Ultimate Stargazing Adventure

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Run by: Rainbow Tours

Reference number: ITN-CHL008

From: £5230.00

Our Chile and Bolivia Adventure takes you to some of South America's most breathtaking and mesmerizing desert scenery. From modern, bustling Santiago you fly north to the Atacama Desert where you enter a completely different world. One of the driest places on earth, the Atacama feels magical with its towering volcanoes, serene lagoons and inky black night skies that are incredibly clear and perfect for stargazing.

From the Atacama Desert you continue across the Altiplano into Bolivia and the remote Sud Lipez. Distances here are vast and the landscape stunningly beautiful. Experience the different coloured lagoons as you wait in anticipation for your first view of the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat on earth. Isla Pescado (Fish Island) is an oasis within the vastness of white and the cacti provide a spectacular photographic backdrop.

You also spend two nights at Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, where the waters shimmer under the clear blue skies and the snowcapped Andean backdrop completes the ‘picture postcard' scene. ¬†Finally, no Bolivia holiday would be complete without experiencing the capital city, La Paz, and its remarkable ‘bowl' setting, overlooked by the majestic Mount Illimani.

Itinerary

Day 1 Depart the UK for your overnight flight to Santiago via Madrid.

Day 2 Transfer to downtown and the bohemian area of Lastarria. The Singular Santiago is a one of the newest hotels in the city in a great location with a host of bars and restaurants nearby. Bellas Artes metro station is a short walk from the hotel, providing easy access to the different neighbourhoods and attractions of the city.

Day 3 Free day to explore the city. Visit the Bohemian area of Bellavista where you will find many traditional restaurants along with quirky shops and cafes. From here you can easily access Parque Metropolitano, the largest and most interesting of the cities parks. On the summit stands a colossal statue of the Virgin. From the city you can also visit some of the nearby wineries such as Concha y Toro or take a day trip to the coastal city of Valparaiso.

Day 4 Transfer to the airport for the flight north to Calama, gateway to the pretty adobe town of San Pedro de Atacama. Long before the Spanish arrived, the area was the heart of the Atacameno culture and the town oozes history along the shady streets and crumbling walls. In the town the Iglesia de San Pedro, from the 17th century, is supposedly the second oldest in the country and has been heavily but sympathetically restored. Your base for the next three nights is the Alto Atacama, which offers luxurious experiences in a unique location just outside the town.

Day 5 Two full days to explore the beautiful and barren Chilean altiplano. The hotel offers a full program of excursions which are included with your stay. The most popular options are, Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) featuring fantastic landscapes caused by the erosion of the salt mountains, Salar de Atacama, a vast salt lake home to three of the world's five species of flamingo (Andean, Chilean and James) and the El Tatio geysers, located at 4321 metres altitude and most spectacular in the early morning.

Day 6

Day 7 Cross the border into Southern Bolivia and Laguna Verde. As the name suggests this green lagoon dazzles in the bright sunlight and from here you can enjoy spectacular views of Licancabur Volcano, at 5865m. Visit the 'Sol de Manana' geysers, part of a geothermal field covering around a square kilometre. Continue to Laguna Colorado which is characterized by the red tone of its waters and is inhabited by flocks of flamingoes. You can also see vicunas, llamas and vizcachas. Travel through the Siloli desert, where you will see the famous Stone Tree, the inspiration for one of Dali's iconic paintings.

Day 8 Continue north through the barren landscape visiting some of the smaller lagoons en-route. This lesser visited eastern area of the Sud Lipez is relatively new to the touring circuit in the region but the vistas are just as beautiful and the lagoons just as colourful with their minerals. Spend the next 2 nights at the Luna Salada. Constructed entirely of rock salt this is one of the most unique hotels in the world. Located on the edge of the Salar de Uyuni, experience fantastic sunrises and sunsets from the warmth of your hotel.

Day 9 Spend the day exploring the vast Salar de Uyuni, the largest in the world at 12,000 sqkm. The Bolivian Andes are spectacular and unique - the sound of silence, surreal pentagons of salt, cloudless blue skies make you feel like you in another world. At the centre of the salt lake is Isla Pescado (Inka Wasi), shaped like a fish and dotted with cacti makes for great photography, as does the endless horizon. On the northern edge of the salar visit the majestic Tunupa Volcano.

Day 10 Early morning flight from Uyuni to La Paz. Descend from El Alto satellite city into the spectacular bowl of La Paz overlooked by the impressive Mt Illimani. La Casona is centrally located in the heart of the historic centre. The original colonial building features the same styling as the nearby San Francisco Convent. In the afternoon you will have the chance to explore the beautiful and mystical city. Admire the government buildings flanking Plaza Murillo, wander the quirky, colourful Calle Jean and be amazed by the surreal Valley of the Moon. There is an interesting story around every corner.

Day 11 Transfer by land to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. After a short city tour taking in the Moorish-style cathedral which dominates the town. Inside you find the black Virgen de Candelaria, carved by Inca Tupac Yupanqui's grandson, Francisco Yupanqui, is encased and situated above the alter. The statue is never moved from the cathedral. Embark the hydrofoil which will take you to Moon Island to visit the Sun Virgins Temple before continuing to Sun Island. The Posada del Inca Eco Lodge is situated at the top of the island with the walk taking around 45 minutes.

Day 12 After a relaxing morning visit the Sacred Fountain, where the water is believed to grant eternal youth and happiness. After lunch at Uma Kollu and a visit to the small handicraft market embark the hydrofoil returning to Huatajata on the mainland. Visit the Andean Roots Eco Village where you will learn about the culture and history of the local people. There is also the opportunity to have your coca leaves read by Tata Benjo who believes that to heal the body you first need to heal the soul. In the evening you have the opportunity to visit the Observatory for star gazing. At such high altitude, with clear skies, this is the ideal location.

Day 13 After breakfast, transfer by land to La Paz. Rest of the day is at leisure to explore the city. The more affluent 'Zona Sur' (south zone) of the city is very modern with a host of restaurants including the new Gustu. Serving only Bolivian cuisine paired with Bolivian wine this is the perfect gastronomic treat and end to your Altiplano adventure.

Day 14 Transfer to the airport for your return flight to London via Lima and Madrid. Alternatively we can extend your trip into Peru.

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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