Overland trip through the Altiplano Chile and Bolivia, natural history, archaeology and hiking
This overland tour through Chile's northern desert and the Altiplano region to Bolivia is a genuine adventure in one of the world's great wonders. Unique varieties of fauna, small towns dating back to colonial times and ancient mysterious ruins uncovered by archeologists - all reveal the presence of an ancient world. Traveling from salt lakes to hot springs, volcanoes to oases, we will experience an environment that often does not see any rain for an entire year. Snow capped volcanoes merge with pastel colored expanses that are interrupted only by the outlines of the hills that fade into emptiness. The solitude of the altiplano becomes infinitely powerful in the areas around San Pedro de Atacama, the bizarre rock formations of the Valley of the Moon, or the huge Salt Lake of the Atacama, with its slender, stylized, rose colored flamingoes silhouetted against the clear blue sky.
Archaeology, pre-Columbian villages, abandoned towns, geyser fields, Uyuni Salt Lake and La Paz amazing scenery - all converge to give a truly unique experience.
The program in itself does not include any particular sport nor does it require any special physical aptitude. It is however demanding and sometimes tiresome because of the local topography. We will travel at high altitude (3800m-4500m) and with no major comfort (shelters, sleeping bag, etc).
Flexibility, tolerance and optimism are key factors to undertake this journey.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
DAY 1 CALAMA - THE MOON VALLEY - SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
Reception at the airport of Calama and drive to the village of San Pedro de Atacama. Along the way, we will cross the "Cordillera de la Sal". Years ago, the area was a lake bottom. When the South American and Nazca plates collided, pushing up the Andes, the lake bottom too was thrust higher. Continual folding of the earth's crust, combined with wind and rain, turned the horizontal lake bottom into a series of strange vertical shapes. These strange shapes, sculpted by the elements, have come to be known as The Valley of the Moon. We will visit the area at sunset. Arriving in San Pedro, we will head to our lodging. (L)
DAY 2 SAN PEDRO - ATACAMA SALT LAKE - MISCANTI & MEÑIQUES LAGOONS
Our morning drive will take us to the oasis town of Toconao, where fields are cultivated in the small, irregular patches typical of traditional pre-Hispanic settlements and the fertile valley of Jería Canyon. From Toconao, we continue towards Atacama Salt Flat, boasting the world's largest reserve of lithium. From our vantage point, fantastic Chaxa Lake appears, its shores thickly encrusted with salt. Lake Chaxa is a flamingo breeding ground. Our route takes us past Socaire, a succession of terraced fields on a high slope with picturesque stone houses. Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, we enter the High-Plateau proper. Here, at almost 14.000', volcanoes look like small ice cream cones, topped with white marshmallow sauce, spaced out along the horizon. Suddenly, just over a pass, the emerald green waters of Miscanti and Meñiques Lagoons will appear. In November, the lake shores are alive with huge flamingo colonies. Drive back to San Pedro. Overnight. (B,L)
DAY 3 SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA - PURITAMA HOT SPRING
In the morning walk in the salty mountain range. Later we will explore the village of San Pedro de Atacama and the surrounding area. The history of the town goes back almost 11.000 years to the arrival of the Atacameños, and has seen successive intruders including Tihuanacan conquerors from the Titicaca area to the north; the Incas, who arrived around 1450; and the Spanish, who arrived in 1536. On our walk through town we will visit the Church of San Pedro, whose origins date from 1641; the Inca House, oldest in town, and the Archeological Museum, founded by the Belgian Jesuit priest, Gustavo Le Paige. Near the village and carved into the side of a cliff is Pukara (fortresses) Quitor, dating from the 12th century. If faded in importance with the arrival of the Incas and was destroyed in 1540 by the Spanish. In the afternoon, we drive northeast of San Pedro de Atacama towards Puritama hot spring located in the bottom of the canyon of the Rio Puritama, for some relaxation in the bathing pools. The hot spring emerges from the base of the andesite lava flow, forming a series of pools that decrease in temperature as distance increases from the lava flow. Return to San Pedro for the night. (B,L)
DAY 4 SAN PEDRO - TATIO GEYSERS - CALAMA - SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
Leaving very early in the morning, we will drive to one of Chile's most interesting geothermal phenomena, the Tatio Geysers at 14.107', is the highest geyser field in the world. To view the steaming fumeroles against the extraordinary sunrise of the Atacama Desert, with its crystalline clear sky, is an unforgettable, incredibly beautiful sight. From the geysers, we will tour some of the desert villages - Caspana, fertile valley in the middle of the barren desert with an old and new town, a museum, and craft center; Lasana, a pukara or fortresses village dating from 12th century that is the best preserved Atacameño cultural relic, Chiu-Chiu, with its exquisite church and the highest concentration of natives in the area; and Calama (2250m). Return to San Pedro for the night. (B,L)
Day 5 SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA - LAGUNA VERDE - LAGUNA COLORADA
Today we begin the trip through the high plateaus. We leave Chile behind and enter Bolivia, skirting Licancabur Volcano. We visit Laguna Verde and Laguna Blanca. We then continue our trip to Laguna Colorada and drive through a breathtaking scenery made of bizarre geological formations, hot springs, and geysers. Overnight at Laguna Colorada shelter, amidst flamingos and colored mountains. Refuge (B,L,D)
DAY 6 LAGUNA COLORADA - SAN CRISTOBAL
We continue our trip through dramatic landscapes until we reach the small village of San Cristobal. Refuge. (B,L,D)
DAY 7 SAN CRISTOBAL - UYUNI SALT LAKE - UYUNI
We drive across the vast Uyuni Salt Lake and visit Incahuasi Island. No words can describe this unique experience. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L)
DAY 8 UYUNI - POTOSI
Long traverse to the legendary city of Potosí. Accommodations at the Hotel. (B,L)
DAY 9 POTOSI
Today we visit the city and its main attractions: Casa de la Moneda museum with its important collection of colonial and pre-Columbian art, and the Cerro Rico silver mine. Overnight at the Hotel. (B,L)
DAY 10 POTOSI - ORURO
Long drive through the Bolivian high plateau. Overnight at the Hotel. (B,L)
DAY 11 ORURO - LA PAZ
Transfer to La Paz. Afternoon at leisure to explore this colonial Andean city, markets and its colorful streets. Overnight at the Hotel. (B,L)
DAY 12 LA PAZ - TIWANAKU - COPACABANA
Visit of the Tiwanaku ruins on the way to Copacabana town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Overnight at the Hotel. (B,L)
DAY 13 COPACABANA - ISLA DEL SOL - LA PAZ*
Today we visit the Isla del Sol, a lovely island on Lake Titicaca. We discover its archeological sites while enjoying an amazing view on the Cordillera Real. Transfer back to La Paz. Overnight at the Hotel. (B,L)
DAY 14 LA PAZ - LAKE CHUNGARA - PUTRE
We drive back into Chile. We will visit the Chungará lake, the highest one in the world at 14.815'. We cross the Lauca National Park (declared as a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO) and visit Parinacota village before being transported to Putre village. Overnight at the Hotel. (B,L)
DAY 15 PUTRE - SURIRE SALT LAKE - ARICA
Full day excursion to Surire Salt Lake. "Surire" means ostrich in the local Aymara language. Actually, it is possible to see ñandus (Andes ostrich), and other animals like lamas, vicuñas, pink flamingoes. We have an unforgettable bath in the Surire hot springs, surrounded by a fantastic Andean landscape. Drive to Arica, the northern gateway to Chile. On the way, we visit Lluta valley and its cactus. Arrival to the hotel. (B,L)
DAY 16 ARICA
In the morning city tour visiting archaeological sites, geoglyphs, the Sacred Mountain, and the San Miguel Museum that houses the world's oldest mummies from the Chinchorro culture and visit of the fertile Azapa Valley where we see geoglyphs. Transfer to Arica airport. (B)
 
Note: This program ends on day 16 at approx. 2 p.m. Please make sure to book an afternoon flight back to Santiago. If required, the program can be ended a little earlier.
 
2006-2007 COST PER PERSON
MIN 2 PEOPLE
US$ 3.750
MIN 3-5 PEOPLE
US$ 2.850
6 UP
US$ 2.570
Single supplement US$ 380
Note: This program is also available as private trip from min. 2 people for unscheduled departures at request.
April 2 & 16
May 1 & 21
June 4 & 18
July 8 & 29
August 19
September 9 & 30
October 21
November 11
December 2 & 23
January 13
February 3 & 24
March 17
April 7 & 28
May 19
June 9


INCLUDED :

  • All transportation during the whole itinerary
  • All accommodations quoted per person based on sharing a double room
  • Meals according to the itinerary: breakfast and lunches
  • Park entrance fees
  • English speaking guide.

NOT INCLUDED :

  • Any kind of insurance
  • Tips and extra expenses as laundry, meals and drinks out of program and other items not mentioned
  • Other languages like German, French or Italian speaking guides
  • Air local flights.
Overland trip, easy. Hikes are optional. Members are expected to be in good physical condition.
 
* It is possible to adapt the program as follows:
Clients may choose to end the program on day 13 in La Paz.
Price: 85% of the total price + eventual transfers and additional services.

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ALTUE ACTIVE TRAVEL
Coyancura 2270, oficina 801, Providencia, Santiago, CHILE
Telefóno: (56 2) 333 1390 - Fax (56 2) 234 9783
Email: info@altue.com