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Pico Tunari: Meeting the King of the Andes

Early on a clear morning, we started our trip to Pico Tunari, which is a 5,035m high mountain in the Cordillera Tunari nearby Cochabamba. On our way to our starting point on 4,200m, we passed small villages, a market of lamas, and crossed breathtaking green valleys (so nice that I thought about starting hiking already at that point). The first 500 meters of altitude difference were fairly easy, we hiked through grassland, passed lagoons and seeing a lot of lamas and other related kinds of camels.
At around 4,700m, the landscape changed into much stonier terrain and got more difficult. Well, up here you can feel the altitude! Some of us (we started in a group of twelve people and our guide Bastian) had to give up at this point, however, being compensated with a great view over the other mountains behind the Pico Tunari and over the valley of Cochabamba. The rest of the group continued suspiring.
The last meters weren't too steep but quite rocky, therefore, we had to go really carefully. Being on the top of the mountain, we then had a breathtaking (quite true in its two senses) view of Cochabamba, the snow caped mountains of La Paz and the Cordillera Real, and towards Oruro. Since nearby Cochabamba is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains at all directions, we could see lots of ridges. Marvelous!
After around half an hour on the top, the king of the mountains itself payed us a visit. Three or four condors got visible, and one of them decided to take a look at us. He passed by the peak in a difference of not more than 20 meters. No one took a breath, and for a short moment I feared that he'd like to eat good (and exhausted) meat. Majestic and without moving his wings, he took his look ...and disappeared in a wide curve.
We took the descent in the same way, through stony ground and later grasslands, with a short break at the langoon... Brrr! However, taking a bath here is highly recommended. After ten hours (five in the bus, four hiking and one hour of rest on top), we arrived in Cochabamba. Altogether, it has been a really nice trip for our group, crowned by a visit of the king! Recommended!

I'm Christoph and right now I'm volunteering in Cochabamba in a proyect that helps street children to improve their situation. Originally, I'm from Germany and work as a software developer - yes, I like having sort of vacations from my "vida real" here in Bolivia and doing something totally different and purely social.

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