Lisa Owen

bolivia

If you fly into La Paz you’ll see the city is surrounded by some massive, majestic mountains.

The good news is that it’s easy to take a day trip out to these snow-capped mountains, or you might even want to try your hand at mountaineering.

Many tour agencies offer a day trip out to the Condoriri range in the Cordillera Real chain of mountains, or depending on the season, it may be possible to go on a multi-day excursion up the Huayna Potosi mountain. The latter is not for the faint hearted and involves ice climbing and an ascent to 6,088 metres elevation – however it is classed as a beginner mountaineering climb.

For those travellers who simply love to hike, the best option to get a taste of Bolivia’s mountains is a day trip to the Chiar Khota Lagoon, which dwells below the impressive 5,650 metre Condoriri peak.

Condoriri Range

Many tour agencies in La Paz can organise this guided hike, which can be undertaken with a group or often with your own private guide if you’re travelling during low season (November to March).

I departed La Paz for the mountains after breakfast with my travel buddy and mountain guide Antonio, and we soon left the city that never seems to sleep, and started to get glimpses of the peaks and breathe that fresh mountain air.

The trailhead lies about 90 minutes from La Paz near the Tuni Lagoon, located near farmlands. Even before you start hiking, you’ll be in awe of the mountain range around you.

Bolivian hiking partners

These rugged mountains all soar over 5000 metres above sea level.

The hike starts fairly gently, coursing past glacier fed waterfalls, across fields of grazing alpacas, and then up to a rustic refugio and Chiarkhota Lagoon. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. At this point, you’re standing at 4,650 metres above sea level so you’ll likely be a little out of breath as you hike.

After a few photo opportunities at the Azure lagoon, we skirted around the side before breaking for lunch with a priceless view of the snow covered Condoriri peak and its glacier. We also had a great view of the surrounding snowy mountain tops including Aguja Negra and Pequeno Alpamayo.

Lunch with a view

I’m pretty sure this was the best lunch view I’ve ever had!

We were going well with time, and our guide led us further up to a rocky outcrop to get us closer to the glacier and a view of the lagoon.

The sunny weather started to turn at this point with a thunderstorm beginning to rumble in the distance.

It got cold quickly, and a wind started to whip up. But we trudged on, not far from our goal to reach the viewpoint.

Condoriri Glacier view

After much ragged breathing, we reached an altitude of 4,832 metres above sea level and had the close up view of the Condoriri glacier all to ourselves.

We soaked in the view around us for about 15 minutes, battling strong winds. But with the sound of thunder getting closer and the icy wind strengthening, we hightailed it out of there. The return trek took us around the opposite side of the lagoon we came from.

The return trek including the lunch stop took just under four hours. It was well worth the journey. If you visit La Paz one day and love the mountains, then this hike is a must do.

Things You Should Know:

  • There’s many tour agencies in La Paz that can organise a day hike to the mountains for you. I booked a private guide to take us up, which included a driver.
  • The weather can change quickly in the mountains so be prepared for all conditions. Make sure you carry sunscreen, hat, rain jacket and warm clothing. Hiking boots are essential for this hike due to mud and slippery rocks. A buff for your face is also a good idea to cover your nose and lips against the wind.
  • This hike reaches an elevation of 4,800 metres above sea level. Spend a couple of days in La Paz acclimatising to the altitude before heading out on this hike. It’s sure to leave you breathless.

 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.