Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike the Bolivian Cordillera Real

A high-altitude trek amongst the snow-capped peaks, glassy lagoons and Andean skies of Bolivia’s ‘royal mountains’

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Trip Ref #10531

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike the Bolivian Cordillera Real

A high-altitude trek amongst the snow-capped peaks, glassy lagoons and Andean skies of Bolivia’s ‘royal mountains’

DURATION

9 nights

LOCATION

Bolivia

ANNUAL LEAVE

6 days off work

SEASON

May-Nov

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

El Alto Airport, La Paz

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Campsite · Lodge

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

You'll need a good level of fitness to hike multiple days at high altitude, but no technical skills are required

Hike beneath the towering peaks of Condoriri (5648m) and Huayna Potosí (6088m) to icy glacial lagoons

Traverse three mountain passes above 5000m, surrounded by some of the world’s most spectacular mountain vistas

Wild camp under the starry skies of the remote Andes, meeting local Aymara communities along the way

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Expert, local, English-speaking guides

Accommodation

3 nights in a hotel, 1 night in a mountain lodge and 5 nights wild camping

Meals

All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 7 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in between

Porterage

Porters and mules during the hike

Equipment

All your camping equipment

Permits

All permits and entry tickets

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

El Alto International Airport, La Paz

Any time on Day 1

Ends

El Alto International Airport, La Paz

Any time on Day 10

Transfers

Your host will meet you on arrival at El Alto International Airport in La Paz and transfer you to your hotel. On Day 10, your host will transfer you to El Alto International Airport in time for your onward flight.

If you wish to arrive before the trip start date or stay longer at the end, you can use a registered taxi or your host can arrange private airport transfers. See Optional Extras for prices.

Travel options

There are indirect international flights to La Paz from the UK and major European hubs, which usually consist of a flight connection and transit, most commonly via Madrid and Santa Cruz Viru Viru airport in Bolivia.

From the US, there are indirect flights from various major hubs which transit via Bogotá, Panama, Miami and Santa Cruz.

For those arriving early or wanting to stay on, extra nights can be arranged with your host at an additional cost. Please see Optional Extras for more information.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Campsite · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Lodge · Same sex dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5 – Day 8

Campsite · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 10

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

You'll be tucking into hearty food - local flavours and a variety of dishes will keep energy levels high. This can be washed down with hot coca tea, which locals have used throughout the ages to mitigate the effects of altitude, or a hot beverage named api, made with corn and spiced with cinnamon and cloves.

For breakfast you can expect buttered toast with honey or jam, fritters, pancakes, eggs, coffee, hot chocolate and chamomile tea. For lunch and dinner it could be soup, grilled trout, pique macho (minced beef, sausages and fried potatoes), quinoa pizza, barbecued llama or chicken with tunta (dried potato), good old spaghetti bolognese and seasonal vegetables.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

La Paz

In La Paz you’ll stay at the 4-star Casa Fusion Hotel. Located in the heart of the city and within easy reach of the airport, the hotel’s comfortable rooms and smart decor make it a great base. You’ll stay in twin rooms with private bathrooms. Situated close to España Square and one of the famous Mi Teleférico cable car stops, it's easy to head out and explore La Paz from here.

Chuñavi

Your night in Chuñavi will be spent camping. This is the spot where the camping equipment for the hike is located and you can check your kit. You’ll stay in twin share tents with a sleeping pad and 4-season sleeping bag, with access to shared bathrooms in a nearby lodge.

Tuni

Your night In Tuni will be spent in a local community mountain lodge. The communities in the Cordillera Real have worked together to create lodges for travellers, in order to provide accommodation and create an income that directly benefits the local people. The facilities will be rustic and comfortable, with a number of different room sizes. You’ll stay in shared rooms with a shared bathroom.

Wild Camping

During the hike, you'll wild camp along the route. Your host will provide a twin-share tent, complete with a 4-season sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. You’ll be accompanied by your guides and porters who will cook your meals. There will be bathroom tents, and water provided for a basic wash each day.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please note, it is not possible to have a private room at the mountain lodge in Tuni.

Day 1

La Paz

Welcome to La Paz, and the world’s highest airport - El Alto (4058m). La Paz itself sits in a geographical 'bowl' and is at 3600m. Your host will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel, nestled in the heart of the city. Check in, catch up on sleep or have breakfast and spend the day taking it easy - you'll need this to acclimatise to the altitude. Meet your guide and the rest of your group at 19:00 for dinner at a local restaurant, which has set up a cookery school to help train and employ disadvantaged young people in the city.

Day 2

La Muela del Diablo

Hiking

4-5hrs · 13km · 250m up · 1070m down

Today you'll explore the two different worlds on your doorstep. Board a gondola on the famous Mi Teleférico cable car, gliding above the terracotta-roofed houses and admiring the snowcapped Andes vistas before reaching the south of the city. Here, you'll meet the van and head towards 'la Muela del Diablo' (the Devil’s Molar), a craggy volcanic outcrop where you'll begin your first acclimatisation hike. Head up to the viewpoint (3880m) and then down to the La Paz River and the dusty village of Lipari (3044m). Pack your swimmers, because the next stop is a cliff-top glamping site near the mural-daubed village of Jupapina, where you'll have lunch and a soak in the hot tub overlooking the valley below.

Day 3

Chuñavi

Hiking

4hrs · 7km · 270m up · 225m down

Fuel up on breakfast and head northwest out of La Paz. At the small community of Santa Ana you'll grab your pack, set off walking and continue to acclimatise. Hike steadily up to the crest, follow the ridge line and onto a vantage point where you can take in the snow-peaked panorama. You’ll stop for a traditional apthapi style lunch, then continue onwards down to the small rural community of Chuñavi (4050m). Meet the locals, pitch your tents and prepare your kit for tomorrow’s hike to the last outpost of civilisation before you head into the wilderness.

Day 4

Tuni

Hiking

6hrs · 9km · 365m up · 315m down

After breakfast, jump in the van for a short drive east along a dirt road, to the entrance of the Surapampa Valley where you'll begin your last acclimatisation walk. Hike past old mining prospects, heading steadily upwards, with the towering peak of Condoriri coming into view. Stop for lunch, taking in a vista dotted with grazing llamas, before heading onwards to the small community of Tuni (4436m) - the gateway to the Cordillera Real. Settle into the community mountain lodge, where you'll bed down for the night.

Day 5

Deep into the Andes

Hiking

4hrs · 10km · 640m up · 390m down

Lace up your boots and head into the wilderness. Hike around the rugged shores of the placid Tuni lagoon, steadily upwards to cross a pass (4900m), before descending along the mountainside to Juri Khota lagoon. Along the way, enjoy awesome views of the Condoriri massif - the shape of its two adjacent peaks are said to form the shape of a condor. Watch the sunset colours illuminate the snowy peaks before bedding down for your first night of camping in the mountains, at 4683m.

Day 6

Epic peaks and icy lagoons

Hiking

6hrs · 7km · 550m up · 579m down

Today begins with a steep section of uphill hiking, leading to an icy lagoon at the foot of Condoriri fed by two glaciers. Continue onwards, arriving at the Pico Austria viewpoint for a breathtaking vista of the Cordillera Real laid out before you. Cross the Austria high pass (5120m) before a slow descent towards the next lagoon, Chiar Khota (4670m) and the Condoriri and Little Alpamayo basecamp. Tuck into a well-deserved dinner and an early night under the stars.

Day 7

Tackle remote high passes

Hiking

7hrs · 9km · 530m up · 660m down

With Condoriri at your back, hit the trail to the foot of Aguja Negra (the Black Needle) and a measured ascent to cross the Jallayko pass (5025m). Descend to the striking Jistaña valley (eyes open for alpaca and viscacha) before you head upwards once more to cross the Tillipata pass (5000m). Catch your breath and check out the view of sparkling lagoons below you. Head steadily downhill to the foot of Maria Lloka and on to the campsite at Wichu Khota lagoon (4680m). Relax, take in the sublime scenery and tuck into dinner.

Day 8

Trek through panoramic vistas

Hiking

6hrs · 9km · 580m up · 405m down

Hit the trail and thread your way around reflective lagoons, towards the old Santa Fe mining camp. The summit above the camp (4669m) provides one last great vista of these high altitude lakes. Continue onwards, slowly ascending to your final campsite (4708m), which is encircled by the peaks of Imilla Apachita, Maria Lloko and Huayna Potosí. There is the option here to extend the hike to visit stunning viewpoint. Tuck into your final mountain dinner and drift off for your the last night in the tent.

Day 9

Huayna Potosí basecamp

Hiking

3hrs · 4km · 400m up · 90m down

Lace up your boots for the final time and set out on a steady ascent to cross the Milluni pass (5000m), with majestic views of Huayna Potosí. Wind your way down and forge on through the valley until you reach Huayna Potosí basecamp, the end of your epic trek. Take in a different scenic view as the land plunges down to the lush, tropical Yungas region. Jump in the van and head back to La Paz to rest and celebrate.

Day 10

¡Adiós Bolivia!

Bid La Paz and your fellow adventurers farewell - you'll be transferred to the airport in time for your onward flight.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Camping equipment: tent, four-season sleeping bag and sleeping pad

What's available to hire?

  • Hiking poles

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (25-35 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag or rucksack

CLOTHES

  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Thermals (merino is best)
  • Warm hat (make sure it covers your ears)
  • Gloves (one warm, windproof pair, and another thin pair to layer on colder days)
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Light shoes/sandals

SLEEPING

  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner
  • Travel pillow or pillowcase

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Sunblock
  • Chapstick
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Water purification tablets/treatment system

Hiking Pole Set Hire - 8 days

Payable Before Departure

Hiking Pole Set Hire - 8 days

Pre/post trip accommodation in La Paz Hotel (single/double/triple)

Payable Before Departure

Pre/post trip accommodation in La Paz Hotel (single/double/triple)

Per Night

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Private Transfer La Paz Airport to La Paz Hotel

Payable Before Departure

Private Transfer La Paz Airport to La Paz Hotel

Per Person

Private Transfer La Paz Hotel to La Paz Airport

Payable Before Departure

Private Transfer La Paz Hotel to La Paz Airport

Per Person

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 260kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

You'll need a good level of fitness for this trip. Although the hiking will be at a measured pace, you'll be hiking at high altitude on uneven ground with a mix of level trails, steep ascents and long gradual descents. However, you won't need any technical skills or mountain climbing experience - just the ability to hike for up to seven hours a day, for several days in a row.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Any tips will be distributed among your guides and porters, and we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

£11 / $12 (USD) per day

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Tap water in Bolivia is not safe to drink. Clean drinking water will be provided at each of the camp sites. Please pack your own reusable bottle, it will be well used.

Water bottles with inbuilt filters are becoming increasingly popular for travellers to use in countries without clean tap water. Please see our guide for advice on the best water filters for adventurers if you wish to bring your own filtration bottle on this trip.

In Bolivia, the dry winter season between May and November is sunny and bright, with ideal hiking conditions. However, weather in the mountains can be changeable, so be prepared with adequate kit in order to manage different weather conditions and temperatures. This adventure takes place at high altitude, with pleasantly warm days and chilly nights, and lower temperatures in the mountains.

In La Paz, daytime temperatures will be generally in the region of 15°C / 59°F to 20°C / 68°F, and down to between 1°C / 34°F to 10°C / 50°F at night.

In the Cordillera Real the daytime temperatures will be generally in the region of 7°C / 45°F to 10°C / 50°F, and down to between -10°C / 14°F to -5°C / 23°F at night.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you by a team of porters and mules, and a daypack to carry personal items each day whilst hiking. Taking only what you need on this trip will better manage load weights for the support team.

Any excess luggage can be securely stored at the hotel or at the host's office in La Paz whilst you are hiking in the mountains.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

When you hike in the mountains, there's always the risk of getting altitude sickness, regardless of how old, young, fit or unfit you are. We would expect most hikers to feel some mild symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, sleeplessness, heavy breathing) when over 3000m. Our guides are trained to identify the symptoms of altitude sickness so if any more serious symptoms are noted, there is a strict procedure regarding extra care or a rapid descent if needed.

All of our trips have been designed with altitude best practice in mind, so acclimatisation days have been built in at the beginning of the trip, with walks steadily increasing in length and altitude. The experienced guides follow the advice to ‘walk high and sleep low’.

On arrival into La Paz you will be transferred to your hotel to take it easy and begin to acclimatise, La Paz is 3600m above sea level. We have included early check-in to ensure you can rest as soon as possible no matter how early you arrive on Day 1. There are no activities planned on Day 1, although breakfast is included at the hotel as well as dinner at a local restaurant. The activities between Day 2 and Day 4 have been planned to facilitate acclimatisation before the mountain hiking begins and provide an insight into the geography and rural communities of Bolivia. On the hike itself you will have a host guide, local guide and team of porters to support you, along with water and snacks provided. The walking each day will be slow through high altitude scenery on uneven ground, with passes to cross as well as beautiful lake and mountain views. The highest daily walking altitude will be approximately 5200m. You will be camping each night under starry skies, with delicious meals cooked for you, but wrap up warm. The sleeping altitudes will be between approximately 4050m and 4680m.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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Pay In Installments

You can choose to pay for this trip in as many installments as you like, with no interest or fees.

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