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Folk dancers in the Oruro Festival

Bolivia Backroads and Oruro Festival

Example 13 Day Tour
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Enjoy this new combination trip between our classic Bolivia Backroads and the new Oruro Festival trips.This is a great opportunity to see the traditional cultures of Bolivia with the Oruro Festival and the Tarabuco Market. Spend two nights in Oruro during the weekend prior to Ash Wednesday to celebrate Carnaval and to witness the triumph of good over evil displayed in the form of dances and music before exploring the Altiplano. Visit the Salt Desert of Uyuni, Potosi, and Sucre to complete your unique cultural experience in Bolivia.
Giant cacti on Incahuasi island in the Salar de Uyuni salt flatDancers in the annual festival in OruroTiwanaku ruinsVirgin de Candelaria - the patron of Oruro minersMusicians in main plaza during Oruro Carnavalwhat a view!This salt is ready to be loaded + transported to ColchaniCarnaval in OruroLocal dancers practicingDancers in OruroAn exquisite miner's helmet sculpture in Oruro gives tribute to the area's rich mining historyFolk dancers in the annual Oruro FestivalSunset over the Salar De UyuniFolk dancers in the Oruro Festival
  • Enjoy seats along the main parade route as thousands of dancers pass by
  • Tour the working silver mine in San Jose
  • Climb Volcano Tunupa for views of the Salt Desert of Uyuni
  • Travel through canyons and villages to the highest city, Potosi
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive in La Paz


Day 2: Oruro

Early this morning, depart by private vehicle for a 4-hour drive to Oruro. Upon arriving, transfer to your hotel and check-in. With your private guide, explore Oruro, a mining town whose name means “where the sun is born”. Visit the church, the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavon, the site believed to be the inspiration for one of the main stories told during the Oruro Carnival. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary’s image appeared before miners in a mine shaft. The mine is known as the Socavon de la Virgen (Grotto of the Virgin), and the church has been built on this site with the Virgin of Socavon becoming the patron saint of Oruro’s miners.

Day 3: Parade of Dancers

Today is the main parade with dance groups coming from all over the country and regaled in colorful, ornate costumes that compete in splendor with those found in Rio’s Carnaval. These costumes, the rhythm of the music, and the choreography all tell stories based on Christian symbols and stories as well as Uru and Inca legends from the pre-Columbian times. The most famous is La Diablada, or Dance of the Devils, a story of the underworld that originated among Bolivian miners and is now quite famous throughout the world.

The day is spent with your private guide to witness this spectacle and to learn the stories, both traditional and modern, involved with a festival described by UNESCO as “a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” You have a reserved seat along the main parade route as you watch the procession of an estimated 30,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians over the course of a twenty-hour celebration. Travelers have the flexibility to go back to the hotel at any point to relax and rest to return energized to the parade.

Day 4: San Jose Mine | Train to Uyuni

  • 1 Breakfast
To take into consideration a long night of watching the parade, breakfast is late, followed by a visit to the San Jose silver mine that has been working since 1589. Walk around the mine property and hear about its history and witness the continued cultural and economic importance of this active mine. Travelers have the chance to enter the mine and “visit” Tio Supay, the deity who owns the mines and rules the underworld. The miners seek to pacify him through offerings in order to prevent accidents from occurring underground.

Around 7:00 pm, board the night train to Uyuni.

Day 5-6: Salt Desert of Uyuni

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
In a four-wheel drive vehicle, head out into the Salt Desert of Uyuni. Start your adventure by visiting the train cemetery. Later, learn about the production of salt bricks in the village of Colchani, and watch graceful flamingos wading through briny water. Also see a historic hotel actually built of salt, and visit Incahuasi Island, a bizarre island surrounded by salt and studded with 20-foot tall cactus. On your last day, climb Volcano Tunupa for a spectacular view of this great expanse of salt. Those feeling strong enough might make it to the crater’s edge at 16,500 feet.

Day 7: Potosi

Today it’s off in four-wheel drive trucks to Potosi. From Uyuni, you travel through tortured canyons and past adobe villages where time seems to stand still. Cross a pass of over 15,500 feet before arriving to Potosi.

Day 8: Explore Potosi

At over 13,000 feet above sea level, Potosi is the highest city of its size in the world. After the discovery of silver in Cerro Rico (Rich Hill), Potosi grew into the largest and most opulent city in the Americas. The city's rich colonial architecture and tragic history as a colonial mining town has earned recognition from UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Your time here is free to explore the cobblestone streets and possibly visit the working mines of Cerro Rico. With no mechanization in the mines, a visit into the maze of tunnels is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Day 9: Sucre

This morning a comfortable bus takes us to the colonial city of Sucre. At 9200 feet above sea level, Sucre enjoys the perfect spring climate year round. Today is yours to explore its colorful market and visit several colonial buildings, museums, and churches while wandering the narrow streets of this pleasant town. For dinosaur buffs, you can take a half-day trip out of town to see 60-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex tracks.

Day 10: Hacienda Candelaria

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You’re off to Hacienda Candelaria. Although well into her golden years, Dona Aby still runs this working hacienda, overseeing the planting and harvesting of corn, potatoes, and chili peppers each year. Her daughter Elizabeth shows you some old fashioned hospitality during your stay. In the morning awake to help bake the breakfast bread in a traditional adobe oven. Then it’s off to the village of La Candelaria where the women are famous for their fine weavings, and you can visit the textile museum. Growing up near the village, Elizabeth is a local expert on these tapestries and good friends with the Quechua-speaking artisans. Visit several homes to talk with weavers.

Day 11: Tarabuco Market

Sunday is market day in the village of Tarabuco, where farmers and weavers from the countryside join together in a festive atmosphere to trade foodstuffs, fine weavings, and exchange gossip with far away friends and relatives. After trying your wits with the local vendors, return to Sucre in the afternoon.

Day 12: Fly to La Paz

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner
Transfer to the airport and fly to La Paz.The day is yours to explore the markets or take an optional tour of the Tiahuanaco ruins or the Valley of the Moon. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with your guide.

Day 13: Return home

  • 1 Breakfast
Catch your international flight. With more time, visit the Jesuit Missions near Santa Cruz, a UNESCO World Heritage site, or travel to the Amazon basin. You can extend your time in La Paz as well to visit Lake Titicaca.


Oruro - Hotels

Sucre - Hotels

La Paz - Hotels

Salar De Uyuni - Hotels

Potosi - Hotels

Dates & Prices

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Trip starts in La Paz on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday
  • 11 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 11 Nights Accommodations
  • 11 Days Guide Service
  • Both Arrival and Departure Transfers are excluded.
  • International Flights
  • Internal Flights
    • Sucre - La Paz
  • Meals not Included
  • Airport Departure Tax
  • Optional Excursions
    • $30 for salt mines
  • Bolivian visa
    • It is recommended that you apply in advance.


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.

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Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
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