From diverse landscapes to deep-rooted cultures and contrasting destinations, this trip covers a lot of ground across South America in a relatively short period of time. La Paz provides insight into the many sides of Bolivian culture. While young people flock to the city for its booming industry, traditionally dressed residents sell ancient potions at the Witches’ Market. Enjoy free time to discover the elegant colonial architecture and immaculately landscaped gardens of historical Sucre. The landscapes of Salar de Uyuni are so unique they’re almost extra-terrestrial. Embark on a three-day adventure via 4WD across the rocky Atacama Desert and the largest salt lakes in the world – passing cactus islands, train cemeteries and mineral lakes teeming with flamingos
24 April 2018 – Due to an unexpected change on the bus schedule between San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) and Salta (Argentina), from the 1st of June 2018, this trip will spend one less night in San Pedro de Atacama and one extra night in Buenos Aires.
Get off the tourist trail on this extraordinary adventure through Bolivia and Argentina. Uncover the rural history of Potosi, explore the cities of La Paz and Sucre, and travel across the sprawling landscapes of the Salar de Uyuni before chasing thrills in Salta and finally arriving in Buenos Aires. This overland tour really does have it all.
Breakfast Included: 14 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 2
Welcome to La Paz, Bolivia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. 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. As La Paz is 3,600 metres above sea level, please ensure you take the necessary measurements in regards to altitude sickness (refer to ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections for important information).
Your second day in La Paz is free to explore. The city is renowned for its markets, especially the Mercado de Chifleras (Witches' Market), which sells potions, incantations, stones and artefacts. Ask a local about their significance - most people are happy to explain. Perhaps visit the Coca Museum, which isn’t too far from your hotel. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as the Food With Altitude or To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond tours.
Late in the afternoon, leave La Paz on an overnight bus to Sucre (approximately 9-10 hours). There are comfortable recliner seats on the bus locally known as "coche cama" or bed seats. There’s usually a toilet on the bus and the driver will also make a stop along the way.
On arrival into Sucre, drop off your luggage at the hotel before heading out to explore in your own time. Bolivia’s World Heritage- listed capital is a hub of progressive culture and Spanish colonial architecture. You might like to visit the Museo de la Recoleta. This 400-year-old convent provides great views over the city and is home to a fascinating collection of sculptures and paintings. If you have time, head to the Plaza 25 de Mayo to rub shoulders with Sucre's affluent residents and investigate the extravagant interior of the Senora de la Merced.
Today is a free day to explore Sucre. For something completely different, discover the prehistoric landscape of Cal Orko and tread in 60-million-year-old dinosaur footprints. There’s also proud food culture in Sucre, so enjoy some delicious empanadas at a restaurant or fresh juice at the Central Market.
In the morning, take a local bus to Potosi (3-4 hours). This colonial mining city sits at the base of Cerro Rico, a mountain rich in silver ore. A tour and brief history of Cerro Rico could be a highlight of your trip here, but due to safety concerns we strongly advise you not to enter the mines (please see notes below). Perhaps visit the Santa Teresa Convent Museum to observe the art and treasures on display inside the convent’s original walls.
Today, leave Potosi behind and travel to the city of Uyuni (approximately 3-4 hours). This remote town sits on the edge of the high Altiplano, a wilderness area extending for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. The area is notorious for being extremely cold, so it’s important to pack warm clothing and base layers. Tonight, stay at a hotel in Uyuni Town. The hotel is fairly basic, but it’s clean, comfortable and has hot water. As you’ll be heading out into the desert and salt flats over the next few days, make the most of the structured bathroom facilities tonight.
Salar de Uyuni
Depart Uyuni this morning and venture out on a three-day 4WD excursion. Be prepared for a busy few days ahead. The first stop will be at a rusty Train Cemetery, before you continue on to Salar de Uyuni - the world’s largest salt flats. While this may be a typical stop for many travellers, it’s also often a highlight. Make the most of your time on the salt flats taking lots of photos and explore Inka Wasi Isla, which is a rocky island covered in cacti and coral-like structures.
Today will be spent driving through the spectacular landscape of the Andean (Atacama) Desert, which is sprinkled with volcanoes and lakes. During this drive you’ll reach an altitude of approximately 4,900 metres above sea level, so it’s important to revisit the notes on altitude sickness (please see the ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections of the trip notes). Stop by the red lake of Laguna Colorada, where you’ll be able to spot wildlife such llamas, flamingos, viscachas and foxes feasting in the nutrient-rich waters.
San Pedro de Atacama
This morning stop by the desert’s natural thermal baths for a soak and then head to the Bolivia/Chile border, where the Bolivian part of your trip comes to an end. Pass by geysers, salt flats and snow- capped volcanoes on your way to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. As a small oasis town, San Pedro is surrounded by extraordinary scenery. Use your free time to wander around, perhaps checking out the quaint Church of San Pedro de Atacama, the Museo Gustavo Le Paige (archaeological museum) or the town’s central plaza.
Today will be a long day of travel (approximately 12 hours), as you leave San Pedro and head for Salta, Argentina. Salta's rich history, colonial architecture, friendly locals and surrounding natural attractions make it one Argentina's main attractions. If you have time on arrival, spend some time getting to know the area in the vicinity of the hotel. The gardens, fountains and historic buildings in Plaza 9 de Julio are a great place to start.
Today is a free day to explore Salta and its attractions. If you’re after something active, hike up the 1,070 steps to the summit of Cerro San Bernardo; the mountain that looms over Salta. You can take a gondola (cable car) to the top if you’d prefer. Either way, the view from the top is magnificent.
Take an included flight to Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina.
Fiery Latin passion, European elegance and superb cuisine combine to make Buenos Aires one of the world's most enthralling cities. After arriving in the city, time is free for you to do what you want with it. Nibble on alfajores, wander San Telmo's cobblestone streets, talk football with Portenos in a cafe or get a history lesson at the quirky Museo Evita. The hippest spot in town is Palermo's Plaza Serrano, so why not head out in the evening for a tango with the locals. There are so many things to see and do in Buenos Aires, it's simply a matter of trying to fit them all in.