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Bolivia Ancient Discoveries: Archeology and Geology (Classic Tour)

  • Off the beaten track
History, nature, outdoors and geography lovers - this is the tour for you! Over 18 days, get ready to gaze upon the fossils of a stagnant marine lagoon over 80 million years old, explore the vast underground labyrinth of the d'Humajalanta Cave, canyon to a waterfall surrounded by crystal-clear natural pools in Río Torotoro, head underground to the active mines of Cerro Rico, climb&n...

History, nature, outdoors and geography lovers - this is the tour for you! Over 18 days, get ready to gaze upon the fossils of a stagnant marine lagoon over 80 million years old, explore the vast underground labyrinth of the d'Humajalanta Cave, canyon to a waterfall surrounded by crystal-clear natural pools in Río Torotoro, head underground to the active mines of Cerro Rico, climb Ollague Volcano to one of the world’s highest open-pit copper mines, cross the salt desert of Salar de Chiguana, bathe in thermal lagoons, and discover the village of San Juan, home to the mummies of the 'Lords of Lipez' (1200 A.D.) and cross the most incredible salt desert of Salar de Uyuni.  

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Customisable trip itinerary

This tour idea is fully customisable

The itinerary has been created by our local agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Welcome To Bolivia!

Pick up at the airport of El Alto and transfer to your hotel. On the way from the airport, located at 4100m above sea level, you will enjoy an impressie view of the city of La Paz going down to the city centre, located 300m lower.
You'll meet with your guide at 09:00 am at the hotel, and enjoy a guided tour of La Paz: the Sagárnaga Street and its local handicraft market (one of the most famous in South America), the 'witches’ street', San Pedro's food market, the historical centre, and the colonial district.

​Included: transfer arrival, excursion, English speaking guide, hotel and breakfast

La Paz
Rosario (La Paz)

Day 2: On The Road To Cochabamba

Departure from the hotel at 08:00 am in a private 4WD to Cochabamba (about 6 hours on asphalt road). We'll head south before turning east, surrounded by medium-altitude valleys. Free end of day in Cochabamba, the gastronomical capital of Bolivia. 

Included: lunch, entrance fees, private transport, American-style breakfast

Night at Aranjuez Hotel (Cochabamba)

Day 3: Torotoro National Park

Early start in private 4WD. After about 5 hours on the road, we'll reach Torotoro National Park, passing through the charming villages of Tarata, Cliza and Anzaldo, typical 'cochabambinos.'

After lunch, get ready to discover traces of dinosaurs! This region, which was a stagnant marine lagoon 80 million years ago, is full of fossil mastodons, brontosaurus or black-legged herbivores, as well as fossils of marine turtles, sharks, and countless prehistoric plants. 

Included: dinner, local guide, entrance fees, private transport, packed lunch, hotel and breakfast. Night at Etelvina Villa


Day 4: Explore The National Park

Torotoro National Park is also known for being a home for speleologists from around the world. The caves are comprised of a huge labyrinth, in its vast majority still unexplored.

First stop: the d'Humajalanta Cave. Wearing out caving equipment, we'll enter into the cave to discover the amazing blind catfish that live in its groundwater, and of course, a profusion of stalactites and stalagmites. Back at the village of Torotoro in the end of the day, before a short visit to the museum of the Casa de Piedra. 

Included: lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), local guide, entrance fees, private transport, room and breakfast, Night at the Etelvina Villa

Day 5: Hiking In El Vergel

We'll set off on foot to the site of 'El Vergel.' This is probably the most beautiful place to hike in the region, leading us through a beautiful canyon to a waterfall surrounded by crystal-clear natural pools. On the way, we'll stop at a viewpoint to watch the canyon of the Río Torotoro. In the afternoon, return to Cochabamba.

​Included: local guide, entrance fees, private transport, packed lunch, American-style breakfast

Toro, Cochabamba

Day 6: The Sucre Land

Departure from the hotel at 08:00 am in private 4WD to the city of Sucre. The route includes a paved track until Aiquile and then dirt track up to the white town, surrounded by low valleys (8h). Lunch on the road.

Included: lunch, private transport, hotel and breakfast

Su Merced (Sucre)

Day 7: Private City Tour Of Sucre

Departure at 09:00 am by private 4WD for Chataquila Village (3550 m.a.s.l.) and its charming Church sheltering the Virgin of the same name. We will then walk down by the beautiful Inca trail to Chaunaca, and return to the vehicle to reach Maragua crater. There, we'll eat our packed lunches next to the waterfall.

Digestive walk in the crater to Irupampa. On the way back to Sucre, we will stop at the Maragua viewpoint from where we can see the crater. Continuing on to the Mirador of Sucre, you'll get a view across the entire city. Arrival in Sucre around 6:30 pm.

Included: private transport, packed lunch, English speaking guide, hotel and breakfast

Su Merced (Sucre)

Day 8: En-Route To Potosi

Departure from the hotel by private vehicle. We will then cross Sucre Bridge, with its anachronical design, over the Río Pilcomayo (where the river separates Argentina and Paraguay further south). We will then leave the Chuquisaca Valley to climb to the Potosí plateau (4100 m.a.s.l.) where we will arrive 3 hours later via the asphalt road.

At 2.00 pm, we'll meet our guide in the hotel to visit the mines of Cerro Rico where you'll get to witness miners working. Keep in mind that miners do not work on Sundays, and that activity in the mine is greatly reduced Saturdays and Mondays.

Included: private transport, English-speaking guide, entrance fees, hotel and breakfast

Santa Teresa (Potosí)

Day 9: ​Heading To The South Coast Of Bolivia

Departure from the hotel at 9 am in a private 4WD, direction: south. We'll cross the Chichas region, known for its local fermented corn beer of the same name. Then, we skirt the Frailes Mountain range before arriving into the pleasant town of Tupiza: red rocks, cactus, lush valleys (about 6 hours).

Included: lunch, private transport, hotel and breakfast

Anexo Mitru (Tupiza)

Day 10: Trek In Tupiza's Canyons

In the morning, a loop through canyons and interesting geological formations in the mountains await you, on the west side of Tupiza: Puerta del Diablo, Valle de los Machos (rock formations), the Inca Canyon, Quebrada seca, el Toroyoj, La Torre, Entre Rios, and el Angosto. 

​Included: lunch, local guide, private transport, excursion, hotel and breakfast

Anexo Mitru (Tupiza)

Day 11: Climbing The Famous Altiplano

Get ready to climb to the Altiplano and enter areas mostly unknown to tourists. In this wild country, we can still find condors and ostriches that have escaped the more travelled areas of the south of Lipez. We'll drive through the village of San Vicente, where Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid ended their legendary saga during a shoot-out with the soldiers that were looking for them (the legend is still intact, their bodies never having been found).

Then, we take the road to San Pablo de Lipez, before arriving at the end of the day in San Antonio. Lodging with local host (basic comfort).

Included: lunch, dinner, private transport, hotel and breakfast, English-speaking guide

Tupiza, San Antonio de Lípez

Day 12: San Antonio Del Nuevo Mundo

First stop: the ancient village of San Antonio del Nuevo Mundo. According to legend, the village was suddenly abandoned because of a massive and unexplained invasion of viscachas (typical rodent of the area). We'll pass by the geological formation of the 'Torreón,' cross a pass at an elevation of 4500 m.a.s.l., before descending to Laguna Morejón. We make a lat stop at the remote Laguna Celeste, before heading to the village of Quetena.

Included: lunch, dinner, private transport, breakfast, hotel and breakfast

San Antonio de Lípez, Quetena
Doña Braulia (Quetena)

Day 13: Guided Ascent In Quetena

Departure in the morning from the village of Quetena towards the hillsides of the active volcano Uturuncu ('jaguar' in Quechua). We'll follow one of the highest tracks in the world, an old mining road, culminating at 5700m above sea level. Depending on snow, the vehicle can drop us off at about 5000 m.a.s.l. From there, we start our ascent, following the dirt track to its end. A last effort will take us to the summit. It takes about 4 hours to reach the summit of the most accessible 6000m peak in Bolivia. Plan 1 to 2 hours for the descent. Return to Quetena at the end of the day.

​Included: lunch, dinner, private transport, excursion, guide (hiking), hotel and breakfast

Doña Braulia (Quetena)

Day 14: ​Laguna Colorada

Our next stop is west, in the direction of Laguna Colorada. This lagoon owes its intense red-brick colour to the light-sensitive phytoplancton present in its water. We'll keep heading south for an excursion to the Sol de Mañana Geysers (4850 m.a.s.l.) a volcanic crater from which escapes sulfuric fumes and heavy water.

We then stop for breakfast in Polques before crossing the Dali Desert (named after the scenery reminiscent of one of his paintings) and reach the Lagunas Blanca and Verde, at the foot of volcanoes Juriques and Licancabur (5960 m.a.s.l.) at the end of the afternoon. When the wind picks up, the waters of Laguna Verde change to a spectacular emerald colour. Return to Laguna Colorada at the end of the day. Night in basic accommodation. 

Included: lunch, dinner, entrance fees, private transport, hotel and breakfast

Day 15: 'The Route Of The Jewels'

Head north along the Chilean border on the scenic 'route of the Jewels,' owing its name to the lagoons along its way: lagunas Honda, Ch’arkota, Hedionda, and Cañapa, a sanctuary to 3 varieties of flamingo. We stop off at the mirador of Ollague Volcano. This volcano is still active and sheters one of the world’s highest open-pit copper mines.

The track then descends from 4200 to 3600 m of altitude. We'll cross the small Salar de Chiguana, located at the foot of Tomasamil Volcano (5900 m.a.s.l.), before reaching the village of San Juan, home to the famous mummies of the 'lords of Lipez' (1200 A.D.) and a small museum.

Included: lunch, dinner, private transport, hotel and breakfast

Laguna ColoradaSan Juan
La Cabana de Sal (San Juan)

Day 16: Discover The Salt Desert

In the morning, departure for the world’s largest salt desert: the Salar de Uyuni (3650 m.a.s.l.). We then head north to the island of Incahuasi. This volcanic island is covered with stromatolites and giant cacti (stomatolites are fossilised bacterial colonies, the first traces of life on earth).

In the afternoon, we head east towards Uyuni. On the way, we will visit the salt exploitation of Colchani and the Salt Hotels (closed since November 2001). Transfer to the bus station. Departure at 8 pm to La Paz by a confortable direct night bus. Arrival at 7:30 am the following day.

​Included: lunch, private transport, transfer departure, bus ticket

San Juan, Salar de UyuniLa Paz

Day 17: Final Day At leisure

Pick up at the bus station and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy some down time in La Paz.

​Included: private transport, breakfast buffet, hotel

La Paz
Night at Naira (La Paz)

Day 18: Departure

Private transport from the hotel 3 hours prior to departure, and transfer to the airport for your international flight. We hope you've had a great time!

Included: airport transfer

La Paz

La Paz Cochabamba Toro Sucre Potosí Tupiza San Antonio de Lípez Quetena Laguna Colorada San Juan Salar de Uyuni

Price details

This tour idea is fully customisable

The price reflects this specific tour itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. £2,650 / 18 days
Excluding international flights
Price per person, double occupany

Included in price:

  • All mentioned as included in the tour description

Not included in price:

  • International flights not mentioned
  • Airport taxes (international and national)
  • Meals not listed as included (allow 3 to € 10 per meal / person)
  • Visa fees
  • Insurance
  • Drinks and personal expenses
  • Gratuities
Book your flights to Bolivia
International flights are not included in this trip. Thanks to our partnership with Option Way, you can take advantage of booking your flights directly with your local agent.
Check out the many benefits:
  • Competitive rates
  • All-inclusive prices with no hidden fees
  • Elsa, in Bolivia will inform you of any changes to your flights
For more information or to book your flights directly, head to our partner site.

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