Guided Climbs in Bolivia
Climb Bolivia’s highest peaks with incredible guides and services!
These amazing adventures include a guided climb of two great peaks in Cordillera Real – Huayna Potosi (19,980 feet) and Illimani (21,200 feet) – as well as an opportunity to enjoy Bolivia’s magnificent scenery, inspiring ruins and lively markets. We fly into La Paz, which is 13,000 feet above sea level, and spend two days getting acclimated and seeing the sights. Craig Van Hoy has been leading Bolivian climbs since 1984 and combines fluency in Spanish with knowledge of the country and the mountains. If you have extra time and want to take advantage of your acclimatization, we also offer a guided climb of Bolivia’s highest peak, Sajama at 21,486 feet.
Previous mountaineering experience is required for this trip but there is sufficient time built in to refresh our rope travel skills upon arrival in Bolivia. To ensure proper acclimatization, we will first set our sights on Huayna Potosi, which on requires the use of fixed rope lines and running belays on summit day. After the climb, we’ll return to La Paz to rest, relax and celebrate before attempting our second objective, Illimani.
2016 Trek Dates
July 29 – August 12, 2016
Guides, porters, group equipment (kitchen, tents, etc.), all climbing permit fees, airport transfers, ground transportation and lodging starting with your arrival in La Paz until our return to La Paz. Welcome dinner and continental breakfasts in La Paz are included.
Does not include:
International airfare to and from Bolivia, taxis, food and lodging (should you arrive in La Paz early), alcoholic beverages during the trip, personal shopping and snacks. Once you’ve decided to go, we’ll put you in touch with our travel agent who can coordinate your flights. Lunch and dinner in La Paz are not included except for the welcome dinner.
Members who wish to take advantage of their acclimatization and climb Bolivia’s highest mountain, Sajama (21,486 feet), can do so on a supplemental basis. The cost for this additional five days of climbing depends on the number of participants.
- Day 1: Flights from home to Miami; connect for overnight flight to LaPaz, Bolivia.
- Day 2: Arrive Bolivia early morning; transfer to hotel in LaPaz (11,900 feet) with group dinner that evening. Overnight in hotel.
- Day 3: City tour visiting the local markets and lounging around getting used to the altitude; overnight at Hotel.
- Day 4: Visit Lake Titicaca (12,400 feet). Casual acclimatization hiking near the lake; overnight at the Copacabana.
- Day 5: Boat ride to the Island of the Sun to visit the ruins; overnight at the Copacabana.
- Day 6: Travel to our base camp near Zongo Lake (15,000 feet).
- Day 7: Acclimatization day and training day (review fixed rope travel, etc.)
- Day 8: Acclimatization climb of Charquini (17,690 feet).
- Day 9: Hike to High Camp on Huayana Potosi (17,880 feet).
- Day 10: Summit Climb of Huayana Potosi (19,974 feet).
- Day 11: Return to LaPaz.
- Day 12: Drive to Illimani base camp (15,000 feet).
- Day 13: Climb to high camp on Illimani (18,000 feet).
- Day 14: Summit day on Illimani (21,200 feet).
- Day 15: Optional day for extra acclimatization if needed.
- Day 16: Return to LaPaz.
- Day 17: Flights home to the United States.
The schedule may vary according to mountain conditions, weather patterns, group abilities, etc. A final detailed itinerary will be e-mailed to enrolled participants 30 days prior to departure on international trips and 14 days prior to departure on domestic trips.
Culture & Sightseeing
Bolivia has been called the “Tibet of the New World” because of its impressive history and ancient civilizations. You can still see the ruins of the massive Inca and Amayra empires. When we arrive, we spend an afternoon getting to know La Paz while we acclimate to the high altitude. We wander through colorful outdoor markets where the locals sell everything from fruit to musical instruments.there are even charms from the “witches market” guaranteed to bring you health, wealth and happiness.
We also take a short day trip to see the Tiahuanaco ruins, built in 1600 BC. These are reported to be among the most important archeological finds in South America and one of the most advanced civilizations to exist in South America. When the civilization vanished it left behind many questions and much mystery. Much of it remains underground because Bolivia has few funds to spend on an archeological dig.
Our visit to Bolivia is completed by a trip to Lake Titicaca where a fresh trout lunch is provided. We then charter a small boat to take us to the Island of Suriki where we visit the Amayra Indians who helped Thor Heyerdahl build his famous reed boats, Ra II and Tigress, for his exploratory expeditions. We overnight at the lakeside resort Copacabana.
The Bolivian peaks are challenging climbs even up the standard routes. Running belays, fixed lines and repelling may all be needed on any given climb. Climbers must have competed a sound mountaineering seminar using these techiques beforehand. We will spend some time reviewing the basics on our first climb. Please include a brief climbing resume with your registration forms.
You are quickly reminded that you are at a high altitude when you step off the plane at 13,000 feet. A prime factor in a successful trip to the mountains of Bolivia is the ability to acclimate. Go Trek designs the 16-day program to give you the time to acclimate as well as get additional mountaineering instruction. Illimani deserves this “expedition style” approach. We also place an additional camp at 16,100 feet. Every effort is made to give you time to achieve the trip to the summit.
When in La Paz, you become very aware of Illimani. At 21,200 feet, it dominates the skyline. After three days in La Paz we feel adjusted to the altitude, so we pack up and head to the mountains of the Cordillera Real through colorful Bolivian towns where we enjoy meeting the locals who are very curious about us!
First we climb to the summit of Huayna Potosi (19,974 feet) for acclimatization and training. This is a very rewarding climb and one of the loveliest mountains on the continent. The climb normally requires the use of fixed lines and running belays and solid basic snow and ice climb skills. This climb is a good warm up for Illimani! After our ascent we return to La Paz for the night.
Our trip begins with a drive east over a 16,500-foot-pass to Illimani. After loading our gear onto pack animals, we start the hike to base camp (15,000 feet). The next day, we hike from base camp to our high camp, Nido de Condores (the Condor’s Nest) at 18,000 feet. The route from base camp takes us onto a rock ridge and involves some very minor rock scrambling.
Following our hike up to Nido de Condores we can either climb to the summit or wait until the day after, depending on weather, route conditions and team strength. From Nido de Condores we have a stunning view of the entire Cordillera Real to the north. Sajama, Bolivia’s highest mountain, can be seen to the west near the border of Chile. When the sun begins to set we see the lights of La Paz glittering below and Lake Titicaca glistening in the distance. As darkness descends, the spectacular Southern Cross is revealed.
We go out of our high camp heading on a narrow snow ridge where we do some exposed climbing, using running belays and fixed lines to safeguard the team. We practice this technique before departing for the summit. We climb over a series of ramps involving standard glacier travel with the exception of a few short, steep stretches. After several hours of climbing, the summit comes into sight. We climb one final ramp up along the narrow ridge that leads to the summit of Illimani.
- Double plastic boots with high altitude liner
- Three pairs of socks
- Light hiking boots (for our approaches)
- Synthetic long underwear top
- Synthetic long underwear pants
- Climbing Pants
- GORE-TEX® pants (with full side zips)
- Hiking shorts
- Hiking pants
- Fleece jacket
- GORE-TEX® jacket
- Down parka (heavyweight with insulated hood)
- Light cotton shirt
- Fleece hat (ski cap)
- Baseball hat or sun visor
- Headlamp with two extra sets of batteries
- Ski gloves
- Light fleece gloves
- Glove liners
- Mittens (insulated overmitts)
- Sunglasses (wrap around style)
- Backpack, 6000-cubic-inch capacity
- Sleeping bag, rated 0 to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sleeping pad (inflatable or closed cell foam)
- Toilet paper (two rolls, sealed in Ziploc baggies)
- Bic lighter
- Lightweight toiletries
- Two large plastic garbage bags
- One package Potable Aqua (iodine tablets for water purification)
- Personal First Aid Kit: aspirin, personal medications, antacids, Imodium, Cipro
- Ice axe (70 cm is a great length)
- Three locking carabiners
- Four non-locking carabiners
- Belay / rappel device
- One pair ascenders (with webbing)
- One rescue pulley
- One pair collapsible ski poles
- Extra lunch foods for our summit days
- Lip balm
- Two Nalgene water bottles (wide mouth recommended)
- Insulated water bottle covers
- Ice hammer (optional)