Sportsmen and women who love trekking have certainly already heard of the Cordillera Real. This part of the Andes, whose highest peaks reach more than 6,000 metres, remains little visited nowadays. In the heart of the Bolivian Altiplano, north-east of La Paz and east of Lake Titicaca, this playground for experienced trekkers allows you to walk through mineral and surprising valleys. This trek in the Royal Cordillera, which starts in the northwest, will satisfy lovers of wide open spaces, with experience of wild and demanding high altitude walks.
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Day 1: La Paz - Sorata
Day 2: Sorata - Laguna Chilata
Day 3: Laguna Chilata - Laguna Glaciar - Campo Venado
Day 4: Campo Venado - Mina Susana - Lojena
Day 5: Lojena - Laguna San Francisco
Day 6: Laguna San Francisco - Laguna Chojna Quta
Day 7: LAGUNA CHOJNA QUTA LAGUNA JISTANA QUTA
Day 8: Laguna Jistana Quta - Laguna Chiscacalliuani
Day 9: Laguna Chiscacalliuani - Rio Chacha Kumani - Rio Pura Purani - Jayllawa Valley
Day 10: Jayllawaya Valley - Laguna Wara Warani - Kunu Pampa - Laguna Khotia
Day 11: Laguna Khotia - Laguna Ajwani
Day 12: Laguna Ajwani - Laguna Jurikhota
Day 13: Laguna Jurikhota - Laguna Congelada - Pass Austria - Laguna Chiarkhota
Day 14: Chiarkhota Lagoon - Wichu Khota Lagoon
Day 15: Wichu lagoon khota campo canal
Day 16: Campo Canal refuge Casa Blanca La Paz
We leave in the morning to reach Lake Titicaca by following the Royal Mountain Range from Huayna Potosi. Then we descend to the village of Sorata, nestled in a green valley at the foot of the Illampu and Ancohuma mountains. Quiet afternoon in the beautiful park of the Altai Oasis Ecolodge.
From Sorata (2675 m) we take a well-marked path that rises to the south-east through hamlets and crops. The majestic Illampu massif is revealed more and more and almost makes you forget the important difference in altitude of the day. Well, almost! 1 523 m higher, here is the Chilata lake (4 200 m), nestled on a small plateau overlooking the Sorata valley. Bivouac on the edge of the lake.
We follow a path that climbs to the south-east, crosses a gap at an altitude of 4,400 m, and then curves around the western slopes of the Illampu and Ancohuma massifs. A steep climb through the rocks allows us to reach Lake Glaciar (5,045 m) where an enormous glacial tongue drowns. To the east, the Illampu massif, a monster of ice, seracs and vertical walls, dominates a rocky ridge that is both splendid and frightening. After the lake, an off-trail descent through a rocky chaos in a south-westerly direction leads to our camp named Venado (4,300 m).
We start this day with a balcony trail on the mountainside to the south until we reach a pass at an altitude of 4,3500m. This pass overlooks a valley where the Susana mining operation (silver and tin mines) is located. We continue downhill on a passable track which offers views of the galleries dug by the miners into the mountain. The track then runs along the eastern side of Cerro Achachi Khollu. Before descending to the village of Millipaya (3,475m), we cross a stream to switch to the other side of the valley, then climb on a trail to Lake Khota Pata (4,052m), dominated to the east by Chuto Kalani (4,388m). The trail continues southwards, passing other small lakes and leading to Lojena (4 360 m), ideal for setting up a bivouac above the Millipay valley.
This morning, the trail alternates between ascents and descents on the sides of the mountain. The
The view is far over the Altiplano where we can clearly see Lake Titicaca. We will have to make a final ascent to reach the Chotanlona pass (4,910 m) which opens onto the Illampu, Ancohuma and even Chearoco massifs, not forgetting the Kasiri and Calzada glaciers... We descend towards the east into the pretty valley hosting the turquoise San Francisco lake, near which there are hot springs that invite us to take a swim. To be enjoyed without moderation! Bivouac on the banks of the lake.
Today we will cross 3 passes that are close to 5,000m in altitude. We head southeast to Lake Ajoyan, above Lake Cacha, at an altitude of 4,780m. We then turn northwest to a lake valley where we find two turquoise lakes, Lake Chojña Khota (4,722 m) and Lake Carizal (4,767 m), at the foot of the Calzada Pass and the eponymous peak (5,650 m). Camp on the edge of the lake, in one of the most beautiful "sleeping areas" of the Royal Mountain Range!
For this morning, you have two options: bask in the sun on the shores of the lake or visit the Calzada pass. For the second option, you will go up to the Carizal lake. You will then walk along its right bank and continue north-eastwards to the Calzada Pass (5050 m), wedged between the Kasiri and Calzada massifs, which reach 5857 m and 5650 m respectively. Retrace your steps to the Chojña Khota lake.
After lunch, the objective of the afternoon is to reach the banks of Lake Jistaña Khota for the evening bivouac. To reach this point, we head south over a pass at an altitude of 5100m. This is followed by a long descent down the valley to the edge of the lake.
We hike to Chiscacalliuani Lake. Our day’s trek takes us west across the mountain and south to Niquioyo Khota Lake (4672 meters / 15 328 feet asl.). We see the Condor Jipina (5 315 meters / 17 437 feet asl.) in the foreground. We follow a ridge towards the south-west that offers an amazing panorama of the Altiplano and Lake Titicaca. We continue across 2 passes, the first at 4950 meters ( 16 240 feet asl) and the second at 5000 meters ( 16 404 feet asl), descending through a steep scree to the green waters of Chiscacalliuani Lake.
We head south up the mountainside to the Chacha Kumani valley (4,430m), a wide swampy valley that leads to the foot of the imposing glacial massif of the same name. In this valley we cross bofedals (swampy areas with giant water-soaked mosses). Then we climb to the north-east, crossing several successive plateaus until we reach a pass at 5,000m. As we ascend, the view of the imposing Chachacomani glacier (6,074 m) becomes clearer. After the pass, a short descent leads to the Pura Purani valley. Continue south-eastwards on the flank to pass 3 small passes in succession and reach the Rio Jayllawaya valley (4,480m).
We start the day with a hike up a steep slope to a higher plateau (4620 meters / 15 157 feet asl.) and towards the Wara Warani Lagoon. Our trek takes us into a valley and across a rocky barrier before arriving at the Lagoon at 4930 m ( 16 174 feet asl) at the foot of the Wara Warani glacier. The glacier feeds a small lake with turquoise waters, while the Lagoon has a deep blue color. Very surprising and magic! After enjoying the beauty of the place, we follow the lake and climb south-east to a steep pass (5500 meters / 18 044 feet asl)) overlooking the Kunu Pampa glacier. We descend through a scree and across an ice field to an isolated valley, at about 4760 m (15616 feet asl. After we cross this valley, we continue south-east to the Minchin pass (5000 meters / 16 404 feet asl.), and descend to the Khotia lagoon (4450 meters / 14 599 feet asl.).
From the Khotia Lake, the trail to Chiarkhota Lake is non-technical and among the most traveled in the Royal Cordillera. We start towards south, ascend to the “Contador” pass (4760 meters / 15 616 feet asl.), which offers a pretty view of mountain peaks that seem to plunge into a large valley. Lake Alka Quta is in view, as is the Palcoco nmine. We continue our descent to the valley following the cordillera, crossing a semi-swampy area close to the Surakhota lake (4410 meters / 14 468 feet asl.), and then heading up towards the south-east on the mountain to the Ajwani Lake (Lake of the birds, 4615 meters / 15 141 feet asl.), home to many ducks.
The Ajwani Lagoon is a pretty little lake where many ducks nest. The place is restful and encourages contemplation. However, we have to continue our route towards the south-east on the mountainside. We will still have a good view of Lake Ajawani before moving on to the next valley. We reach the Milluni Pass at 4910m before descending to the Laguna Sistaña (4670m). We continue our journey towards the south-east. We climb a second pass, the Paso Janchallani at 4885 m alt. We discover the Condoriri massif, one of the most beautiful glaciers of the Cordillera. We then descend to the Laguna Jurikhota (4700 m alt.) nestled in a deep valley. The Head and Left Wing of the Condor dominate the lake. We can make out the path that runs along the Laguna on the left and up the moraine to the foot of the glacier. The views are breathtaking! The next day promises to be splendid.
We start the day by walking along the right bank of the lake to reach the moraine. Then we climb up to the Laguna Congelada at 4880 m altitude. The place is simply magical. The lake is magnificent, the Condoriri glacier finishes its course in its turquoise waters. The vertical walls of the Left Wing and the Condor Head seem frightening from our path. We take a break to contemplate this place before continuing our journey. We then turn south-east to climb the rocks towards the pass. The climb is quite steep and requires vigilance. We arrive at the Austria Pass at 5140m. If you still have some strength left, it is highly recommended to make a round trip over the Austria Peak before moving on to the next valley. This is the rocky peak that dominates the pass on your right. It culminates at 5300m altitude. It is a steep climb through scree, but the effort is worth it. This Austria Peak is a real watchtower for the Condoriri. The views are breathtaking on the glacier massif. All that remains is to descend in a south-easterly direction from the pass to reach the Laguna Chiarkhota (4680 m alt.), base camp of the Condoriri and the Pequeño Alpamayo.
We start towards the east to the Jallayko pass (5025 meters / 16 486 feet asl.) at the foot of the Aguja Negra. As we gain elevation, the Pequeño Alpamayo glacier comes into sight. On the other side of the pass, we see rocky peaks. We descend into the next valley and then climb to the Tillipata pass (5000 meters / 16 404 feet asl.) and the Tuni lake. Amazing view of the lakes, Huayna Potosi and Maria Lloco peak accompany our ascent. We descent to the Wichu Khota lake and set up the camp.
The path passes through several lagoons before reaching the old Santa Fe mine camp. Then, our route continues south-east along the motorable track. To spice up the day, you can climb to a small summit to get a panoramic view of the various lagoons. The route then continues along the dirt track to the Campo Canal camp. From there, you should not miss the walk to the Glaciar Lagoon of Huayna Potosi. The best way is to go up towards the glacier, north-east, by the right of the valley. Take a little height to join a channel that will bring you to the lake at 4905m of altitude. You will then be at the foot of the West Face of Huayna Potosi, a 900m drop to the main summit. Both splendid and frightening!
We attack our last pass by climbing towards the south-east towards the Paso Miluni located at 5000 m of altitude. It offers beautiful views of the western face of Huayna Potosi. Then we go around the glacier to pass on its eastern side and reach the Casa Blanca refuge located at 4795 m of altitude. Our journey ends here at the foot of Huayna Potosi. You will be able to observe the normal route of the ascent and may want to attempt it! If not, a vehicle will be waiting for you to return to civilization to the city of La Paz.
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