Bolivia Expedition Itinerary
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Huayna Potosi & Pequeño Alpamayo.
Depart country of origin.
Arrive in La Paz, Bolivia. La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, stands at 12,008 feet above sea level. Its population of roughly 1.5 million people is diverse and rugged. The air at this altitude is quite thin and for most people it takes a few days to acclimatize. However, the sheer magnificence of the mountains that cradle the city more than makes up for any physical discomfort. We will spend some time here wandering the hilly streets of the Artesania Alley and exploring the Mercado de Hechiceria (Witche’s Market). We’ll also have a thorough equipment check and orientation, including discussion of Leave No Trace practices. Overnight at our hotel in La Paz which is located at an altitude of 3,600m /11,810 feet.
We’ll visit Tiwanaku, Bolivia’s most important archaeological site, and spend the day wandering through its monumental stone figures, courtyards and the impressive Gate of the Sun. The Gate of the Sun is part of an elaborate observatory that is believed to have functioned as a solar calendar dating back to 600 B.C. While not as imposing as Machu Picchu, it provides a fascinating glimpse into this pre-Inca culture. In the afternoon we reach Copacabana, the main town on Lake Titicaca, one of the highest navigable lakes in the world, and the “holy land of the Incas.” Overnight at Copacabana town (3,800m /12,467 feet).
An early morning boat trip takes us to Cha’llapampa on the northern end of the Island of the Sun. This island has been identified as the birthplace of several revered entities, including the sun itself. After having visited the Piedra Sagrada, Titi Khar’ka (Rock of the Puma) and the Chincana Ruins, we will start our two- to three-hour hike across the island. We’ll take the dramatic ridge route, which boasts spectacular views down to both coasts of the island and the Royal Range in the distance, heading to the village of Yumani (4,024m/13,202 feet) on the southern end of the Island of the Sun. There we will visit the well-known “Palacio del Inca” and the beautifully constructed Inca-era staircase “Escalera del Inca” before taking the boat back to Copacabana.
We’ll drive to the Ciriaco campsite (4,400 m/14,435 feet), gateway to the spectacular Condoriri range of mountains.
After an early breakfast, our mules and llamas will be loaded for our trek to Condoriri Base Camp. We establish Base Camp at 4,600 m/15,100 feet, by the Laguna Chiar Khota (“Black Lake”), a splendid alpine lake with views of the striking Cabeza de Condor and its two wings. Prepare for climbing and a review of mountaineering techniques.
We’ll climb Pico Austria, a 5,300 m/17,388 foot peak, with magnificent views towards the Condoriri Range and Lake Titicaca. We’ll overnight at Base Camp.
We’ll hike to about 4,800 m/15,750 feet at the glacier terminus. This is an easy day geared toward acclimatization, reviewing cramponing skills and running belays.
Rest day and preparation for the Pequeño Alpamayo climb. We may do some ice climbing in the nearby small frozen waterfalls.
We will attempt Pequeño Alpamayo, a beautiful snow pyramid at 5,370 m/17,618 feet. This stunning peak remains hidden until we reach the summit of Tarija, a subsidiary peak. The route is quite beautiful, following an aesthetic, airy ridge. From the summit, we have breathtaking views of the Royal Range, the Amazon Basin, the barren Altiplano, the impressive bulk of Mt. Sajama and our next objective, Huayna Potosi.
After a leisurely hike out, we’ll drive back to La Paz for much-needed rest.
We’ll drive to Huayna Potosi and overnight at Casa Blanca hut (4,750 m/15,584 ft.).
It takes about three hours to walk up to the Campo de Rocas hut (5,150 m/16,896 ft.), where we will prepare for the climb the following day. Porters will assist us in carrying some group gear and food.
Summit Day, with an early wake-up, as our ascent can take up to eight hours. After some interesting glacier travel, we’ll reach the final exciting ridge (45-50° for about 490 feet) leading to Bolivia’s famed summit. Fantastic views down the west face of the mountain and of the Cordillera Real await us on the top. We’ll descend to Casa Blanca hut in the afternoon and drive back to La Paz.
A day in La Paz. We’ll visit museums, go shopping and relax. (We may use this day as an extra summit day).
Arrive home country or depart.
We’ll either return to our country of origin. or drive to Illimani trailhead, where we’ll begin our approach to Base Camp from the village of Pinaya. Burros will carry our food and equipment, making the three-hour approach more enjoyable. The Puente Roto Base Camp is at 4,401m/14,440 ft.
From Base Camp, we’ll walk up the rocky ridge to our Nido de Condores (The Condor’s Nest) High Camp at 5,181m/17,880 ft.
Summit Day. After threading our way along a spectacular airy snow ridge, we climb moderately steep slopes (30° to 40°) for several hours before reaching the scenic summit ridge we’ll follow to get to the highest point (6,400m/21,125 ft.). The view from the summit of one of South America’s finest peaks is outstanding, and a great reward to a strenuous and fantastic day of climbing. We’ll descend to base camp to rest.
We’ll return to the trailhead for the drive back to La Paz.
Fly back to your country of origin.
Bolivia climbing is a well-kept secret. The climbing is spectacular, challenging and very satisfying. The fact that the peaks are all below 21,000 ft. and can be climbed in just a few days leads them to be underappreciated and underestimated.