1: Uyuni – Salar de Uyuni – Villa Candelaria (or San Pedro de Quemez for Hotel Tayka de Piedra).
In the morning we depart from the city of Uyuni towards the flat salt deserted areas of the Salar de Uyuni. Our first stop will be at the small community of Colchani which lies beside the Salar de Uyuni and it is home of the Cooperative Rosario – the main plant for the iodisation of salt. After visiting an artisanal salt factory, we continue our overland trip to enter the world famous, amazing Salar de Uyuni. Our drive will take us to the base of the hilly outcrop known as Incahuasi Island that is located in the center of the Salar, where we find rock formations that contains the remains of corals and seashells. On the island grows the trichocerus cacti, species of cactus that grows up to 7m tall, at a rate of 1 centimeter per year, making them up to 700 years old. Here we make a hike up to the summit of the hill from where we get an extraordinary view of the surreal Salar de Uyuni. At the base of the hill, we will have lunch in a local restaurant run by the locals.
Our next stop will be at the base of Isla Pescado (Fish Island), a hill where a large population of viscachas (Andean rodents) inhabits its rocky slopes which also afford views of the flat region that are reminiscent of the Polar region, dominated by the blue and white colours. Fish Island is an oasis with a unique and isolated ecosystem. Our drive then will cross the Salar heading south to the place known as Galaxy cave, a dried sub aqueous cavern, formed before the ice age , corresponding to volcanic eruptions on waters of the Minchin lake (today Salar). From the ceiling of the cavern, it displays calcareous bodies with capricious forms of solidification of the magma in contact with water. Here we also find the Devil's Cave, a site containing some mummified bodies. Finally, we make our last day cruise towards the small village known as Villa Candelaria, where we will overnight in a very simple small hotel (rooms for 2 with private facilities – hot water not always available). If you are taking the more comfortable option then we drive to San Pedro de Quemez to overnight in Hotel Tayka de Piedra. (L, D).
Day 2: San Pedro de Quemez – Laguna Colorada (or Tayka Hotel del Desierto)
This day we drive southwest towards the Eduardo Abaroa National Park. It has exceptional scenic beauty and it is one of the most important centers of tourist attraction in Bolivia. Its weather is very cold and extremely dry with an average altitude of 3,800m.
Our today's drive will take us first for a short visit to Pueblo Quemado, a historical remain from the old war conflicts between Bolivia and Chile. In 1879, the Chilean army invaded the territories of Bolivia now known as the Municipality of San Pedro de Quemez, and the old town was completely burned, so the survivors of this tragedy moved to another place. Continuing our drive, we will cross the Chiguana Salar, and soon we will arrive to a point from where we can observe the activity of the high Ollague Volcano (5,865m). This volcano, and for a long period, was one of the main sulfur mining resources of Bolivia. Later on we will pass the Lagoons known as Cañapa, Hedionda, Honda and Ramadita, all of them surrounded by an impressive landscape of volcanoes and multicolor hills. In all these lagoons, we find flamingos and other interesting Andean birds, and with some luck, perhaps we can observe the flight of the Condor, the king of the Andes. We continue crossing the Siloli Desert with its beautiful rock formations. Here we will find the well-known "Arbol de Piedra" and then finally we arrive to the shores of the Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon) where we will overnight in a small, very simple hotel, in twin bed rooms with private facilities – hot water is not always available (or accommodations in the more comfortable Tayka hotels). (B, LB, D).
Day 3: Laguna Colorada – Sol de Mañana – Laguna Verde – Hito Cajon
An early morning awake will prepare us for breakfast and for our first view of the beautiful Laguna Colorada, a lagoon lying at an altitude of 4350 metres, and which covers an area of 60 km2. The rich red colouration comes from algae, plankton, and the shoreline fringes with brilliant white deposits of sodium, magnesium, borax and gypsum. Numerous flamingos, three species of which breed there, inhabit the lagoon: The Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus Chilensis), the James flamingo (Phoenicopterus James) which is the smallest of the three species, and the Andean flamingo (Phoenicopterus Andinus), the largest of the three, and which has pink plumage, yellow legs and a yellow and black bill. To see these pink posers strutting through icy mineral lagoons at 5000m will make you abandon timeworn associations between flamingos, coconut palms and hot steamy tropics. From Laguna Colorada we go up to 5000 meters and then we continue south to the place known as "Sol de Mañana" (Morning Sun) where at about 4800 metres lays a geyser basin with bubbling mud pots, hellish fumaroles, and a thick aroma of sulphur fumes. This is a site of intense volcanic activity where inside the small craters we shall observe boiling lava, reminding us of the age in which the earth was formed. Then we descend to the Salar de Chalviri, which connects with the Thermals of Polques (hot springs). We cross along the Dali Valley, a desert covered by strange stone formations, surrounded by colourful volcanic area, and we continue on our way to the base of the high steep Licancahur Volcano where we find the Laguna Verde and further on the Laguna Blanca. From here, we make our last trip towards Hito Cajon, the bordering post between Bolivia and Chile. (B, LB).
Note: From Hito Cajon and under request (and at extra cost) we can arrange for you a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama with private or pool services.
Gross Price per Person in US$:
Included: Accommodations in simple small lodges (or Tayka Hotels) with twin bed rooms with private facilities (2 pax per room), private transport (4X4 vehicles), English/Spanish speaking guide, Noted meals (B= breakfast, L= lunch, D= dinner), all entrance fees.
Not included: extras, beverages, personal travel insurance.
Recommended months to travel: April until January.