Atacama Desert, Volcanoes and Bolivia Salt Flats

UPDATE: As of April 10, 2019, this workshop is sold out. Please contact us to be placed on the waiting list.

The Bolivia salt flats are the largest in the world, almost 11,000 square kilometers. At this particular time of year it can fill with water from winter rains draining the high Andes that surround the flats. This will be an adventure to a unique and surreal landscape starting in one of the driest places on the earth, the Atacama Desert of Chile, and ending in La Paz, Bolivia. Because of the high altitude of the salt flats and surrounding Andes, we begin the trip at the lower altitude in the historic village of San Pedro de Atacama and travel through the Andes through many amazing locations, where the guanacos and flamingos live.

Join Muench Workshops’ pros Randy Hanna and Cecilia Costa for this photography adventure. You’ll learn all about your camera settings and techniques to capture the reflections of the salt flats as well as the spectacular night skies in the Atacama, which are coveted by all the world’s astronomers. We’ve designed this workshop to spend 3 nights at 8,000 feet so everyone has time to acclimate for the higher locations visited later in the trip in Bolivia. While acclimating in San Pedro de Atacama, we’ll photograph the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), Laguna Chaxa (Los Flamencos National Reserve) and Humdedal de Putana (Putana Wetland). These unique landscapes are at different elevations allowing all to acclimate and photograph a variety of landscapes.

Then we’ll pack into Land Cruisers and head to the Bolivia salt flats. There are a few long drives through amazing landscapes of the high Andes mountains as we venture north into Bolivia to the town of Uyuni and beyond. We’ll visit Laguna Colorado (home of 3 species of flamingo, as well as many other birds), Isla Incahuasi (large cacti hill) as well as many more great and exotic locations.

You’ll fly into the town of Calama, Chile and out of La Paz, Bolivia. Everything is covered from the airport pickup in Calama to the airport shuttle in La Paz. You will be expected to acclimate to 16,000 feet for the trip. There will be oxygen carried in each vehicle for emergencies use if needed. Because of this, there is an age limit for this workshop, you must be fit and 70 or younger.

Location:

Chile and Bolivia

Tuition:

$10,995

Dates:

March 16–25, 2020

Fitness Level:

Moderate
Short hikes up to 1 mile at
elevations up to 16,000 feet

Availability:

Sold Out – Wait List
Limited to 8 Guests

This was my first workshop but will not be my last. The workshop surpassed my expectations, which were fairly high to start with. Randy Hanna was an outstanding workshop leader and he went to great lengths to find appropriate locations for our photo shoots and I found his critique sessions especially valuable.
— Elliott Kagan, Palouse '18

Itinerary and General Information

March 16, 2020: Meet at airport in Calama to be driven to San Pedro de Atacama as a group. Check in to hotel and enjoy a dinner out in town. Muench Workshops will recommend a hotel in the Santiago airport for the preceding night to give everyone a chance to make the same connecting flight into Calama.

March 17, 2020: Visit one of many local features around town such as the Vally of the Moon. Drive up in elevation to begin acclimating in short durations for a couple hours. Photograph the village in the late light of the afternoon bathes the adobe walls followed by dinner and a late evening star shoot.

March 18, 2020: Make another trip up to elevation for sunrise. You’ll learn camera techniques used for capturing the sunsets at high altitudes as well as night photography for the stars. Take a trip to a local star gazing location to photograph one of the darkest skies in the world.

March 19, 2020: We’ll begin our journey overland to Bolivia. This will be the first of several legs up and over high passes and onto several dry lakes along the way to the Bolivia salt flats. When we reach the Bolivian border at Hito Cajón we’ll meet our Bolivian guides and 4 jeeps, where we’ll continue to Villamar. Along the way we’ll stop for lunch at the Hot Springs of Chalviri or Dali’s Desert. We’ll spend the sunset photographing at Laguna Colorado.

March 20, 2020: Drive further into Bolivia from Villamar to the town of Uyuni. We’ll visit Isla Incahuasi, where the cacti grow on the hill. When we reach the town of Uyuni we’ll checkin to our hotel and head out to the salt flats for sunset.

March 21, 2020: We’ll spend the entire day exploring and photographing the surrounding salt flats. We’ll have meals at our hotel and possibly lunch out in the field.

March 22, 2020: On this day we’ll continue on from Uyuni to the town of Coquesa, which is near the volcano Tunupa. From here we’ll ascend up to 13,000 feet where we’ll have an incredible panoramic view of the salt flats. From here we can walk for 20 min to enter a cave known by the locals as CHULLPARES – Indigenous burial grounds with mummies from the URU-CHIPAYA culture). Following sunset we’ll arrive at our hotel for dinner and sleep.

March 23, 2020: We’ll begin another drive across the salt plains to the town of Sajama, where we’ll have the chance of crossing the quinoa plantation to see the main economic activity of the region. We’ll spend time photographing flamingos at Laguna Sekewa before we arrive at the archaeological site of Rio Lauca, where the most colorful graves from Aymaras Lords are exposed (XIIth Century). We’ll spend the night at our hotel in Sajama.

March 24, 2020: On this last day in the region, we’ll drive to La Paz, with stops at the worlds highest forest, queñua forest and Huayñacota Lagoon, hot springs for lunch. Our last stop will be at the Altiplanic Sistine Chapel in the Carangas Village. We’ll make our way to La Paz for our final night and farewell dinner.

March 25, 2020: Flights home from La Paz anytime

Additional information: Because of the extreme altitude visited on this workshop, you must be fit and aged 70 or younger. We will also be carrying oxygen and our local guide will be certified in wilderness first aid and experienced in altitude medicine. We will spend 3 nights at 8,000 feet to help acclimate for the higher altitudes of 15–16,000 feet reached on our way to the salt flats in Bolivia.

What to Bring and How to Prepare for Your Workshop

Please see our How To Prepare For Your Workshop page now for guidelines on workshop prep, gear, and packing. Approximately 90 days before your workshop, you will be sent a PDF with more specific instructions.

What’s Included

  • Double occupancy lodging (single available, just ask)

  • All meals, soft drinks and snacks during the workshop

  • All ground transportation during the workshop

  • All permits, fees, and gratuities

  • Photographic instruction and guiding from Randy Hanna

  • Image reviews, critiques, and post-processing instruction

  • Fun, inspiration, and a great time!

Whats Not Included?

Air transportation to Calama Chile and from La Paz Bolivia. Alcoholic beverages. Visa or passport fees. Medical Evacuation Insurance (required). Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended). Items of a personal nature. Anything specifically not mentioned as included.

Payment Terms

Your deposit of $2,995 will hold your space in this workshop. A second payment of $4,000 will be due on September 1, 2019. The balance of $4,000 will be due not later than December 1, 2019. All of our standard terms and conditions apply. Need special payment arrangements for your deposit? No problem, just ask us.

Additional Information

This is a small group expedition visiting a unique part of the world and it will fill fast. Don’t hesitate to register, and we’ll see you in San Pedro de Atacama!