Icebergs in Bolivia

Roundtrip through the highlands of Bolivia up to the Salar de Uyuni to the Guayana Potosí and Sajama.

Bolivia offers an unbelievable variety of landscapes and cultural diversity and is despite other news one of the safest countries of South America. During our tour, breathtaking icy summits, diverse jungle regions, random salty deserts, lively colorful markets and mysterious Inca memorials are waiting for us.

Tour Overview

We land in La Paz, with its height of 3500meters the highest metropolis on earth. After having visited the city, we will head off to some interesting tours in the environment, for instance the famous Titicaca lake, the ruins of Tiwanaku and the highest ski region worldwide, namely the Chacaltaya. Later on we will carry on towards the south of Bolivia, Uyuni, to observe the biggest salt lake on earth, the Salar de Uyuni. After visiting the silver city Potosi we will also visit the highest mountain of the country, the volcano Sajama at 6542 meters as well as the equally named National Park.

Highlights

  • La Paz
  • Salar de Uyuni
  • Potosi
  • Chacaltaya
  • Tiwanaku
  • Cumbre Coroico
  • Huayna Potosi
  • Sajama

Dates and Prices

  • Length: 24 days 1.-6- May 2009 further dates on request
  • Price: 1.595 Euros

We offer

  • Transport within the country with Bus and Taxi
  • Accommodation in simple Hostels and tents
  • Mountaineering tours with organization, guidance and rented equipment
  • Entrance fees to the national parks
  • Round tour in the Salar de Uyuni
  • Travel guidance on site
  • Food and Beverages during the guided tours

Not included

  • Flight
  • Travel accident and health insurance
  • Travel luggage and travel cancellation insurance
  • Not mentioned food and beverages
  • Tips
  • Personal spending

Participants

  • Minimal: 2
  • Maximal: 10

Detailed description of the tour

1. Day: Arrival in La Paz

Only the arrival in La Paz in between the 6000meters high icy mountains can take your breath, not to forget that the airport is at a height of 4000meters. However, there we won’t stay long, but carry on to the lower center of this impressive metropolis, at „only“ 3500 meters. Here you will check into your hotel, before taking a rest. To conclude our first day we will have a nice dinner in a traditional local restaurant of La Paz.

2. Day: The city of La Paz

To get used to the height steadily, we will start off with a city visit. There are a lot of things to see, for instance the famous Calle Linares, practically one solely market place. Major parts of the city are significantly embossed by the Incan culture, there are booths everywhere. In the solely Coca museum worldwide we can learn a lot about this interesting plant that enjoys a indescribable importance for the country and their inhabitants. For lunch we will select one of the numerous traditional restaurants, in order to get a deeper impression of Bolivia. In the afternoon we will do a short contrast program, next to the Prado street we will also observe the governmental buildings. Besides we will visit the Plaza Murillo and San Francisco, both embossed by beautiful cathedrals. Additionally we will enjoy some green parks, from where from we can see both the high skyscrapers as well as the poor huts on the hillsides of La Paz. During dinner we will enjoy La Paz at night with its impressive light shows.

3. Day: Tiwanaku

For today we have planned another cultural program, as we will visit the most important pre Columbian cultural site of Bolivia, the Tiwanaku. The ruins are located only 70km away from La Paz and are therefore quite easy to reach. According to a legend, once upon a time the god Con Ticci Wiracocha dropped out of the Titicaca lake and created the sun as well as the earth and the humans in Tiwanaku (100BC.- 1200AD.) The former capital of Tiwanaku lies about 20km in the inner part of Bolivia, also the sun and moon islands used to belong to this empire. Possibly Tiwanaku used to lie directly ay the lake, as the lake used top be bigger in former times. However, exact facts are unfortunately not known, the visible constructions are dated back to the years 400 and 1000. Concerning the number of inhabitants, the scientist also have to guess, assumable between 2000 and 12000. Anyway, we will observe interesting column monoliths as well as the temple-like sun look-out Kalasasaya and the hill Akapana. Also the sun gate Intipunto we shouldn’t miss. After this interesting visit we return to La Paz where we will dine and go to sleep.

4. Day: Isla de Sol

Deep blue and endless wide, surrounded by gigantic mountains, this is the Titicaca lake! Our destination is called Copacabana, Bolivia’s most famous pilgrimage site as well as starting point for our short boat trip. We float along to the Isla de Sol, the famous sun island, according to a legend the derivation of the Inca empire. Even before the Inca century this site used to be considered holy. Here we can enjoy glorious views on to the northern Cordillera Real including the Illampu and the Ancohuma. There is some time left to take a walk on the island. However we have to conquer 2000meters up high before that. After having managed this we have to climb down again to not miss our boat back to Copacabana. After enjoying a delicious trout at the harbor, we will take a walk around the harbor region before climbing up the Cerro Calvario. From here on we can enjoy a terrific view above the entire lake, Besides there is a cross trail, where little graves are patterned out of flowers. Tonight we will stay overnight in Copacabana with beautiful white views on the deep blue shining lake.

5. Day: Cerro Ceroca

Today we have planned to conquer a small mountain in the direct environment of Copacabana, namely the Cerro Ceroca (over 4000m high). Steadily we hike through the green landscape that is used by various animal species. Later on the trail gets steeper, but also the views a lot more beautiful. Not long time after we reach the summit. From here on we can look over the Cordillera Apolobamba in the north and of course also above the entire lake. Para glider use this site to start their flight. Back down in the village we will enjoy another trout for lunch, just before getting on the bus to La Paz.

6. Day: Ride to Uyuni

The first part of the day we will spend in La Paz to visit the highest football station on earth, the Estadio Hernando Siles. Due to the enormous height the Fifa thinks about closing it down, as at this height no regular matches can be carried out. As a reaction the former president Mesa and other leaders climbed up to the Sajama and initiated a football match at 6500 meters. But this district has to offer also more than that, namely the real big city life of La Paz and many traditional options for a nice Bolivian lunch. In the early evening our bus to Uyuni and at the mean time a cold and long journey is waiting for us. The desert regions that welcome us in the following morning are unbelievable impressive.

7. Day: Salar de Uyuni

After arriving in Salar we deposit our luggage at our partner agency and take a look at the city. Shortly after having breakfast we head off to observe the biggest salty desert worldwide. Between December and march the Salar de Uyuni is disturbed by heavy rainfalls. Then the Salar water shines in a deep blue color and the workers retire. In the dry season this water evaporates and a hard salty crust stays. This panes de sal is removed by men with the help of axes and later on continued processing in a salt mill. Center of the salt exploitation is Colchani, where almost the entire village is living from the salt production. The yearly production adds up to 20.000 tons. Colchani is our first destination, here we can observe how the salt is loaded on the trucks before being transported further. The endless seeming salty lake shines in a brilliant white color . It is very amusing to take a walk in the salt. Besides there is a hostel out of salt, including a museum. Here can be bought all kinds of artifacts made of salt, as well as the usual tourism kitsch. Now we carry on to the endless widths of the Salar. There are no trails, but our driver will find the way. Our destination is the Isla Pescado, a fish formed island, which appears slightly above the salt, significantly covered by cactuses. These are about 1200 years old and reach a height of 12 meters. They offer the perfect color contrast to the white salt lake. This highest point of the island comprises only 100 meter surface, but offers a impressive overview up to the ice covered volcano summits. In Pueblo San Juan we will stay overnight, totally distanced and in quite a height. There are simple bed rooms as well as quite cold showers. We have to cook with gas cookers that we have brought with us, there is no electricity. Outside, herds of Llamas are moving from one place to another, a nice image to take a picture. In front of us lies a random and spare volcano landscape, rocks, sandy grounds and snow covered summits as well as some tiny green areas make the picture a unique one. Believe it or not, even potatoes and corn is grown here.

8. Day: Lagoons and Volcanoes

In the same way as yesterday we will carry on our adventure today, crossing lonely villages, rotten schools and interesting landscapes, smoking volcanoes, like the Ollague (5800m) and the most differing cactuses and forms of vegetations. Today’s highlights are the Laguna Verde with the 6000meters high pyramid of the Licancabur and a thermal bath nearby, a hot source with bathing possibilities. We head off to two red lagoons, various flamingos included. With a bit of luck we will observe the natural change of the lagoon from red to green. Otherwise we will carry on to two other naturally red-colored lagoons, also with a bunch of flamingos. The most famous one is called Laguna Colorada. Nearby also our camo is located, a small yard with gambled sleeping room right within the stony desert. The view on the lagoons and the volcanoes is unforgettable. Unfortunately we cannot stay too long as it gets dark and cold. Our camp is at 4000 meters height. The air is impressively clear, of course also at night so that we might even see the stars.

9. Day: Salar de Manana

For this day we have planned a trip to the Sol de Manana, a Geysire out of cooking lava mud holes. These are only active early in the morning and blow a 10 meters high cloud of steam into the ice cold air. Joined by yellow brimstone steams and brewing holes. Afterwards we are passing a random, gray rock formation, namely the Arbol de Piedra, tree out of stone. The long ear Chinchillas live here and have just as much fun as we climbing in the mountains. Further bizarre landscapes and flamingos accompany us on our way to Uyuni.

The Hotel in Uyuni with its hot shower seems rather luxury to us after these days. This luxury we will conclude with a nice dinner, what about Pizza?

10. Day: Ride to Potosi

Today we will enjoy an impressive bus trip to Potosi at 1065 meters height. The ride takes more or less hours and leads us past numerous vegetation forms, partly this route even seem a bit African. We carry on further up until reaching the former silver city. After checking in to our hotel we will have a bit time left to look around the city. Potosi is rather lively and offers interesting buildings.

11. Day: Cerro Rico

This city seems colorful and rather modern for Bolivian circumstances, it is one of the wealthiest ones of Bolivia. 162.500 inhabitants live in this beautiful city that is embossed by glorious colonial constructions. Behind the houses appears an orange mountain formation, the Cerro Rico. Sumaj Orcko, holy mountain it is called, and used to be the emblem of the city one of the numerous mountain gods of the Inca. Rich mountain is the translation in the Spanish and indicates why this mountain is so special. „Rich” represents the significant mineral richness of the 4829 meter high giant, especially silver has been cultivated, and brought great wealth but also poverty to the region. Today especially zinc is cultivated, but there isn’t a lot left anymore. After having given our guide presents for the workers (like schnapps and coca leaves) we will conquer the narrow alleyways. In order to get a bit more air we will climb on the root of the silver mountain, this is not that hard as only 600 meters have to be managed. From the top we enjoy a wonderful view on the city and the surrounding landscape. By taxi we will return to Potosi where we will have dinner.

12. Day: Hike around Potosi

Of course the direct environment of Potosi has more to offer than the Cerro Cerro Rico and the mines. We drive with the taxi a bit further into the city and get of on the left next to the mines. Several trail lead into the mountain regions. The first trail lead us to a driving road after around 200-300 meters of height. 30 minutes later we reach the lake. There are almost no tourists, but a lot of llamas and Alpacas. Here you can hike around the lake and in between head off to another trail leading to another lake. In total 4 lakes can be visited, further up high also several mountain summit. In case the weather is fine we should manage on easy summit at a height of 500 meters. Back in Potosi we carry on directly to the terminal where we will organize the departure to La Paz. We will drive back at night, there are reclining seats, so we can travel comfortably without losing a lot of time.

13. Day: Day off and preparation for Huayna

After the long journey we will recover today, who wants to can of course also dive into the chaos of the 1,5 million city. In the afternoon we meet up in our partner agency in La Paz to arrange the equipment for the Huayna Potosi. Afterwards we will enjoy a dinner in a traditional restaurant.

14. Day: Chacaltaya

Today we will head off to a tour in the highest ski region worldwide, the Chacaltaya. Firstly we will pass El Alto , where we will make a short stop to buy some groceries. We carry on up higher, here and there we will see some huts and Llamas. Narrow trails lead up higher, beautiful wide views are included. Even the white top of the Sajama can be seen from here as well as deep views on to the Titicaca lake. The high amount of iron in the ground leads to a read color of some debris fields and lakes. At 5100 meters the air gets thinner. A hut of the Austrian alpine club is located here, with accommodation possibilities. A bit further down, there is a ski lift, there is one single route only. Instead of going skiing we climb up the Chacaltaya (5300m). Here we can only move steadily. Probably we will meet some other mountaineering fans, before carrying on to the neighbored summit. To conclude we will visit the Valle de Luna, the moon valley, at the southern border of La Paz. Grey-yellow pyramids can be observed here. Tonight we should go to sleep early, as we conquer one of the interesting Andean mountains tomorrow.

15. Day: High Camp Huayana

Now the acclimatization should be enough for conquering the Huayna Potosi (6088 m), one of the most beautiful mountains of the Andes. Within 2 days we will approach this ice covered giant, whose ascend is not at all easy to manage. We have to overcome a very steep icy passage, before at the last 200-250 high meters, a 45 degree steep ice field aggravates our way up, and this at a height of 5900 meters. A solid mountaineering experience should be present as well as the handling with pits and crampons should be known. And not to forget definately a very good physical condition. We head off early and drive up to the Zongo pass by car. Further 600 meters are waiting for us, our luggage isn’t making the ascend easier. But the trails are well visible so that we will soon reach the camp, where a sparse dinner and a cold night are waiting for us. The reward for that is definitely worth it, the panorama view of the Andean region is un unforgettable experience.

16. Day: Summit Huayana Potosi

The ascend to the top, now it’ getting serious, in the middle of the night our alarm clock rings. Directly in front of the tents we will apply our crampons. After the exhausting ascend towards the summit, a steep passage (about 60 degrees) is waiting for us, that definitely demands experienced hikers. Fortunately, after 50 meters the area gets easier an we a re carrying on over a lightly sloped ice grout towards a summit ice-wall. This comprises 250 meters into the height and obviously is also rather steep. After a time we get rewarded with an overwhelming scenery panorama view above the Titicaca lake, La Paz and numerous summits of the Andes. If we are fast enough , we will even be able to observe the sunrise. However we cannot stay too long, as we have to climb down again before the ice begins to melt. After arranging our camp we carry on downwards until reaching the pass where a taxi will pick us up to bring us back to La Paz.

17. Day: Reservation day

This day can be used as a buffer, in the case that the weather is bad, we have another day to climb up the summit. Otherwise this day can be used to you personal preference, in most of the cases for relaxing. Besides it can be used to buy some souvenirs or other nice things on of the numerous markets. In the afternoon there is some time left to meet up in our partner agency in La Paz in order to arrange the equipment for the Sajama. In the evening we will dine in a nice restaurant.

18. Day: Base camp Sajama

Today we go by bus to Patacamaya into a small village at the main road, where we will enjoy a nice breakfast first. The way carries on through a sparse steppe landscape towards a nice market where we will take a short break. Sajama is a small, totally distanced village at the bottom of the correspondent mountain, with a height of 6542 meters. This is the highest mountain in Bolivia. The whole environment has been protected since 1939 and the national park was named Parque National Sajama. Here there are several more volcano mountains, including the highest forest of Bolivia (Quenua trees), lagoons, hot sources, geysers and interesting ruins. This is the home of an interesting bunch of different animal species like Vicunas, Condors, Marsupials, Andean Pumas, Andean foxes, flamingos and Andean wild cats. But firstly we have to register and pay a fee, which not should take us too long. The village is arranged quite easily, there is neither electricity nor water, but a small shop a restaurant and a few extremely simple Hospedajes. All this at a height of 4300 meters. We will stay overnight at a height of 4700 meters in tents and this will be our base camp for the ascend of Sajamas. Next to interesting tree species we will also observe Llamas.

19. Day: Highcamp

Another cold night is waiting for us, so we head off towards our high camp on a sparse stony area. This camp is located at a height of 5700 meters, that means there are still 1000 meters waiting for us, not to forget that we have to carry our baggage! Firstly it is quite easy to manage, the trail is well arranged and you easily find your rhythm. However, the last 200-300 meters get extremely exhausting, as we have to cross a slippery, snowy and very loose part of debris. This is a really really hard part, especially as you have to carry your backpacks and still aren’t used to the height very well. Soon we arrive at the high camp, where we will build up our tents just before having dinner. Due to the heavy wind and coldness we better get into the tents as quickly as possible.

20. Day: Sajama summit

Again the alarm clock rings in the middle of the nigh, most of you will be quite glad to finally being able to leave the uncomfortable tent. After a short cold breakfast we will fasten our crampons. Right after that we have to conquer a steep part of an icy wall, luckily today our luggage is not that heavy as yesterday. The entire ascend stays quite steep and hard to manage, it is nearly impossible to get a rhythm. However, the highest mountain of the country motivates us and so we aggrieve ourselves further until finally reaching the broad summit. It is nearly as huge as a football stadium! Up here, the air is extremely fresh; therefore the view ranges through entire Bolivia over the distanced Royal Range. In addition there are fantastic colour games above the neighboured Parinacota. But the guides press us to climb down quickly to avoid that the ice melts before we have reached our camp. Downwards isn’t long ago as exhausting as the ascend; soon we have reached our camp. Here we will have a short rest before breaking down our tents to carry on to our base camp where we will stay overnight. Here we will decide whether we want to carry on into the village. Besides we could visit the thermal bath to relax a bit from the efforts of the last days. There we could also have dinner, although without proper toilets but offering a nice meal with a refreshing drink. And anyway, the only think that we are now really interested in, is a warm bed.

21. Day: Sajama village

In the morning there is some time left to take some last volcano pictures in this crystal clear air. In every case you should take the classical Sajama photo, white in between the white gate of the grave yard. Through the glorious volcano landscape our trail leads us back to La Paz.. Today we don’t have to do anything more than sitting in the car, marvellous views back on the Sajama included. In La Paz we will recover from the last days and enjoying a hot shower as well as a rich dinner.

22. Day: Buffer day

In case the weather has been bad during the last days, we can use this additional day to climb to the top. Otherwise it can be used to your personal preference.

23. Day: Cumbre Coroico

Finally another interesting trip is waiting for us, delivering a last impression of the real life in an Andean village as well as a myriad of features of the king cordilleras. Starting point is Villa Fatima, one of the numerous indigene districts of La Paz. Here we will charter a mini bus to the Abra Cumbre Pass at a height of 4750 meters. A small observation house is located here, in other words this is the entrance to the national park. On broad tracks we climb up the trail towards Coroico until passing the first lake. Instead of following the classical trail to Coroico we change the side and carry on to another direction where interesting summit constructions are waiting for us. Here we enjoy a free view on various Andean summits, reaching up to the Chacaltaya with its icy top. Also this mountain can be reached from here on, as well as other interesting ones that are around 5000 meters high. On the last bit of the summit we have to overcome easy climbing bits, in total we have to manage only 400 height meters. Back at the lake, the most exciting part is waiting for us, we have to charter a vehicle back to La Paz. Eventually we can get a taxi, with a bit of luck we can get on the back of a truck. We conclude the day with a farewell dinner in La Paz.

24. Day: Departure

Definitely the saddest day, as today you will have to return home. Of course our guide will be glad to accompany you to the airport. Before heading back home we will skim through Bolivia mentally. Interesting keen insights of the Andean and Amazon regions let us recall the most exceptional memories of our journey and create a lot of space for more ideas and itinerary. We hope that you enjoyed your special South-American experience and that it won’t be your last one!

Further information

Special requirements

A good physical fitness is desired and definitely a huge advantage.

Extension of the trip

We offer a wide range of individual tour components, which can be combined with every journey.

Additional information