Cordillera Real Mountain Range
At just one hour from La Paz to the north, we confront the majestic and imposing Cordillera Real de los Andes with snowcapped peaks looming between 5,500 meters and 6.500 meters above sea level. The range consists of around 600 snow capped peaks stretching along 200 kilometers that divides the high altiplano (4,000 meters) from the Amazon jungle at just 500 meters. Many of these peaks defy climbing, offering tough climbs on rock and ice, pre-hispanic trails, adventure skiing, trekking, and mountain biking. The Cordillera Real offers a vast wilderness, profound serenity and fascinating passages back in time to glacial mountain lakes and misty peaks. May to September is the dry season and makes the best time for venturing into the Andes.
Just 36 Kms. from the city of La Paz, at 5.344 meters of altitude snowcapped Chacaltaya can be visited year round. At the base visitors can use basic lodging installed by the Bolivian Alpine Club. The view from its summit is a spectacular panorama featuring the Huayna Potosi and Condoriri peaks, and views of Lake Titicaca and the cast altiplano. The once famous ski slope that was the highest in the world is now defunct because of global warming. There is a trail connected with the Zongo valley that features mountain biking and a 4,000 meter descent. The best time to visit Chacaltaya is between April and October.
At over 3.000 mts. the Zongo Valley hosts a variety of ecological zones, rural communities, and Andean flora and fauna.
Illimani is one of the most gorgeous mountains in Bolivia that looms over the city of La Paz as a guardian and symbol. Hans Ertl in 1953 described Illimani as part of one of the most beautiful groups of mountains in South America. It’s remarkable glacier measures 8 km. from tip to tip, and it has five peaks (of which only 3 are visible from La Paz). The three most important peaks are El Pico Sur (the highest at 6.462 mts.), The Central Peak (6.287 mts.) and the Laika Khollu Peak (6.159 mts.)
Illampu at 6.382 mts. symbolizes the mythical Andean god Kun Tixi Wiracocha, "The Water Maker", so the Illampu is not just a mountain, but an Andean Mount Olympus. It is easily seen from Lake Titicaca and can be climbed starting from Ancoma in the Sorata region. Illampu marks the beginning of a mountain chain and forms with the mighty Ancohuma a massif with 30 high peaks. From the top of Illampu on a clear day one can see the Amazon region, the Yungas Cloud Forest, the Beni low lands, Lake Titicaca, and towns of Warisata and Sorata far below. Illampu is notable for its glaciers, and deep impregnable cracks and drags on its slopes.
This mountain is known as the easiest 6.000 mts. summit in the world. This is the most popular mountain to climb in Bolivia because of its sleek snow covered ridges, and the visual feast from its highest point the Pico Norte. If one ignores the sheet height of the mountain there are few 6,000 meter peaks in the world that are so accessible. A jeep takes just two hours to arrive at base camp from La Paz. In winter the snow and ice descend to 4.700 meter on its sides and form brilliantly colored lagoons surrounded by rocks rising out of the mists. The most common and easiest route starts at the Zongo lagoon but alternative and more difficult routes abound.
The massive Condoriri is actually a group of mountains that soar above 5,000 meters. Their 13 peaks form a circle with impressive cyrstaline waters below. The name Condoriri comes from the formation’s resemblance to a condor with outstretched wings. The principle access point is just 51 Kms. from La Paz and offers the possibility to climb the Pequeño Alpamayu, Illusion, Cabeza de Condor, all of them with a low level of difficulty and good for the aclimatisation of alpinists, except the Cabeza de Condor which is technically very difficult. There are two gorgeous lagoons nearby such as Laguna Chiarkhota (4.600 mts.) and Tuni Condoriri (4.200 mts).
For information about climbing and trekking tours within the Cordillera Real, please visit our tours section.