Trekking in Apolobamba National Park

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  • Arriving to Chari, Eden of Apolobamba

Apolobamba National Park is one of Bolivia’s most diverse protected areas and is located in the department of La Paz. Originally established to protect the endangered cameloid the vicuña, the park is also home to traditional communities known for their extensive knowledge of medicinal plants found in the hundreds of valleys that extend from the Andes to the Amazon. Among them are three villages in the highlands that have joined together to host visitors in their communities along a three-day trek they have named PachaTrek.
Travelers who visit this spectacular region will trek about four to five hours each day as they descend with local guides from the village of Qutapampa to the town of Charazani, the regional administrative capital. Each day you will be accompanied by locals and stay in comfortable lodges that they built as part of their initiative. You will learn about the daily life of villagers, the traditional foods they prepare, and the handicrafts and medicinal plants that are a living part of their culture.

Program Details

Duration: 9 days – 8 nights
Difficulty: 3 (challenging)*
Highlights: La Paz & El Alto Cityscapes, Cordillera Real, High Andes Landscapes, Apolobamba National Park
Price: Upon request

Included:

  • Accommodation in double or single rooms (La Paz), local refugees with shared bathrooms (days 3 and 4), and tent camping (Days 5, 6, 7).
  • Specialized local guides in Spanish
  • English-speaking local guides (other languages are also available).
  • Entry tickets
  • Cook, meals according to the program
  • Mules and porters during the trek
  • Mountain equipment: Helmet, Piolet, Crampons, Harness

Not Included:

  • Sleeping bags
  • Tips
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Mountain boots
  • Personal insurances
  • Services not mentioned in the program

* Click here for details on program difficulty level

Day 1. Arrival in La Paz
Welcome to La Paz!! We will be waiting for you at the El Alto International Airport on the outskirts of La Paz and accompany you to your hotel near the city center. As time and your response to the altitude permit, in the afternoon, we will have a 3-hour walk around central La Paz focused on the cultural, political, and economic history of the city. During dinner, your trekking guide will go over the program, share information about Bolivia and how to make the most of your time in our fascinating country, and answer any questions you have. We recommend to take it easy today, there is 50% less oxygen in the air than at sea level and acclimatization is essential to enjoying yourselves.
Meals: Dinner

Day 2. La Paz Urban Trek
Today we explore the fascinating city of La Paz and begin to stretch our legs a bit in preparation for tomorrow’s departure for Apolobamba. We will criss-cross the city by cable car, visit bustling markets and back streets, sample local cuisine and, to top it off, participate in an Andean cooking class led by students at a local cooking school in El Alto. Its purpose is to recover the traditional Andean foods, often fused with western elements, and train youth from the city to be chefs and entrepreneurs. Buen provecho!
Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 3. La Paz – Qutapampa – Kaluyo
We hope to get an early start this morning, in order to make the most of the day and have time for some short stops as we travel overland to Apolobamba National Park. We pass through the city of El Alto and along the coast of Lake Titicaca as we head north and begin to climb up into the cordillera. Our destination is the tiny village of Qutapampa, about 6 hours from La Paz (not including stops). The village is inhabited by llama and alpaca herders and is located at an altitude of 4,480 meters above sea level (14,698ft). Qutapampa is also a member of PachaTrek, a community-based tourism company, and our hosts-guides while visiting the protected area. A local guide will be waiting for us at the first lodge, where we will enjoy a typical Andean lunch and then visit the little museum to learn more about the Kallawaya culture that lives in the region. From there we set off on the first leg of our journey, en route to the community of Kaluyo (4,056m/ 13,307ft). Along the way, we will see beautiful landscapes and stop at Suraqucha lagoon, a sanctuary for Andean birds, and Quarillani lagoon, surrounded by beautiful mountains and landscapes. After a 4-hour walk, we arrive in Kaluyo, a Quechua community and home of the Kallawayas, herbalist doctors who possess an enormous apothecary of medicinal plants that they manage in the landscape. The village has its own museum to share the cultural history of the doctors and after our visit, we will share a meal and have a special visit from a local shaman.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4. Kaluyo – Chacarapi – Chari
After breakfast, we set out on our trek to the village of Chari (3,987m / 13,080ft). As we trek, we will make a stop at the Chullpapata Citadel archeological site. The site is located on the talon of a mountainside with a 360-degree view of the Charazani Valley. At the site, you can observe and (carefully) walk among the ruins and look out upon hectares and hectares of pre-Colombian terraces or qapanas that line the steep slopes of the valley. From there we descend to the village of Chacarapi (4,095m / 13,435ft) where we will visit with a local home gardener to learn about the foods they grow and the medicinal plants they have in their homes. We’ll visit their local museum and enjoy a typical lunch before we continue descending to Chari. As we wind our way down, we pass between high Andean ecosystems and valleys where the weather is warmer and it is possible to see an increasing diversity of crops and flowers. We will visit the “cabildos” (sacred places) and participate in the “Ch’alla” (a ceremony of reciprocity with the Pachamama) and after this, we will enjoy a short weaving workshop and learn more about the local textiles and how they dye the wool! Phew, what a day!
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5. Chari – Charazani – Tuni
After breakfast at the community lodge in Chari we descend along a dirt road to the regional capital of Charazani (3,905m / 12,812ft). The landscape is dramatic as our altitude decreases and the mountains extend ever upward to the sky. We reach “town” at about 11:00am and from there will be shuttled back up to the altiplano characterized by the imposing topography of the area, marked by the presence of rugged mountain ranges and deep ravines. We will have lunch in Charazani and then, private transportation will take us to Tuni (around 5 hours).
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6. Tuni Community – Jurikhota Lagoon
The extended Quispe family is our host in Tuni. The Quispes have built a simple lodge for visitors coming to the Cordillera Real for treks and excursions. After breakfast today and before we set off on our trek, they will share their homestead and community tourism project with us as well as answer questions about their lives at the base of one of the most iconic peaks of the Cordillera Real, Tuni Condoriri. For those who dare (and according to the season), you can learn how to shear a sheep and how to weave traditional Andean textiles. They will also share a traditional apthapi lunch with us and in good timing, we will need all the energy we can get for the afternoon trek that will take us to Jurikhota lagoon (4,932m / 16,181ft). We trek for about 5-6 hours to reach the lagoon, passing through high mountain valleys bordered by glaciers and populated by llamas, alpacas, condors, Andean fox, and many other unique species. We camp close to the lagoon and will have our first true star show as the light pollution of El Alto and La Paz fade away and we witness the night sky of the Andes.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7. Jurikhota Lagoon – Chiarkhota Lagoon
After a warming breakfast and breaking camp, we begin today’s trek with an ascent to reach a small frozen lake, formed by two glaciers that fell into its icy waters. It is located at 4,900m /16,076ft at the base of Condoriri mountain, one of the most sacred peaks of the range. As we trek farther and farther away from the altiplano and city, the chances of seeing Andean fauna such as condors, viscacha, and vicuñas begin to increase so keep your eyes on the landscapes! Before descending to the Chiarkhota Lagoon (4,750m / 15,584ft), we pass Austria peak (5,120m /16,798ft), from where there’s an amazing view of the Condoriri mountain and the Royal Range.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8. Laguna Chiarkhota – Livinosa – Botijlaca – La Paz
Today is our last day of trekking and what a day of contrasts lies before you! After breakfast, we’ll have a challenging crossing of two passes (Jallaiko at 5,025m /16,486ft and Jistaña at 4,930m / 16,174ft) before descending to Livisiña Lagoon (4,270m / 14,009ft). In the near distance we can see the imposing Huayna Potosi peak at 6,088m / 19,974ft) and after a picnic lunch, we begin our final descent into the Yungas Cloud Forests as we continue to the community of Botijlaca where will be able to see the subtropical vegetation typical of the Yungas valleys. In Botijlaca there will be private transportation waiting for us to will take us back to La Paz.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 9. Flight back home
Airport transfer according to departure time

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