Cordillera Real traverse (TTROYAL)

Code: TTROYAL Duration: 17 days
Price: US$ 1850 (4 pax minimum)
Single Room Supplement: US$ 320
Technical Difficulty:
Accommodation Type:
Camping
Hotel
Trek Type:
Location:
Cordillera Real
Duration Days: 17
Duration Nights: 4 nights hotels, 12 nights camping
Suggested Seasons: Autumn - Winter - Spring

Conservative estimations made by archaeologists set the network of trails that existed in the Andes before colonial in about 30,000km (18,633mi). During Inca times, most of the trails – that were built by previous cultures like Tiwanacu and already existed by then -, were organized in a network called Qapak Ñan, same that linked the whole empire or Tawantinsuyu over the central Andes.

The main “highways” follow a north-South line along of the Pacific coastline from Colombia, across Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, and all the way south to Argentina and Chile. These main trails link the trading routes that generally follow East-West lines connecting the different ecological environments from the Pacific Ocean through the high lands, the Andean mountain range, the fertile valleys and down into the cloud forest.

As usual, we have designed this itinerary including a proper acclimatization program near the shores of Lake Titicaca. Then we will start the proper trek at the foot of Illampu/Jankohuma massif following on and off some ancient trails traversing the western slopes of Cordillera Real mountain range from north to south and overlooking the highlands and Titicaca.

We spend a lot of time developing this route that for the moment is exclusive for our clients; a mountain trek that we truly believe is one of the best in South America.

At the end of the trek we strongly suggest to take an extension and continue trekking the famous Choro trail, providing your trip with a dramatic “finale” descending to the hot lush green of the Amazonian forest.

It is necessary to make it clear that this is not an easy trek. There are no well-established trails and sometimes not even trace of trails. The itinerary follows llama tracks and often hikes cross country. It is a demanding trek and requires off trail hiking experience.

Short Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival to La Paz. Transfer to Hotel.
Day 2. Hike on Peñas Range. Transport to Copacabana. Hotel.
Day 3. Trek to Chincana. Transport to Huatajata. Hotel
Day 4. Drive to Sorata Valley. Trek to Alto Llojena. Camp.
Day 5. Trek to San Francisco lagoon. Camp.
Day 6. Trek to Chojña Kota lagoon. Camp.
Day 7. Trek to Jistaña. Camp.
Day 8. Trek to Kelluani. Camp.
Day 9. Trek to Chachacomani. Camp.
Day 10. Rest day / Local exploration. Camp.
Day 11. Trek to Jallawaya. Camp.
Day 12.Trek to Koatia. Camp.
Day 13. Trek to Alka Kota lake. Camp.
Day 14. Trek to Juri Kota lake. Camp.
Day 15.Trek to Chiar Kota lake. Camp.
Day 16. Trek to Ancoma. Transport to La Paz. Hotel
Day 17. Transfer OUT.

Highlights

  • Acclimatization sightseeing La Paz & Lake Titicaca.
  • Hike to the scenic view point of Peñas range.
  • Splendid views of mountain landscape, the highlands and Lake Titicaca.
  • 19 days of trekking (238km total distance).

Services Included

  • All transfers IN/OUT to airports.
  • Meals mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Full land transportation during the trip.
  • Hotel accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Common camping equipment: 3 season tents, dinning and kitchen tents & tableware.
  • Bilingual guide during the trip.
  • Luggage transportation with porters and/or animals (15 kg/33 lb per person max weight).
  • Cook when camping.
  • National Park entrance fees.

Services Not Included

  • International & local flight tickets & fees.
  • Meals while in La Paz.
  • Personal camping equipment: sleeping bag, mattress, headlamps, and clothing.
  • Insurance of any kind.
  • Any expense due to a rescue operation (rescuers fee, transportation, or medical cost).

Day to day details

Day 1. Arrival to La Paz. Transfer IN. Hotel.

Arriving at the airport in La Paz your breath will be taken away. Not just because of the altitude; the airport is the highest international airport in the world; but also because of the views over the mountains. The crisp clear sky of the highlands give the impression you could touch them. In a normal winter day it is possible to see over a distance of 200Km (120mi). The cold and dry air feels good after so many hours of treated pressurized cabin air.

The drive to the city of La Paz is not less impressive. We will stop at “La Ceja” (literally the eyebrow in Spanish; but also meaning the edge) and have a view on the amazing city with buildings and houses hanging from the steep slopes and filling the whole valley that is surrounded by huge glaciated mountains.

Then we will descend 500m (1640ft) down to our hotel in downtown. Do not get stressed much about the altitude; our program has been designed to get you gradually acclimatized. At the beginning we strongly suggest you to take it very easy, drink plenty of water and eat lightly (get into out Acclimatization page for more information).

You will have the rest of the day free. At early evening we will have a briefing meeting.

Overnight: Hotel Nayra

Day Elevations: 

El Alto: 4,100m (13,450ft)
La Paz: 3,650m (11,972ft)

Timing: 

Driving: 30Min (11km)

Meals: 

None

Day 2. Hike on Peñas Range. Transport to Copacabana. Hotel.

After breakfast we will take our transport and head north towards Lake Titicaca. Half of the way we will do our first hike in this small rocky range facing Cordillera Real. After the hike we will board our vehicle to get to the shores of the lake where we will stay in one of the best hotels in the area.

Traveling through this land it is easy to understand how important the shores of Lake Titicaca have been in the development of Andean cultures. Surrounded by desert like hills and snowcapped mountains, the lake offered, and still offers, rich lands and a mild climate. On the way to Copacabana, we will be culturally transferred to the past as we go by Aymara villages where Indians have been keeping their lifestyle for centuries.

Overnight: Hotel Rosario del lago

Day Elevations: 

Trailhead 4,011m (13,156ft)
Peñas 4,333m (14,212ft)
Lake Titicaca 3,810m (12,497ft)

Timing: 

Driving: 4-5Hrs (185km)
Walking: 3-4Hrs (4km)

Meals: 

B,L

Day 3. Trek to Chincana. Transport to Huatajata. Hotel

An early start to make a short but pleasant drive along of the shores of Copacabana peninsula towards the village of Yampupata, there we will board the motor boat that will take us to the Island of the Sun. Today we will trek the whole length of the island admiring the Inca terraces, many of which are still used, passing through villages and walking along sandy beaches. Our objective is to reach the north-west end of the island where we can visit a sacred rock, which was worshipped as the birthplace of the first Incas: MancoKapac and Mama Okllo, son and daughter of Viracocha. We will also have time to visit the ruins of Chincana (the labyrinth). After lunch we will take our motor boat back to mainland and then our vehicle towards another Indian Village at the lake shores: Huatajata. The mountains will “grow” in front of us dominating the landscape and the glaciers will get “tanned” by the late afternoon light as we approach to our hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Inca Utama

Day Elevations: 

Island of the sun 4,065m (13,333ft)
Chincana 3,830m (12,529ft)
Huatajata 3,810m (12,497ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 3-4Hrs (11km)
Motor boat: 2-3Hrs (13km)
Driving: 4-5Hrs (100km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 4. Drive to Sorata Valley. Trek to Alto Llojena. Camp.

We begin the day with an interesting drive towards the mountains. From Lake Titicaca the Cordillera Real appears to lie just across the Altiplano, however there are deep hidden valleys between the two and we will drive down into one of these.

After leaving our vehicle in an amazing viewpoint where we will be “hit” by the magnificence landscape, we will start hiking following a ridge located on the opposite slopes of the massif formed by Jankouma (6,427m/21,080ft) and Illampu (6,362m/20,769ft) Mountains.

The route for today will be relatively gentle since we will only gain a couple hundred meters in altitude a moderated distance. The views of the hanging glaciers of the massif (the largest in Cordillera Real) and the “Nepal-like” intensively farmed valleys below are really astonishing.

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Road pass: 4,250m (13,940ft)
Trailhead: 3,946m (1,943ft)
Crest top: 4,250m (13,940ft)
Alto Llojena: 4,127m (13,536ft)

Timing: 

Driving: 1-2Hrs (70km)
Walking: 6-7Hrs (15km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 5. Trek to San Francisco lagoon. Camp.

Today’s route will also follow an easy terrain ascending gradually along the valley of Sorata towards the pass. On your way you will follow on and off llama paths traversing rolling hills covered with Andean grass called “Ichu”.

During today’s walk you will enjoy great views of the mountains: Jankouma, Wakana (6,200m/20,336ft), Kasiri (5,857m/19,211ft) and JankoPiti (5,725m/18,778ft), actually each one of them part of very complex groups of mountains; each one with its own valleys, glaciers and several peaks. To the west the views of the immensely open high lands of the “Altiplano” with Lake Titicaca in the background are overwhelming.

Our campsite will be located in a grassy spot in a valley leading towards the southern slopes of the mountains.

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Pass: 4,893m (16,049ft)
Campsite: 4,657m (15,275ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 6-7Hrs (13km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 6. Trek to Chojña Kota lagoon. Camp.

There is normally so much water in this valley that the swampy grass basically covers the whole valley from side to side. This makes crossing the short distance to the other side a real challenge, especially during the rainy season. The contrast of the yellow valley and the colorful slopes of the mountain with the white of the glaciers deserve a picture stop. Once on the other side, you start the ascent to a magnificent view point on a rocky ridge on the south-eastern flank of Kasiri Mountain. From this point you will have a superb view of the huge Jankouma massif and the mountains of Cordillera Real. On a clear day you can see Sajama volcano (6,549m/21,480ft), Bolivia’s highest mountain, almost 250km to the south. The topography of the ridges and valleys on the western slopes of Cordillera Real are quite complex, this means that although every day we will mention one or two mountain passes to cross, in fact we will cross several side valleys and therefore ascent to several high points on the way.

Campsite will be set near the shores of Chojña Kota lagoon. That valley leads towards Calzada pass; the only Mountain pass in the region that leads to the Amazon basin. 

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

View point: 4,970m (16,301ft)
Chojña Kota lagoon: 4,754m (15,593ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 5-6Hrs (11km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 7. Trek to Jistaña. Camp.

Today we will ascent a steep but interesting route towards a spectacular viewpoint from where we can continue to the next – and higher - peak with even more spectacular views.

After a steep and fun descent we will get into a bizarre and beautiful colored hanging valley, and then down to the main valley where our campsite will be set in a grassy spot near a secondary road.

After arriving at the campsite, you can relax, do some laundry, read a book and enjoy the campsite, or - if you are still with energy – make a round trip to the upper part of the valley and visit the “Itapallu” garden (Cajophora canarinoides). Great views of new mountains: Calzada (5,650m/18,532ft), Chearoco (6,127m/20,101ft) and Chachacomani (6,074m/19,922ft); two of the six 6,000ers in Cordillera Real. 

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

View point: 5,186m (17,010ft)
second view point: 5,240m (17,187ft)
Jistaña: 4,566m (14,976ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 4-5Hrs (7km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 8. Trek to Kelluani. Camp.

Most of the valleys on this side of Cordillera Real are intensively used by shepherds who take their llama herds up and down the valleys to graze, that is why most of the main and wide trails we find are disappointingly never on our way along of the mountain range. Today is not an exception and we start the day ascending and traversing on a steep slope following narrow secondary Llama paths towards the pass of the day. Further ahead going down to the next valley we make a stop in one of the most extraordinary viewpoints for Chiaroco and Chachacomani mountains.

At the bottom of the grassy valley near Kelluani river (the river of the Sea gulls), we will follow the river until a grassy area in front of the glaciers. You will be very deep inside the Cordillera real, surrounded by elegant mountains, rock and ice faces.

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Pass: 4,951m (16,239ft)
Campsite: 4,609m (15.118ft)

Timing: 

Walking:5-6Hrs (15km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 9. Trek to Chachacomani. Camp.

Probably one of the most demanding days of the trek since we will ascend to the highest point of the itinerary; definitely one of the most  extraordinary viewpoints in the whole Cordillera Real, seems that you can touch the glaciers of Chachacomani mountain with your hands. The last meters to the summit may be quite challenging but pretty safe scrambling. After a short stay at the summit, we will descent via steep moraines and scree slopes down to a hanging valley full of Alpacas and Llamas; disappointingly seems that at the end of the valley we will get immediately to our campsite but once you can see the campsite, there are still 600m to descend. After a long day this last steep section can be very tiring but interesting descending in the middle of big boulders, lots of bushes and boggy land. Once at the bottom of the valley we will hike to our campsite located near Chachacomani River; the lowest of the trip.

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Trekking peak: 5,336m (17,502ft)
Campsite: 4,426m (14,517ft)

Timing: 

Walking:7-8Hrs (14km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 10. Rest day / Local exploration. Camp.

A well-deserved rest day and a good opportunity to refresh yourselves before the rigors of the passes ahead.

This is a great spot to enjoy the views and write up diaries.  For those who do not wish to rest there is ample opportunity to make a really interesting excursion to explore the upper reaches of the valley.  

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Campsite: 4,426m (14,517ft)

Timing: 

None

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 11. Trek to Jallawaya. Camp.

Today we have a long day to ascend on very steep terrain following very secondary llama paths towards Pura Purani pass, then descending again off trail on steep scree down to the river banks of Jaillawaya river. The next section along the valley zigzagging its way downstream seems endless, especially when after a long way we have to climb about 200m up towards our campsite facing the peaks of the impressive Warawarani (5,542m/18,177ft). When crossing the upper parts of the route you will have great views of new mountains on the route, namely: Jisca Pata (5,508m/18,066ft), Janko Laya (5,545m/18,187ft), Janjo Uyu (5,512m/18,079ft).

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Pass: 5,038m (16,524ft)
Valley: 4,524m (14,384ft)
Campsite: 4,622m (15,160ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 5-6Hrs (16km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 12. Trek to Koatia. Camp.

Another challenging but rewarding day! Today you will take a direct ascending route towards an immense rocky cirque formed by the western slopes of WaraWarani Mountain which host a beautiful glacial lake, where glaciers drop down. Later you will contour the lake and ascent to the first pass of the day from where we will discover new mountains of this group: Willa Lloje (5,596m/18,354ft) and PakoKeuta (5,589m/18,332ft). After crossing the second pass, we will have a steep but fun descent to Janko Kota valley where you will set campin a beautiful spot between the colorful Koatia and Kara Kota lagoons. On the way we spot the mountains of Janko Kota valley: Willa Llojeta, JankoUyu.

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Warawarani lake: 4,920m (16,137ft)
First pass: 5,047m (16,554ft)
Valley: 4,785m (15,695ft)
Second pass: 5,010m (16,432ft)
Campsite: 4,439m (14,560ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 7-8Hrs (19km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 13. Trek to Alka Kota lake. Camp.

The route for the next days is part of the classic “Transcordillera” trek and the trails will mostly be wide and - after so many days walking off-trail - unusually bitten. Your day begins from Koatia gradually ascending towards the highest point of a ridge to then descent to the next valley and cover a long distance to the campsite at the shores of Alka Quota lagoon (the bi-color lagoon). To the east lies the Condoriri group – a major milestone in our journey.

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Pass: 4,750m (15,580ft)
Campsite: 4,525m (14,842ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 6-7Hrs (15km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 14. Trek to Juri Kota lake. Camp.

A really sustained high altitude day as you weave your way around the western side the Condoriri group. 

We will have to cross two passes in quick succession Paso Sistaña and Paso Jurikhota. From the second pass you can get a really good view of Condoriri, arguably Bolivia’s most beautiful mountain in Bolivia, before descending to the camp by the shore of Laguna Jurikhota.

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Sistaña Pass: 5,097m (16,718ft)
Valley: 4,718m (15,475ft)
Jurikhota Pass: 4,936m (16,190ft)
Campsite: 4,695m (15,400ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 5-6Hrs (13km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 15. Trek to Chiar Kota lake. Camp.

The climb up to today’s pass takes you between the rocky peaks of Cerro Ventanani and Janchallani (both 5,400m/17,712ft).  From the col you gain good views of the glaciers and snowfields of Ala Norte (5,532m/18,149ft) and Cabeza (head) de Condor (5,658m/18,530ft). 

These two taken together with Ala Sur (5,482m/17,985ft) form the famous view of the Condoriri group – from which it takes its name - best seen once you have descended from the pass to our camp beside ChiarKhota.  From here the mountains resemble a condor’s head flanked by outstretched wings.

Depending on time and conditions, it may be possible to deviate from the pass at the col and ascend Pico Austria.  An easy path zigzags its way up this rocky mountain to its summit, from which the views north encompass most of the mountains you have passed on your journey to date.  The path is distinct because it is often used by climbers who are looking to acclimatize before tackling the popular climbing peaks in the Condoriri group.

This evening you will camp by Laguna Chiar Kota and will probably share your campsite with others for the first and only time on this trip, for it is the base camp area for the climbing community.

Overnight: Camping

Day Elevations: 

Pass: 5140m (16,859ft)
Pico Austria: 5,396m (17,698ft)
Chiar Kota: 4,650m (15,257ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 6-7Hrs (9km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 16. Trek to Botijlaca. Transport to La Paz. Hotel

Early departure after breakfast and we will begin our trek across the two mountain passes into the northern valley of the majestic Huayna Potosi peak. The long descent across boggy fields and puna grass, typical of the Andean valleys will take us to the valley of Zongo. After having hiked above the three line accompanied by puna grass and few bushes, today we will briefly descent to the upper transition zone between the Puna and the Yungas valleys. There the electric company installed hydroelectric plants to produce most of the electricity consumed in the Bolivian highlands. Our vehicle will be waiting to transfer us to “Plataforma Zongo” and then to La Paz.

Overnight: Hotel Nayra

Day Elevations: 

1st Mtn. Pass: 5,010m (16,433ft)
2nd Mtn. Pass: 4,918m (16,131ft)
Botijlaca: 3,607m (11,831ft)
Plataforma Zongo: 4,747m (15,570 ft)
La Paz: 3,650m (11,972ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 7-8Hrs (17km)
Driving: 2-3Hrs (55 km)

Meals: 

B,L

Day 17. Transfer OUT.

Transfer to airport.

Overnight: None

Day Elevations: 

El Alto 4,100m (13,450ft)

Timing: 

Driving:30Min (11km)

Meals: 

None