Despite sharing a rich Inca and Spanish colonial heritage, and stunning mountain scenery, with its neighbor Peru, Bolivia remains largely unexplored by visitors. This journey unlocks the secrets of this isolated country high in the Andes.
You begin in the picturesque grandeur of the Peruvian Andes and the legendary Inca strongholds of Cusco, Machu Picchu and Ollantayambo, before traveling overland via Lake Titicaca to La Paz, the world’s highest capital city and an enchanting mix of colonial architecture and lively Indian street markets.
You then travel south to explore the stunning salt pans of the Salar de Uyuni, Potosi whose prosperity was founded on the vast Spanish silver mines of Cerro Rico, and the beautiful city of Sucre with its whitewashed buildings and fine museums, before ending your journey back in La Paz.
The following morning will include a short city tour of Lima – a place of Baroque churches, colonial squares and modern galleries. You’ll explore the UNESCO-listed downtown area, also known as the ‘City of the Kings’, with stops at the Government Palace, the Cathedral, City Hall and the Santo Domingo Convent.
In the afternoon you will fly to Cusco, where you will be met and transferred to Urubamba – otherwise known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This region, traversed by the meandering Urubamba River, is awash with relics of the ancient Inca civilisation which you can discover on a full day tour. Led by expert guides, you’ll visit the colourful markets of Pisac, wander around the imposing fortress and canals of Ollantaytambo – the oldest continuously occupied village in the Americas – and the salt mines of Maras.
Stay: Two nights in a superior casita at the Sol y Luna Hotel
On day 4 a scenic Vistadome train ride takes you to the legendary Machu Picchu. A testament to the might of the Inca Empire, you cannot fail to be awed by the majesty and beauty of the ancient citadel. The terraces of time-forgotten buildings tumbling down the side of the mountain, the temples, staircases and palaces of this site are all beautifully preserved. Without doubt one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Stay: One night in a superior room at the Inkaterra Macchu Picchu Hotel
You’ll have time this morning to revisit the ruins before taking the Vistadome train back to Cusco. The former capital of the Inca Empire and now on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, Cusco is a joy to explore.
A tour will show you impressive Inca remains at the Temple of the Sun, beautiful Andean Baroque-style architecture and elegant colonial mansions. What’s more, the mighty walls of the Sacsayhuaman Fortress are just 10 minutes away.
Stay: Two nights in a Patio suite at the Inkaterra La Casona
Today you will embark on a long but incredibly scenic train journey to Puno. Crossing the valleys of the altiplano and the mighty Andean mountains, this is a fantastic way to see the country. Once there, you will be taken to your hotel which has a privileged position on the shores of Lake Titicaca – just minutes away from downtown Puno.
Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, the legendary Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and sits in an area of supreme natural beauty. Here you will discover the rich cultural heritage and archaeological wonders left by the Aymara who pre-date the Incas. Boat excursions to the floating Uros reed islands, the islands of Taquile and Amanatani, and the Isla Del Sol – believed to be the birthplace of the first Inca – are all on offer.
Stay: Two nights in a superior lake view room at the Hotel Liberatador Esteves
A private transfer will take you from Puno to Juli, where you will embark on a hydrofoil cruise to Sun Island to visit the Inca ‘Grand Stairs’ and the Sacred Fountain. After lunch, there’s time to browse the small handicraft market before visiting the Sun Virgins Temple. The cruise continues to Copacabana where you will head to your hotel in La Paz. A colonial-style building just 20 metres from San Francisco Square, you can enjoy free visits to the El Tapado Museums and bike rides around the city.
Stay: One night in a suite at La Casona
Now it’s time to catch a flight to Uyuni, where you will be met by your driver/guide and begin your journey to the mesmerising Salar de Uyuni. The world’s largest salt flat at over 10,000 square kilometres, the surreal beauty and flatness of this vast expanse will take your breath away.
You’ll get to visit the Tunupa volcano and the Mummies of Coquesa, and the following day enjoy a drive to the fascinating Isla Pescado where you will find a unique oasis-type ecosystem.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at the Luna Salada Hotel
Next you travel through splendid scenery and charming Indian villages to the ancient silver mine town of Potosi. A tour of this UNESCO-sponsored town includes the cloister of San Francisco, the Cathedral and the Casa de la Moneda – home to fascinating wooden machinery from the 17th century. You’ll also visit a miner’s market and enter the underground world of the miners.
Stay: One night in a double room at the Hotel Coloso
Before heading to Sucre, you have the opportunity to visit the Cerro Rico Mines where you will gain a brief, but fascinating, insight into the everyday lives of the miners. Then you will drive to Sucre (about 3 hours) and check in to your hotel for the night, a beautifully renovated 18th century house with fantastic city views from the rooftop terrace.
Stay: One night in a junior suite at the Hotel Parador Santa Maria
Today you will discover the highlights of the city on a privately guided tour, taking in the Recoleta and San Francisco Church, the vibrant local market and the House of Liberty where Simon Bolivar signed the Independence of Bolivia. In the evening you will board a flight back to La Paz, and be taken to your hotel for your final overnight.
Stay: One night in a suite at La Casona Hotel
La Paz – Lima – Madrid – Fly Home
On the last day of your trip you’ll take a guided tour of La Paz. You’ll explore the colonial heart of the city with visits to the San Francisco Church, Gold museum and Murillo Square. You can browse the Witch Doctor’s Market with its interesting handicrafts, weavings and artefacts, and jump on the recently installed cable car to admire the beauty of the city from up high. After the tour you will be taken to the airport to make your way back to London.