Terra Bolivia » Community tourism » Our favorites » Treks » Crossing the Andes : trek and local encounters

Crossing the Andes : trek and local encounters

Let's go meet Bolivia, these amazing landscapes and these warm locals!
Discover 5 different atmospheres in 15 days: La Paz, the highest capital of the world, its agitation and its melted mountains; the minor part of Lake Titicaca, beautiful and still authentic; the wild Pampa and the fields of the Altiplano; the snow-capped peaks of the marvelous Cordillera Real; and finally the lush vegetation of the Yungas.
During these 15 days in Bolivia, you will discover and share the traditions, the culture and the life of the locals. A unique experience!

Ecotourism, Hiking
15 Days

MAP

PROGRAMME DAY TO DAY

DAY
1

El Alto Airport -

A private driver will pick you up at the international airport of El Alto and drive you to your hotel in La Paz.
Our guide will pick you up at 09:00 am at the hotel lobby. Today you will discover the most traditional side of the city, walking into the day-to-day life of the “paceños” (inhabitants of La Paz).

You will first enter the indoor market of the Plaza San Francisco (Mercado Lanza) where many workers have breakfast. You will then take the cable car going up to El Alto and enjoy a unexpected view over the city and the mountains that surround it. You will fly over different neighborhoods and the general cemetery, in which you will then enter to discover the Andean post-mortem traditions: here the families leave elaborated offerings on the graves. Walking from the cemetery down to the historical center you will walk through the traditions of clothing and traditional celebrations of the city.

In the Los Andes Street you will feel like carnival is coming. It is the tailor’s street and every shop is filed with colorful costumes and masks. You will end our tour in the Witches Market (“Mercado de las Brujas”) where the locals buy all the necessary artifacts for ceremonial offering to the Pachamama (Mother Earth): coca leaves and other medicinal plants, miniature figurines in sugar and lama fetuses.
Night at the Naira hotel***.

DAY
2

Departure at 8:30 am from our hotel. Our driver rides across the entire southern area to take us up to the Ovejuyo district, at the entrance of the city of La Paz.

We are on the beginning of a ridge between La Paz and the Valley of Illimani, a sacred mountain 6439 meters. We start our walk at 3850 meters along the ridge between the two valleys. The we can observe the Bolivian capital from the top. In the middle of our walk, we meet a "apacheta" a sacred monument, dedicated to the "Pachamama" the mother earth, and gods from the mountains. We can also observe the fantastic "Valle de las Animas" the valley of souls.

After reaching the highest point of our day (4220 meters), we descend towards the "Muela del Diablo" (4220 meters) huge rock formation about 300 meters whose shape looks like a human molar. Opportunity to practice climbing on tracks equipped.

Return to La Paz in private transport in the afternoon. (4-hours walk / 4.5 km).

Hiking time: 4-5h;

Elevation gain/loss: +350m / -350m
Night at the Naira hotel***.

DAY
3

Quewaya -

Transport La Paz - Quewaya (3h)
Hiking time: 1h; Elevation gain/loss: 0; Level : Easy

We leave the hotel at 9 am for Lake Titicaca. After passing El Alto, on the way we stop at the small village of Tatakuma in the middle of the countryside. Here, we assist to a demonstration of the manufacture of terracotta pans. Then we reach the village of Quewaya at the end of the morning, we discover the beautiful and wild part of the lake, the minor part.

We meet Maria and Roberto and assist to a weaving workshop and share a traditionnal lunch in family. In the afternoon, we go for a short hike to discover an ancient Tiwanakota village in excellent conservation. At the end of the day, we meet again Robert and Maria for a traditional fishing session.

Dinner and night at Quewaya's hostel (basic comfort).

DAY
4

Quewaya - - Cojata

Lake transport - Huatajata - Pariti - Suriki - Huatajata - 1 day.
Hiking time: 3h; Elevation gain/loss: +300m / -300m; Level : Easy

After breakfast, we meet again one last time with Roberto and Maria to get the fishing nets laid the day before. Then we take a boat to cross the lake. Pariti Island is our first stop and we discover its small Tiwanakota ceramic museum. Then we climb to the top of the island to admire the amazing view on the lake (2h).

We take our boat back to Suriki island, considered as the craddle of the lake, it is here that the majority of the boats are built. We join a workshop to see their manufacture and we eat with craftsmen for a traditional lunch. After a short stop in a Totora workshop, traditional straw boat, we cross the island for a digestive hike (1h).

Our boat is waiting for us on the other side for our last trip of the day until Cojata

peninsula, where we will spend the night. We meet our hosts, their homes and their cultures. Possibility of taking a last step up the island to enjoy the sunset over the lake.

Dinner and night at the inhabitant (basic comfort).

DAY
5

Cojata - - Peñas

Hiking time: 6-7h; Elevation gain/loss: +700m / -550m; Level : Medium

We leave Cojata island for our first big hiking day. After a first ascent, we enjoy admiring a last beautiful view on the lake, before passing cross the fields of the Altiplano. In the afternoon we climb to the highest point of the area. From here, we have a breathtaking view on the Cordillera Royale. We then descend to the small village of Peñas where we spend the night. We discover its place, its church, its Hispanic history, but also the small museum of the anthropologist Jesus and the community project of Padre Antonio.

Dinner and night at Peñas hostel (basic comfort).

DAY
6

Peñas - Villa Andino

Hiking time: 4-5h; Elevation gain/loss: +300m / -100m; Level : Easy

Today we will cross the Altiplano. In the morning, after leaving Peñas, on the way we stop to see the manufacture of straw mattresses. We resume our route with a short and easy hike, crossing the fields towards the Cordillera Royale. We arrive at our evening guest, in the middle of nowhere, the opportunity to enjoy the calm and beauty of nature. We take the llamas back to the pen in the evening.

Dinner and night at the inhabitant (basic comfort).

DAY
7

Villa Andino - Tuni

Hiking time: 5h; Elevation gain/loss: +350m / -250m; Level : Easy

Last day in Altiplano's Pampa : the vegetation becomes more and more rare and dry, we continue crossing the fields and meet many llamas. Then we really enter in the Royal Cordillera, with first 6000 meters mountains that surround us. While we can see the Condoriri massif on our left, the imposing Huayna Potosi is in the background. On the way, small lagoons magnificently reflect these giant summits. We reach the big lake of Tuni and finally arrive in the afternoon in the village of the same name. We meet its locals before dinner.

Dinner and night at Tuni's ecolodge (basic comfort).
Night at the Ecolodge Tuni hotel**.

DAY
8

Tuni

The inhabitants of this small community (about 50 inhabitants) share their daily life in the heart of the Cordillera, this life happening at the rhythm of the “pastoreo” of the llamas, the collection of medicinal plants, the legends associated with all the surrounding summits (and there is no lack of them!), the traditional cooking, work in the mines and more…

Note: The result of long years of friendship between the members of the community (some of them are guides, muleteers or cooks on our treks since the creation of the agency) this project of Eco Lodge as for goal to accompany the community of Tuni in the valorization of the life style of the traditional Andean culture, through the practice of a real responsible tourism and an opening on the world.
Night at the Ecolodge Tuni hotel**.

DAY
9

Tuni - Campo Canal

Hiking time: 7h; Elevation gain/loss: +650m / -360m; Level : Medium.

We left the community of Tuni and we walk along the lagunas, until the former camp for the Santa Fe mine. A short detour to a small summit over the camp will give us a nice view over all the lagunas. We will then climb to our next camp surrounded by the summits of the Imilla Apachita, the Maria Lloco and the Huayna Potosi (el. 6088 m.a.s.l.). The view is just amazing (4/5-walk). The bravest will have the opportunity to hike to Laguna Glacial of Huayna Potosi. The trail, an former dried out stone channel on the hillside, is wonderfully scenic (2-hour round trip).

Finally, we arrive in the afternoon in this beautiful little valley, at the foot of the mountains and we spend the evening at Doña Rosa, where we prepare and share the dinner.

Dinner and night at the inhabitant (basic comfort).

DAY
10

Campo Canal - Huayna Potosi Shelter

Hiking time: 5h; Elevation gain/loss: +200m / -300m; Level : Medium.

We will head to the Milluni saddle which we will reach in the morning (el. 5000 m.a.s.l). From there, we will see over the Milluni Valley and Chacaltay, an old ski resort. We will keep going towards the shelter with the Huayna Potosi on our left. At this point the Andes abruptly drop into the Yungas, a green and tropical area.

Dinner and night at Huayna Potosi shelter (basic comfort).
Night at the Huayna Potosí Hut.

DAY
11

Huayna Potosi Shelter - Chucura

Hiking time: 6h; Elevation gain/loss: +250m/-1250m; Level : Medium.

We are leaving today for our last ascent. After two hours of hiking, we say goodbye to Huayna Potosi to enter in the Yungas. We continue by a long descent in the steep valleys of the Royal Cordillera .

After 3 hours, we reach the village of Samaña Pampa and the trek of the Choro, by paved track and crossing a few streams. We arrive in the afternoon in the village of Chucura, which we discover with its locals.

Dinner and night at the inhabitant (basic comfort).

DAY
12

Chucura - San Francisco

Hiking time: 5h; Elevation gain/loss: +200m/-1100m; Level : Medium

After a stop in Chucura's school, the descent will continue, leaving the Andean countryside behind us. The vegetation will become subtropical. We will arrive in the village of Choro around midday, to lunch in the charming house of Doña Modesta, the view on the valley is beautiful. The track will then be slighly uphill and downhill until the village of San Francisco..

Dinner and night at the inhabitant (basic comfort).

DAY
13

San Francisco - Coroico - Chairo

Hiking time: 4h; Elevation gain/loss: +200m/-900m; Level : Easy

We will cross the Coscapa River in the morning before the climb to the “Devil’s Hill” leading to the village of Sandillani reached early in the afternoon (el. 2000 m.a.s.l.). After a few more hours we will finish the trek in Chairo (el. 1300 m.a.s.l) where a 4WD will pick us up to go to Coroico, the pearl of the Yungas, where we will take a well-deserved rest.

Cold lunch. Dinner not included.

Desnivel : +200m / -900m
Transfer Chairo-Coroico.
Night at the Viejo Molino hotel****.

DAY
14

Coroico

Departure in private transport with your guide towards the "Cafetal" family coffee plantation and coffee treatment center, located in the community of San Felix, 4.5 km from Coroico on the road to the cascades.

This day will allow us to delve into the coffee cultivation and the production in the Yungas region. We learn to know its history, its current production and its relation to the cultivation of coca (very important in the region). The tour will explain all the steps of production and processing of coffee in a participatory manner with various activities and experiences.

Activities and explanatory content: hand harvesting coffee beans, grain selection, pulping and fermentation, coffee drying on pallets inside a solar tent, artisan roasting in the mud and comparison with the industrial toasting, coffee tasting.

The tour ends with a quick hike near the waterfalls (which are 100 meters from the plantation).

Time of the visit: 3/4 hours
Transfer Coroico-La Paz.
Night at the Naira hotel***.

DAY
15

El Alto Airport -

A private driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport.