Duration: 3 Days / 2 Nights
Difficulty: Not Difficult
This tour will first take visitors to one of the highest cities in the world, Potosí, where a day will be spent exploring the colonial city. We then continue to the beautiful Salar de Uyuni, where a full day tour will take travelers through the beauty of this natural wonder, ending with a spectacular sunset that not many other tours include. Making our way back to Potosí, we will journey into an operating mineshaft, exploring the dark tunneling passageways. Please note that this tour has fixed departures leaving only Monday and Thursday mornings.
- Take in the immense Bolivian landscape traveling through the countryside
- Enjoy the colonial architecture and venture in to an operating mineshaft in Potosí
- Spend a full day traveling the Salar de Uyuni – Ending with views of a spectacular sunset
SILVER DAY: Experience how the colonial city of Potosí was built on silver.
Beginning with a 08:00 pick up from the hotel, we will embark on the first leg of our journey. Traveling south towards the mining city of Oruro, we traverse the varied Bolivian countryside observing the more traditional lifestyle of the people of the region. Herders with flocks of llamas, sheep, and cows can be seen alongside their livestock while farmers work the land planting quinoa and potatoes. Halfway through the trip, a box lunch will be had alongside the road with a picturesque vista of the surrounding landscape about before heading back on the road.
The approximate 8 hour drive to Potosí brings travelers through many different landscapes, illustrating the variety of beauty that Bolivia has to offer its visitors. We will stop for gas and a chance to use the facilities before continuing towards our destination. Upon arriving to Potosi, we will check in to the hotel before a quick city tour of this historical, colonial mining city. We will then visit the famed UNESCO site - the National Mint of Bolivia - where we will spend an hour and a half learning about the Mint's history and the tumultuous past experienced by the indigenous communities of the colonial era. Spend the rest of the night wandering the cobblestone streets as the city comes to life with a multitude of colorful lights illuminating the many colonial-styled buildings. (Lunch)
DREAM DAY: Experience the dream-like landscape of Salar de Uyuni, ending with a breathtaking view of the sunset.
After breakfast at 07:00, we leave the lovely Potosí at 08:00 headed for the main attraction: Salar de Uyuni. During the 3 hour trip to Uyuni, we continue through the immense mountain ranges, stopping at Pulacayo – an important mine in the region - to visiting its old trains once used to transport the mineral wealth of the area to international Pacific ports. Relive the adventures of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, as one of the trains was reportedly robbed by the famous duo.
Upon arriving to Uyuni, we will check in to the hotel before departing for our full day tour of the Salar. We will make a short stop at the small village of Colchane where there are many handicraft shops, and a quick tour of a salt factory where locals harvest the vast amounts of salt for sale across Bolivia. Entering the Salar, we stop to view the collection area where locals gather the salt for processing, followed by a quick stop at Ojos del Salar. Here, a constant churning of water underneath the salt crust bubbles up from the depths below. We also make a short stop at a salt hotel, in front of which stands an altar littered with a multitude of international flags waving in the breeze (a very popular opportunity for a photo). Continuing on, we head to Incahuasi (House of Inca) Island, where thousands of cacti dot the ancient, petrified coral reef. Here, lunch will be served as you dine aside the spectacular views of the otherworldly surrounding Salar.
After lunch, we will head to the small village on Coquesa, where a dormant volcano – dubbed Tunupa – awaits our arrival with some truly breathtaking views of the Salar. Hidden in an enclave protected from the elements, about half way up the mass of earth, rests the remains of a family once belonging to the Urus Chipayas civilization: The thin air and protective shelter where the bodies rest have mummified the family, remarkably preserving even the colors on their clothes.
After exploring the mummies and snapping some great photos from the elevated viewpoint, we will head back to the Uyuni for the grand finale: The sunset. Along the whole trip, we will stop periodically to take in the vastness of the salt flats, taking time for the great photos afforded by the flat region. However, the sunsets at the Salar are second to none, especially when a layer of water rests on the surface of the salt. After taking in the beauty of dusk, we will head back to the hotel for a well-deserved night's sleep.
Please note that during the rainy season, it is highly unlikely that Incahuasi Island or Tunupa can be reached as the water can be as deep as a meter in some areas of Salar de Uyuni (though the driver will be asked if it is possible). In case of flooding, we will still make our way around the shore to experience the gorgeous views available. Though these two destinations may not be attainable during the rainy season, the view afforded by the mirroring-effect of the water is a fantastic alternative. Lunch, of course, will still be served during the tour if flooded. (Breakfast, Lunch)
END OF DREAM: Rituals, mines and culture to end the experience.
Waking up on day three, we enjoy breakfast before heading back to Potosí at 08:00 where we will experience a bit of history in the mining process that has been carried out in Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain) for hundreds of years. Accompanied by an additional tour guide, we set out on this unique adventure by being fitted with protective clothing, a hard hat, waterproof boots and the all-important headlamp. We continue to a small market place, where the guide will explain the materials used in the mining process; such as dynamite, ammonium, and the massive amounts of coca chewed by the miners who may spend up to 24 hours in the darkness of the mines. You will also be asked to purchase small gifts of tobacco, coca, and soda or other snacks for the miners as a token of gratitude for permitting our entrance in their work environment.
Enter the darkness squeezing through the many tight tunnels and clamber over ladders, all the while paying close attention to the deafening booms of dynamite exploding somewhere in the distance. Meet the shrines to "El Tio," or the devil, making offerings of coca, tobacco and alcohol to the ominous figurines. Appeasing this powerful spirit is very important in the mining communities of Bolivia, and failing to do so could lead to serious repercussions.
The mine tour lasts a total of 3 hours, after which you can enjoy lunch in Potosí at a restaurant suggested by your guide. At this point, the tour concludes and passengers have the option to return to La Paz with the bus at no extra charge, to stay in Potosí, or head to Sucre. If passengers opt to stay in Potosí or to go anywhere else, the appropriate transfers will be made for you. The trip back to La Paz will take about 10 hours by bus after which you will be dropped off at your hotel. (Breakfast)
Included: Fixed Departure Service to all locations, hotel accommodations, meals as noted, all entrance fees, bilingual (Spanish-English) personalized tour guide.
Not Included: Dinner, lunch (on day three), returning transportation from Potosí to La Paz if passenger choses to stay in Potosí on day three of the tour (remaining with the group heading back to La Paz on day three comes with no additional charge).
- Due to the disintegrating nature of the salt, none of the cars used for touring the Salar are brand new. However, we always seek the company offering the most comfortable, most reliable cars when booking a tour for our clients.
- This tour can only be booked with a fixed departure date beginning on Monday or Thursday. On Mondays,
the Mint is closed, in which case days 1 and 3 will be reversed.
- This tour requires a minimum of 2 passengers to be booked, and a maximum capacity of 8.
- We recommend you bring warm layers, a hat, sun glasses, sun block, comfortable shoes and extra water.