Bolivia Adventure Travel | Crossing the Altiplano | Day by Day
Arrive in Santiago, Chile
Depart your nearest home town airport for your overnight flight to Santiago. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the fashionable Singular Hotel in Santiago's vibrant Lastarria neighborhood. Afternoon is free to explore on your own or relax after your long flight.
Hotel: Singular Hotel Santiago
To Calama and San Pedro de Atacama
Transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Calama in northern Chile. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to San Pedro de Atacama and the Explora Lodge.
Hotel: Explora Lodge, LD
Atacama Desert Explorations
Spend two full days at Explora Atacama preparing for your journey across the Altiplano into Bolivia. Daily excursions into the desert provide ample opportunity to discover wildlife, hidden wetlands and geothermal springs.
Hotel: Explora Lodge, BLD
Crossing into Bolivia
An early start this morning, past Licancabur volcano crossing the border into Bolivia at Hito Cajón. You will visit the geothermal field at Sol de Mañana, located 15,419 feet above sea level. From here, you'll explore a series of salt pans, wetlands and lagoons—a perfect place for the observation of flamingos. After lunch along the banks of the lagoon, you'll continue towards Cañapa, your first shelter. The shelter of Tambo Cañapa, located at 14,100 ft elevation, is made of five shipping containers that were custom redesigned specifically for this adventure. By spending the night here, you will have the unique opportunity to experience how unique and remote the Bolivian Altiplano is.
Desert Shelter: Tambo Cañapa, BLD
Cañapa to Chituca
Today, you'll have the opportunity to choose from among a few different exploration options. Each option will afford the discover the geography, flora and fauna of the region. Remaining at a high altitude, between 12,000 and 14,000 ft elevation, there are walks through abandoned mines, valleys, plains and the Turquiri Lagoon with its diverse bird life. After lunch, you'll continue towards your second shelter, located at 12,300 ft. Chituca was a former shepherd settlement, comprised of small stone cabins redesigned and refurbished for this journey. Their location and simplicity are enchanting. After dinner, enjoy a fine glass of wine next to the fire.
Desert Shelter: Chituca cabins, BLD
Crossing the Salar de Uyuni
After breakfast, activity options include discovering the surroundings of the shelter, visiting the cactus forest and the old terrace farms, or visiting the village of San Pedro de Quemes, a former Spanish settlement with a panoramic view to the plateau and the Salar. You'll continue to Las Dos Estrellas, a unique geological formation which, according to local lore, is protected by the spirits of an abandoned cemetery.
Descending down to 12,000 ft, the vast Salar de Uyuni appears. Covering nearly 4,000 square miles, the Salar de Uyuni is the largest and highest salt pan on earth. You'll enjoy lunch in this immense sea of white before crossing the Salar towards Tahua, a small village on the opposite side where, down the Tunupa volcano, we will find our third shelter.
Desert Shelter: Tahua Village, BLD
Around Tunupa Volcano
Tunupa volcano rises up to a height of 17,821 ft. You'll have the option to summit ,or if you prefer an easier hike, you can explore around the volcano's flanks. Later, there will be an opportunity to explore small villages, wetlands and archeological sites.
Desert Shelter: Tahua Village, BLD
Return to Chile
This morning, we leave early to head back to Chile. En route, you'll enjoy a stop and walk through the village of Llica, to try famous salteñas, typical Bolivian empanadas. Continuing onward, you'll will stop for lunch next to the Salar de Coipasa, another spectacular salt pan at 11,800 ft. before heading to Cochane at the border with Chile. After border formalities, you'll reach Aravilla, an abandoned village on the Chilean side of the border where you'll will find your last shelter. Depending on the arrival time, you'll visit the wetlands next to the shelter which is among the most beautiful of the Altiplano, or simply enjoy a glass of wine and the last sunset of our journey.
Desert Shelter: Aravilla Village, BLD
Descending to the Pacific
In the morning, explore the small village of Mauque. There, you'll have a light lunch and then start descending down to Iquique, along the Pacific coast. Towards the end of the route, you'll come across Humberstone, a giant abandoned saltpeter refinery dating back to the 1920s. Its buildings, once full of activity, gradually declined due the advent of synthetic nitrates, and eventually closed in 1960. Once the economic engine of the region, now a tourist attraction, having been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Upon reaching Iquique in the late afternoon, you'll enjoy a farewell dinner at one of the traditional city sites.
Hotel: Terrado Hotel, BLD
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Iquique Airport in the morning for your flight back to Santiago and your onward journey home, or extend your stay in Chile with a visit to Patagonia or Easter Island.