This truly grand adventure spans three countries across the South American continent. If a vacation that encompasses deserts, mountains and lakes is your kind of thing, then look no further.
Taking in Chile, Bolivia and Peru, you’ll be able to ride horses across the desert, go star-gazing in the open wilderness and kayak across Lake Titicaca, amongst many other mind-blowing activities in this action-based trip.
This is the chance to explore the remote, out of your daily routine, as you travel into some of the world’s most isolated and beautiful locations.
Essence of the Trip
Depart home and head to Santiago. From there you’ll transfer straight away to San Pedro de Atacama via Calama. Your flights are over for now, as you rest up in Hotel Altiplanico. Right in the heart of the Atacama Desert, this hotel looks out towards the Licancabur Volcano. From this base camp, visit a few of the local sights, bike to the nearby salt lagoon or explore the desert’s mysteries, embark on a mountain bike ride to Laguna Cejar and a refreshing dip in the salt lake.
The next morning you’ll be up early to start your horse trek deep into the desert. Make your way through the eerie Valley of the Moon and Cordillera de la Sal before you set up camp for an incredible night with only the rocky desert around you. Horse-trek your way back to San Pedro in time for a sumptuous meal and a comfortable night’s sleep, for tomorrow you’ll be transported to the Bolivian border by 4×4.
As you drive through this stunning and remote country, you will cross the stunning Bolivian Altiplano, past villages that still live as they have done for hundreds of years. You will pass amazing lakes and lagoons colored green and deep red, and onwards to the beautiful Lago Colorado. The desolation, vastness and vividness of Bolivia’s southern Altiplano has lead to it being nicknamed “Salvador Dali’s Desert” and the altitude gives you a sense of being closer to the sky. The air is so clean and unpolluted that you will be basking in some of the clearest skies in the world. After reaching the breathless altitude of 4,500m, you will pass the beautiful Green and Red Lagoons of Bolivia, before arriving at a wonderfully rustic lodge, which is the best accommodations in the area and is close to the spectacular Lago Colorado.
Here you will stay overnight at the rustic Tayka lodge, and enjoy this fantastically remote location at 4,500 meters above sea level. Again, the night sky is priceless here, as there is no light pollution for hundreds of miles. Continue in our 4×4 towards the Uyuni salt flat, crossing mind-blowing landscapes. The following day you will move out into an even remote part of the continent as you head into the wilds of Bolivia by 4×4, passing the base of the volcano Licancabur. After a brief dip in some welcoming thermal baths this morning, you will make your way across the unique landscape of the Altiplano via lakes, hot springs and geysers. Along the way you will see sulphuric lakes, flamingo colonies and possibly the elusive and rare vicuna.
Next, you will cross to the Salar Uyuni, to sleep in a truly unique hotel made almost entirely from salt. From the salt flats we’ll fly you to La Paz. This incredible flight has stunning views across the Altiplano, and you’ll fly past the highest peak in Bolivia – Sajama – which stands at 7,000 meters. After this jaw-dropping sight, you’ll head north and eventually drop down into the capital city of La Paz. From La Paz you will explore north into the Cordillera Real mountain range, and the stunning Condoriri Valley of the Andes Mountains, where you will start a thrilling and challenging 3 day, 2 night trek past the Tuni reservoir and into the amphitheater of the Condoriri valley. The thirteen distinct peaks, each reachable in a day from the same base camp, are a climber’s dream. Reaching the edge of the Chiar Khota Lake, we’ll set up your camp for a night’s sleep, at a heady 4,600m. Trek up to the Austria pass (4,900m) and if you’re feeling fit continue to the peak of mount Austria (5,200m) before returning to the same campsite.
To finish, your final trekking day will wind up the glacial moraine towards the breath-taking Austria pass at nearly 5,000m.
From this vantage point, you can enjoy views of the entire Condoriri range, the mighty Huayna Potosi beyond it, and the Juri Khota Valley in the other direction – no panoramic photo will ever do it justice. If you still have the strength, there is the option to continue to the summit of the Austria Peak, at 5,150m. This is a non-technical ascent on rock and sand, but still gives you the claim to have conquered an Andean summit.
Trekking each day at your own pace for approximately four to six hours at around 4,200 – 4,900 meters, you will pass through a stunning and remote mountain range that very few tourists have ever experienced. Every night you will camp in the wild, setting up your tents with the assistance of your guide in some beautiful and extremely remote locations. The trip through Bolivia finishes at Lake Titicaca – the largest body of water in South America and highest navigable lake in the World. Here you will spend days paddling from island to island on your own kayak. From one mode of transport to another, your journey continues on the Andean Explorer (Peru Rail) from Lake Titicaca (Puno 3,855 meters) – Cusco. The train travels over 4,320 meters through some very remote lands as you journey across the beautiful Peruvian Altiplano towards the cloud forest and Cusco itself where your journey concludes.