Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.
At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.
Kamisaki! Welcome to Bolivia.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on day 1.
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.
Hop on a local bus out to the Moon Valley to experience this extraordinary natural landscape on the outskirts of La Paz.
Visit the Coca Museum and learn about this infamous plant that has for centuries been an essential part of life in the Andes.
If you want to discover more about the region’s fascinating history, enjoy a half-day tour to the Tiwanaku ruins outside of La Paz. Another great optional activity is a full-day tour to the coffee and coca plantations of Coroico, situated in the rainforest below the city.
Accommodation: Hotel (2 nts)
Today we travel to Uyuni by private transport (approx. 9 hours), with stops along the way to stretch legs and enjoy the scenery.
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.
Tonight we stay at a hotel in Uyuni Town. The hotel is basic however it’s clean comfortable and has hot water (make the most of this as you may not have a shot shower for the next couple of days).
Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)
Uyuni is the starting point of our 3-day 4WD excursion into Salar de Uyuni and the Andean desert.
This morning we have an included visit to the train cemetery.
The Train Cemetery is located 3 km outside of Uyuni Town and is connected to it by the old train tracks. The town served in the past as a distribution hub for the trains carrying minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports.
In the 1940s however the mining industry collapsed, partly due to the mineral depletion. Many trains were abandoned thereby producing the train cemetery.
The remainder of the day is spent mostly on the salt lake itself.
We will also visit Isla Inca Wasi, a hilly and rocky outcrop of land and former island in Bolivia situated in the middle of Salar de Uyuni. The island is filled with Cactus's and large coral like structures. We will spend time time walking around admiring the unusual yet beautiful landscapes.
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.
Please make the most of your time on the salt flats, take lots of photos as the following day we will be leaving the salt flats for the Andean Desert.
Accommodation: Dormitory (1 nt)
Today is spent driving through amazing landscapes. This is the beginning of the Andean dessert with many volcanoes & lakes. During this drive we reach an altitude of approximately 4900mtrs above sea level.
We stop by Laguna Colorada (red lake), a rich red lake vividly colored 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.
Accommodation in the desert is basic. There are showers however it’s likely the water will be cold. During the winter months or in the morning when cold it’s also possible for the pipes to freeze, meaning it will not be possible to take a shower. Electricity is generated by solar panel so not enough to charge electronic devices. The Desert 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: Basic Dormitory (1 nt)
Apart from providing geysers and snow-capped volcanoes, the volcanic landscape also gives us the chance to relax in the region's thermal baths. This morning before returning to Uyuni we stop at the thermal baths for a soak.
Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)
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.
Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)
A journey by local bus takes us to Sucre (approx 3-4 hrs).
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.
Accommodation: Hotel (3 nts)
Take a short flight to La Paz (approx 40 mins).
Your afternoon is free to rest or explore more of the city.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)
International flights, departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
For those of you who dream of experiencing a location in depth and comfort but are mindful of budget. Ideal for those that enjoy the quirkier side of a destination without roughing it. Join inquisitive travellers of all ages for a fun, informative experience.
This tour is operated by our partners Intrepid.
A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.Please click here for more information.
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended.
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.
You will need to take cash to cover all additional expenses not included in your tour cost. These include food, drinks, optional sightseeing, tips, laundry, souvenirs and possible delays. If in doubt, bring more than you think you will need. It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the time; providing your claim falls within the scope of your policy, your insurance company will make reimbursement later
You must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information.
Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. 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.We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.For further information about responsible travel please click here.
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