Chile Bolivia Peru: 20 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 of San Pedro and take you to your hotel. After you have relaxed a little from your journey and prepared for the next days we are going to pick you up at your hotel to visit the Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna) in the Atacama desert, which owes its name to its resemblence to the surface of the moon. Here we are going to see dehydrated lakes with sparkling surfaces due to the salt and rock cliffs that shimmer in all kind of colors. We will also admire bizarre salt and rock formations like the "tres Marias". The highlight of our day is the sunset from the biggest dune in the valley. While you enjoy the majestic, impressive silence of the valley you have the opportunity to 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 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), which is the biggest salt flat of Chile and is surrounded by mountains and oases. In this area the vegetation is scanty and the ground consists of a white-grayish salt layer, that is adulterated with sand. It 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, and Socaire, the last village before the border with Argentina, which is famous due to its gold mines. The more we get south the more increases the variety and quantity of the flora and fauna, we find flourishing cactus and Tamarugo trees. The rest of our day we are going to spend at the lagoon Miscanti and its smaller neighboring lagoon Minique. Both of the lagoons get 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 breathtaking. Those lagoons are the home of flamingos and Tagua Cornuda, a rare, endangered species of ducks. In this region the vegetation is lush. After the lagoons we drive back to San Pedro, eat dinner and spend the night at our hotel.
Day 3: San Pedro - free day
Today is a free day to recover from the last days and brace yourselves energies for the following days. You can explore the city of San Pedro, go on a horse riding, archaeological or trekking tours.
Day 4: San Pedro - Green Lagoon - Red Lagoon
Today we check out of our hotel to 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 is green due to enormous deposits of magnesium in the rocks. The next stop of our day is 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 while enjoying 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 Nationalpark. It owes its striking color to sediments of zoo plankton and phytoplankton as well as a 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 lodge.
Day 5: Laguna Colorada - San Juan
Today we cut across the Siloli desert and look at its famous 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 a height of 7m and a thin stock. We explore the desert, observe Andean flamingos and visit more lagoons. Another highlight of the day is the Salvador-Dali-Desert. Its landscapes resemble paintings of the Spanish, surreal artist Salvador Dali. We arrive in San Juan in the afternoon and spend there the night.
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 situated on an altitude of 3.653m and is with 10.000km² the biggest salt flat in the world. It emerged when more than 10.000 years ago the palaeo-lake Tauca dehydrated and left behind a white salt crust. Today this salt crust consists of diverse layers with a diameter of up to 7m. It can easily be traveled on with 4x4s and buses. The salt is pure and holds potash, sulfate and sodium chloride. Furthermore the Salar de Uyuni is the biggest lithium occurrence worldwide. During our visit we look around houses completely made out of salt, including salt furniture. At night and on especially bright days the salt surface seems to be a 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 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 the nght.
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 dry season it is dried out and consists of salt crusts but during the rainy season the salt lake is filled with water. We have the opportunity to learn how salt is processed in hard handicraft in the salines. Due to various volcanos and mountains around the lake and the thereupon growing cacti, the lake is beautiful and idyllic. In the middle of 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 take a small side trip to the Salar de Surire. One more 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 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 National Park
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, Andean condors and many other birds in their natural habitat. 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. 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
After our breakfast we start our journey to Arica, the city of the everlasting spring. We arrive around 11:00 am. The rest of the day is free. You can relax at the beaches, discover the city centre or drive to the Tulares Statues, which are located 25km from Arica in the desert. Those statues were created by Juan Diaz Fleming and symbolize the relationship between the sun and the moon. We spend the last night in Chile before we cross the Peruvian border in the next morning.
Day 12: Arica - Ilo - Arequipa
Today we drive northbound along the pacific coast to arrive in the early evening in Arequipa, the second biggest city in Peru. Around noon we take a break in the harbour city Ilo. Here we are going to eat lunch, wander through the streets and relax at the beach for a short time. When we arrive in Arequipa, we eat dinner and enjoy the free evening.
Day 13: Arequipa - City Tour
After the breakfast in our hotel we start our sightseeing tour of the white city of Peru. Since 2000 the city at an altitude of 2.325m is UNESCO world heritage. The conical volcano Misti (5822m) dominates the cityscape and is therefore the landmark of Arequipa. Additionally the city is surrounded by two more volcanos, Chachani (6.075m) and Pichu Pichu (5665m). Besides the magnificant landscape the 1540 founded city offers impressive and gorgeous buildings from its colonial period. Many buildings in the city centre are made of ashlar blocks, a bright porous stone with volcanic origin. Besides the city centre we are going to visit the beautiful, historic district Yanahuara and San Camilo, the most famous market in the city. We start our sightseeing tour at Plaza de Armas, the centre of Arequipa and one of the nicest plazas in Peru. The cathedral with generous decoration in gold and silver, and the monastery Santa Catalina are perfect examples for the Peruvian architecture during the 19th century. The church La Compañía is an old jesuit temple and is due to its history and tradition one of the most important buildings in Arequipa.
During the visit of Santa Catalina one notices with a close look the end of the european influence. The angels have indian faces and one is wearing a crown made out of feathers. Santa Catalina seems to be a "little town" from the 17th century. Since the monestary has opened its doors for the public in 1970, it gives tourists the chance to immerse back in the life of four centuries ago. We see various gardens and terraces, the kitchen and rooms of the slaves. Earlier there lived 500 nuns in the monestary, today there are only 20 nuns left in a small district of the monestary. Furthermore we are exploring the Case Tristán del Pozo, the Plaza de San Fransisco and the archelogical museum.
Day 14: Arequipa - Colca Canyon - Chivay
We say goodbye to Arequipa and continue our journey with a four hour bus trip to the Colca Valley to see one of the biggest gorges worldwide, the Colca Cayon (3400m). On our way we can observe Vikunjas and Alpacas in the Pampa Cañahuas and the nature reserve Aguada Blanca. The hightest point on our way is the Mirador los Volcanos (4900m). Moreover we pass precolumbian terraces, which are used until today for the agriculture of the region. The Colca Valley is a good region to practice adventure sports. We spend the night in Chivay.
Day 15: Chivay - Cruz del Condor - Cabanaconde - Puno
Early in the morning we start our journey to the Cruz del Condor, the perfect viewing platform to observe the majestic flight of the condors. The condor is, with its wingspan up to 3.20m, one of the biggest birds in the world and is regarded as one of the sacred animals in Peru. On the way back we visit Cabanaconde and other small, historic villages. We have the opportunity to get to know the lives of the village population, which has only changed a little since the Inca era. We eat lunch at a local restaurant and take the bus to Puno. On the way we take a break at the bosque de piedras, the stone forest of the Imata, where we see flamingos and other birds of the region.
Day 16: Puno - Lake Titicaca (Uros - Taquile) - Puno
Today we view the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca. We start our boat tour in the morning to get to know the impressive landscape of the lake and its islands. Our first stop is Uros, the floating islands which are completely made out of reed and float on the lake. Here we learn a lot about the building of the islands, the culture of the Aymara and their daily life, which they spend singing and handicrafting. Thereafter, we visit the island Taquile. We eat a typical lunch, gain insight of the life of the inhabitants and enjoy the silence and landscape of the island during a walk around the island. After Taquile we return to Puno and spend there the night.
Day 17: Puno - Cusco
After our breakfast we take a touristic Bus to Cusco. On the way we are going to stop at several stations. First we visit the archaeological complex of Pucara (3.900m). At the border "La Raya" between the regions Puno and Cusco (5.000m) we are going to enjoy the wonderful panorama of the grasslands of the Andean highlands and a snow covered volcano. Our next stop is Raqchi, a archaeological site with old Inca walls and a huge temple. Our last stop on the way to Puno is Andahaylillas, where we are going to visit the colonial church with lavish decorations, which is known as the Sistine Chapel of South America. In the evening we arrive in Cusco and check in our hotel.
Day 18: Cusco - Sacred Valley - Aguas Calientes
Today we spend the day at the sacred valley with its typical terraces of the Incas and visit the historic villages Pisac, Calca, Yucay and Urubamba. After we ate lunch we go to Ollantaytambo, the ample administration, agriculture and religion centre in the Inca period. You will see impressive stone walls temples and palaces. From Ollantaytambo we take the bus to Aguas Calientes, the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu and spend there the night. We advise you to go to bed early to be fit early in the next morning for Machu Picchu.
Day 19: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco
Our day starts really early at 5:00 with a bus drive up to Machu Picchu, one of the seven new wonders of the world. In the next three hours we inspect the ruins of the "lost Incatown" with the help of a guide. We learn which incredible degree of technical knowledge and precision were required to build the complex out of the massive stones. Additionally we will be astonished by the knowledge and the skills of the Incas, when we hear about their water channels, sun calender and agriculture methods. We are going the visit the sun temple "Tumba Real", the house of the priest, the Inca baths and the "Templo de las tres Ventanas". After our guided tour you have the opportunity to discover the ruins by yourself or go on a walk around the ruins. In the afternoon we drive back to Cusco.
Day 20: Cusco - Lima - Flight back
We are at the end of our voyage. We bring you to the airport at Cusco and say goodbye. We wish you are going to have pleasant flights from Cusco to Lima and from Lima to your home country. We hope you return home with many unforgettable memories and beautiful pictures.
Optional you can enlarge your journey for 1-2 days to visit Cusco or Lima.
Included in the tour price:
-All land transport between destinations and hotel transfers
-All tour programmes named in the itinerary.Local guides in each location
-An experienced, English-speaking tour guide
-All entrance fees to national parks, museums, and the Machu Picchu sanctuary
-3-star hotels with breakfast
Not included in the tour price:
-Ticket for Colca Canyon
-Food and drink for lunch and dinner except where indicated
-Snacks, mineral water, alcoholic drinks, entry to discotheques
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 (eg 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).
For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions.