Chile Bolivia: Tour in 4x4 11 days
Day 1: Arrival at Calama - Valley de la Luna - San Pedro de Atacama:
We pick you up at the airport or the bus station at Calama and drive you to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. You have time to refresh after your journey, relax, prepare for the next days or get to know the city. In the afternoon we pick you up at your hotel to visit the Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna). This landscape of the Atacama desert resembles the surface of the moon. We see dehydrated lakes with a sparkling surface due to the salt and rock cliffs shimmering in all kind of colors and bizarre salt formation like the "tres Marias". The highlight of the day is the sunset from the biggest dune in the valley. While you enjoy the majestic, impressive silence of the valley you can take wonderful photos of the scenery. Afterwards we go back to San Pedro and spend the night.
Day 2: San Pedro - Salar de Atacama - Tocanao - Lagoon Miscanti - Lagoon Minique
After the breakfast we start a day trip to the south. We come around volcanoes, hot thermal springs and geysers while transiting the Salar de Atacama (2.300m), the biggest salt flat of Chile, which is surrounded by mountains and oases. In this area the vegetation is scanty and the ground consists of a white-grayish salt layer adulterated with sand, which starts to crackle when the temperatures change. The Salar de Atacama is a perfect place to observe birds and admire salt crystals. Afterwards our journey takes us to small, historical villages like Tocanao, a village from the precolonial period with a interesting architecture, or Socaire, the last village before the border with Argentina, which has become famous due to its gold mines. The more we get to the south the more increases the variety and quantity of the flora and fauna, we find Tamarugo trees and flourishing cactus. We spend the rest of our day at the lagoon Miscanti and its smaller neighboring lagoon Minique. Both of the lagoons are supplied by subterranean rivers and are located at an altitude of 4.200m. The view from the lagoon Miscanti of the Atacama desert and two lakes with shimmering blue water and pearly-white shores is fantastic. Those lagoons are the home of flamingos and a rare, endangered species of ducks called Tagua Cornuda. In this region the vegetation is lush. After the lagoons we drive back to San Pedro, eat dinner and spend the night in our hotel.
Day 3: San Pedro - free day
Today is a free day to relax from the last days and brace yourselves energies for the following days. You can explore the city of San Pedro, go on horse riding, archaeological or trekking tours.
Day 4: San Pedro - Green Lagoon - Red Lagoon
Today we check out of our hotel and continue our journey to Bolivia. Shortly after the Bolivian Border we reach our first destination of the day: the green lagoon. The salt lake is situated at an altitude of 4.350m at the feet of the volcano Llicancabur. The water of the lagoon turned green due to enormous deposits of magnesium in the rocks. The next stop of our day is at the Sol de Mañana (morning sun), a geothermal area and volcanic zone at 4.850m with boiling mud pools, geysers and fumaroles. Afterwards we are going to relax in the hot thermal springs of Polques and enjoy the atmosphere of the beautiful surroundings. Our final destination of the day is the gorgeous Laguna Colorada (red lagoon) at 4.278m. This spectacularly reddish colored lagoon is located in the Andina Eduardo Avaroa National Park. It owns its striking color to sediments of zoo plankton and phytoplankton as well as its high mineral content. Besides its color the lagoon is famous for its variety and wealth of flamingos. We eat and sleep close to the lagoon in a simple lodge with private bathroom.
Day 5:Red Lagoon - San Juan
Today we cut across the Siloli desert, which is famous for its bizarre looking rock formations. Those were formed by wind erosion over many centuries. The most famous stone formation is the stone tree (Arbol de Piedra), which is impressive with its 7m height and thin stock. We explore the desert, observe Andean flamingos and visit more lagoons. Another highlight of the day is the Salvador-Dali-Desert. The landscapes here resemble paintings of the Spanish, surreal artist Salvador Dali. We arrive in San Juan in the afternoon and spend there the night in a simple accommodation with private bathroom.
Day 6: San Juan - Salar de Uyuni
After our breakfast we get ready to see one of the top highlights of Bolivia. The Salar de Uyuni is with 10.000km² the biggest salt flat in the world and is situated on an altitude of 3.653m. It emerged when more than 10.000 years ago the palaeo-lake Tauca dehydrated and left behind a white salt crust. This salt crust consists of diverse layers with a diameter of up to seven meters and can therefore easily be traveled on with Jeeps and buses. The salt is pure and holds potash, sulfate and sodium chloride. The Salar de Uyuni is the biggest lithium occurrence worldwide. During our visit we will learn a lot about salt mining and processing and look around houses completely made out of salt, including salt furniture. At night and at especially bright days the salt surface seems to be an infinitely large, frozen lake. You will have enough time to discover the salar, take pictures and explore the Ojos de Salar (eyes of the salar), two lagoon with sparkling gases from the deep. Furthermore, we will inspect the island Incahuasi with its meters high cacti and stones and rocks made out of salt. From the highest point of the island we can enjoy the spectacular view of the whole Salar de Uyuni.
Day 7: Uyuni - Coguesa
We spend another day in the fascinating Salar de Uyuni. Thereafter we drive to the village of Coquesa and spend there the night.
Day 8: Coguesa - Salar de Coipasa - Pisiga
After breakfast we continue our journey and drive to the second biggest salt lake in Bolivia, the Salar de Coipasa (3.718m). During the rainy season the salt lake is filled with water but during the dry season it is dried out and consists of salt crusts. We have the opportunity to learn how salt is processed in the salines in hard handicraft and is dried afterward. Due to various volcanos and mountains around the lake and the thereupon growing cacti, the lake is beautiful and idyllic. In the middle of the lake is the village Coipasa. Due to its beauty the Salar de Coipasa is called "El Espejo del Cielo" (mirror of heaven). In the afternoon we drive to the village Pisiga close to the border of Chile and Bolivia and spend there the evening and night.
Day 9: Pisiga - Salar du Surire - Putre
We drive back to Chile to explore the Lauca National Park close to Putre the following day. Today we spend most of the time in the car and only do a small side trip to the Salar de Surire. Another time we have the opportunity to admire the beauty of the mineral nature. This salt lake is also surrounded by lagoons, which are a paradise for flamingos, vicunas and lamas. We can relax another time in the hot springs of Polloquere and revive from the long journey until we drive to Putre. After our arrival in Putre you can go on a walk through the charming city of the 16th century or spend the evening in your hotel.
Day 10: Putre – Lauca Nationalpark
Today we are going on a a trekking tour to get to know the Lauca National Park. During this trip we have the chance to see various animals like alpacas, vicunjas, guanacos, pumas, vizachas and Andean condors. Furthermore, the national park is famous for its variety and wealth of birds. The impressive glacier volcanoes Parinacoto (6.330m), Pomerape (6220m) and Sajama (6540m) as well as the Chungara Lake (4500m) and the Cotacotani Lagoon (4.300m) transform the national park into a wonderland and make sure that we always have something to admire during our tour. During our visit of the Aymara village Parinacota we learn a lot about the life and culture of the indigen population and visit a beautiful church from the 17th century. In the evening we go back to our hotel, eat and revive from the trekking.
Day 11: Putre - Arica – Santiago – Flight Home
In the morning we drive from Putre to Arica, which is close to the Peruvian border, to take a flight in the afternoon to Santiago de Chile. We say goodbye at the international airport and hope that you have a pleasant flight home and had an unforgettable journey with many great memories and photographs.
-all activities mentioned in the program
-all transports in 4x4 with private driver
-all hotels with breakfast
-all entrances to National Parks, museums etc. mentioned in the program
-3 times lunch and dinner (days 4, 5 and 7)
-drinks and meals not mentioned
-snack, mineral water, alcoholic drinks, entrance to clubs
Information on food and drink:
In the major cities there is a wide range of Peruvian and international cuisine available. A meal with something to drink costs between $2-7 USD. Mineral water or soda costs $0.30-0.50 USD for a half-liter bottle. A large bottle of beer costs $1-2 USD.
What to bring:
Walking shoes with a strong sole (e.g. Vibram), flashlight or head lamp, hat or cap, swimming costume, day pack appropriate for walking, plenty of sun cream, layers of light and warm clothing for a range of climatic conditions including a wind and water resistant jacket, camera with lithium batteries, ear plugs (optional), sleeping bag (optional).