Days 1-2 - Travel to Santiago
Depart Friday on an overnight flight to Santiago de Chile. Arrive and transfer to our hotel. In the afternoon we visit this beautiful city, situated in a wide plain with the snow-capped Andes stretching alongside. It has extensive parks and gardens, a bustling centre with treelined avenues and the Cerro San Cristóbal, a hilltop reached by funicular railway, which affords superb views of the city and surrounding landscape.
Day 3-4 - Moon Valley & Pucara de Quitor sunset
Our day begins with a morning flight to Calama, and a drive past the snow-capped Andes to San Pedro de Atacama. We visit the Valley of the Moon, an incredible landscape of colourful sculpted rock formations. We continue to Pucara de Quitor as the sun settles into the Pacific Ocean, lighting up the Andes mountains stretching north and south, over the desert, as far as the eye can see. Very early morning departure to visit the Tatio Geysers and in the afternoon walk to the Museum with artefacts from hundreds of years of Atacameño culture. Overnight in San Pedro.
Day 5 - Laguna Colorada and Desert of Siloli
A very early morning start, crossing the Bolivian border and commencing our journey by stepping back in time, through this majestic scenery of iridescent coloured rocks, desert, lagoons with flocks of flamingos and stunning quality of light for photography. Visit Laguna Verde, Laguna Blanca, Volcan Llicancabur, the desert of Salvador Dalí, the geyser field of Sol de Mañana and Laguna Colorada. Arrive at the desert of Siloli and overnight at Hotel del Desierto (private facilities, no heating). The scenery is stunning, the altitude tiring, the nights freezing and the mountain track bumpy, in a five day (Days 5-8) expedition suitable for hardy, well-prepared explorers.
Day 6 - San Pedro de Quemez
Continue through this incredible scenery to the Arbol de Piedra, Laguna Honda, Laguna Hedionda and Laguna Canapa. Overnight in San Pedro de Quemez at the Hotel de Piedra (private facilities, no heating).
Day 7 - Uyuni Salt Flat
Today we visit the immense and stunning Uyuni Salt Flat; a seemingly endless, flat, expanse of white salt, a desolate and overwhelming sight. In the middle is Isla Pescado, an island mountain of rock formation covered in tall cacti and providing all round panoramic views of the vast salt flats. Continue to the villages of Colchani and Uyuni to overnight in a hotel with heating and private facilities.
Day 8 - Potosí
We continue deeper into Bolivia passing Uyuni and continuing to Potosí. Towering over the city, the Cerro Rico is an imposing, colourful mountain whose stores of precious metals, although seriously depleted, are still being mined. Taking gifts of coca leaves, cigarettes and dynamite for the men and mine workers, we are guided to the entrance of this maze of tunnels.
Day 9 - Casa de la Moneda
Visit the Casa de la Moneda, the old mint, which presents a historical overview of Potosí. Continue to Sucre, the official capital, staying for 3 nights. An attractive, temperate city, where buildings retain their colonial charm, preserving the traditional white façades.
Day 10-11 - Tarabuco Market
Full day excursion to Tarabuco's all-encompassing market, a colourful affair, where locals, some dressed in their typical weavings, sit behind pyramids of coca leaves, fruits and vegetables, whilst others sell all manner of domestic utensils and their traditional woven fabrics. Full day tour of Sucre, and its museums and churches.
Days 12-13 - La Paz city
Our day begins with a flight to La Paz. Spend the afternoon visiting this bustling city, settled in a large basin and spilling out onto the altiplano. The wonderful maze of streets leads us to the witches' market, where local ladies sell potions to cure all ills, past colourful handicraft markets and on to the colonial quarter where we enter the Tiahuanaco Museum, containing some fine examples of the art and crafts of this ancient culture. The following day we tour the Moon Valley, an area of sandstone, sculpted by rain and wind to resemble a lunar landscape.
Day 14 - La Paz
From La Paz, we journey to Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake and take a boat across the Strait of Tiquina. We travel along the shore with the immense lake forming a magnificent backdrop to the Andean landscape with its isolated farms and villages, and glimpsing people working the ancient terraces, arriving at Copacabana and continuing by boat to Sun Island. We walk up to our hotel, a beautifully serene spot on a hill overlooking the lake.
Day 15 - Sun Island, Lake Titicaca
Morning to walk to explore the Inca terracing, villages and lake shore of Sun Island. Afternoon return to Copacabana, visiting the Cathedral, home of the Virgin of Candelaria, patron saint of Bolivia. Continue to Puno for 1 night on the Peruvian side of Lake Titikaka.
Day 16 - Andean altiplano
Early start for a classic railway journey part of the Orient Express group. We have seats at a table by the window as the train travels across the Andean altiplano, of towering mountains, small farms and village.
Day 17 - Sacred Valley of the Incas
A full day excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We wind our way through the valley, stopping at vantage points which afford us stunning views of villages below and ancient Inca terracing, still worked today. Our trip takes us to the formidable Ollantaytambo, complete with its intricate irrigation system and Inca baths; we continue to the ruins of Pisac, high above the valley and with fine examples of Inca stone-masonry.
Day 18 - Cusco
Tour with one of our expert local guides around historic Cusco, capital of the Inca empire. Many of the colonial buildings rest on solid Inca foundations, which have proven to be impervious to the earthquakes that have befallen this city. Outside the city we visit a variety of ruins, including the imposing fortress-like Sacsayhuamán, whose huge stones are locked together with Inca precision.
Day 19 - Machu Picchu
An early morning start for Machu Picchu. The train labours up the hills out of Cusco and then gathers speed as we rattle down the valleys following the course of the Urubamba River. A memorable trip, with beautiful views, culminating in the great Lost Ci...
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