Bolivian Adventure Trip Notes
Trip code: GSBA
Trip valid from: 15/12/2006
Trip valid until: 31/01/2012
Trip length: 9 days
Trip starts in: La Paz
Trip ends in: La Paz
Maximum group size: 16
- La Paz - The World's Highest 'unofficial' Capital City
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial City Of Sucre
- The Potions Of 'Witches’ Market'
- Uyuni Salt Desert's Caves And Cacti
- Eat Llama In La Paz
Bolivia is one of the highest and most isolated of the Latin American republics. It has a great deal to offer adventurous travellers in search of an authentic Andean experience. We begin in La Paz and explore the highest city in the world before setting off by bus and train to the seemingly endless and beautiful salt desert of Uyuni. Next, we explore silver-rich Potosi high up on the Altiplano (high plains) and the charming colonial town of Sucre, before flying back to the lofty heights of La Paz.
La PazOur trip starts today with arrival in La Paz. No activities are planned, so you may arrive at any time. Please refer to your itinerary for the joining hotel's name and address. There is a pre-departure meeting with our local tour guide at 7pm this first evening. Don’t forget to check the noticeboard in the foyer of the joining hotel for details of this meeting and for any other messages from our tour guide. Please bring your passport and insurance documents to the briefing. The highest city in the world, La Paz lies nestled in a steep canyon on the Altiplano (high plains), with the towering Mount Illimani forming an impressive backdrop over it. La Paz is the country’s largest city and home to over half of the country’s Indian heritage. It was founded in 1548 following the discovery of gold and although that boom didn’t last long, the city’s location on the main silver route ensured its continued prosperity. We enjoy free time in La Paz to wander around the cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways that are features of this charming city. We can also explore the colourful markets, including the famous 'Witches Market', or simply relax in one of the many cafes. Note: The city is situated 3,636 metres above sea level and it is possible that, as a result of the high altitude, you may experience some light-headedness, insomnia and a shortness of breath when you first arrive. If this is the case we recommend that you avoid any strenuous activity for the first couple of days of your trip or alternatively you may wish to arrive a day earlier to allow more time for acclimatisation. (B)
Uyuni - Uyuni Salt DesertWe have an early morning departure by bus from La Paz to Oruro, where we catch the train for a spectacular journey around the edge of Lake Poopo and past the villages of Popp, Challapata and Huari. We ascend into the highlands, where we are greeted with superb views over the mineral rich mountains that characterise this part of Bolivia, as well as enjoy our first glimpse of llamas, alpacas and even the graceful vicunas. The town of Uyuni is our base for two nights for exploring the Uyuni Desert, an immense saltpan stretching over an area of 12,000 square kilometres. It was once part of a pre-historic salt lake called Lago Minchin, which covered most of southwestern Bolivia. The sunsets here can be quite incredible. On Day 4 we enjoy a full day excursion across this strange and fascinating desert. We start by visiting the local village of Jiria, which lies at the foot of the Tunupa Volcano. There is time to explore the natural caves on the volcano, where we can also enjoy outstanding views over the desert. Our next stop is Isla Pescado - a small, volcanic island, situated 80 kilometres in the desert and home to enormous cactus, Here, there is plenty of time to do some of our own exploring. In the late afternoon we return to Uyuni, where we can enjoy some local cuisine at one of the restaurants close to our hotel. (2B, L)
PotosiToday we travel by road to the silver-mining town of Potosi. This six-hour, picturesque journey takes us across the high Bolivian plateau, passing through dry deserts and occasional oasis towns inhabited by shepherds. After arriving in Potosi, we check into our hotel before taking a stroll in the strrets lined by colonial architecture - a feature of this old city. The immense Cerro Rico Mountain (4824m) forms a backdrop over the city. Potosi itself is situated at 4070m and in its heyday was considered home to the richest silver mines in the world. Founded in 1545 following the discovery of silver in Cerro Rico, the town quickly flourished into one of the wealthiest in Latin America. This abundance of silver ensured that it became the backbone of the Spanish economy for over two centuries, resulting in some extravagant behaviour by its rulers. Millions of miners worked in the mines in horrible conditions resulting in a incredible number of deaths, either by disease or preventable accidents. However, at the turn of 19th century, the reserves began to dwindle and the city declined. Evidence of Potosi’s rich colonial past can be seen in the form of its grand colonial architecture, narrow streets and ornate churches. We enjoy a guided tour of the city and visit many of its highlights, including the San Lorenzo church, the Cobija Arch, the main square, the cathedral, the Jesuit Tower and the magnificent museum in the Casa Real de la Moneda, which has a fascinating section dedicated to art and historical artefacts. The afternoon is free to further explore the city and there are many optional activities available. You could indulge in a thermal bath or visit the historic, colonial farm at the Marquise de Ottavi, situated in a picturesque valley. (2B)
SucreJust a three-hour drive away on a paved road is the beautiful colonial city of Sucre, the judicial capital of Bolivia. The road we take descends more than 1000 metres to the temperate valleys of Chuquisacra, which are full of small rivers, cactus fields, fruit and vegetable gardens, gentle, local people and their mud huts. Sucre is a pleasant city set in a valley surrounded by low mountains and has retained its colonial heritage as exemplified by its churches, museums and ancient mansions. It was founded in 1538 as the Spanish capital of the vast region of Charcas. In 1776 with new territorial division created by the Spaniards, the city's name was changed to Chuquisaca. This region played an important role during the long colonial period and influenced much of Bolivia’s history. It was actually here that Bolivian independence was declared on 6 August 1825. Several years later the name of the city was changed to Sucre, in honour of a general who promoted the independence movement. On arrival we transfer to our charming colonial guesthouse before enjoying a guided tour of the old part of town including the Recoleta Church and Monastery, the chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the cathedral and museum of La Casa de la Libertad. We also have Day 8 as a free day to enjoy this historic town and absorb its colonial ambience. You may want to visit the local markets or textile museum, take a walk around the city or a horse ride out in the surrounding countryside. (2B)
La PazToday we have a mid-morning flight back to La Paz, where our adventure comes to an end. Our flight arrives at La Paz Airport around 12 noon. If you are departing La Paz today, please do not book to depart until 3:00pm (15:00 hrs) or after. (B)
Itinerary VariationWhile the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Whether you’re taking in man’s greatest works at places like Petra or Angkor Wat, experiencing grand set-pieces like the Trans-Mongolian Railway or trying your hand at regional specialities like tango in Buenos Aires, getting to grips with local cultures is what travel’s all about. A few tips from a guide and a sense of adventure are pretty much all you need. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get the lowdown on high Tibet among Lhasa’s magisterial temples; follow up Delhi’s eye-popping bustle with a fix of its fiery food; and mix manic markets and Incan masterpieces in Peru.
A modest level of fitness is beneficial for this holiday and you should be in good health. You should avoid over exerting yourself during the early part of this trip due to the high altitude of La Paz and the surrounding Altiplano.
An experienced local tour guide in Bolivia and there will be the services of local site guides at some sites. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and meals as indicated.
International flights, arrival and 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.
8 breakfasts, 1 lunch
8 nights Budget/tourist class hotels
Single room supplementMost of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.
*prices below are guide onlyLa Paz - City tour
- - US$15
- - US$45-$60
- - US$2
- - US$5
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
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.
- 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.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at email@example.comThe Imaginative Traveller & Gecko's Adventures This trip is operated by our partner company, Gecko's Adventures. Gecko's is an Australia based company with more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a code shared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Gecko's travellers on your trip.
Last updated: 16/02/2012