:

Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

SEAT BELTS:

Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.

FIRE PRECAUTIONS:

Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

travel-insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

responsible-travel

At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.

Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.

Our Aims

  • It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
  • We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
  • Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.

Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.

Rules

 

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Imaginative Traveller travellers. Imaginative Traveller's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

 

Carbon

 

Carbon Offset C02-e 425.00 kgs per pax.

give-us-your-feedback

Your feedback is important to us and to our tour guides and helps shape the quality of our trips. It tells us what we're doing right, what you believe could be done better and what improvements you feel could help future travellers choose and enjoy Imaginative Traveller. Just go to http://on.fb.me/16wYISa for our easy to fill out form. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

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