Bolivia is known for its incredible high-altitude trekking and hiking.
- Most notable is the Cordillera Real, located above the La Paz, with its breathtaking ice summits, crystal blue crater lakes, and a never-ending sea of peaks. This region is rich with 6 of the 14 - 6000m peaks of Bolivia.
- The Cordilleras Quimsa Cruz and the Apolobamba in the north are similar.
- To the south, the Cordillera Tunari near Cochabamba and the Kari Kari Mountains over Potosi are connected. Both are mainly identified by wild rocky peaks that are rarely visited.
- The western Cordillera Occidental has mostly alone standing, great volcanic mountains.
- The Cordillera Lipez is located in the very south, surrounded by colorful multicolored lakes, with peaks just under 6000m high.
Cordillera Quimsa Cruz
The Cordillera Quimsa Cruz still remains a largely unexplored wilderness. Pure granite spires and stunning glacial peaks make this a popular destination for adventurous hikers, but there are also good hiking routes for newbies. The most common hiking route runs from west to east, starting in Mina Viloco and finishing in Mina Caracoles, where, as well as some of Bolivia’s most epic scenery, you’ll likely trek past the site of a 1971 airplane crash and some abandoned mine sites.
The Cordillera Real hike
The Cordillera Real traverse is one of the best treks in Bolivia. This is a superb mountain getaway experience with very few trekkers in the middle section in particular. The whole journey takes 10 to 12 days from Sorata to Huayna Potosi, but it can be divided up into shorter treks.
Wild rock mountains, mighty ice giants, and narrow paths into the Yungas provide considerable variety. The most famous mountain here is certainly the Illimani, visible from almost everywhere, with 6440m the second highest mountain of Bolivia.
Cordillera Apolobamba hike
The Cordillera Apolobamba, the northernmost mountain region of Bolivia. It has an alpine mountain range with huge glaciers, rough peaks, and countless trekking opportunities. With the Chaupi Orcko, there is even a real 6000m mountain. In addition, there are many high 5000m peaks like Kantutani, Palomani, Cuchillo, Akamani, and many more. The journey from La Paz to Pelechuco even with a good jeep takes about 8 hours, by bus about 12. From Pelechuco the classic 5 day trip to Curva can be made.
There are routes from 4 or so days up to 12 or so days, depending on the route you will choose. Very few trekkers go this far off the beaten track and there is little or no tourist infrastructure. Some of the old trails have been turned into roads by miners In recent years as gold mining has been booming and a lot of old mines have been reopened.
Isla del Sol
As many of Bolivia’s hikes require you to go high, it’s a good idea to acclimatize as soon as possible. A great place to do this is along the coasts of Lake Titicaca, which lies at 3,800 meters. A two-hour boat ride from Copacabana will take you to the steep, lush banks of Isla del Sol, the birthplace of the sun, and the Inca dynasty. Easy and marked acclimatization hikes on the island take you past several Inca ruins, traditional Aymara villages, and remarkable Lake Titicaca viewpoints. The whole island can be hiked in just a few hours, but if you wish to enjoy the views a little longer, it is possible to stay the night on the island in basic accommodation.
Illampu Circuit is one of Bolivia’s most remote trekking locations. The 46-mile 75-kilometer hike takes trekkers on a seven-day loop around the breathtaking 6000-meter-high Nevado Illampu mountain, traversing three spectacular mountain passes over 5,000 meters. The route pass through traditional Aymara villages, where daily life consists of herding llamas and cultivating potatoes, corn, and quinoa. Be aware that many of these communities don’t come into contact with tourists often, so be respectful when passing through and always ask for permission before taking a photo.
Sajama national park is one of the most beautiful in Bolivia. There are several day walks and a multi-day trek with magnificent high altitude camping, right on the Bolivia-Chile border. There are warming hot springs, geysers, and the option of some easy 6,000m climbs such as Parinacota and Acotango. This is a remote high plateau with volcanoes all over the landscape, small village, and large flocks of llama and alpaca.