This Bolivia trekking highlights tour takes in the best places to visit in this beautiful Andean country.
Visit all the travel highlights, including La Paz, the Salar de Uyuni salt flats and Lake Titicaca.
Now well acclimatised to Bolivia’s high altitude, top it all of with and a fantastic hike in the Cordillera Real.
From La Paz we travel by bus and train across the altiplano to Uyuni, gateway to the Salar de Uyuni.
The next four days are spent on a four-wheel-drive expedition through this southern altiplano desert. We’ll visit vividly coloured lagoons, conical volcanoes, geysers and mudpools, hot springs and a unique flora and fauna.
Next, to Lake Titicaca and the lakeshore town of Copacabana and to the Island of the Sun, an island rich in history and tradition.
We explore the Island of the Moon, Inca ruins and experience the ancient culture of the locals.
Trekking in Bolivia
Our tour culminates in a four day trek through the heart of the Condoriri National Park in the Cordillera Real.
The trek has three high mountain passes, remote highland communities, herds of grazing llamas, awe-inspiring mountain scenery and soaring condors.
Start your adventure tour in La Paz.
This is one of the world’s most dramatically located cities, situated in a deep canyon at the foot of the giant snow-covered mountain of Illimani (6,440m/21,129ft).
The city has a high proportion of indigenous Indians and is a fascinating place to wander about, with many street markets, museums and plenty of opportunity for shopping.
At 3,600m/11,811ft you’ll notice the altitude in La Paz, so take it easy and drink plenty of water while you acclimatise.
Leaving La Paz early in the morning you travel by bus southwards to the mining town of Oruro where we connect with the train to Uyuni.
An eight-hour journey takes you across the high altitude plain known as the altiplano, home to Bolivia’s Aymara speaking Indians, who scrape a living from farming small plots or herding their flocks of sheep, alpaca and llamas.
Today you join up with other people to embark on the 3-day jeep expedition through the starkly beautiful landscapes of southern Bolivia. This is Bolivia’s poorest region where the land is inhospitable and sparsely settled, survival for the few inhabitants is a daily battle. The scenery is wild and dramatic with salt lakes, volcanic peaks and windswept high desert landscapes.
On the first day you cross the world’s largest salt lake, the Salar de Uyuni. The salt lake of Uyuni is immense, covering an area of 11,000km2 at 3,650m/11,975ft.
It stretches in a blinding white haze as far as the eye can see, with shimmering seemingly floating islands and in the far distance, conical volcanoes.
You may stop at Colchani to see salt being processed. The whole town survives on this small industry. Out on the Salar itself you may see local people digging up the salt and packing it into large sacks to take back to be processed. The first night is spent in one of the scattered adobe villages on the altiplano. Accommodation is either camping or in small local houses in bunk beds with basic facilities, such as running water and blankets provided.
The following day drive on through the beautiful desert landscape, stopping to look at salty lagoons full of flamingoes, past the still active volcano of Ollagua to Laguna Colorada, situated inside the Reserva Eduardo Avaroa. The contrast of the red-coloured laguna filled with feeding birds, the banks of sharp white salts around the water and hazy mountains behind is unique.
The typical, though sparse, vegetation of the reserve is the very slow-growing yareta in distinctive bright green hard clumps, and the red-barked queñua tree. Both of these plants have been endangered because of over use by miners of borax. The plants are burnt to dry out the borax.
The local birdlife is also threatened by people stealing eggs and feathers to sell. If we’re lucky we may catch sight of viscachas, vicuña and ñandu, native fauna of this high altitude desert.
On the third day of the tour you reach Sol de la Mañana, spouting geysers and steaming, bubbling mud pools, continuing to Laguna Verde backed by the volcano of Llicanbur on the Chilean border.
You will be driven back to Uyuni. From there travel back to La Paz by bus and our hotel.
Either relax and enjoy a free day in La Paz, or join our Tiahuanaco tour.
The pre-Inca site of Tiahuanaco is definitely worth a visit. It was the centre of the Tiahuanaco culture, a flourishing altiplano civilisation, who were expert stone masons and farmers. The Tiahuanaco culture was at its most powerful between AD 400-700 and then, for some unknown reason, it lost its power and began to sub-divide into smaller groups of Aymara kingdoms.
The site of Tiahuanaco covers an area of 10km2 and is thought to have housed a population of between thirty and sixty thousand people at its grandest. The original name for the site was Taypikhala, an Aymara word meaning stone in the centre. The city is in the centre of the altiplano, with the mountains of the Cordillera Real to the east dominated by Illimani.
Through the mountains are the paths to the fertile lowlands. To the west lies Lake Titicaca and the pasture lands for llamas and alpaca. The location was undoubtedly considered sacred, being in a central position geographically and with clear views of the rising and setting sun. Such large populations were sustained through innovative agricultural irrigation practice.
Water was channelled from the lake to a system of raised fields. You can still see this raised field system on parts of the altiplano today. The idea is that the earth is dug out to create long ditches on either side of a mound. The salt from the brackish water then leeches out and the water content of the soil remains constant. The soils resist frost and the silt from the ditches is periodically spread on the mounds.
The high quality stone work at Tiahuanaco is its most striking feature. There are all sorts of buildings within the site, but there are three principal temples. The main ceremonial building is a pyramid construction called Akapana, maybe constructed to reflect the shape of the Andes in the distance. This structure was 17m high and over 200m along each side. It was made of earth and clay and faced with large stone slabs, the higher levels also having carved feline and human tenon heads.
Within the pyramid cut from the top layer was a sunken courtyard with what is presumed to be priest’s houses inside. Burial remains have been found in the pyramid. A complex network of drains and fountains ran within the whole pyramid, some say this reflects the water courses on the mountain of Illimani. On the north side of Akapana there is a sunken courtyard, a semi-subterranean temple, and nearby the huge enclosure of the Kalasasaya temple. The sunken courtyard is lined with stones studded with further tenon heads, mostly human.
This courtyard contained a number of stone sculptures within it including one of a figure known now as the Bennett Monolith. The area was probably used for ritualistic meetings. The Bennet Monolith was over 7m tall and an impressive sight. It, together with the Ponce Monolith is typical of Tiahuanaco figure carving. The decoration on the stonework is finely detailed, with similar patterns to those found on textiles from the same time.
The Kalasasaya Temple has at its entrance the great doorway seen from the sunken courtyard, now reconstructed, made from tremendous blocks of stone. This was a large courtyard for mass meetings. In a corner of this temple is the intricately carved monolithic portal known as the Sun Gate. It isn’t known where this gate would originally have stood, possibly at the Puma Punku temple 1km south of its present day location.
Today travel by bus across the altiplano to Copacabana and Lake Titicaca, the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Real a dramatic backdrop to your journey.
Lake Titicaca is a truly amazing sight, a huge inland sea covering an area of over 8,500 square kilometres, 176km from end to end and on average 50km from one side to the other.
Set at 3,810m/12,500ft in the Peruvian and Bolivian altiplano lake Titicaca is divided by a narrow strait into two bodies of water.
The smaller in the southeast called Lago Huiñaimarca and the larger in the northwest is Lago Chucuito. From the northeast shore of the lake some of the highest peaks of the Andes, the Cordillera Real, rise to over 6,000m/19,685ft.
The lake averages 100m in depth, the bottom tips sharply towards the Bolivian side. More than 25 rivers empty into the Lake but only one small river flows out at the southern end, the Desaguadero.
There are forty-one islands, some of which, like the Island of the Sun, are densely populated. Archaeological remains around the shores attest to the many ancient civilisations that have thrived here. The ancient tribe of the Uros, the influential Tiahuanaco, Pucaras, and Kollas, and their desendents who live their lives around the lake today.
The Aymara Indians still practice their ancient farming methods on the stepped terraces that pre-date the Incas. They grow quinoa and the potato, endemic crops, and graze llamas and alpaca. Lake Titicaca itself is still highly respected and worshipped as the giver of life, the sacred mother, Mama Qota, the provider of fish and birds.
After lunch a small boat takes you to Pilcokaina on the Island of the Sun, legendary birthplace of the first Incas, Manco Capac son of the sun, and Mama Oclla daughter of the moon.
You will explore the island, hiking past the Inca Garden and the Inca Spring, to the village of Challa.
In the afternoon walk to the most impressive ruins on the island, Chincana and the Labyrinth, returning to Challa for the night. (1 night camping or basic accommodation, all meals)
Leaving the Island of the Sun, stop off on the Island of the Moon before returning to Copacabana and on to La Paz for the night.
Four day supported trek
This four-day trek takes us through the heart of the Cordillera Real.
We walk beneath the 13 dramatic peaks of the Condoriri massif, peaks between 5,100-5,648m/16,732-18,530ft, the highest of which is Cabeza del Condor. As its name suggests this peak has a condor like form and is a prominent feature on the Cordillera Real skyline.
The highlights of the trek are the remote Aymara speaking highland communities, herds of grazing llamas, awe-inspiring mountain scenery, mountain lakes often with flamingos feeding and stunning Andean views. There is also a possibility of seeing soaring Andean condors and the rabbit like viscachas.
We use donkeys or llamas to carry all our camping equipment.
Leaving La Paz we head to Qhothya in the Cordillera Real, to start our trek.
Today we’ll walk for around 4 hours, 10 km, starting at 4,150m and climbing to 4,650m/15,256ft at Lake Ajwani. We leave the Kharakhota Valley and, after a few hours, enter the Suriquiña Valley, then continue on above the Garganta de Kullucachi.
Our destination is Lake Ajwani on whose shores we camp. There is often abundant bird life around the lake, humming birds, Andean gulls, flamingos and various species of ducks.
Hopefully we’ll see condors soaring above us.
After the initial climb from camp, we walk into Janchallani Valley, then climb over a ridge to the Jurikhota Valley.
We walk for 6 hours, 12 kms approximately.
Camp next to the beautiful Jurikhota lake.
Today’s trek is strenuous as we climb to a 5,000m/16,404ft pass, from where we have superb views of the whole of the Condoriri massif.
The route takes us across a boulder field and then we descend steeply to Laguna Chiarkhota (4,600m/15.092ft). Our camp is on the lake shore.
6 hours walking, 11 kms approximately.
Today we see some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery in Bolivia. We cross the last 2 passes of our trek (5,100m/16,732ft and 4,800m/15,748ft), both located on the north eastern flanks of Huayna Potosí.
The views of the jagged peaks from the passes are unsurpassable. We then trek to Lago Liviñosa (3,850m/12,631ft).
After some 7 hours of walking, we reach Ancoma, where it is a pleasure to be back amongst lush valley vegetation after the stark high mountain scenery. We continue to the hydroelectric plant of Botijlaca, where we rendezvous with our vehicle for the drive back to La Paz and a welcome hot shower and cold beer.
8 hours walking, 20 km approximately.
Tour ends La Paz. Fly home or extend your trip in Bolivia / South America.
Hotels, transfers,English speaking local guides, public transport as listed, fully supported trek with guide and pack animals, accommodation, communal camping equipment
International flights (we can look for these), airport taxes, tips, personal items, sleeping bag, personal expenses, alcoholic or soft drinks, insurance
We use 2-3* hotels in towns and cities, with hot showers and private bathrooms.
Salar de Uyuni – we use basic accommodation (upgrades to salt hotel available at extra cost) which may include shared rooms and bathrooms.
Lake Titicaca – we use basic hotels with private bathrooms.
When camping on the trek we use two-man, mountain tents, and a dining tent. Toilets are either latrine or toilet tent.
You will meet bilingual, English-speaking guides as you move around from site to site (tour leader available at extra cost).
They are qualified Bolivian guides and will bring provide you with all the local timings and information.
Our guides are experienced mountaineers and we typically employ one mountain guide to every four clients on courses, and one guide to two clients on climbs.
They will not just show you the way but will teach and empower you to succeed in the mountain environment.
All are qualified and selected for the attention to detail and, above all, safety and assessment of mountains, conditions and your capabilities.
Guide’s decisions are always final as they do so based on many years of experience of trekking among Bolivia’s peaks.
Cooks, mule drivers and additional staff are all from the local, nearby communities and we have worked with them for a long time.
Vegetarians and many other dietary requirements are catered for without problems. Please let us know in advance of any requirements you have.
Salar de Uyuni
Meals are provided at hotels – breakfasts usually involve hot drinks, coffee, juice, toast, eggs and fruits. Lunch will either be sandwiches and snacks (if on the road) or a soup with a main meal of rice/pasta.
Dinner usually consists of a soup to start and then a main of rice, pasta, mashed potato etc. Note that Uyuni remains a very remote area and sometimes choice is limited.
Here, fish, fruit and rice play a larger role in people’s diets, so you can expect to be served trout from the lake.
Copacabana town has more international type options.
La Paz and towns
There are a wide variety of eateries in towns and cities, from chicken and chips or burgers to more traditional fare. Quinoa, rice, potatoes and meats all feature heavily, as do soups.
You wake early, usually around 07.00. Breakfast is served in a dining tent, and consists of hot drinks, porridge, toast, jams and bread, and your guide will explain the day’s trekking plans.
Lunch is usually around 13.00 and can feature soups, meats, salads and fish, with vegetarian options and hot drinks too.
The campsites are comfortable and around 17.00 hot drinks, popcorn and other snacks are served to help you recover energy.
Dinner is served around 19.30, and will feature pasta, mashed potatoes, meat, fish or vegetarian options, followed by hot drinks and a pudding.
In order to get the most out of the tour you should be in good physical condition.
We spend a lot of time moving around at high altitude plus include a high altitude trek.
It is not easy to grade the fitness level required for the trip, since it is a subjective matter.
However, we have classified it as a moderate trek.
We trek approximately five to eight hours per day with some long ascents and descents at high altitudes, and on consecutive days.
No previous experience is necessary, but a good positive attitude and any previous experience of high altitude trekking in remote areas is a plus.
Land-locked Bolivia is a country of dramatic landscapes and fascinating native cultures and traditions.
The Altiplano or “High Plain”, averaging 3,800m, is its most populous region. The vast, luminous plateau is flanked to east and west by parallel Andean ranges.
La Paz, the world’s highest capital, lies in a deep canyon at the edge of the Altiplano, and at the foot of Illimani (6,400m). It is a striking city for its dramatic setting and its strong Indian character.
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake. It was sacred to the Incas; according to legend, their founding emperor-gods rose from these waters to give birth to their empire. Just south of the lake stands the sacred pre-Inca site of Tiahuanaco.
On the south-western Altiplano are the Uyuni Salt Flats, the largest in the world. Here, the shimmering white salt pan and deep blue sky combine to create a truly magical spectacle.
The stunning Cordillera Real is a mountain range dominated by huge snow peaks, including Illimani and Illampu (6,380m). The Real divides the northern Altiplano from the tropical forests to the east. The Cordillera Real’s eastern slopes are characterized by the deep, sub-tropical Yungas gorges.
Further south, the tropical Chapare is the agricultural heart of Bolivia. East of this band of high forests and plantations lies Bolivia’s Oriente, a vast swathe of Amazonian jungle and savanna accounting for 2/3 of the country and featuring some of the last untouched wilderness on earth.
In the north-eastern Department of Beni, some 50% of the country’s mammals and birds reside. Below, and in no special order, we outline some of the top places to go and things to do.
Bolivia lies within the tropics, between latitudes 10º and 22º south. The climate, as varied as its geography, is affected by latitude and, especially, by altitude.
The best time to travel is the winter (dry season) between May and Oct when, typically, weather systems over the Andes are stable, and overall you can expect bright sunny days and cold clear nights. Most of the rain falls from Dec to March. Climate can be divided into these distinct zones:
The Andes and the Altiplano
There is relatively little precipitation on the Altiplano, especially in the dry season – most rainfall is from Dec to March. However, there is periodical, localised rain on high peaks and valleys all year round.
The further south and west you go on the Altiplano, the drier are the conditions; around Uyuni, semi-arid conditions prevail. The Andean sun’s rays are very strong.
Temperature-wise, the Andes and Altiplano experience significant fluctuations over a single day. At 4,000m, the pre-dawn temperature can drop to -15ºC, while noon temperatures at the same location can reach 20ºC.
Southerly cold winds mean the southern Altiplano is not only drier, but also noticeably colder and windier than the north (pre-dawn temperatures at Uyuni in July regularly drop to -20ºC).
On treks in the Cordillera Real in the dry season, expect a range of conditions within a single day: cold/freezing nights at camps above 4,000m (where pre-dawn temperatures sometimes reach -15ºC); warm, spring-like mornings and afternoons; and cold evenings. Conditions are generally dry, but note that mountain weather is fickle and localised, and precipitation is not unusual in the dry season.
Expect temperatures to swing between sun and shade, sheltered and exposed ground and with altitude gain and loss. A quick-setting sun means temperatures drop fast.
The city of La Paz (3,630m) is relatively sheltered. Average high/low temperatures range from 1-17ºC in June and July (coldest months) to 6-19ºC in Nov and Dec (warmest months). In June and July, it rarely rains more than 1 or 2 days per month, while in January there are on average 15 wet days.
The tropical lowlands & yunga (Amazon)
Year-round, weather conditions in the Amazon basin are hot and humid and always with the chance of rain.
There is a ‘cooler’, drier winter season between May and October. During this ‘dry season’, the average daytime high temperature is between 25-31°C and the average nighttime low is between 16-22°C.
In the dry season, heavy downpours typically occur every few days.
Note that around 80% of annual average rainfall – approx 2,000 mm in Bolivia’s northern lowlands – occurs in the wet season, Nov-April.
On rare occasions, between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina – surazos – can sweep into southwest Amazonia and push temperatures down to 9°C. (Surazos usually last between 1 and 3 days).
The Yungas shares the same dry/wet months but varies from quite wet to very wet depending on whether it is the ‘dry’ or rainy season. Average temperature is 24°C.
British nationals do not need a visa for Bolivia. You will also need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity.
Non-UK citizens are advised to contact their Embassy for up-to-date visa advice.
We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Bolivia visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.
Malaria risk is present throughout the year in Bolivia’s Amazon areas.
Malaria risk also present in all areas below 2,500m and in the departments of Santa Cruz, northern Beni and Pando, especially in the localities of Guayaramerin and Riberalta.
Good kit is vital for every trip.
Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.
Bolivia has an incredibly local and varied set of weather systems, which means you need to be prepared for almost every eventuality.
When planning for these changeable climatic conditions you will encounter across Bolivia, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.
The sun is very strong throughout the country, so good sun cream, a hat and sunglasses are vital.
It can also get very cold at night time especially in the mountains and in cities like La Paz. Jumpers, fleeces and warms hats – which you can buy there – are also essential.
It can rain at any time, so always have a poncho/waterproof jacket handy.
Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.
Below is a more detailed guide.
Detailed kit list
When planning for the varied climatic conditions encountered, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system. It’s worth remembering that our clothing keeps us warm by retaining and isolating the heat we ourselves create.
To best maintain body heat, several layers of lightweight, warm and quick-drying clothing are far more efficient than one or two thick layers. Layers should have the following qualities:
First (base) layer: This layer wicks the sweat away from our skin, thus helping keep the body dry and warm. To this end, synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene should be used.
Mid layers: These isolating layers should also be synthetic (e.g. the known polar linings such as polartec or windblock, which are light and insulate twice as well as wool). Very important layers for retaining body heat.
Outer layer / shell: Finally, the vital layer which protects us from climatic adversities. A breathable, wind-proof and waterproof anorak, such as Goretex.
We also carry an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only.
Below is a more detailed kit list.
All other non-personal trekking camping gear e.g. tents, cutlery etc is provided.
Official name: Republic of Bolivia
Country population: 10,700,000
Capital city: Sucre (1.6 million)
Largest cities: Santa Cruz, La Paz, Cochabamba, El Alto, Sucre
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymará (official)
Latitude/Longitude: 17º S, 65º W
Official currency: Boliviano
Major industries: Mining, gas, tin, textiles
Time zone: GMT-4
Being at altitude, especially in the tropics, is usually a pleasure as it isn’t so hot, there are few insects and the air is clear.
However, when gaining altitude, air pressure drops and the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs is reduced. Although we build plenty of acclimatisation time into our itineraries, certain ill-effects are possible. Nevertheless, all of these can be minimised or prevented if care is taken.
On reaching heights above 2,500m (approx. 8,200 ft), especially when ascent has been straight from sea level, heart pounding, mild headache and shortness of breath are normal, especially on exertion.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a syndrome known locally as soroche, whose symptoms can include of bad headache, dizziness and nausea).
To avoid AMS, you should:
Festival: Carnaval de Oruro
Culture, dances and music.
Festival: Festival de la música Barroca
Baroque Music Festival
Location: Santa Cruz Missions
Festival: Entrada del Gran Poder
Religious festival – culture, mass dance
Location: La Paz
End of June
Religious festival – culture, mass dance parades
Festival: Fiesta virgen de Urkupina
Location: Quillacollo, Cochabamba
Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers; we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.
International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.
Typically, you fly to a country’s capital city and then overnight there or make a connecting flight (if available) to your next destination.
Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets that are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.
Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.
Almost all flight tickets are now e-tickets. Any that are not will be handed to you on arrival in South America – this is most common for flights on smaller planes in Amazon areas such as Guyana/Bolivia.
The final travel instructions we send you some 2-3 weeks before departure will list the latest flight times, flight numbers etc as well as list your e-ticket numbers and booking reference code (6 characters i.e. GB75RK). This is what you will need to check in with.
How do I check in?
Depending on the airline, we can reserve some seats for you at the time of booking your international flights with us.
If we cannot reserve seats at the time of booking, you have to wait for online check in to open (usually 24-72 hours before departure).
To check in online you will need to go to the website of the airline you are travelling with, and have your e-ticket number/booking reference to hand. Click check in online, enter your details, and choose your seat.
Some flights will allocate seats at the check in desk at the airport and some may not allocate seats at all.
Help flying via the USA (ESTA form).
The United States (USA) has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which all travellers to and via the USA must complete BEFORE travel to/via its airports and shores.
More information can be found on their ESTA website.
Passengers who have not completed the form will be denied boarding.
Before you begin this application, make sure that you have a valid passport and credit card available.
This application will only accept the following credit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).
Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.
We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.
We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.
When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.
You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.
What is ATOL?
The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.
And ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.
Who is covered?
To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).
If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.
If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.
Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.
For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.
I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?
If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.
We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.
If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.
You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.
Bolivia is generally safe, but crime is not unknown and travellers should take the precautions they would anywhere else, especially:
Don’t forget to read our blog about Bolivian food.
Starters & snacks
Salteña Hot beef or chicken pasties containing egg, a black olive and lots of gravy. Can be muy picante, medio picante or poco picante (very, quite or not very hot).
Empanada Cheese pasty.
Chairo A La Paz Soup with meat, veg, chuño and aji. Locals add llajua or halpahuayca, hot sauces set on the table.
Locro A tropical soup with rice, beef jerky or chicken, banana, potato and egg.
Anticucho Beef heart kebab on a skewer with boiled potato.
Palta reina Avocado filled with chicken salad.
Tamal or humita Ground maize steamed in banana or maize leaves, filled with meat or cheese; sometimes they are served sweet, with sugar instead of meat.
Thimpu A lamb soup/stew.
Plato paceño Fried cheese, potato, broad beans, corn & hot llajua sauce.
Sajta de pollo Hot spicy chicken with onion, potato and chuño.
Silpancho Fried breaded meat with rice, egg and banana.
Chicharron Deep fried pork.
Churrasco and Lomo Fillet or rump steak.
Parrillada Mixed grill
Pollo con papas Chicken and chips
Pejerrey White fish from Lake Titicaca
Keke or torta Cake
Singani Grape brandy. Bolivian national drink.
Chuflay Singani and 7 Up.
Chicha Fermented maize beer. Drunk mainly in rural areas of the Valleys around Cochabamba.
Cerveza Beer. Mainly lager, which is very popular. There are several regional brands such as Paceña.
Vino Wine. The best Bolivian wines are from Tarija. Some are very good, including La Concepcion. Good Chilean wines available locally include Undurraga and Casillero del Diablo. Wine is available in smarter restaurants and is served by the bottle (botella) and sometimes by the glass (copa).
Vino tinto Red wine.
Vino blanco White wine.
Agua mineral Mineral water, which is mainly drunk by foreigners so not usually available in rural areas. You will need to specify con gas (carbonated) or sin gas (non-carbonated)
Api A thick, hot drink made from red maize, cinnamon, cloves and lemon, served at dawn on the roadside – delicious and warming.
Mate Herbal tea, which has become very popular. The best known is mate de coca, which is often served to tourists on arrival in La Paz to ward off symptoms of altitude sickness. Many other herbal teas such as manzanilla (camomile), yerba luisa (lemon grass), yerba buena (mint), and inojo (dill) are available. Mate is usually served after lunch.
Jugos Juices. In the tropics, fruit juices such as carambola (star fruit) and tamarindo (tamarind) are delicious.
Currency & Money Exchange
Bolivia’s monetary unit is the “Bolivian Bolíviano”.
Most of your transactions will be in Bolivianos, but US dollars are often accepted, too, if they are small denomination, unmarked and undamaged bills. Try to take 5s, 10s and 20s.
ATM debit/credit cards are now increasingly used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees), and there are ATM (‘hole-in-the-wall’) machines widely available in major towns and cities.
In rural areas, make sure you stock up on reserves of Bolívianos before you go. Payments are most likely to be in cash and in the local currency.
When changing money, don’t change with street changers (cambistas). Use a bank or casa de cambio (bureau de change). Ask for ‘billetes chicos’ (small notes, i.e. 10/20/50 bolíviano notes) as obtaining change outside towns and cities can be difficult. Count your bolívianos carefully before handing over your US dollars, and look out for forged notes.
Exchange rate: USD 1 = 7 Bolívianos (approx.), June 2018.
Eating and drinking
Major towns and cities have a wide variety of food available.
There are a few top-end restaurants in La Paz, Sucre and Santa Cruz, where you can easily spend more than USD 70pp upwards on food and wine.
Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Bolivia.
Beer/soft drink: USD 2
Menu del dia: USD 2-5
Coffee: USD 1
Tourist style restaurant
Beer/soft drink: USD 2-3
Main dish: USD 7 upwards
Coffee: USD 2
Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.
For background, Bolivia has a minimum salary of around USD 200 monthly for a 6 day 48 hour week. However in many of the lower paid jobs (eg waiters, porters etc) this is not always enforced.
This is a rough guideline, based on an approx. rate of USD 1 = Bolivianos 7 (Bs).
220 volts (110v in some hotels), 50 Hz.
Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.
Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.
Bolivia mainly uses two-pin, round-prong Type C plugs, but a few flat-pronged Type A plugs can still be found.
Type C plug
Type A plug
The international code for Bolivia is +591.
Regions have dialling codes:
2 – La Paz, Uyuni, Potosí
3 – Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni
4 – Cochabamba, Sucre
Bolivia’s landlines have 7 digits. To call landline-landline in the same city, simply dial the 7 digit code, e.g. 1234567
If calling landline to another regional landline, dial 010, then the regional code minus its 0. e.g. 010 2 1234567 for La Paz.
If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. +591 2 1234567.
Mobiles have 8 digits. Confusingly, each mobile network operator has a dialling code, between 010 and 021.
If you are dialling Bolivian mobile to mobile in the same city, just dial the 8 digits e.g. 1234-5678.
If you are dialling to a mobile in another region, then dial the network operator code (not the regional code) then the number e.g. 010 1234-5678.
If using your own mobile phone to call a Bolivian mobile, dial the country code, then the 8 digit nunber e.g. +591 12345678.
If taking a mobile phone with you, check roaming rates with your operator before leaving – they can be very high.
A good way to avoid expensive charges is to bring own unlocked tri- or quad-band phone to Bolivia and then buy an inexpensive SIM chip with a local number. These are available in many kiosks and locutorios and offer ability to make cheap calls as well as affordable data for the internet.
You will also find touts in streets offering cheap phone calls to local numbers from mobile phones they carry.
There are lots of coin-operated public phones for making local calls, too.
Most hotels, cafes, restaurants and airports offer free and generally good Wi-Fi.
There are also a lot of ‘locutorios’ (internet cafes) in towns and cities. You can often make cheap calls home from here, use faxes etc.
Skype and other internet-based phone systems are also good ways to contact home.
More rural areas have slower connections – possibly satellite – look for Entel offices.
Ecobol is the national postal service.
Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.
Below are some basics to get you started.
Good morning Buenos días
How are you? ¿Cómo estás?
Good afternoon Buenas tardes
Good bye Adiós
Most frequently asked questions (theirs):
Where are you (plural) from? ¿De dónde eres (son)?
What time is it? ¿Qué hora es?
Where have you come from? ¿De dónde vienes?
Give me (frequent, unwelcome question) Dáme / regálame
Most frequent questions (yours):
How much is it? ¿Cuánto vale?
What is this place called? ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?
What’s your name? ¿Cómo te llamas?
Do you have a map? ¿Tienes un mapa?
In the street / places:
Where can I find a currency exchange? ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?
Where is there a cash machine? ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?
Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?
Where can I find a taxi? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?
Where can I find a Supermarket? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?
Where is the hospital? ¿Dónde esta el hospital?
Where can I find a restaurant? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?
In the hotel:
What floor am I on? ¿En qué piso estoy?
Where are the elevators/lifts? ¿Dónde están los ascensores?
How do I access the Internet? ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?
How do I call for room service? ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?
How do I call down to the front desk? ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?
In the restaurant:
A table for two/four please Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor
I would like to drink… Me gustaria tomar….
May I see a menu? Puedo ver la carta/menu?
I would like to order.. Me gustaria pedir…
Can you bring me the check/bill please. Me trae la cuenta por favor
I need help. Necesito ayuda.
I have lost my passport. He perdido mi pasaporte.
Someone stole my money. Alguien robó mi dinero
I have been robbed. Me han robado
I need to call the police. Necesito llamar a la policía
I need to call the (country) Embassy Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)
Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.
Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.
We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.
We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.
With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.
Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.
Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.
Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:
All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).
We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.
In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.
Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.
We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.
We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.
If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.
When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.
Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.
When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.
A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.
You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.
It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.
We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.
Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.
Many of our tours travel through remote areas.
We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.
Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.
This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.
What's a group trip?
Join a small group of like-minded travellers on a guided trip.
What's a tailor made trip?
We put together a bespoke tour to fit your requirements.
Prices From $1,995 / £1,662 per person
Capacity: 16 per person
Enquire about booking
Prices From $975 / £812 per person
Prices From $950 / £792 per person
Prices From $3,880 / £3,233 per person
Prices From $2,831 / £2,359 per person
Select an available date to view pricing and information for that particular trip.
2019 price, per person, shared room basis
Shorter/longer stays possible
Enquire about booking
Ask a question and our expert in this area will have your answer.
Can’t find what you’re
looking for? Get in Touch
+44 (0)131 467 7086
+44 (0)131 554 6025
Communication through email was excellent. Questions were always answered right away. Great service! Wonderful tour and excellent tour guide. Lots of highlights, Uyuni and trek were probably our favourite.
M Blunschi, UK, 2017
» Bolivia Highlights Tour, Two Weeks
Lucy Glover, UK, 2011
» Bolivia, Chile and Argentina Tour
Want to know what and where to eat in the Galapagos Islands?
11th October, 2019 11:42 am
Eating out choices in the Galapagos Islands have blossomed, with many new bars, cafes and restaurants opening in recent years, as hotel-based holidays have become more popular. Top-end dining has truly yet to arrive at the Galapagos Islands due to its remote location and difficulty in importing ingredients. However, the three main islands, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela, offer a wide range of restaurants. They suit almost every budget and cater for most dietary requirements, from vegan to vegetarian, gluten-free and more. What you will find is Ecuadorian and international cuisine featuring a lot of fish, rice, vegetables …
Sign up here to receive the latest news and info from Andean Trails