Classic Bolivia

Bolivia

Culture | Archaeology

Colonial towns, salt flats, cloud forests & sublime lakes

15 days £2,095 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Experience authentic Bolivia on this classic tour. Starting in the tropical Santa Cruz wend your way across to Sucre, the perfectly preserved former capital. Marvel at the world’s largest salt flats in Uyuni, climb a volcano and peek inside hidden caves. Sail across Lake Titicaca and soak up the spirituality of Isla del Sol, birthplace of the Incan Sun God. Take in the views from the dizzying heights of El Alto, the world’s highest city, and see the city’s vibrant cholets. Discover endangered big cats at the Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary and learn about Bolivia’s conservation efforts.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • UNESCO-listed capital city of Sucre
  • World's largest salt flats
  • Volcanoes of Eduardo Avaroa Reserve
  • The dizzying heights of El Alto
  • Lake Titicaca, largest lake in South America
  • The high-altitude capital city of La Paz
  • Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary

Places Visited

Santa Cruz - Samaipata - Sucre - Potosí - Uyuni Salt Flats - Ojo de Perdiz - Laguna Colorada - La Paz - El Alto City - Lake Titicaca - Coroico

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Domestic flights 
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival in Santa Cruz

On arrival into Santa Cruz you will be met by a Travel the Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, take a guided city tour visiting the main city attractions: Plaza 24 de Septiembre, Cathedral, Museums Etnofolkloric and Natural History. The tour culminates with a visit to the Casa de la Cultura, where native women of different communities display their most delicate and sophisticated handcrafts. Overnight in Santa Cruz.

Please note: check-in at the hotel in Santa Cruz opens at 12pm. If you arrive in the early morning and would like to add on guaranteed early check-in, it is necessary to pay for an extra night's accommodation. Otherwise, you may store your luggage at the hotel until you check-in after 12pm. Please speak to your Travel Specialist for more information.
 

Overnight in Casa Patio, Santa Cruz

Meal plan: n/a

Santa Cruz is a city in the eastern central area of Bolivia, and the largest city in the country. It is currently considered one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world. The city was founded in 1561 by the Spanish, but moved locations in 1595 to its current location. The city is well-known for its diversity, colonial buildings, and vibrant tropical atmosphere.

Casa de la Cultura is the centre of cultural life within Santa Cruz. The building is split into two levels and surrounds a large courtyard. With a theatre on the top floor, the Casa also hosts exhibitions, classes, and meetings about city developments. It has been active since 1968.

The National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore (MUSEF) is a museum dedicated to the unique characteristics of Bolivia’s many cultures. Founded in 1925, its main purpose is the educate people on the ethnic diversity of the country, and to preserve artefacts. Some items on display include costumes, masks, fabrics, and weapons.

The Noel Kempff Mercado Museum of Natural History is named after a Bolivian biologist. The museum houses many animal, mineral and plant specimens, as well as a library and photography exhibit. Its mission is to contribute knowledge and support conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity.

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Day 2 : Santa Cruz - Samaipata

After breakfast at the hotel, take a transfer to Samaipata (around 2.5 hours). The road runs along the Cordillera and has beautiful views of mountains and rivers, and you will pass local people going about their daily lives. On arrival in Samaipata, check in at the hotel then visit the Museo Arqueologico, the main plaza and the town of Samaipata. After lunch, continue to El Fuerte, a pre-Inca sacred ritual fortress and now a designated World Heritage Site. In addition to its massive carved monolith, the site provides vistas of one of the most spectacular landscapes in Bolivia. Dinner at the hotel and overnight. Overnight in Samaipata.

Overnight in El Pueblito Resort, Samaipata

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Samaipata is a village located in the Santa Cruz Department area of Bolivia. It is also the capital of the Department’s Florida Province. It contains a high population of foreigners who have been welcomed into the local community, and is well-known for its peaceful highland atmosphere and historical significance, including a UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Site.

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Day 3 : Winery visit, Samaipata - Sucre

After breakfast, visit the winery of Uvairenda “Ruta del Vino”. Visitors can watch or participate in the winemaking process and learning about the quality control, bottling, and marketing, all ending with a wine-tasting on site. Return to Santa Cruz and fly from Santa Cruz to Sucre. Welcome on arrival in Sucre and overnight.

Overnight in El Hotel de Su Merced, Sucre

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Uvairenda is a boutique winery and vineyard. Creating a natural balcony, these grapes grow 1,800 metres above sea level, giving the wine a very distinctive taste.

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Day 4 : Sucre

Your full day tour of Sucre includes visits to the Casa de la Libertad, the museum of La Recoleta, San Lázaro church, the courtyard of the Universidad Mayor de San Francisco Xavier and the Convent of San Felipe Nery, which offers panoramic views of the city from its terraces, Textile museum ASUR and more. Overnight in Sucre.

Overnight in El Hotel de Su Merced, Sucre

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Sucre is the constitutional capital city of Bolivia. Founded in 1538 by the Spanish, it was designated the country’s capital after Bolivian independence was declared in 1825. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991 for its many well-preserved historical buildings, particularly churches and other religious sites from the 16th century.

The Museum of La Recoleta is in Sucre. The building was established in 1601 and has had many functions throughout its history, including army barracks and a prison. Inside the museum there are hand-carved choir stalls dating back to the 1870s and many artistic interpretations of St Francis of Assisi.

Casa de la Libertad is historically significant due to it being the building in which the Bolivian declaration of independence was signed in 1825. Originally a Jesuit chapel, the building now acts as a museum dedicated to the creation of the republic.

The ASUR Textile Museum in Sucre was established in 1986. The museum displays art created by the indigenous Jalq’a and Tarabuco people. It promotes this unique textile work through live demonstrations of weaving and tapestry.

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Day 5 : Sucre - Potosí

Breakfast at the hotel and land transport to Potosí. After a 3-hour drive along a paved road, arrive in Potosí. Take a city tour that includes a visit to the famous National Mint House, which is Potosi’s star attraction, and Santa Teresa convent. Overnight in Potosí.

Overnight in Hotel Coloso, Potosí

Meal plan: Breakfast

Potosí is the capital city of the Potosí Department, located high in the Bolivian Andes. Founded in 1545, it is considered one of the highest cities in the world at an altitude of around 4,000 metres. Once a thriving colonial industrial complex due to its high silver deposits, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 for its preserved aspects of colonial industrial and domestic life from the 16th century Spanish colonisation of the area.

The Casa de la Moneda Museum is dedicated to Bolivia’s Royal Mint. It exhibits coins, notes and machinery used throughout history and detailed information about money production dating back to 1572.

The Convent of Santa Teresa Museum is found within the convent itself. It is dedicated to the Carmelite nuns, some of whom still live in the convent. The artwork and literature on display provide an insight into the cloistered lives of these women, and the sacrifices they had to make to live a holy life.

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Day 6 : Potosí - Uyuni

After breakfast, you will be collected from the hotel for a tour of Potosí's mines. Visit the silver mines to learn about the working conditions of Potosí’s mineral extracting activities. Walk up to the foot of the Cerro Rico Mountain where, during the 17th century, millions of tons of silver were mined and conveyed to Spain, and hear about the fascinating myths, hard work, and hopes of the workers. In the afternoon, travel from Potosí to Uyuni (4-hour drive). Overnight in the town of Uyuni.

Overnight in Jardines de Uyuni, Uyuni

Meal plan: Breakfast

Uyuni is a city located in southwestern Bolivia. It is renowned for its large salt flats, considered the largest in the world. Founded in 1889, the city’s main economy revolves around mining and tourism.

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Day 7 : Uyuni Salt Flats and Tunupa

On your first day at Uyuni, visit the Train Cemetery and continue to Colchani in the Salar de Uyuni. Observe the factories and the rustic methods used to produce table salt. See the pyramids of salt and the 'eyes' of salt - big holes in the salt flats, and visit the old salt hotel (today a museum). Later, go to the foot of the Tunupa Volcano near the town of Coquesa, where flamingos can be observed, and enjoy the views from a 4,200-metre high viewpoint. End your day by visiting the Mummies of Coquesa and the Chantani Museum. Overnight in the town of Uyuni.

Overnight in Luna Salada Hotel & Spa, Colchani

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Tunupa is a dormant volcano found on the Uyuni Salt Flats. It is the centre of many legends surrounding the origin of the flats. There is a cave within the volcano that houses the remains of Incan villagers known as the Coquesa mummies.

Colchani is a small one street town on the outskirts of the Uyuni Salt Flats. It is the only place salt from Uyuni is processed. Colchani produces 25,000 tonnes of salt from the flats annually.

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Day 8 : Small lagoons

After an early breakfast, depart in a 4WD car towards Laguna Turkiri, Volcán Ollague, Lakes Cañapa, Hedionda, Chaircota and Honda. These lakes are home to pink flamingos and other bird species. Later, visit the Siloli Desert, Red Lagoon and the Stone Tree. Overnight near Laguna Colorada.

Overnight in Tayka del Desierto, Ojo de Perdiz

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 9 : Green Lagoon - return to La Paz

Very early in the morning, depart towards the Green Lagoon. In the way we visit Sol de Mañana, where we can admire sulphur vapours and thermal water emanations, as well as mini fumaroles. Next, arrive to the thermal water pond of Polques where you may enjoy a pleasant open air bath. Continue to the Dali desert and the Laguna Verde, where you can see the iridescent colour of the water together with spectacular views of the Licancabur volcano.
 
On your way back to Uyuni, visit the Ciudad de Piedra (Stone City) with spectacular shapes that look like a city.  In this area, it is possible to observe foxes and vicuñas. Later, visit the Valley of Rocks and Cascada Canyon, then continue the trip back to Uyuni, arriving in the early evening. Transfer to the airport and fly back to La Paz. Overnight in La Paz.

Overnight in La Casona Hotel, La Paz

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Sol de Mañana, or ‘Morning Sun’, is a geothermal field located in Potosí. It has high levels of volcanic activity as well as sulphur springs and boiling mud puddles. Steam from the earth can shoot up to 50 metres in height.

La Paz is the de-facto capital city of Bolivia. Founded in 1548, it was built within a canyon at around 4,000m above sea level. The altitude directly impacts the city's sociocultural landscape, as the lower the altitude, the more affluent the area. The city is full of market streets, museums and street performers.

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Day 10 : La Paz

Today, embark on a city tour to discover the highlights and hidden gems of La Paz. Our full day tour starts with a visit to El Alto, which is the highest inhabitable city in Bolivia. You will have the chance to appreciate how the architecture of this area has evolved over the years up to the current construction of the Aymaras' cholets.

In La Paz itself, visit the main square where the Government Palace and National Congress are located, the monumental 16th-century San Francisco Church, and the Mirador Killi Killi, one of La Paz’s most impressive viewpoints featuring dramatic panoramic views of the city.

Then head south, to the well-known Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), observing the residential areas in our way. Enjoy amazing views of the Andes Mountains before taking a ride on the cable car known as Mi Teleférico, a public transit system that will takes you to new heights. Operating at 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) above sea level, the world’s highest cable car ride has revolutionised the way locals travel between La Paz and the neighbouring city of El Alto. A tourist attraction in its own right, the cable cars provide spectacular bird’s-eye views from each of the lines, enabling passengers to grasp just how big and sprawling the city truly is.
 
End your tour in the popular Witches’ Market (Mercado de las Brujas). You can explore the open-air market where the vendors offer medicinal dried herbs, seeds, llama fetuses and many other items used in rituals and spiritual practices. The Witches’ Market is certainly an entertaining sight for travelers, remaining as a serious and sacred business to the people who work there. Handicraft markets are also located in the area and you may stay there for shopping or return to the hotel. Overnight in La Paz.

Overnight in La Casona Hotel, La Paz

Meal plan: Breakfast

El Alto is the highest major metropolis in the world at 4,150m above sea level. Once a suburb of La Paz, El Alto declared political independence in 1985. Known for its heavy traffic and busy streets, it is home to the biggest open air market in Bolivia, and offers unrivalled views over the city of La Paz.

Valle de la Luna is a lunar landscape located in La Paz. Erosion of mountains has created the unusual canyons and spires that make up the valley. Due to varying mineral content, the landscape displays some unexpected vibrant colours.

The Witches' Market in La Paz is full of strange and fascinating products. Dried frogs, llama foetuses, owl feathers and aphrodisiac potions are amongst some of the unusual wares on sale. Witch doctors wander the market offering their fortune telling services.

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Day 11 : La Paz - Lake Titicaca

After breakfast, travel west to Lake Titicaca. After 3.5 hours, arrive to Copacabana, the main Bolivian town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Board a private traditional boat bound for the Isla del Sol (Sun Island), a truly energetic place filled with history and mystery. After a one-hour sailing, a native delicious lunch or Apthapi will be waiting for you on the island. Take time to appreciate the tranquility and beauty of the island, where Andean agrarian cultures maintain traditions that date to pre-Columbian times. 
 
Later, visit some of the remaining Inca ruins like the Pilko Kaina temple. Near Yumani village, climb the Escalera del Inca, a 200-step staircase leading to a spring called the Inca’s Fountain, that was believed to prolong youth. Enjoy the tremendous views wherever you look, and later, a spectacular sunset. Overnight on the Isla del Sol.

Overnight in Ecolodge La Estancia, Isla del Sol

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America. Located in the Andes Mountains between Peru and Bolivia, it is considered the highest navigable lake in the world in terms of elevation.

Sun Island or 'Isla del Sol' is a peaceful island on Lake Titicaca. Believed to be the birthplace of the Sun God and the first two Incas, the island maintains a highly spiritual atmosphere, housing over 80 Incan ruins. Many indigenous families still inhabit the island which is divided into two main villages – Cha’llapampa in the north, Yumani in the south.

The Fountain of Eternal Youth on the Isla del Sol consists of three stone channels of water representing purification, life and youth. Incas believed a sip from all three channels will bring eternal youth and happiness.

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Day 12 : Lake Titicaca - La Paz

Enjoy a magnificent sunrise then after breakfast, return by boat to the town of Copacabana, well known for its 16th-century shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana, where a Dark Madonna can be found.  Visit the town and learn about the mystical spiritualism and religious traditions that take place.

After lunch, return by road to La Paz. 

Overnight in La Casona Hotel, La Paz

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Copacabana is a small town that lies alongside Lake Titicaca. Home to a large Basilica, the town is known for its peaceful atmosphere and religious festivals. The buildings are topped with iconic red roofs.

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Day 13 : La Paz - Coroico

After breakfast, start your trip to Coroico by road. On the way, enjoy breathtaking views along with the amazing changes of panorama, making stops for unforgettable pictures. Arrive in the Yungas valley in less than 3 hours.

After lunch, we head to the Animal Refuge “La Senda Verde” for an unforgettable experience with the many rescued resident animals of 54 different species, all while you learn about the effects of wildlife trafficking and its impact on the environment and humanity. Overnight in Coroico.

Overnight in Hotel Los Jazmines, Coroico

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Coroico is a hill-top town surrounded by mountains. Due to its lower altitude, the weather in this area is much warmer than many other regions of Bolivia, with higher oxygen levels. Originally a gold mining town, Coroico offers stunning vistas and a tranquil atmosphere, making it a favourite for hikers.

Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary was founded in 2003. Its primary focus is to provide care and treatment to sick, mistreated and abandoned wildlife. In recent years, it has used its status to educate people on the increase of illegal animal trafficking in Bolivia. Animals at the sanctuary include jaguars, ocelots and spectacled bears.

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Day 14 : Coroico - La Paz

After breakfast, visit the abundant coffee and coca plantations of the surrounding area. The Yungas is the region that produces the best coca leaves, which are sold throughout Bolivia (coca leaves are sold legally in Bolivia). Enjoy a short walk through the town of Coroico and return to La Paz. Overnight in La Paz.

Overnight in La Casona Hotel, La Paz

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 15 : Departure

At a suitable time, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Casa Patio

Santa Cruz (1 night)

Located just outside Santa Cruz’s city centre, Casa Patio Boutique Hotel provides guests with a comfortable, homely stay with good access to the city’s many popular sites, including museums and parks, the Plaza 24 de Septiembre, and the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral. The hotel’s rooms feature a colonial-influenced style with vintage furnishings, with some modern amenities such as Wi-Fi for a contemporary touch. The hotel offers both restaurant dining and kitchen access for those who wish to cook for themselves, as well as a charming enclosed patio area.

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El Pueblito Resort

Samaipata (1 night)

Set within Samaipata’s incredible natural landscape of forested mountains and valleys, El Pueblito Resort offers a relaxing boutique stay. The resort consists of 11 unique themed rooms, each containing rustic and traditionally-influenced designs and furnishings relating to their source of inspiration, along with most modern amenities, access to a shared pool and scenic views of the valley. The resort also provides good access to the wildlife-rich cloud forests of Amboró National Park, as well as the ancient archaeological site of El Fuerte and the town museum which exhibits the site’s pre-Incan artefacts.

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El Hotel de Su Merced

Sucre (2 nights)

Located in the heart of Sucre’s cultural centre, El Hotel de Su Merced offers boutique-style accommodation with excellent access to the city’s most popular attractions including Casa De La Libertad and the Metropolitan Cathedral. The hotel’s rooms feature traditional-style décor and furnishings, and provide access to all modern amenities for a contemporary touch. Guests may enjoy on-site dining including terrace seating with scenic cityscape views of Sucre.

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Hotel Coloso

Potosí (1 night)

Located in central Potosí just a short distance from the city’s many churches, museums and parks, Hotel Coloso offers comfortable accommodation that is ideally situated for exploration. The hotel’s rooms are simple and spacious, and come equipped with en-suites and most modern amenities including Wi-Fi. Additional features of the Coloso include an on-site restaurant, an indoor pool, and fitness facilities.

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Jardines de Uyuni

Uyuni (1 night)

Located in the dusty town of Uyuni close to the world-renowned Salt Flats, the rustic Jardines de Uyuni offers 25 comfortable rooms, all decorated in a local style with Andean fabrics and prints. A daily complimentary breakfast is included in the on-site breakfast, and the hotel offers a heated indoor swimming pool, as well as a dry sauna and steam room.

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Luna Salada Hotel & Spa

Colchani (1 night)

With an unsurpassed location on the edge of the world's largest salt flats, the Luna Salada Hotel & Spa is a truly special place to stay. Made entirely out of salt from floor to ceiling, the hotel encourages guests to disconnect from the fast-paced modern world and rediscover nature at its grandest. The hotel boasts sweeping panoramic views of Salar de Uyuni from the hotel and is decorated with cosy Andean touches throughout. Guests can make use of the sauna and steam room, and there is an extensive treatment list available, which makes the most of the readily available local salt.

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Tayka del Desierto

Ojo de Perdiz (1 night)

Located in a completely remote area of the striking Siloli Desert, the Tayka del Desierto is an ideal base from which to visit Bolivia's southern lagoons, including the picturesque Laguna Colorada, a 40-minute drive away. Constructed using volcanic rock, the hotel is well protected from strong desert winds, and solar panels generate electricity and hot water for evening use. Rooms are simple but comfortable, with cosy Andean touches and stone walls.

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La Casona Hotel

La Paz (4 nights)

Situated in the historic city centre of La Paz, La Casona Hotel provides guests with a boutique experience in an ideal location. Set within a charming 17th-Century colonial building, the hotel’s rooms feature rustic designs with touches of traditional Bolivian inspiration. Guests may enjoy dining of local and international cuisine in the hotel’s cosy restaurant, as well as easy access to La Paz’s many museums, churches, parks, and other cultural, historical and natural wonders.

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Ecolodge La Estancia

Isla del Sol (1 night)

Existing in perfect harmony with the rhythms of Lake Titicaca, as well as the culture and heritage of the local Aymaras, Ecolodge La Estancia is a spiritual getaway at one with nature. Located on Isla del Sol, the Ecolodge offers a breath-taking setting ​unlike any other, with majestic views of the lake and the Royal Andes Mountains. The 15 individual cottages were constructed using mud bricks, stone and straw, and each comes equipped with a solar heating system and a private bathroom. The cottages are simply decorated with Andean touches. Please note that a 45-minute uphill hike is required to reach the Ecolodge.

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Hotel Los Jazmines

Coroico (1 night)

Overlooking the town of Coroico and the valleys and mountains beyond, Hotel Los Jazmines offers guests a relaxing stay with a unique combination of small town and nature surroundings. The hotel’s rooms feature villa-style interiors with touches of South American influence and some modern amenities, though Wi-Fi is only available in shared hotel areas. Guests may relax by the pool, visit the town’s central plaza or one of many charming restaurants, or take in some of the surrounding nature on a woodland hike.

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Extensions

Active Bolivia (1-10 days)

Take on Bolivia's adventure activities

Bolivian Cuisine (1-5 days)

Discover Bolivia through its sweet and savoury treats

Hidden Bolivia (18 days)

Lost missions, Inca ruins, cloud forests & remote canyons

Classic Bolivia (15 days)

Colonial towns, salt flats, cloud forests & sublime lakes