Join Far Horizons on a captivating 16-day journey through Bolivia, where most inhabitants embrace their indigenous roots, with many donning traditional attire. Our itinerary unfolds against breathtaking landscapes and unveils the striking colonial legacy of Spanish conquests.
We’ll cover all of Bolivia’s six UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites:
Additionally, we’ll journey to Inkallaqta, a testament to Inka architectural prowess often overlooked by tourists. At Lake Titicaca, discover the sacred Island of the Sun, the believed birthplace of Inka gods and civilization, and witness mesmerizing sunsets over the shimmering waters set two miles high.
(If you have any questions about this tour itinerary, get in touch.)
Depart for Bolivia.
Our early morning arrival brings us to Santa Cruz with the morning free to rest after the long flight. The city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra was founded in the 15th century in honor of a city in Extremadura, Spain. It is perhaps the liveliest city in Bolivia and completely different from the highlands both in population and climate. Today Santa Cruz is a bustling modern city but it still retains a bit of a frontier feeling. Here, find people from all occupations and areas of the world. In the afternoon, enter the Santa Cruz Anthropology Museum for our first glimpse of the country’s unique cultures. Our welcome dinner party will be in one of the city’s finest restaurants. Overnight for two nights at Hotel Cortez in Santa Cruz. (D)
Drive three hours west to Samaipata, Bolivia’s largest pre-Inka site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known to have been occupied and used as a ritual and residential center by people belonging to the Mojocoyas culture as early as AD 300, Samaipata bears extraordinary witness to the existence in this region of a political culture with highly developed religious traditions, illustrated dramatically in the form of the ceremonial temple and its immense rock sculptures. Return to Santa Cruz for the night. (B/L/D)
Around Santa Cruz lie the Bolivian tropical lowlands, holding a unique and fascinating history and precious heritage. In the province of Chiquitos, the vast sparsely populated tropical area northeast of Santa Cruz, we encounter the finest examples of religious architecture in the country. Six delightful Jesuit Missions, all of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are true Colonial jewels and a testimony of the Spaniards’ obsession to convert the Native people to Catholicism. They are the finest example of colonial religious art in the country, magnificent and grand yet intimate and personal works of art featuring massive hand-carved wooden altars often covered in gold, wall paintings, wooden pulpits, and impressive wooden columns. Today’s drive will take us to one of these missions – San Javier, the first mission town established in 1691 by the Jesuits, and Concepción. Overnight for one night at the Gran Hotel Concepción. (B/L/D)
The city of Concepción boasts a missionary museum which exhibits photos of the process of the restoration of the churches and features pieces of the church’s giant hand carved wooden columns, and fragments of murals and other ornamental pieces. We visit the Jesuit Museum and Workshop before returning to Santa Cruz. In the late afternoon, we board a short flight to Cochabamba. Overnight for two nights at the 4-star Hotel Aranjuez in Cochabamba. (B/L/D)
Today’s all day journey takes us to the little known and seldom visited ruins of Inkallaqta, the most important Inka site in Bolivia. Surrounded by steep hills with flowing mountain streams and bordered by a lovely waterfall, the location of the city is stunning. Emperor Tupa Inka Yupanqui, the son of Pachacuti, founded this frontier outpost on the easternmost of the Inka Empire most likely between 1463 and 1472. It is an enormous complex made of stone with close to forty buildings and a defensive wall. (B/L/D)
Board a morning flight to Sucre, Bolivia’s constitutional capital and location of the Supreme Court. Sucre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a charming city with a wealth of historical architecture highlighted by beautiful white colonial buildings topped by red-tiled roofs and distinctive balconies hanging over the narrow streets. Home to a large indigenous population who maintain their traditional clothing and customs, and we will visit ASUR Indigenous Art and Textiles Museum to learn about each group’s distinctive dress. Overnight for three nights in the Parador de Santa Maria. (B/L/D)
Our all day tour takes us to Potosi, famed for its Cerro Rico, or ‘rich hill’. Besides plundering the gold of the Inkas in Peru and the Aztecs in Mexico, in 1544 the conquistadors discovered this mountain of ore and quickly turned it into the major supply of silver for Spain. It is estimated that 70,000 metric tons of silver were produced over a 400 year period. The population reached almost 200,000 in the silver boom times of the 17th century when the city was larger than London or Paris. At that time more than 86 churches were built, opulent homes were created to house the prosperous, water reservoirs were built to fulfill the growing population’s needs, and, in 1672, a mint was established to coin the silver. The city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its rich history and the wealth of colonial mansions and religious buildings sitting picturesquely along its narrow streets. Here, we will see several important buildings. Begin with La Casa de la Moneda, the 18th century mint constructed on the site where silver was extracted, to view its exhibits on gold and silver coins, modern artworks and religious paintings. Dominated by two huge towers, the 16th century cathedral is supported by massive columns and vaults. Among the many churches, San Benito Church is topped by spectacular Byzantine domes, and San Lorenzo Church contains elaborate Baroque carvings by 16th century artisans. In the afternoon, return to Sucre and the Parador de Santa Maria. (B/L/D)
Spend the morning with a walking tour of Sucre, including a visit to the House of Liberty Museum where we take a journey exhibits take you through Bolivian history, with artifacts from the time of the independence movement to modern day. Lunch and the afternoon are free to enjoy this charming town on your own, or relax at the hotel. (B/D)
Transfer to the Sucre airport for the return flight to La Paz. Upon arrival, we will enjoy stunning vistas as we use the city’s aerial cable car, or Mi Teleférico, to travel from the airport’s plateau down to the city center. After lunch, explore the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore. Housed in the 18th-century Marquis de Villa Verde Palace, this museum showcases the regional particularities and unique characteristics of Bolivia’s independent cultures and features a vast array of textiles, pottery and festival masks. Overnight for three nights at the Atix Hotel, a 5-star boutique property in the city’s southern district. (B/L/D)
Travel to Tiwanaku, the ritual and administrative capital of a mighty prehispanic empire that dominated a large area of the southern Andes and was one of the great centers of native Andean cultures. From around AD 100 to AD 1000, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was the seat of power for a vast empire and the architecture bears striking witness to its power. Located on the southern shores of Lake Titicaca, the city is filled with megalithic monuments, temples, and plazas. The impressive stone Puerta del Sol, or Sun Gate, is covered with incised figures and has become a symbol of Bolivia. Return to La Paz (NOTE: travel to and from Tiwanaku will take a minimum of 2.5 hours each way). (B/L/D)
Today we explore La Paz, including several interesting and curious sites. Located inside the tourist handicraft market, the Witches Market displays a variety of fascinating ingredients used to influence the many spirits that populate the Aymara world – herbs, folk remedies, soapstone figurines as well as aphrodisiac formulas. But probably the most disconcerting are the llama fetuses, purchased to be buried in the foundations of new constructions or businesses as a cha’lla (offering) to the goddess Pachamama. This sacrifice encourages the goddess to protect the workers from accidents and to bring good luck. Time permitting we will also visit the Coca Museum, which is devoted to this controversial plant which plays a huge part in the culture and history of the Andean people. This afternoon we drive through El Alto, a suburb of La Paz, to see several striking cholet buildings created by the architect, Freddy Mamani Silvestre. Painted in dazzling bright colors and with bold geometric designs, these private homes are like none other in the world. Dinner tonight is on our own to discover one of the city’s fine restaurants. (B/L)
Drive to Copacabana, built in Spanish Colonial times on the foundations of an earlier Inka shrine. The Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana dominates the town with its gleaming white exterior, Moorish-style domes and colorful azulejos, or Portuguese-style blue ceramic tiles. Kotakawana was the god of the fertility in ancient Andean mythology and the basilica was erected where the main temple of the god once was located. It now houses a 16th century statue of the Virgin Mary carved from black wood, and is a pilgrimage site for the entire region, famous for miracles attributed to the Black Madonna. A network more than 20,000 miles long, crossing mountains and tropical lowlands, rivers and deserts, the Qhapaq Ñan, or Road of the Inka, linked Cusco, the administrative capital and spiritual center of the Inka world, to the farthest reaches of its empire. A vast complex of roads, bridges, and other structures, the Inka road system stretches over 24,000 miles through six modern-day countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. We will drive to see a portion of the Qhapaq Ñan, Bolivia’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site still used by remote communities today. Overnight for two nights at Hotel Rosario del Lago in Copacabana. (B/L/D)
Travel by boat to the Isla de la Luna, or Island of the Moon, known in earlier times by its Quechua name of Koat. This was the place where Viracocha, the white-bearded god of the Inka commanded the moon to rise into the sky. Also explore the Isla del Sol, Island of the Sun, at the location known as the sacred rock where it was believed the sun and the gods were born. Many present day Aymara and Quechua peoples still hold these beliefs. The Isla del Sol shows extensive evidence of prehistoric settlement and the sacred nature of the place, as well as Pilkokaina Inka Palace. (B/L/D)
As we journey back to La Paz, stop at a museum to see how the reed boats used on Lake Titicaca are made. Upon return to La Paz, the afternoon is on our own to rest and pack for tomorrow’s early morning departure. Gather this evening for our final dinner party in a local restaurant. (B/L/D)
Depart Bolivia or continue on our post-trip extension. (B)
Uyuni is home to the world’s largest salt flat. Once a prehistoric salt lake that covered most of southwest Bolivia, the Salar de Uyuni blankets an amazing 4,633 square miles. The savage beauty of this vast salt desert makes it one of South America’s most awe-inspiring spectacles. On our two-day extension from La Paz, we explore the unique islands and delicately-colored mineral lakes that punctuate the seemingly-endless white landscape.
Take a morning flight from La Paz to Uyuni. After breakfast at the hotel, set out for the salt flats past a small settlement called Colchani, where the locals process salt. Our singular route takes us into one of the world’s most isolated areas where we will be alone surrounded by a glittering white landscape. After a couple of hours, arrive at Isla del Pescado, or Incahuasi Island, to look at giant cacti, birds and vizcachas that have made this island their own. At midday stop for a buffet of delicious local products in the middle of the salt flats. In the afternoon we take one of the hundreds of routes across the salt flats to discover the area, and wait for the sunset across this stunning landscape. Overnight at the Palace of Salt Hotel in Colchani for one night. (B/L/D)
Today we continue our explorations with an early morning departure to see the sunrise. After returning to the hotel for breakfast, we will venture out again to view the Tunupa Volcano and Coquesa Mummies. In the late afternoon, we will enjoy the sunset with champagne before transferring to the airport for the evening flight back to La Paz. Dinner is on our own. Upon arrival to La Paz, transfer back to the La Casona Boutique Hotel for one night. (B/L)
Depart La Paz on our flight home. (B)
Price is based on double occupancy and includes:
Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.
Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.
As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.
Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.
A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.
International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for 2 miles or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging as much as 5 miles of walking per day. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 60 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking several miles every day, ideally including stairs and hills. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.
This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. At times we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will not be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.
This trip is for the hardy!You should be in good physical condition and with the ability to travel at high altitudes. Many areas of Bolivia are at altitudes of as much as 10,000 feet.