We had few “essential” places on our trip through South America, but one that could not be missed was the Salar de Uyuni. It may be the “excuse” of many to travel to Bolivia, although, after 19 days touring the country from north to south, it became clear that there were many more “excuses.” And that we left a lot to see: from the road of death to the jungle, for example.
Are 19 days necessary to make our tour? No. We had all the time in the world and it was a good country to rest. Looking back and looking at our travel itinerary to Bolivia, we think that ten days might be enough to do it. Eye, having the excursions already closed, if you plan to start looking, you will need more time.
Of course, we enter by land from Peru, next to Lake Titicaca, and leave, also by land, to Chile, by the Salar de Uyuni. If your trip begins and ends in La Paz, you will have to include a couple of days to arrive and leave: it would be, practically, a 15-day Bolivia travel itinerary.
Let yourself be convinced and, after soaking up the tour, check out our tips for traveling to Bolivia and start organizing yours.
10 DAYS IN BOLIVIA, OUR TRAVEL ITINERARY
Day 1: Isla del Sol, living Lake Titicaca
As soon as we leave the bus in the city of Copacabana, we hire the ferry to Isla del Sol, in the middle of Lake Titicaca. We left at sunset and, after seeing an impressive sunset from the top of the island, there was only a rest in the hotel.
It is possible to visit the Isla del Sol in one day, touring the temples from north to south. Challapampa is reached by boat to the north of the island and ends in Yumani, to the south, where the boat is returned to Copacabana. But who wants to miss the sunset and sunrise in a place called “del Sol”?
Night on the Isla del Sol, in Ecolodge La Estancia – here you can see prices and availability.
Day 2: Isla del Sol
In honor of its name, the Sun gives away the greatest shows on the island. We got up early to see the sunrise – luckily, sunrise as seen from the door of our cabin – and it was the best way to start the day.
That second day we strolled the island calmly. Enjoying the tranquility, without cars, only with llamas and donkeys, and letting time pass. But, if there is a hurry, it is possible to visit the archaeological sites of the island – we did it the next day – and return to Copacabana with the last ship.
You will still be in time to enjoy the last sunset over Lake Titicaca from the port of Copacabana. You will never forget it.
We tell you more in our article The Island of the Sun, the best views of Lake Titicaca.
Overnight in Copacabana, at Hotel Rosario Lago Titicaca – here you can see prices and availability.
Days 3 and 4: La Paz
There are not many places to see in Copacabana, but if you want to visit them, you can do it in the morning before taking the bus to La Paz.
La Paz, which is the largest city in the country but is not the capital of Bolivia as many believe, can be visited in one day. You will even have time to walk around the area of trekking and mountain clothing stores and do some shopping. We give you more ideas in our article Five things to do in La Paz.
The second day visits the surroundings. You cannot go through La Paz without approaching Tiahuanaco, the first stone city in South America. Nor to the Valley of the Moon, where nature has mixed the clay soil with torrential rains to create a landscape that defies everything known. You have more information in our article Around La Paz: Tiahuanaco and the Moon Valley.
Night in La Paz, at the Hotel Casa Fusión – here you can see prices and availability – and the second night on the bus on the way to Sucre.
We slept three nights in La Paz and the fourth we spent on the bus on the road to Sucre.
Days 5: Sucre
Visit, this time, the capital of Bolivia: Sucre. Historic buildings lose a bit of charm because of the number of cables that cross the streets and crawl through their facades. But, if you can ignore them, you will enjoy a beautiful colonial city.
We take it easy. After more than ten hours of bus from La Paz, we didn’t want to run and spent two nights in Sucre. With one, to recover from the road beating, it is enough.
Overnight in Sucre, in the Hotel of his Merced – here you can see prices and availability.
Days 6 and 7: Potosí
Something less than three hours by bus separates Sucre from Potosí, the quintessential colonial jewel. Not because of its architecture, but literally: Cerro Rico de Potosí was one of the largest silver mines in South America.
There are two-star visits in Sucre: the Mint and, of course, Cerro Rico. The excursion to Cerro Rico consists of entering the mine and seeing, first hand, the work they suffer – it cannot be called otherwise – the miners today. The mine is in the last. It is said that, in colonial times, silver formed liquid streams around the fires that were made on the slopes of the mountain. Today, extracting 10 to 15 grams of silver means removing a ton of land … in colonial times of each ton, 800 kg was pure silver.
We spent two nights in Potosí, but it is possible to leave for Uyuni in the afternoon of the second day. The excursions to the salar start early in the morning and it is necessary to spend the night in the city to be sure of arriving on time.
Night in Potosí, in Hostel Casa Blanca Potosí – here you can see prices and availability.
Days 8, 9 and 10: Salar de Uyuni
It is time for Bolivia’s main course – reviving with Lake Titicaca, although much of its fame is taken by Peru -: the Salar de Uyuni.
There are several options: from visiting the train cemetery and an express passage through the solar – in one day, returning at night to Uyuni – to excursions that, in addition to the above, include the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve and end on the border of Chile – three days, two nights. These are the “usual”, but there are also two days and one night and four days and one night.
We wanted to see everything, so we opted for the tour standard for three days and two nights. It is possible to make a circular route, with a return to Uyuni, or linear, ending at the border with Chile. In our case, we continued traveling and ended up at the border with Chile on the morning of the third day.
We tell you all the details of our passage through the salar in the article El Salar de Uyuni in a special way and the continuation of the tour through the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, in Del Salar de Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama.
We arrived in Uyuni in the morning and spent a couple of days in the city looking for the excursion that we liked the most. If you already have it closed, you can leave the next morning.
TRAVEL ITINERARY TO BOLIVIA OF 15 DAYS WITH ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE IN LA PAZ
If your flight lands and takes off from La Paz, you will have to have a little extra time.
After a long trip by plane and with the time change, we do not think it is best to ride a bus on the way to Copacabana and then board the boat to Isla del Sol. Rest the first night in the city and go to the next morning. The journey from La Paz to Copacabana is about four hours. Remember to sit on the same side of the bus a couple of days later, on the way back, to see the other side of the road.
Once back in Uyuni after the salar excursion, you can rest and leave by bus to La Paz the next day, or spend the night on the road – about eight hours from Uyuni to La Paz.