Bolivia Trek - La Paz and Cordillera Real

Overview

Bolivia is among the world's most varied countries, and in its highlands alone it encompasses some of the Western Hemisphere's most impressive alpine peaks and traditional Indian peoples, as well as intriguing sites of Aymara, Inca, and pre-Inca civilizations.

Local villagers with alpacas entering Aymara village.

Local villagers with alpacas entering Aymara village. Dunham Gooding

No countries in the world have greater geographical diversity than Bolivia and its neighbor Peru. Lying within their borders are deserts, lush jungles, dry altiplano, fertile valleys, and numerous glaciated mountain ranges. But while the scenery is spectacular, the startling physical contrasts of each area have put different requirements upon humanity and have offered varied possibilities for life. While geographical differences and physical barriers normally isolate civil groups, develop in each distinct cultural characteristics, and make them independent if not hostile to one another, in Bolivia and Peru their challenge to humanity brought development of one of the world's most sophisticated civilizations.

In contrast, modern times have been typified by a complexity of political problems. In 15 to 20-year cycles we see South American countries that were thought of as stable fall to the trials of hyper-inflation and to ruling bodies that are either too laissez-faire or too heavy handed in their government, while at the same time we see countries that seemed condemned to insurmountable problems make remarkable progress and install governments of fairness and foresight.

The regularity of change in Bolivian governments used to make that country the butt of jokes and earned for it the informal designation as the world's least stable political arena. Military coups d'etat occurred on an average of every 11 months, and while they were almost always peaceful, they nonetheless prevented any long-term policy planning to be put in place and never fostered the development of any visionary government. Since 1982, however, the country has been governed by a multi-party democracy, and it now enjoys its highest degree of stability in this century.

Bolivia Trek - La Paz and Cordillera Real

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive this day (Saturday) or very early the next morning.

Day 2: La Paz exploration and city tour, 12,500 feet.

The Takesi trek takes us through traditional Aymara Villages.

The Takesi trek takes us through traditional Aymara Villages.
Andrew Wexler

Day 3: We leave La Paz early in the morning and head to the Cordillera Real. The trek starts by hiking up to a high plateau with amazing views of the antiplano and distant views of Lake Titicaca. From here we drop down into an alpine valley where we camp for the night. Approximately a 4 hours trek.

Day 4: We climb out of the valley and over a 15,000 foot pass with views of Huayna Potosi and the peaks of the Condoriri region of the Cordillera Real. We stop for lunch at an alpine lake, and then continue down to our next camp. Approximately a 6-hour trek.

Day 5: Trek over several beautiful mountain passes and past another alpine lake to a camp very close to the Condoriri camp.

Day 6: We walk for a few hours to the Plaza de Lama where we meet the bus for the ride back to La Paz.

Day 7: Day in La Paz to prepare for the mountains.

This program can be taken by itself as an introduction to one of South America's most remarkable historic, cultural, and geographical regions, or it can be used as preparation for Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition, or for the  Bolivia - Ancohuma and Illampu Expedition. It may also be preceded immediately by a tour of Cuzco and Machu Picchu in Peru.

Bolivia Trek - La Paz and Cordillera Real

Our Route

La Paz

La Paz is the highest capital in the world (12,300'/3750m), and we keep our pace moderate on our first day of activity, visiting historical sites and the city's busy traditional markets, run by bowler-hatted Aymara women. Native handicrafts, especially weaving, are the finest of their type in South America.

The next morning we head north to the central part of the Cordillera Real. As we start our trek we can see distant view of Lake Titicaca and native flora and fauna including condors, gulls, and the large Andean geese. On our trek we move through a series of valleys and over several passes, each of which reveals a new group of amazing Cordillera Real peaks. From here, we drop down into an alpine valley where we camp for the night.

The city of La Paz, the highest capital city in the world at around 10,000'.

The city of La Paz, the highest capital city in the world at around 10,000'.
AAI Collection

 

Into the Bolivian Highlands

We use mules burros and horses to carry most of the load. Having adjusted to La Paz's altitude, on this trek we are able to sleep comfortably at altitudes up to 14,500 feet (4420m), while in the day we cross passes up to 15,500 feet (4725m).

Some of the world class, close-up views we enjoy include the Condirori group and the amazing West Face of Huayna Potosi. We meet our vehicle at the end of another road on our last day, and then make the drive back across the Altiplano to La Paz for a hot shower and a festive meal in the city.

On our way into the Cordillera Real, we gain tremendous views of Illimani.

On our way into the Cordillera Real, we gain tremendous views of Illimani.
Andrew Wexler

Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition: Those participating only in the trek can elect to join us for the first spectacular day of our Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition during which we make a trip by motor launch on Lake Titicaca and drive up into the mountains to our trailhead.

Bolivia Trek - La Paz and Cordillera Real

Program Combinations

Here is a quick overview of our programs in Bolivia and Peru and how you can combine them to create the trip you want:

Bowler-hatted Aymara women are a common site at Bolivian markets.

Bowler-hatted Aymara women are a common site at Bolivian markets. Peter Dwork

You can begin your program with either a three-day visit to the high mountain valleys and spectacular Inca sites in and around Cuzco and Machu Picchu in Peru, or our seven-day Bolivia Trek.

Join our Bolivia program to visit the heartland of South America's most traditional country, have direct contact with its Aymara people, trek amidst the vestiges of the Inca Empire, and climb some of the most beautiful peaks on the continent.

Outside magazine says, 'AAI's combined trekking and climbing program in Bolivia is the perfect introduction to high altitude'. We agree, and having guided here since 1977, we believe it provides the richest cultural experience and highest quality glacier climbing in the entire range.

After spending a day in La Paz, we drive east into the Cordillera Real, gaining beautiful views of Illimani.

After spending a day in La Paz, we drive east into the Cordillera Real, gaining beautiful views of Illimani. Andrew Wexler

The program has three parts, and you can join us for one, two, or all three parts. The first part, Bolivia Trek - La Paz and Cordillera Real, is a great mountain trip in itself as well as perfect preparation for the climbing in the second part, Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition, and optional final part, Bolivia - Illimani Expedition. If you have family members or friends who aren't climbers but who love to hike or trek, consider inviting them to join you for explorations in La Paz and the outstanding trekking in this seven-day program.

The Institute also offers expeditions for experienced alpinists to four of the most important summits on the continent. The Ancohuma and Illampu Expedition in Bolivia runs simultaneously with Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition and can also be preceded by the Cuzco/Machu Picchu trip and the Bolivia Trek - La Paz and Cordillera Real. Expeditions to Huascaran and Alpamayo in Peru follow the Cuzco/Machu Picchu tour. AAI also leads two-week trips of first ascents and new routes for experienced climbers in remote areas of Bolivia's Cordillera Real.

Bolivia Trek - La Paz and Cordillera Real

Cost and Dates

$1430 - Part 1 only

$1330 ($100 discount), if combined with Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Expedition.

Climbers who register for Parts 1 and 2 will receive a $100 discount on both courses for a total discount of $200! The price for Parts 1 and 2 together is $4470.

Total tuition for all three Bolivia Expedition parts: $5800.

Prices are based on a minimum of 4 people per trip part.  Contact the AAI office at 360-671-1505 (Toll Free: 1-800-424-2249) or email: info@alpineinstitute.com for pricing on smaller groups. 

Max Ratio - 8:1 (Climber:Guide)

Capacity - 14

Program Cost Inclusions and Exclusions

Inclusions:  Land transportation; hotel in La Paz and Cuzco and tents while trekking - all on a shared basis (available on a private basis, subject to availability and at added cost); meals while trekking; admissions to archaeological zones; group cooking equipment; group trekking equipment.

Exclusions:  Airfare; personal equipment; meals except while trekking; gratuities to guides; insurance; expenses incurred because of late arrival or early departure; evacuation costs; government and airport taxes; inoculations; excess baggage.

2017 La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek Dates

  • Part 1 – May 20 - 26, 2017
  • Part 1 – June 17 - 23, 2017
  • Part 1 – July 15 - 21, 2017 
  • Part 1 – Aug 12 - 18, 2017 (Filling)

2017 Dates for Parts 1 - 3

Part 1 - La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek  May 20 - 26, 2017
Part 2 - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition  May 27 - June 5, 2017
Part 3 - Illimani Expedition                    June 6 - 10, 2017
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Part 1 - La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek  June 17 - 23, 2017
Part 2 - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition  June 24 - July 3 2017
Part 3 - Illimani Expedition                    July 4 - 8, 2017
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Part 1 - La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek  July 15 - 21, 2017
Part 2 - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition  July 22 - July 31, 2017
Part 3 - Illimani Expedition                    Aug 1 - 5, 2017
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Part 1 - La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek  Aug 12 - 18, 2017 (Filling)
Part 2 - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition  Aug 19 - 28, 2017 (Filling)
Part 3 - Illimani Expedition                    Aug 29 - Sept 2, 2017

 

2018 La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek Dates

  • Part 1 – May 19 - 25, 2018
  • Part 1 – June 16 - 22, 2018
  • Part 1 – July 14 - 20, 2018
  • Part 1 – Aug 11 - 17, 2018

2017 Dates for Parts 1 - 3

Part 1 - La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek  May 19 - 25, 2018
Part 2 - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition  May 26 - June 4, 2018
Part 3 - Illimani Expedition                    June 5 - 9, 2018
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Part 1 - La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek  June 16 - 22, 2018
Part 2 - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition  June 23 - July 2 2018
Part 3 - Illimani Expedition                    July 3 - 7, 2018
-----
Part 1 - La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek  July 14 - 20, 2018
Part 2 - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition  July 21 - July 30, 2018
Part 3 - Illimani Expedition                    July 31 - 4, 2018
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Part 1 - La Paz and Cordillera Real Trek  Aug 11 - 17, 2018
Part 2 - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition  Aug 18 - 27, 2018
Part 3 - Illimani Expedition                    Aug 28 - Sep 1, 2018

Prerequisites

Good general physical fitness is required as well as previous experience camping in the backcountry, and experience hiking in the mountains. 

 

Flight Information

Flight arrangements should be scheduled so that you arrive in La Paz on the first scheduled day of the trip. Please schedule your departure so that you leave the day after the last scheduled day of the trip. Please contact our Travel Coordinator, Lisa Grief, if you need assistance with travel arrangements.

 

Bolivia Trek - La Paz and Cordillera Real

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