Do good and book a holiday!
You love chocolate and enjoy organic and fairly traded food? You want to spend your holidays in a place where fairness and responsibility towards others are not just a slogan? Great, you are in the right place!
We, meaning the cocoa farmers of the El Ceibo cooperative in Bolivia, and the team of destination:development, invite you to join us on the first guided tour to the Chocolate Road – a unique theme road about cocoa, initiated by and developed with the cocoa farmers of the local communities in Alto Beni, Bolivia.
Since 2015, destination:development has accompanied and supported the cocoa farmers on their way to become a tourism destination and open their region to visitors. Their desire to become a tourism destination and to welcome guests from all over the world makes organic cocoa production an important and precious asset for another branch of business apart from the chocolate producing industry.
Join us, on an unforgettable journey to the origin of fair, organic chocolate and turn your holiday into a chance for the local cocoa farmers to independently design and develop their local environment according to their own needs and traditions.
Meet the people behind fair, organic production in Bolivia
max. 10 people
completely off the tourism tracks
exclusive travel route including. typical highlights:
La Paz, El Alto, Sapecho, Rurrenabaque, Uyuni saltflat
based on the principle of responsibility in tourism
Just give us a call:
+43 650 25 00 558 (every day from 10:00 to 22:00hrs)
What makes this journey special
On this beautiful journey from the Bolivian Altiplano to the lowlands of the Amazon, you have the unique opportunity to really get to know the cocoa farmers on a very personal level – at work while grooming their plantations, at the chocolate factory during their morning break, at the local tree nursery while planting their new cocoa trees at the cocoa-research centre or over a cup of cocoa or dinner at the El Ceibo community kitchen. The cocoa farmers have been looking forward to your visit for a long time, and are eager to show you how they produce their precious chocolate, and how it has influenced and transformed their lives and stories.
Most cocoa farmers at El Ceibo are not indigenous to the tropical lowlands of Alto Beni. They have their roots in the highlands of the Bolivian Altiplano, and became cocoa farmers after government relocation programmes in the 1960s. Under the umbrella of the El Ceibo cooperative they live what Bolivians call multi- and pluriculturality. Diversity is something they share with their products, because their delicious chocolates do also combine a multitude of local ingredients, like the recently hyped quinoa grain and salt from Uyuni, the biggest salt flat in the world. Come with us and enjoy the multitude and contrasts of Bolivia’s people and products.
This journey is unique, because it is not designed to meet the alleged needs of foreign tourists, but those of the locals. So if you are looking for tailor made recreational facilities for tourists, you are looking in the wrong place. What you will find instead, are open minded, friendly people who welcome you with open arms and heartfelt smiles, eager to share their traditions and stories with you. Let them surprise you, they sure will. What else is there to look forward to? Breath taking landscapes, endless plains, colourful deserts, lively cities, lush gardens, exotic plants, tropical forests, well groomed cocoa plantations, fresh fruit, friendly people and many, many stories to tell. Join us!
"This journey is an adventure that is worth every second!"
Your travel companion
…will be me, Kerstin. I have been travelling all over Latin America for 17 years by now, and have got to know and love Bolivia as one of the most authentic and diverse countries. Being fluent in English, Spanish and German, I am hardly ever at a loss of words – and even if I am, I always find a way to communicate with the people. As interpreter and tourism manager, it is my heart’s desire to bring people closer together, to make them understand one another and to build a bridge between the cultures.
During your adventure in Bolivia, I am your personal travel buddy and take care of anything you may need. Together we will discover the obvious and hidden beauties of the Bolivian highlands and the Amazon. I will introduce you to the the heroes of your journey: the cocoa farmers of the El Ceibo cooperative, to the biologists at the cocoa research centre in Sara Ana, to the manufacturers of Qhana’s knitwear from Alpaca wool, to the members of the quinoa producing cooperative ANAPQI and many, many more wonderful people. It is important to me, that you can really get to know each other in conversation, and I am more than happy to be your personal translator. Of course it is also important to have some flexibility for personal interests on a holiday, and I will see to it, that your individual preferences and desires can be included and met.
I am sure we will have a wonderful time together, with many unforgettable encounters and great stories to tell!
"Your journey makes a difference!"
Your support to
the cocoa farmers
With your journey you do not only directly support the cocoa farmers of El Ceibo along the Chocolate Road, and all the local businesses contributing to make your travel experience unique. Your project fee, which is included in your travel cost and explicitly marked, you support the future development of the Chocolate Road region as well as other groups of people who would like to follow the cocoa farmer’s example and need start-up aid to do so.
Your travel route
Day 1: Arrive and just breathe in La Paz
Welcome to the highest capital in the world! La Paz is situated at 3.800 meters above sea level and is a colourful and lively city with plenty to offer. There are a million things to see, from the bizarre lunar landscapes of the “valle de la luna”, to the museum of contemporary Bolivian art, or while roaming the colourful local markets. Maybe you feel like getting to know the city from the point of view of their famous shoe shiners; or maybe the traffic-zebra project. Or maybe you just want to sit down and enjoy the breath taking views over La Paz and the surrounding peaks of the Andes from one of the city’s viewpoints. Today you decide how fast you want to go and what you want to see. And whatever choice you make, it will be a perfect one.
Day 2: Up to El Alto with your head in the clouds
Today we follow the trails of fair trade to the city of El Alto and take the most modern and most spectacular means of transport in the city: the cable car (designed by Doppelmayr, the same manufacturer who produces the cable cars for your alpine skiing adventure in the Austrian Alps). In El Alto, we have the opportunity to visit the architectural highlights of the city with their slightly surreal and very unique designs. Afterwards, we meet Lourdes and Humberto of the Qhana knitwear cooperative, who invite us to their manufacturing site. Qhana has been a trading partner in fair production for many years and continues the tradition of knitwear from Alpaca wool. We are going to spend time with Lourdes, who will be happy to share one or the other trick for a beautiful cardigan with you.
Day 3: Spectacular ride to tropical Sapecho
Today is the day you have been waiting for: We start travelling down the Chocolate Road! The sweet aroma of chocolate leads us the ways to the El Ceibo chocolate factory in El Alto, where Nemion and Michel are already waiting for us. Now it’s time to look around and feel like Chary in the Chocolate Factory. After chocolatier Andrés has let us in on the secrets of El Ceibo’s chocolate production, we will enjoy a cup of cocoa with the workers. Another highlight of the tour through the factory is the view from the rooftop. It will take your breath away! But what goes up, must go down, and so we start our way to the car and further down along the Chocolate Road to the tropical capital of cocoa: Sapecho. It is a spectacular ride from the cold, dry highlands through cloud forests to the lush tropical gardens of the land where the chocolate grows. You will see, you are going to lose one piece of clothing every hour on the way, while admiring the change of colours, vegetation and landscapes.
Day 4: Welcome to the land of chocolate
Today you will discover where El Ceibo’s delicious chocolate comes from. Don Emilio will meet us in the morning for breakfast and a tour through the headquarters of El Ceibo in Sapecho, including the tree nursery. You will not only have the chance to plant your own cocoa tree, but to learn everything about the little plants. You will be surprised how much there is to know. Afterwards, Don Sabino invites you to his plantation near Covendo, where you can marvel at the older cocoa trees. SDon Sabino will tell you about life and work as a cocoa farmer and will happily answer all your questions. If you want to make his lovely smile even bigger, you give him a hand harvesting some fruit. He will love to show you how it works. In the afternoon we leave for the cocoa research centre Sara Ana, where Don Freddy is expecting us. He will take you on a little evening tour through the chocolate gardens.
Day 5: 40 different scents of chocolate
Wouldn’t you just love to spend the whole day in the chocolate gardens of Sara Ana? Let’s do it! Today you have all the time in the world to roam the gardens of Sara Ana and to learn all about cocoa from a scientific point of view. Don Freddy is the man with the answers to all your questions and will love to show you around. But today is not only about learning stuff. Sara Ana is the perfect place for a bath in the river Beni during the hot midday hours or to just hang out in hammock until the afternoon brings cooler temperatures. If you are in an adventurous mood, our friend Joachim will take you on a special tour designed for cocoa farmers to make them more perceptible to nature. You will discover the plantations barefoot and with your eyes covered. Let yourself be amazed by how your senses will connect to nature.
Day 6 & 7: Floating gently down the stream
It’s hard to say good bye, but the prospect of two days of pure nature along the river Beni will make it a little easier to part from Sara Ana. In the morning, Joachim will pick you up in the boat that will take us to Rurrenabaque. You have many relaxing hours on the river ahead of you, and with a little luck you will be spotting some of the indigenous animals like parrots, monkeys, turtles, caimans or one or the other exotic birds of the region. We will spend the night camping at the river banks under a sky full of stars, to the sounds of the river and the surrounding forest. The next day we will continue to Rurrenabaque, where you can stretch your sea legs on solid ground again.
*Depending on weather conditions we might make the journey to Rurrenabaque by land.
Day 8: Somewhere between a hammock and a jungle-walk
Today you have a full day to yourself. You can either go on a jungle walk into the Maddidi National Park, or spend a lazy day in a hammock in the shades of a tree. Enjoy the heat and the heavy, humid air before we get back to the highlands of the Andes.
Day 9: Up in the air – to the highlands of La Paz
Today we are taking off to the highlands of La Paz and get back to 3.800 meters above sea level. From the plane you have a fantastic bird’s eye view of the changing landscapes between the tropical Amazon and the highlands, from green, to brown to blue and white. In La Paz you have some time to yourself and to get used to the altitude again. If you feel like it, you also have the opportunity to make one of the tours you might have left out on your first day. Now is your chance!
Day 10: The endless plains from La Paz to Uyuni
Today is another travel day, but this time overland. It is an exceptional feeling to travel the endless plains of the Bolivian high plateau. We will pass the miners city Oruro and from there take the train to Uyuni, the gateway to the biggest salt plain in the world. You will have the chance to stretch your legs on a walk through the slightly bizarre little town, which promises to cover all the alleged needs of a tourist. It will make you smile, you will see.
Day 11: Blue and white horizons in a sea of salt
Enjoy your day in a place of unique natural beauty and the world’s biggest setting for creative photo shootings.! Technically, the Uyuni salt flat used to be a lake and not a sea. Measured by it’s size, however, it is rather accurate to call it a sea. You will find a thousand funny and creative ways to capture its vastness on camera.
As a contrast, we will make a short visit to Juan. He is one of the few people living at the salt plains of Uyuni. Salt mining used to be the main source of income of the people living here, but ever since Uyuni has been promoted as Bolivia’s tourism icon, salt mining was largely exchanged by tourism as a source of income. Juan is very proud of his guest book, where he has collected several thousand entries from people all over the world, and some have also bought his salt.
After a magical sunset, when the sun has been swallowed by the different shades of pink, blue and violet on the horizon, you can already look forward to the next highlight – a sky full of stars above the Uyuni salt lake, accompanied by the total silence of the plains.
Day 12: Surreal deserts and colourful lakes
Let yourself get lost in the surreal world of a Salvador Dalí painting. The unique landscape of the Bolivian desert is one of the most diverse in the world and leaves you in awe of its beauty and scarcity. Many of the cocoa farmers of El Ceibo have their roots in the vast landscapes of the Bolivian Altiplano. Be inspired! This is a place where big thoughts find space to grow.
Day 13: From solitude into the abundance
Take you time to collect your thoughts and impressions on the way back through the plains to La Paz. You are now in the land of the magical grain quinoa. In fact, quinoa is one of he oldest grains in the world and has been cultivated for more than 5.000 years, long before the Inca came into power. It has been, and still is, the staple food of the people in the dry highlands and holds many important minerals. In recent years, it has also been rediscovered and recognized as cultural heritage. Tomorrow, you will find out more about the secrets of this magical grain.
Day 14: A colourful Inca treasure – quinoa
The heroes and heroines of the day are the quinoa grain and its producers of the ANAPQI cooperative. Quinoa does not only own its popularity to the health and beauty hype around it. It is also a key ingredient of some delicious El Ceibo chocolates. Gladys is a board member of ANAPQUI and invites us to meet her fellow members at the production site of the cooperative. Producing quinoa is not at all easy, and Gladys and her colleagues can tell you all about the ups and downs in the little grain’s history, and also about the pros and cons of the recent quinoa hype in our societies. ANAPQUI is also a fair trade partner and you may have found their products in the shelves of your local fair trade store. When the sun goes down, we return to the sparkling lights of La Paz for the last time on our journey.
Day 15: Good bye, Bolivia
It is always a little sad when an adventure ends, but let’s look on the bright side: new technologies make it easy to keep in touch with your new friends in Bolivia; you are lucky that lovely memories do not count on the luggage scales, so you are saving tons of money here; and there is still enough time to get a decent stock of El Ceibo chocolates before you have to get to the plane. Still, we bet you will want to return to Bolivia by the time you run out of chocolate…
"Turn your holiday into something special!"
This journey is recommended by:
Your package price includes:
– Professional advice and organisation in Viena and Bolivia
– Per-Travel event in Vienna or per Skype alternatively
– Travel documents
– Assistance in Bolivia by your English speaking travel companion
– Trilingual guide and translation
– Private transportation according to itinerary
– Flight from Rurrenabaque to La Paz
– Guided tour through the El Ceibo chocolate factory by a member of the cooperative
– Guided tour through the cocoa research centre in Sara Ana by a member of the research team
– Guided tour through the cocoa plantations of a member of El Ceibo, guided by the owner
– Guided tour through the quinoa production of the ANAPQI cooperative by a member of ANAPQUI
– Visit at the alpaca knitwear manufacturers of Qhana, guided by a member of the cooperative
– Visit at the El Ceibo headquarters and tree nursery in Sapecho
– Boat trip to Rurrenabaque (depending on weather conditions alternatively private transport)
– Guided 4×4 tour to the Uyuni salt flats
– Guide 4×4 tour to the colored lakes (Lagunas Coloradas)
– 14 nights in typical local accommodations (hotel, apartment, homestay, camping), meals according to detailed travel programme
– Sustainable tourism project fee (100 EUR)
– One year membership as sustaining member at destination:development
* All all indications without engagement, subject to modifications.
Services not included:
– Flight to/back from Bolivia
– Travel insurance
– Visa (not necessary for EU citizens)
– Possible departure fees (approximately 35USD per person, some airlines include the fee in their ticket prices)
– Meals not marked as included in the programme, tips, and other personal expenses
– Entry to National Parks (approximately 15USD)
– Personal expenses (food, beverages), usually no more than 15-25USD per day
17.9. – 1.10.2017
8.10. – 22.10.2017
*more dates available on request
per person in a double room
*single rooms available on request against an additional fee