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TREKKING IN BOLIVIA
GEO-TREK is a well-established, specialized trekking company in la Paz - Bolivia which arranges the best treks in Bolivia. The advantages of our treks are that everything is organized and paid before you leave home; there is a high level of professionalism; the leader speaks your language; and there´s nothing to worry about - relax, you're on vacation.
Do it yourself: plan your trip at home and on arrival organize transport or whatever services you need with us.
Isla del Sol
Copacabana to Isla del Sol Trek
It is not hard to understand why this huge lake became the focus for a religion; today´s visitors feel exultation at their first sight of this great sapphire-blue body of water contrasting with the dried yellow grasslands which surround it, and white peaks of the Cordillera Real against the sky. Most people find the Bolivian side of the lake more appealing than the Peruvian, perhaps because Copacabanais so much nicer a town than Puno.
This is a beautiful location for easy trekking. The island is held to be the birthplace of the sun, the moon and the first Inca. All sorts of legends and superstitions are associated with the area. For instance, the god Thunupa rebelled against the first Inca. Thunupa was condemned to death here and tied to a raft which was sent across the lake to crash against the rocks. But the rocks opened, allowing Thunupa to scape along what is now the Rio Desaguadero, the lake’s main outlet. There are stories of an underground tunnel from the island direct to Machu Picchu in Peru.
Yampupata lies at the end of the Copacabana Peninsula and it is the nearest land to the Island of the Sun. Following the road out of town and along the lake; there are very occasional vehicles, but mostly other foot travellers and their animals.
The Island of the Sun supports a surprisingly large population so is networked with trails. From Pilkokaina we walk along the terraces to the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun, which is Tiwanaku in style with early Inca influences. After some 3 hours we will reach on an old hacienda which was owned by an ex-president and is said to have dungeons; below here, by the lake shore, are the Inca Springs. Continuing west along a good trail for about an hour we will come to the Inca Labyrinth.
Cordillera de Apolobamba
Less know and less accesible than the Cordillera Real, the Apolobamba lies to the north and west of that range, rising abruptly from the Altiplano and straddling the Peruvian frontier at the northern tip of Lake Titikaka. The beauty of the mountain scenery equals or even exceeds that of the Cordillera Real, and the glimpses of indian life and wildlife are even more interesting than to the south. The Apolobamba owes its network of good trails to the Spanish lust for gold.
Charazani or Curva to Pelechuco
it is a six day trek including one rest day, and it is so spectacular and interesting that you would not hesitate to recommend to backpackers or to groups looking for an exceptional trek. The clear trail runs along the eastern side of the Cordillera de Apolobamba from Pelechuco, a village founded in 1560, which is at the crossroads of Amazon and Andean trade. Apart from the breathtaking scenery, this trek is special because of the contact with the Kallawaya Culture who are the traditional healers of the area. Highly respected throughout South America (they journey as far as Patagonia and Panama), they are expert in the use of herbal medicine and the art of making diagnoses by reading an animal`s entrails or scattered coca leaves.
This is one of the best mountain treks in Bolivia, passing through traditional villages and then up into the heights of the southern Cordillera de Apolobamba. There are more people living in this area than in the northern half of the range. But after the villages of Curva or Canisaya, you are unlikely to see more than a few people a day and no other tourists. The first language of the few people here is Quecha, followed by Aymara and then Spanish. You can start the trek in Charazani or Curva in the south, or Pelechuco in the north. The advantages of starting in Charazani or Curva in the south because the passes have steep ascents and easier descents. The disadvantage is that, from the north, the ascents of the passes are longer and the descents shorter and steeper.
The 150 kilometer of Bolivia`s Cordillera Real stretch from the Sorata Valley to Rio La Paz, providing a splendid backdrop for the world`s highest capital city. There are six peaks over 6.000 meter, and many more above the 5.000 meter mark. This mountain range is perfect for backpacking, offering days of hiking above the treeline with snow-capped mountains appearing round almost every bend, and steep descents to the tropical vegetaion of the Yungas. There is no problem acclimatizing for the hikes: a few days` sightseeing in La Paz will take care of that. All the trails can be done in reverse if you prefer going uphill to downhill, and it is a serious option for those getting fit and acclimatized for a mountaineering expedition.
Sorata to Sorata
This trek is a tour around the entire Illampu - Ancohuma massif. The Illampu circuit is normally done in 7 days. It is hard work: three passes over 4.000 meter (13.000 feet.) and one over 5.000 meter (16.000 feet.), involving a total of 4260 meter (14.980 feet) of ascent and descent. But it is well worth the effort, with stunning mountain views and the chance to see condors, viscachas, and andean geese, among others. The trek starts with a solid 2.063 meter (6768 feet) of ascent from Sorata to Abra Illampu at 4.741 meter (15.554 feet).
The Illampu circuit starts and finishes in Sorata, a beautiful colonial town at a pleasant 2678 meter/8786 feet. It is noticeably warmer than La Paz which is 1.000 meter (3.300 feet).
Recorded heights for Illampu, formally known as Mount Sorata, have reached the unbelievable figure of 7.621 meter. But currently accepted figure is a mere 6.328 meter. The gap between Illampu and Akamani, the south end of the Cordillera de Apolobamba, is filled by the virtually unvisited Cordillera de Muñecas.
Ingenio to Mapiri
This begins at Sorata and crosses the Cordillera Real, running parallel to the Gold Diggers Way and dropping down to Maripi on the river of the same name. The british explorer Colonel Fawcet reported using it in 1906. It was last used by traders in 1953, after when it became overgrown and impassable until 1990 when members of Club Sorata succeded in reopening it as a feasible hiking route. That said, you should be warned that this is the most difficult trek in the Cordillera Real. It is longer and much harder than the Gold Diggers Way. Several long stretches are without water, and depending on how recently others have gone before you, the trail could be clear or completely overgrown.
This is a hardcore trek. You will have to battle with thick vegetation, fallen trees, pervasive insects, and, depending on the time of the year, ubiquitous mud. The Mapiri Trail starts in the village of Ingenio, northwest of Sorata, and trends northward up to Mapiri. It is extremely remote and there are few reliable water sources on route. The trail is neither Inca nor Pre-Hispanic, but was built in the nineteenth century to facilitate the transport of quinine out of the Mapiri area. The construction contract required a trail 1.5 meter/5 feet wide in difficult sections and 3 meter/10 feet wide in easier parts. It was predicted that the trail was finished around 1879, at the same time as quinine began to be industrially cultivated elsewhere in the world, where transport costs were lower. As a result, the Bolivian quinine industry collapsed. However, rubber was then found in the same area and this injected new life into the trail until the 1950s. In 1906 the explorer and adventurer Colonel Fawcett used the Mapiri Trail to search the Amazon. After the decline of the rubber trade, the Mapiri trail fell into disuse and eventually disappeared.
Hichukhota to Condoriri
Lago Khotia to Laguna Chiar Khota
This is high-level trek skirts the western side of the Cordillera Real before heading into the heart of the range via spectacular pass with fantastic views of the Cabeza de Condor peak. This trek takes you closer to a glacier than any other trek in the Cordillera Real, and ends at the beautiful Condoriri base camp. Laguna Chiar Khota is the Condoriri Base Camp. Hichukhota is the name of both a small village and the valley containing the three lakes Khara Khota, Khotia and Jankho Khota. The 3-day itinerary means short days, but this is ideal if you are still acclimatizing.
Condoriri to the Zongo Valley
Tuni to Chacapampa
Driving across the Altiplano, Condoriri is one of the most striking mountain groups in the Cordillera Real. The three highest peaks together look like a condor lifting its wings before takeoff. According to legend, the largest and most ferocious condors of the Andes live around Condoriri. Peasants leave their babies there to be feed and brought up by the condors. These babies then grow up to be human condors. While the condors are not nearly so numerous nowadays, it is normally possible to see one or two circling high above the mountains of the Condoriri group. This trek crosses the Cordillera Real near its midpoint.
The Condoriri group of mountains are well known to climbers as offering some of the best scenery in Bolivia and plenty of peaks to climb, varying from very easy to extremely difficult. For hikers and backpackers there is a lovely natural lake where you can stay to enjoy the scenery, and a return route which takes you to the Zongo area and a possible links with other treks.
The base camp for Condoriri, 4850 m. There are splendid views of Huayna Potosi from here.
Chacaltaya to Zongo Pass
This high-altitude day trek crosses the 5345 meter/17536 feet summit of Chacaltaya, and leads on too many other possible treks. The landscape is barren and bleak but all views north and east are dominated by the 6088 meter/19974 feet Huayna Potosi. From Chacaltaya it is possible to see El Alto on the Altiplano and La Paz nestling in the huge canyon below. On the far side of the city, Illimani is visible and on clear days one can see Bolivia’s highest mountain, the 6542meter/ 21463 feet Sajama way over to the west, and also the cobalt-blue Lake Titikaka on the border with Peru.
El Choro Trail
La Cumbre to Coroico
This is another of those hikes wich evoke a pleasant feeling of nostalgia. You will have a wonderful and serendipitous hike and, beyoun Chucura you will came across an "Inca" road so amazing in its engineering. The hike, now well-.known, takes you from a snow-covered 4850 m. pass down to subtropical river valleys full of parakeets, blue morpho butterflies, flowers and wild strawberries, and ends in hot citrus groves at just 1500 m. The first part is easy, thanks to the Pre-Inca roadbuilders, but towards the end it may be overgrown. You will see plenty of llamas grazing on the first day, and will probably encounter them being used as pack animals on the trail. Llamas are fascinated by onlookers; if you stop to watch them, they will stop to watch you.
La Cumbre ("The Summit") is not a village, but simply the highest point (4725 m.) on the bleak mountain road before it begins its descent to the Yungas. The trail is very clear, dropping steeply down a quebrada (ravine) which broadens out after joining the main river, allowing the path to coninue more gently to the small village of Achura (also known as Chucura). Beyond Chucura the "Inca" road really comes into its own, with some marvellous paving and low steps often arranged in a fan shape around a curve.
Pre-Hispanic paving and a spectacular but savage descent, plus easy route make trekking El Choro Trail very popular. The differences in weather, temperature, and vegetation between the star and finish are extreme. La Cumbre is high, bleak and barren. Coroico (“Gold Hill” in Quechua) is a pleasant town at 1760 meter/5770 feet with views of snowcapped Mururata.
Takesi Trail and Alto Takesi
Ventilla or Mina San Francisco to Yanacachi
This is often called an Inca road, but was in fact almost certainly constructed before the Incas conquered the region. The paved section covers half the trail, about 20 kilometer, and you will see all the classic features of Pre-Columbian road construction: stone paving, steps, drainage canals and retaining walls. The walk takes only two days, but the variety of scenery is astonishing. From swirling snow on the 4650 meter pass, you drop down to the treeline and through incredibly lush vegetation to the humid cloudforest below the Chojlla mine. The two main villages along the upper part of the trail, Choquekota and Takesi, pursue a way of life unchanged for centuries: men herding llamas, making rope or harvesting crops; women trampling chuños and preparing the next meal. Below the treeline, however, people mix traditional customs with new innovations. At its begining and end the walk is served by two spectacular and contrasting car journeys. To reach the trailhead you drive through a lunar landscape of eroded badlands offering a display of brown, red, orange and yellow tones, unrelieved by any green.
This short, easy trek crosses some of the best preserved Pre-Hispanic paving in Bolivia. Certified masochist has attempted this trail starting in the Yungas and heading uphill! From the Takesi Trail, Mururata is not the flat-topped giant you see from the Altiplano, but has more of a classic mountain shape. The Alto Takesi option is higher and considerably more challenging than the Takesi Trail. But it is rarely attempted, so it is litter-free and you can enjoy complete solitude. The Alto Takesi gives fantastic views of the north face of Mururata.
Illimani Condor’s Nest (High Camp)
Many hikers who just arrived in La Paz are tempted by the majestic sight of Illimani (6450 meter), overlooking the city and shining in the evening sun. Although this is a challenging and technical climb, backpackers can enjoy an excursion to the high camp called Nido de Cóndores (The Condor’s Nest). This lies at 5600 meters, giving you the chance to test your fitness and to check out your cold-weather gear, while watching the lights of La Paz twinkling below you as you listen to the cracking of the glaciers surrounding you. Be prepared for altitude, capricious weather and testing conditions.
Just before Pinaya, we turn right and cross the river. From here head staight for Illimani, slowly climbing up through meadows and flat plains until we reach a broad, flat plain at an altitude of 4.500 m.
It will take 5 very strenuous hours to reach the Nido de Cóndores from here. Shortly after the plain we will come to an old mining road. Following this for about 15 minutes until we coss a bridge, and shortly afterwards a path leads steeply up a scree slope towards a ridge. Following this to Nido de Condores.
Chuñavi or Lambate to Chulumani
This is a rugged, but wonderfully varied trek of from 2 to 7 days (it can be ended or begun at various places) which takes you round the western flank of ones Bolivia`s highest mountain, the triple-peacked Illimani (6480 m,), then, like all the other Cordillera Real hikes, down into the tropical Yungas. And like other trails, it provides contrast of glaciers and citrus groves, goose-pimples and sweat, passing through some very remote areas where you are unlikely to meet anyone, only condors.
This is the most exciting but hardest of the three so-called Inca Trails, and therefore less popular. This not only means fewer people, but less litter than on the other treks and more wildlife, such as condors, hawks, and hummingbirds. As with other Inca Trails, you start high and drop low, going through the full gamut of climate zones. The option of starting in Lambate allows you to link this trek with others. It normally takes 2 days from Lambate to join the main route, involving a hot and sweaty haul up from the Rio Chunga Mayu.
The Yunga Cruz trek is normally started in Chuñavi (3 days) or Lambate (5 days), but it is possible to start higher up the Rio Susisa valley in either Tres Rios or Estancia Totoral.
Cordillera Real Traverse
Sorata to Cohoni
This is a challenging and hardcore trek through the entire Cordillera Real: It covers 160 kilometer/100 miles, not taking into account ups and downs; crosses up to twenty passes over 4000 meter/16000 feet; and involves more than 12000 meter/40000 feet of ascent and descent. The route passes through fantastic mountain scenery. The part of the trek on the eastern side of the Cordillera Real takes you through areas that are seldom visited by tourist. The western side brings you up close to some of the mountains you see from the Altiplano. There is no need to make this trek an ordeal. It is possible to leave or join, at a number of points. It is possible to start the trek in Cohoni and finish with a 2000 meter descent into Sorata to recover. But starting at Sorata means you get closer to La Paz every day and so, should you want or need to pull out, it will take less time to get back to civilization.
Calle Sagarnaga esquina Murillo 189,Shopping Doryan, Piso 2, Oficina 30, Nuestra Senora de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
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