Bolivia salt lakes, lagunas & volcanoes holiday
Description of Bolivia salt lakes, lagunas & volcanoes holiday
Mind blowing vistas, multi-coloured lagunas, geysers, hot springs, flamingos and volcanoes greet travellers on this three-day small group tour across Bolivia’s high-altitude desert in search of one of the most remote and striking landscapes in South America; the Salar de Uyuni salt flats.
Using 4WD vehicles fully equipped with radios, GPS, oxygen and first aid kits, this trip is designed for the travellers who want more comfortable accommodation than is usually offered on this route.
Using a network of community-owned and very comfortable midrange hotels this trip offers guests an excellent opportunity to support local Aymara people in one of the poorest regions of Bolivia. Each property is sustainably built on land rented from local communities using local materials (including salt!) – and ownership will pass back to the communities after seven years. Accommodation is of a high standard, with private bathrooms, solar hot water and heating. And delicious buffet-style food is locally sourced where possible; Llama Bolognese anyone?
Starting and finishing in the small town of Uyuni, this is a small group tour with weekly departures, however longer itineraries including other activities and other areas of Bolivia, Chile or Peru can be tailor made if required. It is also possible to finish this tour at San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.
Planet and peopleThe network of hotels we use in this part of Bolivia are newly built, of a high standard (3/4 star) and in keeping with the local environment. They are built of local materials, salt or stone, and are designed to be as ecologial as possible in this fragile environment. All rooms have a private bathroom with solar hot water and solar heating. Each hotel has a restaurant offering buffet style meals with as much local produce as possible.
This is one of the poorest parts of Bolivia where there is a problem of depopulation as local Aymara communities really struggle to survive. The hotels have been built in partnership with four local communities, which are actively involved in their construction and on going running, and benefit from the income from tourism. The hotels are on land rented from the communities and will be passed entirely into community hands in 15 years.
In the UK we use recyclable and recycled materials when possible. We recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum. We promote paper saving by using email as much as possible and by keeping unwanted mail to a minimum. We use low-energy light bulbs, fair-trade and biodegradable products where possible.
We are involved in on-going training of the staff we work with in the UK and in the Andes to ensure as high as possible standards of environmental care and responsible behaviour. When we introduce a new tour we always consider its environmental impact, and try to reduce this impact to a minimum.
On all our trips we aim to minimize waste by using products with minimum packaging, leaving no litter and keeping all water sources clean, leaving camp sites cleaner than we find them.
Also, since 2006 we have been able to support the Huchuy Yachaq community project in the marginalised neighbourhood of Hermanos Ayar, on the outskirts of Cusco, with the help of everybody who has travelled with us. We donate USD $3000 a year to this community project.
The project has been set up by volunteer social workers and teachers to provide much needed social and educational support to the children and families of this neighbourhood. Children are encouraged to attend study and games sessions held each afternoon and participate in holiday projects. Our contributions so far have paid for educational books and games, tables and chairs, improvements to the structure of the basic community owned building and the addition of functioning toilets, materials for the children to take to school, school books, holiday programmes.
We are now also financially supporting the UK registered charity Amantani which is running boarding houses for children in the remote Andean region around Cusco. It is very much in keeping with our ethos of small scale, targetted help which is educational & sustainabale.
And we are planting trees as part of a reforestation project in Peru.