• Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Trip Includes
  • Trip Excludes
  • Booking
  • FAQ


The prime season to travel on the Altiplano is from March to December (end of the wet season and into the dry season) when the dirt roads are in good shape for travel after the rainy season (late December- mid-March). The months between May and August are cold as it is winter (with very rare snow) but offer the best climatic and travel conditions.

The Altiplano is a high, cold and dry region most of the year so prepare for cold temperatures at night and warm to comfortable to chilly temperatures during the day.  When the sun is out, it will be pretty warm.  A hat, quality sunglasses and sunscreen lotion are mandatory at this altitude.

The landscapes are so spectacular you will focus on making amazing photos of an awe-inspiring landscape that promises to deliver beautiful light, convoluted and rugged landforms, glacier-covered volcanoes and shimmering multi-colored lagoons full of pink flamingos.

The Altiplano is an amazing landscape and offers surprises to new and frequent visitors alike.

We have often experienced the most amazing sunsets on the Salar de Uyuni and Laguna Colorada!


There are very few places on this planet that have such outstanding natural marvels as Bolivia’s Altiplano. Although technically the Altiplano is in Peru, Chile, and Argentina....80% of the Altiplano is within the Bolivian territory, surrounded by a series of inter-connected minor ranges of the Andes Mountains, the spine of South America.

This adventure takes us to see some of the most iconic natural wonders of this undulating high-altitude plateau (often compared to the Tibetan Plateau) from the northern edge where La Paz sits and the Cordillera Real dominates the horizon. The Altiplano marches south, surprising every traveler with one well-kept secret after another.

Deep in the southwestern corner where the Red and Green Lagoons are surrounded by 20,000 ft / 6,000 m volcanoes, it plows headlong towards the southeastern Lipez Range, where ancient civilizations lived and hid from the frozen winds at 14,000 ft.

We begin with acclimatization time in La Paz (downtown lies at 12,000 ft) and continue onto Lake Titicaca, the jewel of the Andes, shared by Peru and Bolivia at 12,500 ft. The Island of the Sun, surrounded by the shimmering cold waters of the Andes is the birthplace of the Inca empire. The stunning views of the Cordillera Real and Apolobamba ranges border the lake on the east, creating a visual show of rugged power and subtle tranquility. We head south toward the world’s largest salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni, the lowest point on the Altiplano, which is the same heigh as downtown La Paz!

During the rainy season, this white desert floods, creating a celestial mirror that covers over 3,900 sq. mi. / 10,000 sq. kms. from edge to edge. There is no other place like it on the planet. Some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, the area was part of a giant prehistoric lake, Lake Minchin which some 20,000 years later transformed into shallow Paleo Lake Tauca. When it dried it left behind two modern lakes, Poopó and Uru-Uru, and two major salt deserts, Salar de Coipasa and the much larger Salar de Uyuni to the south. This salt flat is so large and flat, NASA uses it to calibrate its instruments while in outer space.

The dominating feature of the Salar de Uyuni is a strato-volcano called Mt. Thunupa (17,460 ft / 5,321 m) on the northern edge. During the wet season (December to March), it is rare to be able to cross the salar due to too much salty water, which is dangerous to vehicles. During the dry season, it’s an open landscape where one can drive in any direction and not worry about vehicles hogging the fast lane and it can take close to three hours to drive across the widest point! We take time to explore caves where pre-Inca mummies lie in repose and other caves where petrified algae hang from the ceiling in cascades of colors and delicate sheets of plant matter, likely the pre-cursors to modern-day petroleum.

As we head further south, the altitude climbs quickly from the 12,000 ft / 3,660 m of the Salar de Uyuni to 14,000 ft / 4,270 m in the Sud Lipez region, with some passes close to 16,000 ft /4,875 m and volcanoes close to 20,000 ft / 6,100 m! Dotting the landscape are massive lava flows from extinct volcanoes, some of the few places to hide from the bitter winds and scorching sun at altitude. These lava canyons were home to ancient civilizations who left their petroglyphs in caves and large walls hidden from the masses as well as arrow heads, pottery, woven baskets and other objects from a period where there was no written language.

In the deep southwestern corner of Bolivia are the most stunning-colored lagoons – the most famous is the Red Lagoon (Laguna Colorada). No less spectacular are the Green, White, Yellow and Light Blue – where three types of flamingos call this inhospitable high-altitude desert their home. The James, Andean and Chilean flamingos all live, breed and feed in these lagoons where microscopic organism provide them with food year-round. Wild vicuñas, a camelid, which is related to the wild Guanaco and domesticated Alpaca and Llama species call this their home as well. The ostrich-like American Rhea is abundant in the region, standing close to 6 ft tall and covered in beige, grey and brown feathers...blending perfectly into the color palate of the Altiplano, raising broods of up to 18 chicks at a time. Seeing them in person is truly a scene from prehistoric times coupled with race car speeds as they clock over 65 kph / 40 mph when escaping predators!

As our journeys heads east, we pass by hot springs, smaller salt flats, bofedales (high-altitude wetlands) and multi-colored deserts, where the overall color scheme is subtle beige and brown pastels, with the snow-covered summits of extinct volcanoes draping over the purple, orange and yellow swatches, creating a kaleidoscope of natural swaying erosion patterns on the land.

Towards the eastern edge of the Altiplano, near the border of northern Argentina we come to canyon country, a corner of the plateau where only the hearty and tough miners can eke out a living from these mountains. We visit Ciudad Roma, a desolate eroded landscape that resembles Roman buildings standing atop a citadel. Stunning erosions, like a massive candle factory melting before your eyes, stands tall and proud above deep sand-blasted canyons and small, brown rivers wind around corners below the wings of condors.

As much as the Altiplano has never-ending adventures, the edges also provide stunning geographical marvels in the canyons of Tupiza, where erosion takes another giant leap forward. Multi-colored red, yellow, beige, grey and purple canyons full of stunning cactus varieties are what Tupiza is all about. We have a couple of days here to enjoy a much lower altitude (9,800 ft / 2,990 m) and the Mediterranean climate of this little-visited corner of Bolivia.

We wind down our journey as we head north towards the colonial-era city of Potosi (13,420 ft / 4,090 m) to 400-year-old Hacienda Cayara, a living hacienda, museum and hotel. It lies secluded in a well-protected canyon 2,000 ft. below the Potosi where the Spanish Crown made itself rich with silver on the backs of the native Indian slaves for almost 500 years until Bolivia became a republic in 1825. We end our Altiplano journey in La Paz with a farewell group dinner at an innovative restaurant known for using natural foods grown locally and preparing only traditional Bolivian meals. A tasty ending to an amazing adventure!


Day 1

Arrival La Paz, Bolivia (AM) – City Tour (PM)

Arrival at El Alto International Airport, Immigration & Customs
Depending on your international flight schedule you will arrive very early in the morning (between 2-6 AM) at El Alto International Airport. The airport is located in the city of El Alto which is on the edge of the Altiplano at 13,200 ft/4023 m above La Paz (downtown La Paz is at 12,000 ft). You are now at high altitude; so, you need to be aware of the effects of altitude on your body; you may feel light-headed and short of breath, but that's normal. Once we drop down 3,000 ft/900 m in elevation to your hotel (10,200 ft/3,100 m), you should feel much better.

Upon arrival, you go through Bolivian Immigration for your tourist visa (issued upon arrival) then Customs (Aduana). Your guide will be waiting for you at the general passenger meeting point, just look for the sign from Sergio Photo Tours. We will take your luggage to our private vehicle for transport to the hotel. We'll have bottled water in the vehicle for you, which helps with the acclimatization process.

Private vehicle transport to your hotel
We drive from the airport to the lowest elevation in the city of La Paz which sits at 10,200 ft/3,100 m. We'll be heading down a winding mountain road with breathtaking views of the valley below. We head to Hotel Mitru Sur (5*) or similar hotel, located in Calacoto/Achumani neighborhood. You'll check in and rest until lunch time (noon) at the hotel.
The best way to acclimatize to altitude, is to move slowly, drink plenty of water and rest when you are tired. Acclimatization time is a very personal affair, some do it quickly, and others take more time. It can take a few hours or a few days. Listen to your body. We design all high-altitude itineraries with acclimatization time built in.

La Paz city tour
At 2 pm we'll begin a 4-hour city tour of this fascinating city deep in the heart of the Andes; visiting open air markets, colonial neighborhoods, the witches’ market and take in the vast canyon of La Paz from breathtaking viewpoints. We return to your hotel so you can rest before dinner.

Hotel & dinner location of your choice
After the city tour concludes you can freshen up and rest before dinner at a restaurant of your choice. We will provide a list of preferred restaurants for you to choose from and we can make your dinner reservations. We recommend a light dinner, avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime. During the day you may want to enjoy a Mate de Coca (coca tea), a local herbal tea that helps with acclimatization, but refrain from it at night. Anise and chamomile teas help with digestion as well.

Keep drinking water, it’s very important for acclimatization.

Hotel Mitrú Sur (5*)
Meals Included: L

Day 2

La Paz – Lake Titicaca – La Paz

ABreakfast and AM departure
We hope you rested well and enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the hotel. Today we depart at 8 AM to Lake Titicaca, the jewel of the Andes. Our aim is to take you to see Bolivia from generations past, where few if any tourists go. We head to the Taraco Peninsula on the small lake. En route we will enjoy magnificent views of the Cordillera Real rising above Lake Titicaca with waterfowl along the lake shore as we visit small hamlets and villages and seeing the campesinos work their agricultural lands as they have for generations.

Lunch on the shore of Lake Titicaca
Our lunch spot has great views of the lake where traditional Bolivian dishes are served, soups, fresh trout and local vegetables. We have a few choice restaurants with views and proper bathrooms. After a casual lunch and a brief walk, we begin our return to La Paz.

Return to La Paz & Dinner together
We will return towards La Paz at an appropriate time to avoid the traffic of the city of El Alto. Our drive should be about 2 hours from our restaurant on the lake to the hotel. En-route we will have some opportunities for some photos as well. Dinner is at a local restaurant so we can get to know each other better.

Hotel Mitrú Sur (5*)
Meals Included: B, L, D

Day 3

La Paz – Oruro - Tahua - Salar de Uyuni

Breakfast & AM departure to the Uyuni Salt Flats
After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, we head south towards the Uyuni Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni) ...in the heart of the Altiplano. We depart at 8 AM and drive out of the canyon of La Paz and head south on the Altiplano. Drive time from the hotel to the rim of the Altiplano is about an hour, rising from 10,200 to 13, 300 ft.

Southeast to Oruro, lunch in Challapata and a salt hotel
Our direction is south on the main paved road that will take us to Oruro and continue to the town of Challapata for lunch. Continuing southwest we pass by the town of Salinas de Garci Mendoza then we begin the dirt road portion of today’s journey. About an hour and a half on dirt roads brings us to the northern edge of the Salar de Uyuni - Earth's Mirror. We pass via the villages of Jirira, then Coquesa then arrive in Tahua. Depending on our arrival time and the current weather conditions we can either check-in or head to the edge of the salt flats for sunset. Before your eyes is the world’s largest salt flat – the Salar de Uyuni – over 4,000 square miles of salt located at 12,000 ft above sea level! It’s actually the same height as downtown La Paz. We return after sunset to freshen-up before dinner. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Tayka de Sal (4*).

Hotel Tayka de Sal (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 4

Tahua – Chiquini - Salar de Uyuni – Tahua

Sunrise at the Uyuni salt flats
Hopefully you got bed early and had a good night’s rest. We depart pre-sunrise for a 10-minute drive to the edge of the salt flats today. There are few things more spectacular than watching the sun rise over the eastern horizon and reflecting on the flooded salt flats of Uyuni! The sun rises quickly at these latitudes so soon after sunrise we return to the hotel for a proper breakfast. After a brief rest, we depart inland to the caves of Chiquini, where we will see ancient formations of petrified plants. The route winds across canyons and overlooks where you will see the different faces of the salt flats. We will have a picnic lunch en route and return to the hotel for a brief rest in the afternoon.

Mt. Thunupa volcano and mummies and sky-high view of the Salar de Uyuni
After a rest we drive up the flanks of Mt. Thunupa, an extinct volcano seeing from every angle in the region as it dominates the skyline at 17,460’/5,321 m and is used for navigation. Upon arrival to the end of the road we take a 5-minute walk around the flanks to a hidden cave where mummies lie from the pre-Inca period. The volcano was active during the Pleistocene era with lava flows constructing the layers of the volcano and there are signs that it was once glaciated until about 15,000 years ago and it has signs of being an island on Lake Minchin and Lake Tauca which once were part of the Altiplano. The jaw-dropping views from this height will show you that you still cannot see the edges of the world’s largest salt flat. We return to the edge of the salar for sunset and then return to the hotel for dinner and rest. Overnight at Hotel Tayka de Sal (4*)

Hotel Tayka de Sal (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 5

Tahua – Coquesa Mummies – Salar de Uyuni islands – Uyuni

After breakfast we head east, around the foot of Mt. Thunupa to the village of Coquesa where we will drive up the flanks of this volcano to see mummies that are found in a cave nearby. The view, 1000 ft higher, will give you a much better idea how incredibly massive the Salar de Uyuni is! Afterwards, we enter the salt flats and head south, to the center of it to Incahuasi Island where we will have time for a walk to the top of the island before having lunch. We head east towards Colchani, the only exit in the southeast corner, before we continue onto the town of Uyuni. We exit via the village of Colchani and then head 30 minutes down the road to the city of Uyuni. We will check into our hotel and freshen up. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Jardines de Uyuni (4*).

Hotel” Jardines de Uyuni (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 6

Uyuni – Chiar Khota Lagoon– Siloli Desert– Ojo de Perdiz

We depart after an early breakfast and head southwest, towards the Sud Lipez region. We take only dirt roads today that are minimally maintained then continue onto remote roads that are much rougher. We fuel up one last time in San Cristobal, as there are no gas stations anywhere in the region! Our route takes us via a city of stone, a massive lava flow with strange and unique formations. As we head south, we begin the route of the lagoons, where a series of high-altitude lagoons dot our route on the western border of Chile and Bolivia. This is the home of pink flamingos, eagles and wild vicunas. We enter the Siloli desert after a series of secluded Altiplano canyons and emerge onto one of the most spectacular high-altitude deserts in all of South America. This multi-colored pastel desert surrounded by 18,000 ft volcanoes is where the magic of the Sud Lipez region shows its character. Our hotel overlooks this desert, and we will check-in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Tayka del Desierto (4*).

Hotel Tayka del Desierto (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 7

Ojo Perdiz – Lag Colorada/Verde – Sol de Mañana – Polques - Villa Mar

Today we have an early departure so we can catch the sunrise at Laguna Colorada while the flamingos are still waking up. After Laguna Colorada we begin the slow climb to the highest pass on our route (4,816 m/15,800 ft). We'll flank the boiling mud pits and steaming fumaroles at Sol de Mañana crater, where hot volcanic gas exit into the cold Andean sky. We drop into the Salar de Chalviri and the Polques hot springs for an early lunch. We continue southwest via the Desierto de Dali and continue to Laguna Verde that sits below Mt. Llicancabur, a strato-volcano straddling the Bolivia-Chile border that rises to 5,916 m/19,410 ft. We return towards Polques Hot Springs and continue over a small range and onto the village of Villa Mar. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Mallku Cueva (4*).

Hotel Mallku Cueva (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 8

Villa Mar – Salar de Chalviri - Quetena Chico – San Pablo de Lipez

Today is a long day. We'll get started soon after an early breakfast. As we head southeast, we'll marvel at how the morning light dances on the spectacular landscape found in the Sud Lipez region's multi-colored lagoons, salt flats, lava flows, Andean puna marshes, rocky canyons and sandy desert landscapes. In a secluded spot, we’ll have a picnic lunch. The canyons and pampas offer a never-ending kaleidoscope of colors and geographic wonders around every corner. Continuing east to the town of San Pablo de Lipez, we will cross a series of rivers before arriving in a perfect location for sunsets as the pampas, and Sud Lipez Mountain Range catches the setting suns’ full effect. After checking-in we’ll have dinner at the hotel. Overnight at Hotel Sumaj Jall’Pa in San Pablo de Lipez (2*).

Hotel Sumaj Jall’Pa (2*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 9

San Pablo – Lipez Mountain Range - Ciudad Roma – San Pablo de Lipez

We want to take advantage of the full day as we have much to see in the canyons south of San Pablo. The drive is about an hour and a half, over rough terrain. The closer we get to the end of the road, the more spectacular the scenery becomes. Once we arrive at the top of a knoll, we take time to orient ourselves to the scene before us; deep canyons, eroded mountains, volcanoes in the distance a a citadel of eroded sandstone that dominates the scene. This is Ciudad Roma, a hidden treasure that few people ever see. As eons passed, layers of sediment eroded via wind, water, freezing temps and scorching sun and left behind a masterpiece of natural beauty that is hard to believe. We take our day packs with lunch and drinks, and we begin our hike down to the valley bottom. Our hike can be short or long, depending on the group, but one thing for sure, it will be breath-taking! We have lunch en-route and continue until we are satisfied with our discoveries. The return is uphill, so we make sure to pace ourselves on the way back to our vehicles. We return to San Pablo de Lipez before sunset, enjoy a shower and then have dinner together. It will be a long day, but it will be more than worth the effort. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Sumaj Jall’Pa (2*)

Hotel Sumaj Jall’Pa (2*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 10

San Pablo Lipez – Ciudad Encantada – Tupiza

Today's drive climbs over a series of mountain ranges and goes into hidden canyons before emerging onto a dry riverbed. The terrain changes all the time, and we will see deep reds, yellows and greens all over the landscape as we drive northeast towards a hidden location known as La Ciudad Encantada (the Enchanted City), a series of deeply scarred hills, full of canyons, mud flows that seem frozen in time and intricate and delicate formations that few ever see. If you can imagine a room full of melted down candles, two hundred feet high, then you can imagine this place. It is surreal and other-worldly, delicate and spooky and utterly mesmerizing! After our visit we have a picnic lunch then continue on our way southeast towards Tupiza. Keep an eye out for condors as they are often seen en-route.

The drive will keep us high above the rugged canyons for some time until we come to the edge of a cut in the geography and below us will be the town of Tupiza, surrounded by grey and red rock canyons and massively eroded badlands. This truly is one of Bolivia’s most spectacular vistas, bar none! We should be arriving just before sunset when these hills come alive with colors. After dropping two thousand feet into the canyon, we will enjoy Tupiza's temperate climate. After check-in and a shower, we get to enjoy Tupiza's restaurant options. Overnight at Hotel Mitru (3*).

Hotel: Mitru (3*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 11

Tupiza - Canyons and Badlands – Tupiza

To catch the glimmering sunrise today we'll be departing before the sun rises to spectacular canyon country, an hour away across a dry river bed. After sunrise, we return to Tupiza and have breakfast at our hotel. The rest of the morning is free for you to rest and relax; swim at the pool, read a book or just enjoy some quiet time. Lunch together at 12:30, then a brief rest before we head out around 4 pm to another set of canyons just outside of Tupiza. We return to our hotel after sunset and freshen up before dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Hotel Mitru (3*).

Hotel: Mitru (3*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 12

Tupiza – Potosi – Hacienda Cayara

Our direction today is north to Potosi – the sky-high imperial colonial city that made the Spanish rich. The drive is a little over 3 1/2 hours on a paved road. The terrain and scenery along the way encompasses river canyons, rugged mountains and mining centers, still active after centuries of exploitation. The red earth and weeping willows are a beautiful contrast to the desert Altiplano we just left. We should arrive in Potosi, the world’s highest major city at a lofty 12,989 ft / 3,960 m in the late morning. Lunch in Potosi upon arrival. After a hearty lunch we visit the Casa de la Moneda (the Spanish Mint) where we will get a view of the cultural complexity that is part of Bolivia's historical tapestry. Afterwards we head down to a hidden valley and a colonial-era Hacienda named Cayara. Cayara is a living museum, a working hacienda and a place to experience Bolivia’s colorful Spanish colonial history. The hacienda sits much lower than Potosi and is about 45 minutes from downtown. Dinner and overnight stay at Hacienda Cayara (4*).

Hotel Hacienda Cayara (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 13

Hacienda Cayara – Potosi – Hacienda Cayara

We can choose what we do today after breakfast. Explore deeper into the high Andean valleys and see the people work the land. We could walk the city of Potosi to get deeper into the history of the colonial-era of Spanish domination and the modern-day enduring customs. Or we could visit a working mine cooperative in the heart of the Cerro Rico to capture the real-life working conditions of miners working deep underground with the most basic tools in extreme conditions. It’s an experience you will never forget! Afterwards we’ll have lunch in Potosi then head down and spend the rest of the afternoon at Hacienda Cayara which has plenty of its own colonial history to share – original paintings, Spanish hand-written leather-bound books and bibles, hand-made furniture, original colonial-era clothing, frescoes and a private chapel! Dinner and overnight at Hacienda Cayara (4*).

Hotel: Hacienda Cayara (4*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 14

Hacienda Cayara – Challapata – Oruro – La Paz

The drive to La Paz will take a while but is very spectacular because it stays high in the mountains for the first half of the trip and it’s on a paved road all the way to La Paz, so it’s fast and comfortable. Along the way you will see multi-colored red valleys, high peaks, green puna wetlands with llamas and alpacas grazing. The closer we get to La Paz you will see the glacier-covered peaks of the Cordillera Real rising above the Altiplano. The scenery is magnificent and should provide plenty of visual appeal along the entire route. We should arrive in La Paz in the late afternoon. Group dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate a wonderful and adventurous journey of the Bolivian Altiplano. Overnight at Hotel Mitru Sur (5*).

Farewell dinner in La Paz
We will get together for a final group dinner at 7 PM at a local restaurant, specializing in Bolivian dishes. Our final group dinner where we get to share stories of this journey where landscapes, people and wildlife were an integral part of our adventure. We return to the hotel for rest, before we pick you up for your early morning departure flight back home.

Hotel Mitru Sur (5*)
Meals included: B, L, D

Day 15

La Paz – Airport Transfer Day

We will take you to the airport at an appointed time, based on your flight schedule. Drive time from hotel to the airport is 45 minutes. We need to arrive 3 hours before any international departure and 1.5 hours before any domestic departure.

Hotel: none
Meals Included: none

As per the itinerary:
  1. all airport transfers,
  2. accommodations (as per the itinerary),
  3. meals as noted (B,L,D)
  4. bi-lingual guides
  5. private 4×4 vehicles with driver
  6. decades of experience and local knowledge
*International airfare is NOT included in price
Please wait...

In order to make a reservation for a photo tour you can either fill in the form found in "BOOKING" and send it in directly from this website, you can e-mail us directly with any questions or call us. The procedure from beginning to end is roughly the following: 1. Initial contact from you to us via several methods; online form (below), e-mail, postal mail or by phone 2. We respond to your query and send you whatever information you may have asked for 3. You fill out the Trip Application Form and send in a deposit (non-refundable) for a specific tour 4. We acknowledge receipt of Trip Application Form and your deposit and send you a Receipt/Invoice for the balance due 5. We send the general Pre-Departure information packet so you can begin to make preparations (gear, visas, clothing, vaccinations, etc.) 6. You send in final payment (60 days before departure date) and required paperwork (Medical Form, Liability Release, copy of passport, Travel Arrangement Form) 7. We send you the Receipt/Invoice for all payments and any balance due (if any) and final itinerary 8. We communicate with you about any last minute requests or questions you may have 9. We meet you at the starting point of the photo tour 10. We all have a great tour and you make awesome images to cherish forever

YES! Anyone can book a single spot on any tour group at any time. These prices reflect the cost for one person, based on the total number of fully-paid people booked on a trip. If you have more people in your group and/or if the total number of people rises, the cost per person goes down. These prices are NOT based on a person or complete group bringing in a set amount of people on a tour

Final group size / price tier will be known 60 days before departure

Yes. You can check the current price tier for any group at any time. Every time we have a new booking we will update the price tier. The same goes if somebody cancels the trip.