Northern Cordillera Real trek (TTROYALN)

Code: TTROYALN Duration: 9 days
Price: US$ 974 (4 pax minimum)
Single Room Supplement: US$ 90
Technical Difficulty:
Accommodation Type:
Camping
Trek Type:
Location:
Cordillera Real
Duration Days: 9
Duration Nights: 8 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.

This is a short version of our full Cordillera Real trek, follows the northern section from Sorata valleys to Koatia, the most interesting section of this new route.

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.

Please note that to take this trip alone, you must already be acclimatized to the highlands. This means that you must have spent at least 3-5 days at the highlands doing light physical activity. For more information about this subject, please refer to the page acclimatization at our website.

Short Itinerary

Day 1. Drive to Sorata Valley. Trek to Alto Llojena. Camp.
Day 2. Trek to San Francisco laggon. Camp.
Day 3. Trek to Chojña Kota lagoon. Camp.
Day 4. Trek to Jistaña. Camp.
Day 5. Trek to Kelluani. Camp.
Day 6. Trek to Chachacomani. Camp.
Day 7. Rest day / Local exploration. Camp.
Day 8. Trek to Jallawaya. Camp.
Day 9. Trek to Koatia. Camp. Transport to La Paz

Highlights

  • Splendid views of mountain landscape, the highlands and Lake Titicaca.
  • 8 days of trekking (102km total distance).

Services Included

  • Meals mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Full land transportation during the trip.
  • 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

  • Transfers IN/OUT to airports.
  • International & local flight tickets & fees.
  • Meals& accommodation 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. 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: 

La Paz: 3,650m (11,972ft)
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: 2-3Hrs (130km)
Walking: 6-7Hrs (15km)

Meals: 

L,D

Day 2. 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 4. 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 5. 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 6. 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 7. 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 8. Trek to Jaillawaya. 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 (14km)

Meals: 

B,L,D

Day 9. Trek to Kotia. Transport to La Paz.

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. At the end of the trail there will be our vehicles waiting to take you to La Paz.

Overnight: None

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)
Trailhead: 4,439m (14,560ft)
La Paz: 3,650m (11,972ft)

Timing: 

Walking: 7-8Hrs (19km)
Driving: 2-3Hrs (91km)

Meals: 

B,L