Ancohuma is with 6427 meters sea-level the tallest peak around the largest lake of Bolivia and Peru Lago Titicaca which is with 3810 meters sea-level the highest navigable lake on earth. It is a ice and snow castle and the second highest summit of the awesome mountain range Cordillera Real of the Bolivian Andes. Our dream was to achieve its top but we had bad conditions in the early morning like heavy snowfall, unusual high temperatures and groundless deep snow. Consequently we decided to turndown at 6256 sea-level below the last steep slopes. Especially we didn't want to accept the serious risk of avalanches. Nevertheless this trip was an outstanding nice experience for us.

Illampu and Ancohuma seen from lake Lago Titicaca


The tour to Ancohuma starts in Sorata, a pleasant and warm village on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Real at 2700 meters sea-level. After struggling with its narrow and steep streets we found the heavenly campsite Altai Oasis with wonderful people (GPS coordinates: S15 46.179 W68 39.306). Johny and Simon thank you so much for your extraordinary support and creating this marvelous place.

The marvelous Condoriri range of the Cordillera Real is close to La Paz nearby the village Estancia Tuni. It is named after its most striking mountain which looks like a Condor seeing from West. It is "just" about 5600 meters high but very difficult to access due to serious technical ice and rock climbing. West of the main peak is the much easier Cerro Austria (5328 meters sea-level) which provides stunning views to nearly the whole range of the Cordillera Real.

Cerro Condoriri with the head and its two wings


There are other nice trekking mountains in this area like Cerro Mulamania (4949 meters high) and Cerro Thipala (5045 meters sea-level). But before we came in this region we had crossed Bolivia from Tupiza to La Paz. Outstanding were the rocky mountains Cerros Kari Kari close to Potosi.

The Torotoro National Park is a superb area in the eastern range of the Andes, the Cordillera Oriental, 150km South of Cochabamba. It is a magic and wonderful world with caves, pinnacles, cold streams, canyons, wildlife and dinosaur footprints. Due its complicated access via steep cobbled or dirt roads it is relatively remote.  

100km Northeast, close the main road between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz are the most important Inca ruins of Bolivia, Incallatja in a marvelous landscape.

The best way from Bolivia to Brazil is through Chiquitania, more than 1000km through the hot jungle with some huge cattle farms and picturesque villages, mainly originated by Jesuits. Outstanding are San Javier and San Ignacio, both with beautiful churches and UNESCO world heritage states. Thanks to the Jesuits fine arts like music or carving is quite popular.

But we had some serious trouble to reach the Brazilian border. We came in the evening of Saturday (August 18th 2012) to Cochabamba and enjoyed its night life a little bit on a street restaurant. We met their three Carlos, one elderly pastor from Argentina, a young man driving a green Volkswagen T3 with his wife and son - Carlos. We had a lot of fun and learned some new Spanish words, Thanks Carlos I, II and III.

A cozy sleeping place in Cochabamba with some money from Jesus?


The dominating mountains in the Chilean Lauca National Park are the two Payachatas (twins) Volcan Parinacota and Volcan Pomerape. The first one is with 6342 meters sea-level slightly higher and it is a perfect cone, one of the most beautiful mountains on earth. Both are covered with snow and ice. They are located on the border to Bolivia, there in the Sajama National Park .

On foot of the Payachatas are the picturesque villages Parinacota (Chile - West side) and Sajama (Bolivia - East side). The most popular and common ascent to Volcan Parinacota is from Sajama via the northern ridge, which arises from the saddle between the two volcanoes. It provides beautiful views to the southern glacial face of Volcan Pomerape and to Bolivia's highest mountain on the opposite side of the village: Majestic but icy Nevado Sajama (6542 meters sea-level).

Due to the high altitude of the village Sajama (more than 4200 meters) good acclimatization is mandatory. On the Chilean side are some nice tours to gain it properly.  

West (Chilean) side of Volcan Pomerape and Volcan Parinacota


The mountain Huayna Potosi is with 6088 meters sea-level one of the ice castles of the Cordillera Real. This mountain range is the eastern boundary of the Altiplano, the 2nd widest plateau on earth after Tibet, with about 4000 meters altitude. On the east side of the Cordillera Real follows the Amazon basin, with vast amounts of clouds, rain and snow in the Bolivian winter period (December to April). Consequently the glaciation of the Cordillera Real is enormous.

Graveyard of Milluni with Huayna Potosi


Life on Altiplano is hard and tough with very cold nights, excessive sun burning during the day and heavy precipitation in the rainy season. The indigenous tribe are the proud Aymara people. They achieved that their tongue is the second official language of native people in South America (after Guarani in Paraguay). The Aymara new year, Willkakuti is celebrated on their sacred place Tiwanaku in the longest night of the year at June 21st, when the sun turns. 

The village Samaipata is located in a marvelous environment in the first eastern ranges of the Andes. Its main attraction is the pre Inca fort El Fuerte de Samaipata, which is an UNESCO world heritage and one of the most important ruins of Bolivia and South America. The Incas used this fort as one their most outposts. East were and still are the very strong tribe Guarani, who defeated several times the Incas and prevent their further extension to East.

20km east of Samaipata are the caves Chorros de Cuevas, a paradise with three cascades, clean and cold water. It is an ideal destination on hot days to refresh and cool down. We drove on a rainy day from Santa Cruz to Samaipata mid of July 2011. The landscape became more and more mountainous and green.

The first ranges of the Andes from East

The National Park Amboro between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz is situated on the lower slopes of the Andes to the Amazonas basin. It is famous for its density of game and insects, for beautiful waterfalls and natural swimming pools, and thick green jungle fauna. There are few camps inside this park, which can be accessed with a guide from the North via Buena Vista or the South via Samiapata.

Cochabamba is the third biggest city in Bolivia with more than 800,000 people. It is located in a nice valley of the Andes at 2570 meter sea level; thus it has a very pleasant climate. It is half the way between La Paz and Santa Cruz, the other two large cities in Bolivia. Its main attraction is the huge Jesus monument "Cristo de la Concordia" on a hill, more than 40 meters high.

When we left the Hotel Oberland in La Paz we heard a weird noise from the starter of our car. Besides that is was smoking like hell, again. So we decided to go to Eduardo, who manages the Bosch Diesel Service La Paz in El Alto the highest quarter of La Paz, around 4100 meters sea level. They revised the starter, the fuel pump and exchanged all Diesel tubes and the fuel filter. It was a lot of work; consequently we stayed 5 days in the service station. We had all comfort like electricity and hot shower. And we had enough gas for our heater, because it became very cold, especially in the evenings. The last morning we had some fresh snow. Thanks a lot Eduardo and the Bosch Diesel service team (GPS coordinates: S16° 31.944' W68° 10.483'). We used the time to visit the museums in La Paz; we like very much the coca museum and the masks in the folklore museum.

Eduardo and his little son

Cordillera Real is the mightiest mountain range in Bolivia with several peaks above 6000 meter. It is situated on the east side of the Altiplano and it gets in summer a lot of precipitation from the Amazon area. Thus the glaciations are heavy for this latitude; the permanent snow line starts at 5200 meter. We climbed in June 2011 Cerro Saturno (5006 meter seal level), Serranias Almillanis (5108 meter) and Cerro Charkini (5392 meter). To achieve the summit of the latter one we had to cross a glacier with huge crevasses.

On the ridge to Cerro Saturno


The Yungas are the lower slopes down to the Amazon basin. They have a rich flora and fauna, thanks to the clouds and rain coming from the Amazonas. A nice tourist destination is the village Coroico, which is accessible now from La Paz by a fully tarred road. But you have to cross the 4650 meter high pass Cumbre Coroico or La Cumbre. Few years ago the descent from this pass was horrible due to a narrow and dirty lane in vertical rocky walls. Many people died in the huge traffic and there are a lot of memorials. This old street is called the Camino de la Muerte, the Death Street. Now it is an outstanding mountain bike tour. If you start at La Cumbre, you have a vertical downhill distance of more than 3400 meters.

Potosi is with more than 120,000 inhabitants the highest city of our world at 4100 meters sea level. Potosi was the richest town on earth due to enormous silver findings in the mines of the mountain Cerro Rico. The exploitation of silver started already in the 16th century and it was shipped mainly to Europe. But the silver was a curse for the local people, many died in the mines due to inhuman working conditions. Now the silver is gone, but tin and zinc are mined nowadays.  

La Paz is with more than 2,000,000 people the largest city of Bolivia, its economical heart and its seat of government. It is beautifully situated in different valleys of the Altiplano between 3200 and 4100 meters surrounded by very high and white mountains. Famous are the various markets of La Paz, a lot of nice places and the Valle de Luna (moon valley) with stunning earth pinnacles. 

We left Uyuni on June 1st 2011 to the village of Ticatica with some hot springs. We saw Rheas close to the road to Ticatica.

Three Rheas, the Ostriches of Southamerica


Volcan Uturuncu is with 6008 meters sea level the tallest mountain in the south part of Bolivia. It is an active volcano with two peaks. The last eruptions were in April 2003, after being hundreds of years inactive. There were some mining activities on this mountain and a rough dirty roads leads into the saddle between the two peaks. This road can be used by good 4-wheel cars up to 5400 meters, depending on the snow conditions. Uturuncu lies in a very remote area: The access from Uyuni is one long day by dirty roads, only possible with a 4-wheel car.

The 60 square kilometer big Laguna Colorada (red lake) is 4h drive West of Uturuncu in an altitude of 4275 meters. It is an unique natural spectacle, because the water color seems to be red, green and white depending on the sunset. This is caused by plankton. The plankton attracts a lot of birds like flamingos.

This is the second part of our trip with Fronia and Obet, see also our report Volcan Tunupa and Salar de Uyuni. In this article a map is included. After a cold and uncomfortable night in a hostel in Uyuni we started with Fronia and Obet the long way to the village Quetena Chico, which is the base for the ascent of Volcan Uturuncu.

The rough way from Uyuni to Quetena Chico

Salar de Uyuni is with 160 km length and 135 km width the largest salt area of our world at an altitude of approximately 3700 meters. The salt is between 2 and 7 meters thick, so it can be accessed by 4x4 cars if there is not too much water. In the rainy season between December and March Salar de Uyuni becomes a tremendous huge mirror. The water dries in the following months more or less, so the surface becomes totally white. Volcano Tunupa is situated on a peninsula of the Salar de Uyuni and provides fantastic views to the Salar because it overtops Salar de Uyuni more than 1500 meters. Due to its outstanding location Volcano Tunupa is a holy mountain of the Aymara people.

We came to Bolivia in the evening of May 24th 2011. The first town Villazon is a typical border city - mainly a shopping center for Argentina. We continued the next day to Tupiza, a pleasant town in a nice valley surrounded by rocky mountains.

Exciting car on the road between Villazon and Tupiza


The mountain Volcan Licancabur is the landmark of San Pedro de Atacama. Its shape is a perfect cone, with more than 3,500 meters over San Pedro. But the ascent is not possible on the Chilean side of Licancabur, because a lot of dangerous blockbusters are on this side and nobody knows where they are buried. Hence you have to go to Bolivia if you want to climb up Licancabur. It has one the highest lake of our world in its crater, more than 5,800 meters sea level. On its foot are some ancient ruins built by the Incas as well as on top of Cerro Incahuasi. This mountain is closed to the road to the Paso Jama few kilometers North of Licancabur. 

Volcanoes Licancabur and Juriques with the suburbs of San Pedro