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Discover Bolivia and northwest Argentina

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This holiday takes you to one of the most authentic regions of Latin America.  Travel from rainbow-hued gorges of northwest Argentina into remote southern Bolivia. The difficulty of access to the shattered landscapes there has resulted in the communities remaining isolated from changes and modernisation elsewhere. Here you will see smallholdings where subsistence level farmers eke out a living from their adobe farmhouses, and miners work long hours in primitive tunnels. It’s a privilege to be welcomed into their traditional way of life. 

That said, Potosí was once one of the largest and most affluent cities in the world: the silver mined in its conical hill contributed to the riches of the Spanish Empire and the Mint was located here. The city’s grand architecture reflects this long-gone prosperity. Buenos Aires, Salta and La Paz are all magnificent colonial cities, contrasting in size and style. Your holiday has many contrasts: the sophistication of Buenos Aires and the featureless, sparkling and sparsely populated Uyuni salt flats are worlds apart.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to your hotel close to the historic centre of the city.

Day 2

At leisure to explore the Argentine capital.

Day 3

Fly to Salta and transfer to your hotel in the city centre.

Day 4

By road into the Humahuaca Gorge.

Day 5

By road to the Bolivian border, continue to Tupiza.

Day 6

By 4WD to Colchani on the Uyuni salt flats.

Day 7

Full day exploration of the salar, overnight in Uyuni.

Day 8

Continue by road to Potosí.

Day 9

Visit the mines and the Casa de la Moneda.

Day 10

By road to Sucre the legislative capital.

Day 11

Full day guided tour to Potolo.

Day 12

Fly to La Paz, transfer to hotel close to the colonial centre.

Day 13

Walking tour of the capital.

Day 14

Full day excursion to Lake Titicaca; boat trip to Sun Island.

Day 15

Transfer to airport for your international flight home.

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Places visited on this holiday

Discover Bolivia and northwest Argentina

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Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Along with Rio, this is a city worth crossing the Atlantic for in its own right. Dynamic, stylish and nostalgic, it’s the continent’s most European city, but does not lack South American verve. Its contrasting neighbourhoods reveal colonial plazas, shady avenues, quirky antique fairs, street art, world famous theatres and football stadiums and spruced-up metropolitan port districts. Studded with extensive parks, cutting-edge boutique hotels, designer boutiques and a myriad of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, it’s a restless place, challenging to find your way around but well worth the effort. It’s the beating heart of Argentina, the hub for visits throughout the country.
When's the best time to visit Buenos Aires?

Buenos Aires is at its hottest Jan-Mar (very humid with tropical showers, occasionally over 40C during the day). It can be cold and cloudy Jul-Aug, so weather conditions are best for a visit in spring and autumn. Dec-Feb and Jul are local holiday times: Porteños head for the beach.

What's the official language in Buenos Aires?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Buenos Aires?

Argentine Peso.

Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. Please note that in 2016 many of the ATMs were not functioning properly; we are recommending that for the moment you take a good supply of US dollars cash. There are many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling frequently poor. 

What's the time difference between Buenos Aires and the UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places combine well with Buenos Aires?

Beach time in Mar del Plata (392 km by road, 5hrs); Colonia or Montevideo in Uruguay across the River Plate: travel by ferry, bus or plane; a stay on a working estancia in the pampa south and west of the city; Iguazú Falls (2hrs approx by air).

How long is the flight to Buenos Aires from the UK?

Average flight time is 14hrs 20mins on a direct flight from London. There are also flights requiring a change of plane in Europe or the USA.

What are the festivals and cultural and sports events in Buenos Aires?

Tango Festival: Aug. The world's – top tango festival, nine days  of concerts, shows, free classes, exhibitions, open-air milongas (Avenida Corrientes is closed for a massive display) and other tango-related festivities.

Opera season: Mar-Dec. Take in a concert or opera at the refurbished Teatro Colón which attracts internationally esteemed artists. 

Argentine Polo Open: Mid Nov-mid Dec. Polo is a passion for many Argentines. This is the year’s main attraction, taking place in Palermo’s 16,000 seater stadium.

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Salta and the northwest Andes
Quebrada de las Conchas
Spiritually and culturally closer to the neighbouring Andean countries than the rest of Argentina, the remote northwest provinces have loads of attractions for visitors. These range from snow-dipped peaks, salt flats and arid, rust red canyons to lush forests, pre-Columbian ruins, lonely lime-washed chapels and a necklet of baroque colonial towns. The sunlit slopes are cloaked with vineyards, and everywhere there’s a warm welcome from the local people, many of whom have indian roots. At 1,200m above sea level, Salta is a delightful base for exploration of the region with a sumptuous cathedral, palm-shaded plazas and a cable car lift for views over the fertile countryside.
When's the best time to visit Salta and the Argentine Andes?
Salta has plenty of sun throughout the year but it can be cool in winter, when the trees and vines have lost their leaves, but it is drier with little rain falling Apr-Oct. The popular Train of the Clouds runs weekly Apr-Nov. The many festivals in the region mostly take place Dec-Mar.
What's the official language of Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Argentine Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs (many on calle España) using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. offering favorable rates for cash dollars. There are also banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash;  rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor.

What's the time difference between Salta and the Argentine Andes and UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places combine well with Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Mendoza in Argentina’s prime wine-producing region (direct flights 3 times a week, 1hr 40mins); Iguazú Falls (daily flights to Puerto Iguazú, 1hr 50mins) Chile’s Atacama desert around San Pedro de Atacama (12hrs scenic drive); southern Bolivia (11hrs drive to the border at La Quiaca).

How do i get to Salta and the Argentine Andes?

A flight from Buenos Aires to Salta takes 2hrs.

What are the festivals and cultural and sporting events in Salta and the Argentine Andes?
Many religious, artisan and agricultural festivals and processions take place throughout the region from January through Carnival to Easter every year.
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Sucre and Potosi
Bolivia’s big four cities - La Paz, Sucre, Potosí and Santa Cruz - are so contrasting that they could be in different countries. La Paz teems and bustles, semi-tropical Santa Cruz is warm and laid-back, while Sucre, at 2,800m, is the sunny second city and legislative capital in the south. It is the epitome of an elegant, whitewashed, red-tile-roofed colonial city with baroque churches and shady plazas. Just two to three hours’ drive away on the chilly altiplano at 4,090m is the mining city Potosí, where grandiose architecture harks back to a history of prosperity when it hosted the Imperial Mint.
When's the best time to visit Sucre and Potosi?
Most rain falls Dec-Mar in both cities: there is a little less sunshine in this period in what are otherwise sunny cities. Potosí is at a higher altitude and can be very cold at night, especially in Jun-Jul.
What's the official language of Sucre and Potosi?

Spanish.

What's the time difference between Sucre, Potosi and UK?

GMT -4 hours.

What places combine well with Sucre and Potosi?

La Paz, (416km) Bolivia’s capital city accessible by air in 1hr; the salt lakes of Uyuni, close to the Chilean border; Santa Cruz in the eastern lowlands (260km), close to interesting Jesuit missions and bio-diverse Ambor National Park, 30 mins by air.

How do I get to Sucre and Potosi?

Fly to Sucre from La Paz (1hr) or Santa Cruz 30mins), Potosí is accessible by road from La Paz (11hrs), Uyuni (7hrs) and Sucre (2-3hrs).

What are the festivals and cultural events in Sucre and Potosi?

Carnival Minero (Potosí): Feb or Mar, 2 weeks before the Oruro Carnival. Miners dance down from the Cerro Rico, mineral-rich hill dominating the town, carrying the effigy of their god El Tio who normally resides underground.

End May: An exciting car rally begins and ends in Sucre.

Virgin de Guadalupe: 7-8 Sept in Sucre, fiesta singing and poetry, with traditional (is not an English word) dancing in costumes from all over the country.

Festival International de la Cultura: Oct-Nov, Sucre and Potosí: a fortnight of events.
How do I get local currency in Sucre and Potosi?

Peso boliviano. Notes in local currency can be withdrawn from several ATMs in central Sucre and Potosí. There are also money exchanges (casas de cambio), shops and banks which exchange US dollars. (a few may accept euros or sterling but the rate may be poor).

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Uyuni salt flats
Uyuni salt flats
In the remote bleak southern plains of the altiplano, at 3,656m, the visually stunning Salar de Uyuni salt lake stretches as a blinding white sheet of surreal, ethereal beauty. It is embossed with hexagonal patterns which look to be carved by man. In the rains it is covered with mirror-like surface water reflecting faithfully the ice blue sky and clouds, dissolving the horizon. Nearby are two vividly coloured lakes, Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde, their gemstone hues created by their high mineral content. The red lake is next to hissing geysers, while the green one sits at the foot of the 5,920m Licancabur volcano.
When to go

Most rain falls between January and April when the roads can be very muddy. The dry season, Jun-Sep, guarantees sun and an easy drive across the flats, but it can be very cold at night.

Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency

Peso boliviano. There are also money exchanges (casas de cambio) in Uyuni but it is best to acquire local currency from an ATM in a larger city beforehand.

Time difference

GMT -4 hours. 

Combines with

The Atacama Desert in Chile, a wilderness drive across the border from the salt lake to San Pedro de Atacama; visiting the mines and museums of Potosí, once the richest city in the world (140km by road). 

Getting there

Drive to Uyuni from Potosí (140km) or from Sucre (217km) and continue by 4WD. There are domestic flights between La Paz and Uyuni most days.

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La Paz and the altiplano
La Paz
Driving along the flat, windswept plains of the high-altitude altiplano, you are taken by surprise when you find yourself on the lip of a broad canyon brimming with the Lego-land of closely-packed buildings of Bolivia’s capital. At a dizzying 3,632m and overlooked by the ice-jacketed Mount Illimani, the city is a busy place with a compact historic centre from which endless quirky street markets fan out, selling everything from dried llama foetuses to cameras and Levi jeans. There are also modern boulevards with cool bars and ice cream parlours, where Aymara Indian ladies shuffle by in their traditional ponchos and bowler hats.
When's the best time to visit La Paz and the Andean altiplano?

The weather can be a critical factor: the city looks its colourful best in the sunlight Apr-Oct, in Dec-Jan it can be dull and chilly at this altitude (3,500-3,800m).

What's the official language of La Paz and Andean altiplano?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in La Paz and Andean altiplano?

Peso Boliviano. Notes in local currency and in some cases US dollars can be withdrawn from the many ATMs in prominent avenues eg Bolivian National Bank and Banco Mercantil de Santa Cruz.; there are many money exchanges (casas de cambio) and banks which exchange US dollars. (a few accept euros or sterling but the rate may be poor).

When withdrawing money from an ATM using a debit card, you are offered a choice of account type from which to make your withdrawal: select 'credit card' (ie NOT Current account or Savings Account options).

What's the time difference between La Paz and UK?

GMT -4 hours. 

What places combine well with La Paz and Andean altiplano?

A visit to Lake Titicaca, 122 km and a couple of hour’s drive away; Coroico (70km) in the semi-tropical Yungas over an icy Andean pass: get there by scenic road, cycle or hike; Sucre, Bolivia’s southern colonial second city accessible by air in an hour; the silver and tin mines of Potosí, prosperous key city in imperial times, 2-3 hrs drive from Sucre; the salt lakes of Uyuni, close to the Chilean border. 

How do I get to La Paz and Bolivian altiplano?
Average flight time is 16 hours. There are no direct flights from the UK to Bolivia; routes to La Paz involve a change of plane in Amsterdam, Paris or Madrid and Lima, Peru; or a change of plane via  the USA. 

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

Tailor-made holiday

Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for over 37 years.
We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.

97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today. Discover Bolivia and northwest Argentina

  • Bogota 3 days from £383pp

    Founded in 1598, the effervescent capital Bogotá sits on an upland Andean plateau. It’s a city of striking contrasts; skyscrapers and colonial single-storey houses, fast highways and cobbled lanes with chaotic traffic and the occasional mule cart.

    There are humble homes clinging to the mountain-sides and affluent tree-lined residential boulevards; crowded alleys and green, wide and shady parks; a cultured middle class jostling with workers and their families from all over Colombia.

    The night scene is lively with music clubs, bars and cafés spilling out on to the pavements.  You can’t really understand Colombia without a visit to this agreeable city.

    Day 1:  Plaza de Bolivar is a good starting point for your guided city tour, with its statue or the Liberator, baroque cathedral and a clutch of  government buildings. It’s in the heart of the Candalaria district which is the literary and artistic heart of Bogotá with theatres, libraries and universities. Here, many of the the original Spanish colonial buildings with their heavy tiled rooves, wrought iron grills and carved wooden doors have been restored. It’s a pleasure to stroll through the cobbled lanes.  On the fringe of this district is the Museo de Oro, one of the best collections of gold artefacts on the continent, beautifully displayed.

    Day 2: Just 90mins' drive from Bogotá the little town Zipaquirá’s fame lies in the subterranean salt cathedral - an enormous church built within a mountain at site of a salt mine. This unique place of worship has a magical feel, with high ceilings, carved pillars and huge stone statues. After your visit, you continue to the crater lake Guatavita, was a sacred place for the Muisca indians and is steeped the mythology of El Dorado. The excursion lasts about eight hours.

    Day 3: Continue your holiday or transfer to Bogotá airport for your international flight.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

Tailor-made holiday

Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for over 37 years.
We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.

97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.

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North West Argentina and Bolivia Private Tour

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