Group - Discovery

Zampullin: Vistas of Bolivia

13 days from £3,297pp


ShutterStock ©

Overview & Highlights

A journey of discovery into the far corners of Latin America’s most adventurous and evocative destination, Andean Bolivia.

  • Santa Cruz: city tour
  • Ruta Ché: El Fuerte Inca Ruins
  • Ruta Ché: Ché Guevara sites
  • Potosi: city tour
  • Potosi: Royal Mint and mines
  • Sucre: city tour
  • Uyuni: 2 day exploration of salt flats
  • La Paz: city tour
  • Lake Titicaca: boat ride and Sun Island

Bolivia is the Latin America of your imagination. It’s a country of outsized wilderness landscapes, of rock-falls blocking cliff-hugging dirt roads, boozy fiestas, far-flung weaving villages, and age-weathered colonnades. It’s where otherworldly features such as sun-blistered salt pans sit within wind-blasted plains, pinpricked by ice-coated Andean spires.

This holiday fizzes with adventure: add to the above the sapphire waters of Lake Titicaca, the panoramic cable cars of La Paz and the remote trail tracing the route of Che Guevara’s last stand: we’ve created an innovative group tour trip where surprises lurk round every corner. You’ll need a flexible attitude to enjoy the experience, and be ready for your mind to be blown away.


Day 0

UK clients depart on an overnight flight arriving Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the next day.

Day 1

Transfer to your hotel Santa Cruz. City tour.

The dynamic city of Santa Cruz doesn’t quite reflect how most people imagine Bolivia. With plate glass and concrete, the sparkle of luxury four-wheel drive vehicles, and good restaurants and shopping malls the rapidly growing city wears its new-found oil wealth on its sleeve.

This prosperous lowland metropolis is wholly different from its Andean sisters, in climate, in politics and in ethnic mix. People have poured in from the altiplano to join German Mennonites, Brazilians and even Japanese in search of a better life. The sun can be fierce, the siestas always long, with heavy rain showers in the summer months.

You’ll all meet up with a local guide for a tour of the city, purpose-built in a series of rings. You will visit the huge, shady main square, the baroque cathedral which dominates it, and the indigenous Abasto craft shops.

The tour continues with some informal sight-seeing : there are lovely parks with lawns, fountains and street art, tawdry but fascinating street markets selling everything from mobile phones, electric saws to gold jewellery and mangoes, spread over the streets around the handsome colonial core. A little further out you discover up-market, tree-shaded residential quarters. After all that exploring you’ll appreciate the chance to enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the traditional cafés in town


Day 2

Drive to mountain town Samaipata via el Fuerte ruins.

Drive out of Santa Cruz up in to the mountains. You pass through several market towns, and the landscape soon changes from cattle farms and fields of sunflowers to orchards and villages speckled with summer homes.

Canyons with blood-red cliffs fringe a winding river; follow the valley up to the prosperous little resort of Samaipata (120km), which has a glorious setting in the now unfolding mountain scenery.

Just before reaching the town you will turn off to visit the Inca Ruins at el Fuerte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site sitting on a ridge from where there extensive mountain views. The site has pre-Inca carvings and post-Inca Spanish colonial buildings superimposed on Inca walls. Owing to its relatively remote location there may well be no-one else there: this is an evocative and fascinating site.

Samaipata is a great place to spend the evening and overnight; quiet during the week, it comes to life at the weekend when well-off Cruceños drive up in their SUVs to enjoy the cool mountain air. To cater for them and the captivated foreigners who have moved here, there is a clutch of good restaurants and literary café style hang-outs, some around the leafy main square. The market is worth a look too, bulging with a dazzling display of fruit and vegetables.


Day 3

Drive to Vallegrande, visit Che Guevara’s museum, on to La Higuera.

You depart Samaipata for Vallegrande on a winding paved road, undulating over the rugged hills for 185km. You’ll enjoy lovely valley views, cattle farms, dusty agricultural towns, pig farms, peach groves and maize fields. The drive should take two hours but it can take longer – up to 3hrs - if there is a lot of traffic.

Vallegrande is another typical Spanish-style mountain town, but less-visited than Samaipata. It’s the place to which Che Guevara’s body was taken following his death at the hands of the Bolivian military. You can visit the laundry where he was laid out, now a shrine for his followers, and the museum dedicated to his exploits. The museum has photographs of Che in both Cuba and Bolivia and a few items of clothing. There is a good chronology of the Bolivian campaign. The Tumba Mausoleum was built over Che’s grave. Ghoulishly, it is now just a room with an empty cordoned-off pit: Che and his comrades’ bodies have been returned to Cuba.

Continue 60km to La Higuera on an unmade road. It’s a beautiful route through arid canyons, where you’ll rise to over 3,000m and descend a spectacular cliff-edge road. The road follows the folds of the ranges of craggy hills, increasingly rugged with exposed rocks, scrubby vegetation and free-range cattle.

La Higuera is a quiet hamlet, deserted during the day when most of the inhabitants are out working their farmsteads. It is the place where Che Guevara was killed, and you will visit the tiny former schoolroom where he was imprisoned and shot. There are many written tributes to the revolutionary leader alongside faded photographs. A few T shirts adorned with his face are on sale. The walls of the buildings in the hamlet are covered with vivid murals and the public spaces are festooned with statues of the man who is still regarded as a hero in these parts.

Overnight in one of the simple hostels in this remote, evocative spot.

BOL_LaHiguera_ RutadeChe_CJ_free

Day 4

Drive on through highland landscapes to Sucre.

It’s back on the road for 3hrs along an unmade road to red-roofed Villa Serrano, home of famous sculptor and musician Mauro Nuñez which has a museum and the largest charango (Andean lute) in the country.

Continue on a good quality road to Sucre (4hrs) which lies in a remote valley at, for Bolivia, a relatively benign altitude of 2,800m. Provincial in outlook, it is nevertheless the legislative capital of the country.

Day 5

Guided city tour of Sucre.

Your guided city tour takes you to view some of the city’s loveliest colonial parks and buildings: these may include Casa de la Libertad on the main square where the declaration of Bolivian Independence was signed in 1825. You also visit the ASUR indigenous Art Museum - a 17th century colonial building. Exhibits include ancient textiles, musical instruments, costumes and ritual artefacts. A highlight is the Weavers’ Gallery, where you learn about indigenous techniques and designs.

Another interesting visit may be made to La Recoleta, a Franciscan convent which offers splendid views over the valley. It has beautiful cloisters and gardens where an ancient cedar tree still stands. The adjoining chapel is notable for its intricate woodcarvings. In the third cloister is a museum exhibiting sculptures, paintings and other religious works.

iStock ©

Day 6

Continue by road to Potosí on the altiplano.

This scenic 3hr journey along a broom-fringed paved road passes through fertile landscapes with fields of peas, beans and cereals. Agriculture peters out as you ascend up to the cold, high plains of the starkly beautiful altiplano.

At 4,090m Potosí is the highest city in the world. Its former wealth lay in its silver; today it lies in the vestiges of its history and the grand buildings born from a city that was quite literally founded on a mountain of wealth - the Cerro Rico.

Nowadays it’s a relatively poor city, isolated from the economic power engines of the country. However, with its narrow streets and grandiose architecture it is one of Bolivia's great treasure troves. Your walking tour takes you to the market and some of the city's principal historical attractions. Among these are Santo Domingo church and the vast 16th century cathedral. San Lorenzo church, with its baroque façade of flesh-coloured stone, has works of art adorning the ornate altar along with two original paintings by Holguin.

You’ll have a guided tour round the Casa de Real de la Moneda which occupies an entire block near the cathedral. This mint created the currency for the entire Spanish Empire. The museum has a fascinating history, comprising not just the Royal Mint, but also a prison, fortress, and HQ for the Bolivian army during the Chaco War. The museum displays crafted silverware, oil paintings and Bolivia's first locomotive train.

Day 7

Visit a co-operative mine in Potosí.

The tunnels which honeycomb the Cerro Rico are as dark and poisonous as the city's gruesome past. If conditions look harsh in the blood red hills that surround Potosí, they are as nothing compared to those endured by the miners who plummet the depths of this warren-ridden mountain. Inside temperatures can rise into the 50°C and plunge to below freezing point. Ceilings are low, conditions cramped and the tools used primitive. Miners get by on a staple diet of cigarettes - the least noxious of the mine's cocktail of fumes - coca leaves and dogged determination. You’ll see altars with offerings to the devil: miners cannot believe that a benign God reigns here.

This is a working mine: you see the miners at work and wagons coming along the tracks. You are provided with safety gear. You need to be agile and not suffer from claustrophobia or allergy to sulphur. So of course if you prefer not to enter the mine or wish to come out early that’s fine.

In the afternoon drive on to Uyuni. Along the way you will pass site of a mine in production since colonial times and reach the Cañón de San Juan, distinguished by the rust-red colours of its steep rocky walls over which crash the waters of Lake Toro. Continue through rough pastures with grazing llamas towards the fringes of the Uyuni salt flats.

Pass Pulacayo, once a stop on the first Bolivian railway and home to one of the silver barons. This is wild and remote Butch Cassidy country, dotted with the vestiges of colonial settlements. 18km further on is the town of Uyuni and your first glimpses of the glistening white salt pans.

Day 8

Explore the Uyuni salt flats.

Visit the “train cemetery” full of abandoned, rusting engines evocative of more prosperous and dynamic times.

Travel on by 4WD vehicle to the Salar de Uyuni. The bleak plains of the southern altiplano make for an austere, uncompromising wilderness, scoured by bitter gales, where cut-glass lakes and un-trodden, luminous salt pans reflect the vast dome of an icy sky.

At 3,650m the salar is the highest salt desert in the world and arguably the largest. When the rains fall, the desert is turned into a mirror, salt plains and sky fuse, and the world is turned upside down. In the dry season, however, the dazzling white of the salt crystals extends as far as the eye can see: an other-worldly sight.

While its few wind-buffeted Aymara inhabitants scratch a meagre living from the dusty soil, there are landscapes of unexpected variety and surreal beauty. You’ll observe desolate, denuded peaks, sunlit lagoons of gem-stone clarity and a white sea of salt that bends the horizon.


Day 9

Lagunas Colorada and Verde.

Among the features of this primeval landscape is the presence of brightly coloured minerals and living organisms. Today you drive to the Laguna Colorada - red lagoon – populated by James flamingos which feed off the pink algae which give the lagoon its name.

The drive continues to hot water geysers and Laguna Verde (green lagoon), a wash of jade-hued water at the edge of the striking conical Licanábur volcano.

Fly from Uyuni to la Paz in the afternoon.

Mary Anne Nelson ©

Day 10

Explore capital La Paz .

At first sight La Paz is an anarchic jumble of buildings clinging to craggy slopes and marching down a sinuous river bed.

But it's easy to get around, the streets are tightly packed and crammed with interesting features. Your guided tour takes you to the narrow lanes around the colonial heart, exploring markets such as the famous Mercado de las Brujas (Witches' Market) as well as the stately boulevards of the modern business and residential neighbourhoods.

How the city's structure knits together is best appreciated from the air, you will enjoy stupendous views from a new cable-car connecting the centre and residential areas of La Paz with city of El Alto on the canyon rim way above.

Later you travel down to explore the Valle de la Luna – Moon Valley – which as its name suggests is a plain of tortured wind eroded rocks resembling the desolate surface of the moon.


Day 11

By road to Lake Titicaca.

It’s a 2.5hr drive to the little town and religious sanctuary Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The pretty port attracts many pilgrims who make the trip on foot. To get there you will make a 20min crossing of Tiquina straits on the lake by boat.

Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, is also the most sacred in the Andes. Set on the grassy altiplano, its deep sapphire water laps fertile shores where cereals and vegetables are cultivated by indigenous communities. The people use the swaying tortora reeds to build their traditional boats and even islets and homes (Uros Islands). Birdlife here is abundant and varied.

After lunch take a boat ride to Isla del Sol - Sun island, birthplace of the Inca gods. It’s a bit of a cliché but this sacred spot really is a haven of tranquility, there are a few small communities clinging to the shores but no motorized vehicles. The island is crisscrossed by Inca trails connecting Inca ruins including gardens, stairways and fountains.

Return to your hotel on the shores of the lake in Copacabana for the night.

Day 12

Walking tour of Copacabana. Fly to Santa Cruz from El Alto.

Take an early morning walk to visit the town’s market and church. If there’s time you may like to climb the hill which overlooks the town for some superb lake views. The path is punctuated with Catholic “stations of the cross” but pre-Columbian religious rites also take place here.

Return to El Alto airport and fly to Santa Cruz for your final night in Bolivia.

Day 13

Transfer to the airport.

Drive to the airport for your international flight or a domestic flight for your jungle extension.

Day 13

UK clients arrive home the following day.


Tour info

Tour Leader

On this tour, you’ll be accompanied from start to finish by one of our exceptional Journey Latin America tour leaders. From the moment you land in Latin America until the day the tour ends they will deal with all the practicalities, expertly adapting to the circumstances and individual needs of the group. Rather than different guides in different cities, your leader will get to know the group and keep you informed and entertained as you go.

About Our Group Tour

To find out more about how our group tours including group sizes, solo travellers and why to choose us. Please click here.


1 flight (45mins); 7 road journeys (longest 8hrs with stops).


On this journey we stay at simple hotels and guesthouses (generally with private bathroom yet in the more remote places a shared bathroom may be necessary). The nature and size of the accommodation means that we use a number of properties depending on availability.

Examples of hotels include:

• Santa Cruz: Hotel LP Equipetrol
• Samaipata: Landhaus
• La Higuera: Posada La Casa del Telegrafista
• Sucre: Hotel Independencia
• Potosi: Hotel Santa Teresa
• Uyuni: Hotel Palacio de Sal
• Salt Flats: Villa Mar Lodge
• La Paz: Hotel Rosario
• Copacabana: Hotel Rosario del Lago
• Santa Cruz: Hotel LP Equipetrol

On very rare occasions these hotels can change, however please speak to one of our consultants who can provide full details for each departure if you have any doubts. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents


Breakfast daily; Lunch days 2, 4 ,9 and 11; Full board days 3 and 8.

Summary Of Nights

13 days, 12 nights: Santa Cruz 1; Samaipata 1; La Higuera 1; Sucre 2; Potosi 1; Uyuni 1; Salt Flats 1; La Paz 2; Copacabana 1; Santa Cruz 1.

Optional Excursions

This tour offers a very full programme of excursions and activities so for that reason there will be limited free time for optional excursions. However you may find a few hours in each town and city to further explore, including museum visits and other cultural activities.


A budget of around US$35 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the itinerary, soft drinks and the odd souvenir.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns in both countries, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. There are many ATMs in Santa Cruz in La Paz and they are also present in Sucre and Potosí; in many you can withdraw pesos or US dollars. Select “Savings Account” from the menu, even for a debit card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

Since you are also visiting remote places with few facilities, we recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused.


The unit of currency in Bolivia the boliviano.


Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $3USD (or local equivalent) per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6USD per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.


Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport Taxes

International and domestic departure tax is currently included within the price of tickets.

Journey Grade

There are a few long days of travel on this trip, but as journeys are taken by private transport you will have maximum comfort and we can make a stop at will. Bolivia is still one of the more underdeveloped countries in Latin America and this trip visits some of the more remote areas. Therefore for some days facilities will be more basic and eating opportunities more limited.


The climate in Santa Cruz is tropical and humid, with temperatures rising to 40°C in the summer months of Dec-Mar. It can rain at any time, but there is also plenty of sun. As you climb into the mountains on your journey towards Sucre the air is fresher and temperatures significantly lower.

Most rain falls Dec-Mar in both Sucre and Potosí: there is a little less sunshine in this period in what are otherwise sunny cities. Potosí is at a higher altitude and can be very cold at night, especially in Jun-Jul.

On the salt flats, most rain falls between January and April when the roads can be very muddy and the itinerary around Uyuni is subject to change. The dry season, Jun-Sep, guarantees sun and an easy drive across the flats, but it’s cold at night with temperatures falling below zero.

The weather in La Paz and Lake Titicaca is dry from late Apr-Oct with daytime temperatures in the high teens/low 20s° C in the sun. Dec-Jan (nominally summer) can be cloudy, and chilly at this altitude (3,500-3,800m).


Your stays in Sucre (2,800m), Potosi (4,090m), Uyuni (3,656m), La Paz (3,632m) and Lake Titicaca (3,812m) are at high altitude. Because the trip gains altitude slowly, most people are only mildly affected and if you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol for the first couple of days at altitude), you should be OK. Symptoms vary: most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. If you don’t recover in a day or two speak to our representatives; in very rare instances it is necessary to descend to lower altitudes.

Clothing And Special Equipment

If you travel in the Andean dry season, May to October, it will be warm in the sunshine but at altitude chilly in the shade, and at night so you’ll need layered clothing, including fleece, hat, scarf and gloves. From November to April you can expect some rain so you should add waterproofs. In both seasons sunblock, sunglasses and good walking shoes or boots are necessary. Bring a little light loose clothing for the warmer climate in the lowland east.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Travelling Alone

There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with another same-sex member of the group who is also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to have their own room there are a limited number of single rooms available, which carry a surcharge.

What's included in the price

  • Services of Journey Latin America tour leader
  • All land and domestic air transport
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified

Included Excursions

  • Santa Cruz: city tour
  • Ruta Ché: El Fuerte Inca Ruins
  • Ruta Ché: Ché Guevara sites
  • Potosi: city tour
  • Potosi: Royal Mint and mines
  • Sucre: city tour
  • Uyuni: 2 day exploration of salt flats
  • La Paz: city tour
  • Lake Titicaca: boat ride and Sun Island

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and insurance
  • Meals other than specified
  • Optional excursions

Real Latin America Experts

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

  • JimAshworth
    Jim Ashworth - Travel Consultant

    Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

Meet the team