Altiplano Trip Details
The Bolivian Altiplano and the Chilean Atacama are perhaps the most lunar landscapes I've yet encountered. Not only are they enticing in their otherworldly look, but being here feels like you're on another planet because of the high altitude.
The main focus of this trip is to be at some of the best locations for sunrise and sunset each day. The highlight being the Salar de Uyuni. Along the way we will visit the valley of the moon, the rainbow valley, Laguna Colorada, Laguna Verde, the Coral Army, el Arbol de Piedra (the stone tree) and many other prominent features of these landscapes.
Getting to the trip
There are regular flights to Calama, Chile from Santiago. From Calama, it is a straightforward transfer bus (1hour).
Upon booking the trip, you will be forwarded onto Andean Trails (South American travel specialis) who can arrange flights and excursions for you.
We will meet in San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile (direct connection from Santiago),
7:00 - 9:00pm
Dinner with the group, hosted by Bruce
10-day ItineraryIn this section I'll give you a break down of what we're doing each day, in terms of location. There's a further section down the page which deals with what to expect as a daily schedule.
Arrive in San Pedro de Atacama. Valley of the moon tour for evening sunset (please arrive before midday). Dinner, night stay & in Hotel, San Pedro. (altitude 2,600 metres)
San Pedro de Atacama. In the morning we visit the Rainbow Valley for sunrise and arrive back in San Pedro where you can roam the town and choose your own place for lunch. In the late afternoon we will visit the dead valley for sunset. Breakfast, dinner & night stay in Hotel, San Pedro. (altitude 2,600 metres).
Acclimatisation day in San Pedro de Atacama. We will spend the day visiting the salar de Tara at higher altitude to help us prepare for our ascent into Bolivia. (altitude during day is 4,200 metres, night altitude 2,600 metres). Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner in Hotel, San Pedro. (altitude 2,600 metres)
Transfer morning from Chile into Bolivia. Today we will head for the central Altiplano where the altitude is at it's lowest. We will shoot the Coral Army at sunset before heading to hotel Tayka Stone for our evening. Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner & night stay in hotel Tayka Stone. (altitude 3,800 metres)
We will shoot the Coral Army stone structures at sunrise. Breakfast at hotel Tayka. We will take the morning off for some rest and at noon will have Lunch at Hotel Tayka Stone. In the afternoon we will travel across the Salar de Uyuni to Pescado Island situated in the heart of the Salar de Uyuni arriving in the late afternoon. Sunset shoot on Salar de Uyuni at Pescado Island. Transfer to hotel Tayka Salt after sunset, arriving at 7:30pm. Breakfast, lunch, dinner & night stay in hotel Tayka Salt. (altitude 3,600 metres)
Photo Safari. Sunrise shoot on Salar de Uyuni. Returning to the hotel for breakfast and morning rest. Lunch at noon in the hotel. In the afternoon we will return to Pescado Island to explore the island further and shoot the Salar during sunset. Breakfast, lunch, dinner & night stay in hotel Tayka Salt.
Today we transfer from the Salar to the southern area of the altiplano arriving at laguna Colorada - the red lake for late afternoon. Lunch will be provided en route. We will photograph Laguna Colorada during late afternoon and during sunset. We will then transfer to hotel Tayka Stone for our evening stay and dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner & night stay in hotel Tayka Stone.
Sunrise shoot at el Arbol de Piedra (the stone tree). Returning to Hotel Tayka of the Desert for Breakfast and morning rest. In the afternoon we will return to Laguna Colorada for second evening shoot, Hotel Tayka of the Desert for our evening stay and meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner & night stay in hotel Tayka Stone.
Days transfer to San Pedro de Atacama. Durning the day we will encounter many lagoons and visit Laguna Verde and Laguna Blanca. Border crossing to Chile in afternoon, arriving in San Pedro de Atacama for evening. Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner & night stay in hotel, San Pedro.
Day 10: Breakfast, end of photographic adventure.
Daily Schedule OutlineEach day will have the following format:
6:30 - 8:30am
On location for twilight & sunrise.
8:30 - 9:30am
Breakfast, back at the hotel.
10:30am - 12:30pm
We will travel through the day while the light is bleached out, in order to get to our next major photographic location for sunset. But we will stop from time to time at areas of interest. On other days when we are not changing hotel, we will use this time to rest.
12:30pm - 1:30pm
Lunch at hotel.
AcclimatisationBolivia is the Tibet of South America. With high elevations of around 3,600 metres up to 5,400 metres, it is paramount that we ascend slowly during our time together.
This trip has been carefully assembled to reduce the risk of HACE (high altitude cerebral edema). Over the period of 9 days, we ascend the Bolivian altiplano in stages, with our last day at 4,500 metres. During that time, we will travel in two land cruisers, so we have the possibility to descebd if need be. All the hotels offer oxygen if required.
Altitude problems may happen to anyone of any age and of any level of fitness. The key to reducing the risk is to ascend slowly over a period of days and to take things easy - avoiding alcohol and too much physical exertion is advised.