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Atacama to Uyuni - Explora Travesia

10 Days FROM AUD 10,270

Overview

To deeply explore Uyuni, we created a tailor-made journey across the Altiplano called Travesía. We use a van to drive for 7 days between Chile and Bolivia, sleeping in our remote camps along the way and spending 3 nights at our lodge, explora Atacama. The drive allows us to access hiking routes along the way in some of the world’s most isolated landscapes. During the Travesía Uyuni, we will explore one of the most pristine places on earth: the Bolivian Altiplano, reaching the Salar de Uyuni and its immaculate peacefulness. The oasis of San Pedro is simply an introduction. Once you leave San Pedro towards the altiplanos and volcanos, you can truly perceive remoteness, where one experiences an entirely different world, an untamed place far from civilization as we know it.

Trip Code: LATSATUY

Location: Chile, Bolivia

ITINERARY INSPIRATION

Our van will pick you up at Calama Airport and bring you to explora Atacama, located in the oasis de San Pedro de Atacama at 2,500 masl (meters above sea level). The transfer will take about an hour.

Atacama

The small oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama lies on an arid high plateau in the Andes Mountains in the heart of some of northern Chile’s most spectacular scenery. Overlooking the Licancabur Volcano, its dramatic surrounding landscape ranges from desert, salt flats, steaming geysers and hot springs to fascinating rock formations. The church, dating back to 1774 and featuring adobe, cactus wood and leather-bound beams and the Archaeological Museum are both worth a visit.

Atacama

During two days, we will get to know the incredible wild life and abundant culture of the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world. Through different types of explorations, we will be getting ready for our Travesía through the Bolivian Altiplano. We will also enjoy and rest at the lodge, which has been thought as a point of return after days of exploration and adventure.

Explora Atacama - Day 2 & 3

We will leave explora Atacama early in the morning, leaving behind the oasis of San Pedro and starting our journey through the mountain range of the Licancabur Volcano in order to cross the border to Bolivia at Hito Cajón, on the far south west of the region.

We will visit Sol de Mañana, a geothermal field at 4,700 masl and go on exploring a series of salt pans, wetlands and lagoons. One of them will be the Colorada Lagoon, a perfect place for the observation of flamingos in their natural habitat. After having lunch next to the lagoon, we will continue our Travesía towards Cañapa, our first camp.

The camp of Cañapa, located at 4,300 masl, consists of five containers that were redesigned to explora standards. By spending the night there, we will have the chance to live and feel the immensity and solitary beauty of the region that we have just have started to discover. We will slowly understand and grasp how unique and remote the Bolivian Altiplano truly is.

Crossing to Bolivia

Due to the diversity of the Altiplano, we will have the possibility of choosing from several explorations. You will be the one deciding what you want to do. Each option will give us the chance to see how geography, flora and fauna give way to the unearthly world of the Altiplano.

We will remain at a high altitude, between 4,300 and 3,600 masl, walking through former mines, abrupt valleys and boundless plains until reaching the Turquiri Lagoon and its diversity of high plains birds. We will have a quiet lunch there before going on towards our second camp, located at 3,750 masl.

We will spend the night at Chituca, a former shepherd settlement. It consists of small stone cabins redesigned by explora. Their location and simplicity are enchanting. After a good dinner, already seated next to the fire with a good glass of wine, we will face the silence of the Altiplano and grasp a hint of what is to come at the Salar de Uyuni.

From Cañapa to Chituca

After breakfast, travelers will have the possibility of choosing between different activities. One of the options is to explore our camp’s surroundings, visiting the cactus forest and the old terrace farms. Another option is to visit the village of San Pedro de Quemes, a former Spanish settlement with panoramic views of the plateau and the salar.

We will continue our journey towards Las Dos Estrellas, also called The Cave of Galaxies, unusual geological formations that are kept safe by the human craniums of a former cemetery. Death, present everywhere, will connect us to the myths and stories of this part of the world as well as its culture and depth.

All of a sudden, 10,000 km2 of salt will appear in front of us: the Salar de Uyuni. Located 3,665 masl, it is the largest and highest salt pan on earth. Trying to understand its overwhelming immensity is a hopeless thought. We will have no choice but to accept our helplessness and simply appreciate its beauty and infinity.

With this idea in mind, we will explore the salar and its immensity. We will walk through some of its islands and grasp the scale if its seemingly eternal white, cloud-like salt flats. Only our bodies will break the chromatic harmony between the salt under our feet and the infinite sky above our heads.

We will have lunch before going on towards Tagua, a small village on the side of the salar where, down the Tunupa Volcano, we will find ourvthird camp.

From Chituca to Tahua / Crossing the salar

The Tunupa Volcano, an incredible mass made of red, orange and yellow tones, will arise up to the 5,432 masl. This is not an easy hike, it requires a good physical condition, but the experience is worth it. No real mountain lover would miss this adventure.

If you prefer to choose an easier hike, you will also have the option of walking around the volcano flanks, visiting small villages, wetlands and archeological sites. The salar will always remain present, changing color throughout the day but still magically attached to the sky.

Around the Tunupa Volcano

We will leave early towards the Chilean border, walking through the village of Llica, where we will shortly stop to try the famous salteñas, typical Bolivian empanadas.

For lunch, we will stop next to the salar de Coipasa at 3,600 masl, before heading to Cochane at the border with Chile. Crossing usually takes time as the administrative procedure is quite long.

In the evening, we will reach Aravilla, a small village on the Chilean side of the border at 3,660 masl, that was abandoned a few decades ago and where we will find our last Altiplano camp. Depending on our arrival time, we will visit the wetland next to the camp which is, in our humble opinion, the most beautiful of the Altiplano, or simply sit down and enjoy a glass of wine and the last sunset of our Travesía.

Return to Chile

In the morning, we will walk towards the small village of Mauque. There, we will have a light lunch and then start descending to Iquique. This amazing route will take us through mountain chains of complex color ranges: the perfect farewell to a wonderful journey.

At the end of the route, we will come across Humberstone, a giant and old saltpeter work from the 1920´s. Its buildings, once full of life, are now inhabited by the wind and the desert sand. It is definitely a magic place where the travelers can go back in time and feel part of an era that changed Chilean history forever.

We will reach Iquique in the late afternoon, ready to enjoy a farewell dinner at one of the traditional city sites.

Descending to the Pacific

We will take you back to the airport in the morning. If you have booked a flight later on, we recommend you discover the city and enjoy its beaches.

Leaving Iquique
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Pricing & date

Travel Style Departing Duration PRICE FROM
Standard Daily 10 AUD 10,270
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Important Information

  • •Accommodation
    •All meals and bar
    •All explorations
    •Pick up and drop off from and to airports
    •Relaxing area, Wi-Fi service in public areas, and national park entrance fees

  • 2 (light adventure)
  • Available upon request

  • Reverse itinerary also available, contact us for more information.

  • Season and availability

Accommodation

We believe that appropriate accommodation should add to the authentic travel experience, as well as providing utmost enjoyment. For that reason our accommodation is scrutinised by our staff on the ground frequently, ensuring the properties adhere to our high standards. This key will help you understand the levels of accommodation available on this tour.

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.

4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.

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