Trekking Bolivia’s Cordillera Real – Maps, Basic Info, and Planning Advice

Table of Contents;

Previous Post: Getting Real High in Bolivia – La Paz, Lake Titicaca, and The Cordillera Real

What To Do In The Cordillera Real

Reputable Agencies In La Paz

The Trans-Cordillera Trek: The Classic Route Maps and itinerary 

The Trans-Cordillera Trek: The West Side Route Maps and Itinerary

KML and GPX Track of Our West Side Route


See also –Mapping Bolivia’s Cordillera Real Trekking Routes

Detailed Day-By-Day Reports 

Also, check out the comments at the end of the post for some useful information and advice.


Cordillera Real – S. America’s #1 High-Altitude Trek?

Over the past decade, I have had the free time, a decent fitness level, and available cash to trek and climb South America’s Andes Mountains on a half-dozen three-week trips.  From Ecuador’s highest peaks to southern Patagonia’s hiking trails, the reward for meeting the challenge of an often high-altitude alpine environment is stunning mountainscape and photo opportunities that few get to walk into.

After one trip – the trek in Peru’s Ancash region south of Huaraz, I posted this trip report:

The Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit – South America’s Finest High-Altitude Trek

Cordillera Huayhaush peaks

We spent sixteen days in the compact cordillera, which Joe Simpson helped to bring to the mountaineering world’s attention as the location of Siula Grande in his Touching the Void.  It was the most amazing high-altitude trek!

As great as that trek was, handing out the first prize to the Huayhuash before I have seen all the contestants was probably not a good idea!  I have just returned from Bolivia and a walk down the  Cordillera Real –  Spanish for Royal Range.  My heart and my head tell me of my experience: “This just has to be the finest high-altitude trek in South America!”


Over fourteen days, we walked about 120 kilometers from the north end of the Cordillera below the west face of Nevado Illampu down to the north side of Nevado Huayna Potosi. We passed hundreds of peaks over 5000 meters and five over 6000.  We also walked up a couple of trekking peaks in the 5300-meter range and almost daily crossed passes of 5000.  To put all the numbers into perspective, North America has one 6000-meter-plus peak (Denali) and only ten which are 5000 meters or higher.

Illampu (6,368 m (20,892 ft)) and Jankuma (6,427 m (21,086 ft)) from the Isla del Sol mirador

While the Himalayas and the Karakoram clearly dominate any global list of high-altitude peaks, Bolivia’s Cordillera Real comes close to Peru’s Cordillera Blanca for the most stunning collection of high-altitude summits outside of Asia.

And how about the already-mentioned Cordillera Huayhuash?  It remains in the conversation too!  A look at this list of the dozen 6000 meter + peaks in the 30-kilometer  range, and you can see why it is in the running for South America’s best high-altitude trek. In the end, I’ll just forget about naming one of them as the best.  Let’s just say I’d be happy to have visited any, or even better,  all of them!

I’ve put together a series of posts detailing our Cordillera Real route with Google satellite maps and elevation charts to give you an idea of what the trek involves. To create the route map, I used the GPS tracks recorded by my Spot Connect. While not as accurate as the Garmin Oregon I decided to leave at home, the results are usable. (The Spot only records a location every ten minutes while the Garmin does so each second.)

Cordillera Real Trek Route - west side

Cordillera Real Trek Route – west side

The images from the two cameras (the Sony A77 and the Sony A6000) and the lenses I brought along will show a little of the breathtaking views that were the daily reward for being in the Cordillera. I’ve also added a few of the many excellent photos taken by my trekking mates.


When To Go: 

I did the trip in September – the 11th to the 24th – which in Bolivian terms is near the end of their dry season, the stretch from May to October when the skies are more likely to be clear, and there is less chance of rain. It is also when nighttime temperatures dip close to freezing, even in La Paz at 3800 meters.

La Paz temperature range and rainfall

La Paz temperature range and rainfall

July and August are considered high season but we would have excellent weather during our two weeks in September. It only rained twice – once on our rest day at Chachakumani and then on the last afternoon as we walked down a valley to the east side of the Cordillera and the humid air of the Yungas and Amazonia.  The typical campsite altitude was around 4500 meters. On a few occasions, I found the contents of my water bottle frozen in the morning. Daytime temperatures were in the 15ºC range.


The Need For Acclimatization Time:

Before you head for the Cordillera and a typical altitude in the 4500 to 5400-meter range, you need to give your body some time to adapt to the new situation. (I flew in from Toronto, which is 100 meters above sea level!)

Here is a graph that clarifies the impact of decreasing air pressure as you gain altitude. While the percentage of oxygen in the air remains the same – i.e. 21% – no matter the altitude, the column labelled “Effective Oxygen” shows that the number of oxygen molecules per given air volume decreases.  People are referring to this when they say the air gets thinner as you ascend.  You need to breathe a greater volume of air to get the same oxygen that you get at lower altitudes.  So at 5500 meters, for example, the “effective” oxygen level is 10.5% or half of what it is at sea level. That is quite a decrease.


Given that La Paz itself is at 3800 meters and a walk down the Cordillera Real will have you in the 4000- to 5000-meter range for almost two weeks, you can see the need to spend some time acclimatizing. The key is not to rush things – and a week spent in and around La Paz will give your body that time.

the amazing city of Cuzco, once the centre of the short-lived Inca Empire

La Paz is an incredible experience worth a few days of your time.  Nearby are excellent cultural day trips.  The visit to Tiwanaku is the most popular one. As well, an overnight visit to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca and then a trip to nearby Isla del Sol will have you up just above 4000 meters.  You’ll also get to know a little about the people living with the Cordillera Real daily!  See the following posts for more information:


What To Do In the Cordillera Real: 

When it comes time to head for the mountains, you can do one of two things:

The Mountaineering Option –

You can climb some of those peaks. With a week of basic acclimatization, you can follow that up with a week at Condoriri Base Camp on Chiar Khota doing some climbs that will take you up to 5500 meters or so. Then, in the third week, the climax – summits of Huayna Potosi and/or  Illimani and Sajama, all in the 6000+ range. The current Lonely Planet Bolivia guidebook has a chapter on mountaineering in Bolivia with specific info on climbing the peaks I mentioned above.

Cordillera Blanca's Tocllaraju high camp

our Tocllaraju high camp in the Cordillera Blanca’s Ishinca Valley

brain bolivia climbing

The image below shows some of the Condoriri peaks that we saw on a somewhat cloudy afternoon from Pico Austria, a 5400-meter trekking peak that does not require any specialized mountaineering gear to climb.

Basecamp for Condoriri would be down below on the shore of Chiar Khota. Yossi Brain’s 1999 Bolivia: A Climbing Guide is still the best thing out there in English if the climbing option is your choice.

the Condoriri Massif - the left wing of the Condor

the Condoriri Massif – the left wing of the Condor

Huayna Potosi Peaks and High Camps – enlarge to see annotations


The Trekking Option: 

You can trek alongside and through the Cordillera Real and experience its grandeur from the various passes and trekking peaks that will take you up to 5400 meters. No crampons, ice axes, ropes, or harnesses are required – only a little tilting of your head upwards!  I went for this less intense option, figuring it would provide an excellent introduction to Bolivia and to a mountain range that deserves a return visit with my mountaineering gear.

a Cordillera Real view from Isla del Sol – 70 km. away! red tip of [Isla de la Luna middle right

The trek turned out to be fairly intense. On ascents, I sometimes felt like I was running on empty.  Stepping on the scale when I returned home, the numbers told me that I had lost 6.4 kilograms (14 pounds) in three weeks!


Going With A Trekking Agency 

While the Torres del Paine Circuit or the W in Chile’s southern Patagonia is totally do-able on your own, as are the trails in Argentina near El Chaltén and Fitz Roy or up in northern Patagonia near Bariloche, a multi-day trek down the Cordillera Real would not be easy for independent hikers. Unlike Patagonia, trekking infrastructure is all but non-existent, and even the trails – of our route at least – were often little more than shepherd trails and faint llama tracks. Supplies would have to be brought from La Paz since there are no nearby villages to replenish your food.

There is also the safety issue – being with a guide, arrieros, and other trekkers provides you with built-in protection and security. You become part of a family and everyone looks after everyone else. Our trekking group was mostly middle-aged or older (I was the second oldest at 64).  Most of us could also be labelled as Type A personalities, somewhat obsessed with setting goals and meeting them. Three of them had done Bhutan’s month-long Snowball trek the previous year.  Given the cost of the trip, all had white-collar jobs or comfortable pensions back home to support their quest for a new challenge!  I felt right at home!

our trekking team atop Pico Austria

our trekking team atop Pico Austria –

The most recent Lonely Planet Bolivia guidebook (8th edition 2013)  dealt briefly with the safety issue with comments specifically about the Sorata area at the north end of the Cordillera –

“With Sorata’s economy turning from tourism to mining and farming, there are fewer guides offering services here, and fewer pack animals for hire. Reports indicate that this could be a dangerous area for trekking and many agencies are no longer offering treks in the region. The El Camino de Oro trek is reportedly seeing little traffic these days, meaning you’ll have to clear the trail with a machete and may face some tough locals along the way. The Mapiri trek has an even rougher record, with increased reports of robberies. The villages along the way are now charging passage fees and are said to have become quite aggressive with those who do not pay.”

While the quote specifically talks about treks down into the Yungas from Sorata and not the journey down the Cordillera Real, it is still worth considering. The Laguna San Francisco area has a history – perhaps not recent – of trekkers being robbed.

Given the reality of trekking in the Cordillera Real area, the best plan is to find a reputable agency in La Paz to organize the logistics of the trek for you. Guide, donkeys, muleteers, tents, food, shuttle to and from the trek – you are paying people with the contacts, experience, and equipment necessary to make it all work.


Doing The Trek On Your Own:

While I sound very sure about hiring at least an arriero and a donkey for your trek down the Cordillera, I keep hearing from readers of my posts who have done just fine on their own.  Here are a few things I should note that may explain my personal preference for a guided trip:

  • I leave home on my own
  • I am retired with a cushy pension to burn
  • My wife worries less when I join a group.

If I were in my 20s or 30s and with a trekking buddy, I might also consider doing it independently.  While it is not a trek for novice hikers and campers, it is doable, especially if you have a good GPS track to follow and some paper maps to back it up. You will have to carry your food and shelter.  The biggest potential danger is bad weather – for example, a snowstorm covering all trail traces.

On the plus side,  no matter where you are, there is a village down the valley within a day’s walk. The only animals you’ll see are domestic. Unlike an adventure in the Canadian boreal forest, for example,  there are no bears to worry about! Human banditos take their place in some trekkers’ tales.

If you are thinking of doing this on your own, at the least read the very useful comments by Felix, Cam from the Hiking Life,  and Camilla at the end of this post. They have much good advice on the route and the issue of food.  Also, note that I have included Camilla’s GPS track in the Map section below; it is much better than the track my Spot Connect recorded with its once-every-ten-minute tracking.

Note: For an alternative view, see what Felix has to say in the Comments section below. The two German hikers did a fifteen-day version of the hike – and they did it unsupported and without resupplying en route, except for stocking up on a few treats in Cocoyo. They also did it in April, the tail end of the wet season. Snow occasionally covered the faint trail and they made use of cairns to find their way.

For another inspiring comment, check out Frida’s from August of 2019. She did the whole trek along with an add-on by herself and unsupported.

The Hiking Life

Another two experienced trekkers did the route from Illimani to Sorata – 241 km. – in an amazing nine days!  They did it in mid-August 2017.  If you are contemplating doing this trek without a guide, Cam’s blog, The Hiking Life, has a trip report (see here) which will prove you have made an excellent trek choice and also point out some things you need to know!


Reputable  Agencies in La Paz:

For me, finding a reliable agency to go with usually begins with a look at various guidebooks like Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, and Footprint.  That is how I ended up with SAS Travel in Cusco for my Machu Picchu Inca Trail trek and found a mountaineering agency in Quito for a couple of climbing trips.  If I can find out which local company a  U.S. or British agency like Mountain Madness or Exodus turns to, then I take that as a sign that it must be doing a very good job.

My research led me to a handful of agencies – click on the name to access the website.


Andean Summits


In The Lonely Planet’s Bolivia guide-book you’ll find this brief and fairly bland mention of Andean Summits:

Offers a variety of outdoor activities from mountaineering and trekking to 4WD tours in Bolivia and beyond. The owners are professional UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guides.

James Read’s current edition of The Rough Guide To Bolivia has a more enthusiastic review.

Professional and much respected adventure tour operator with an excellent reputation that runs “off the beaten track” mountaineering and trekking expeditions throughout Bolivia, led by experienced and highly qualified English-speaking guides,

Googling Andean Summits did result in a bit of confusion.  There is another company in Huaraz, Peru named Andean Summit (no s). It gets great reviews, but it is not the agency based in La Paz!


Climbing South America


Another climbing/trekking agency with guidebook mentions is Climbing South America. Based in La Paz, it offers trips throughout the Andes. Again, the Lonely Planet entry is brief and bland. You will read this – “Climbing South America is a reputable operator.” Read’s Rough Guide entry is more positive –

Sharing the same colonial space as Café Illampu and run by affable Australian Jeff Sandifort, this professional and dedicated company offers trips to all the Bolivian peaks…

Given the reluctance of many agencies to actually post their prices on their website, it was a nice change to see this agency do that for some of their trips. I take that as a sign of a company confident in what it is offering.


Bolivian Journeys


Bolivian Journeys is another la Paz agency that the Lonely Planet writers mention. The summary reads like this –

A specialist in climbing, mountaineering and trekking, this company does guided climbs to Huayna Potosí. Equipment rental is available, with maps and gas for MSR stoves for sale.

A bit of surfing the net turned up this recent (Sept. 2015) thread at TripAdvisor’s Bolivia forum – click here to access. The reviewer did the section of the trek from Chiar Khota to the end in Chacapampa/Botijlaca – the last three days of the two-week trip I did – and while it seems he enjoyed the walk, he did not think he got value for money. “Third-world service for first-world prices” is how he put it. The responses to his post are also interesting.


Bolivian Mountain Guides


Bolivian Mountain Guides is a La Paz agency which I did not find mentioned in the guidebooks, but it does get discussed in the trip advisor’s Bolivia forum. The comments are definitely positive. (See here.)  So are those of these members of the Alpine Club of Canada whose Bolivian climbing trip it organized. See here for the article. More recently, it was revealed by BMG that they had organized Malia Obama’s Cordillera Real trek.  (see here for the story). A much less positive review of BMG appeared in The Lonely Planet forum in August 2018.  See here for the client’s experience. Other responses to his thread confirm his view.


Andean Ascents

Update: Since I posted this blog, a trip advisor thread on a guide service I had not heard of – Andean Ascents – has caught my eye.  It is a La Paz agency managed by Alex von Ungern, a  German/Swiss guide in his early 30s.  You can find the thread here.  You’ll see a comment I made, a few very positive comments by satisfied clients (mostly Swiss like the manager), and one by Von Ungern himself.


U.K.’s Mountain Kingdoms


When I discovered that the English trekking agency Mountain Kingdoms used Andean Summits to run their Cordillera Real trek, I decided to focus on it.  My reasoning is that if the local agency is not delivering a quality service, it is unlikely that a U.K. or North American agency will deal with them.  A few emails went back and forth – I was impressed by their prompt and no-bullshit replies – and it became clear that I, as a lone trekker,  would have more difficulty in making something happen than a party of, let’s say, three or four.

They also seemed to be incredibly busy – I would later find out that they were running tours and treks flat-out through September!  Then Andean Summits did a funny thing – they suggested that if I wanted to join a group, there was one that they would be organizing for Mountain Kingdoms!

It turns out that over half the trips Andean Summits does are under the name of European or British, or American agencies. What Mountain Kingdoms (or any other decent adventure travel company) does is find a capable local agency to handle the actual tour. It may work with the local company to develop trips it thinks will attract potential clients. Then it packages the trips,  promotes them with top-notch website support, puts together the group which will do the trip, and takes care of all the money issues.  If you are on your own, this is the easiest way to find yourself a group of like-minded travellers.

The local agency also has a strong incentive to deliver an A+ trip since it would like to keep handling the tours.  My wife also felt safer knowing I was with a small group organized by a quality outfit and not off on my own with god knows whom!

And me? I was able to do the trek thanks to Mountain Kingdoms. Of the nine of us in the group, seven were single travellers who would have had difficulty putting something together without finding a partner or two or three.  Most impressive was the detailed preparatory information sent via email; I had little to organize or worry about. This is the way to go if you’ve got the money and value your time. Everything is taken care of for you, including a ride from the airport!

Mountain Kingdoms Bolivia home page

Click here to access the Mountain Kingdoms home page for the Bolivia trip

Our guide for the trek – on the AGMT ( Asociación de Guias de Montaña y Trekking) Bolivia’s website, he is listed as Oscar Javier Thellaeche Urdin.  Along with his partner Jose Fidel Camarlinghi Mendoza, he has been running Andean Summits for over twenty years.  Not only is Javier an excellent trekking and mountain guide, his wide-ranging knowledge of the mountain environment and of Bolivia – culture, history, politics – in general, made for an enriched experience for all of us gringos. The fact that he could express himself effortlessly in English made it even better – even if it meant that the Spanish I’d been working on wasn’t really necessary.  (It was very useful during the week I was on my own in La Paz!)


The Trans-Cordillera Trek: The Classic Route 

Trekking In Bolivia coverYossi Brain, whose climbing guide to Bolivian peaks I mentioned above, also did a trekking guidebook.   Trekking In Bolivia: A Traveller’s Guide, released in 1997, was perhaps the first book in English to provide a comprehensive introduction to Bolivia’s trekking possibilities. With Brain, as well as Andrew North, and Isobel Stoddart as the authors,  it was published by The Mountaineers, it is still useful almost twenty years later.

The route that they describe is what I will call the “classic” route. It begins in Sorata at the north end of the Cordillera and then heads to the east side of the mountain range before cutting across to the west side near Condoriri and then continuing on down to Botijlaca on the north side of Huayna Potosi.  Most trekking agencies in La Paz still offer this trek – or sections of it – to prospective trekkers.

Andes Pitkethly

Another book, The Andes: 28 Treks and Climbing Peaks, written by Val Pitkethly and Kate Harper and published in 2009, describes a version of this mostly east side of the Cordillera trek.  Since Google Books has a copy of their book online, you can read what they have to say here. (Just go back to page 94 for the start of their six-page treatment.)

Here is a map of a typical itinerary for the classic route from north of Sorata (seems like a bit odd of a start point) down the east side of the range (until Day 8 when it does cut through the Cordillera for the west side) –

Trekking Bolivia's Cordillera Real - Classic east side route

Bolivia’s Cordillera Real – Classic east side route – see here for the source at Elma Tours website.

And here is the map from the above-mentioned The Andes: 28 Treks …by the way, an incredible goldmine of trip ideas if you’re looking for inspiration! Unlike the map above, this one actually starts in Sorata.

The CLassic Trans-Cordillera Real Trekking Route

  • Day 1 – La Paz – Sorata
  • Day 2 – Sorata – Ancoma
  • Day 3 – Ancoma – Cocoyo
  • Day 4 – Cocooyo – Chajolpaya
  • Day 5 – Chajolpaya – Chacapa
  • Day 6 – Chacapa – Palca
  • Day 7 – Palca – Huarihuarini
  • Day 8 – Huarihuarini – Lake Kottia (aka Laguna Khotia)
  • Day 9 – Kottia Laguna – Laguna Ajuani
  • Day 10 – Ajuani – Jurikhota
  • Day 11 – Jurikhota – Cerro Austria – Laguna Chiari Khota
  • Day 12 – CB Condoriri
  • Day 13 – Condoriri – Liviñosa
  • Day 14 – Liviñosa – Chacapampa (Botijlaca) – La Paz
  • A Point of Clarification –  Chakapampa or Botijlaca?

Some trek itineraries use the name Chakapampa (or Chacapampa with a “c” instead of a “k”) to indicate the endpoint; others use the name Botijlaca.  Both are correct.  Chaka Pampa literally means “the flat place with a bridge.”  It was there that the electric company built the hydroelectric plant called “Botijlaca”. Andean Summits is one of the agencies that use the name Botijlaca in its itineraries.


The Alternative Trans-Cordillera Real Route: The West Side

Cordillera Real – West Side trekking Route

Given increased mining activity in the Sorata area and on the east side of the Cordillera, the Andean Summits team and others have developed an alternative route that stays on the west side of the Cordillera until the last full day of the trek. Instead of the traditional first eight days of the classic route, which goes north and east from Sorata, this one heads southeast from Sorata to Millipaya and Alto Llojena and then on to Lago San Francisco.  Doing so avoids the mining roads and the potential for trouble in the sometimes boisterous mining communities on the east side.

This is the route we took. Often the “trail” is no more than shepherds’ paths, and llama tracks up and down and across valleys; just as often, we relied on our guide’s experience (he has done the route several times) and the GPS track on his Garmin device. To restate the obvious, this is not like walking the Huayhuash Circuit trail, along the Inca Trail, or Torres Del Paine Park trails.


KML/GPS Track of Our Route:

Here is the track created by my Spot Connect with its once-every-ten-minutes location when it was working as it should. It occasionally missed recording a location for an hour or more, so it is less than perfect!  If you have a better track and would not mind sharing, please email me!  I’d be happy to post a link to it here for the benefit of future trekkers keen on experiencing what you and I did!

My Track From September 2014

Kml format for Google Earth

GPS format

Camilla’s New Track from 2018 (an improved version of mine!)

Camilla’s GPS Track from August 2018



I found a copy of the Liam O’Brien map in a La Paz bookstore called The Spitting Llama at Linares 947. Titled  A New Map of The Cordillera Real De Los Andes, the map is a 2009 reprint of the original from 1995.  The scale is 1:135,000.  It is unclear if any changes were made in the reprint; the glacier limits shown on the map are based on Landsat images from 1989 and 1992 and are thus about twenty-five years old.

Update: The Spitting Llama is closed as of 2019. Here is a comment from Frida from August 2019 about where to get maps:

About to buy maps in La Paz, the bookstore The Spitting Lama has closed down, but at calle Illampu there are several shops that sells maps including Liam O’Brian A New Map of The Cordillera Real De los Andes and outdoor equipment, for example Sampaya at Illampu 803.


Chearuku, Chiaroco or Ch’iyaruq’u!

The O’Brien map definitely illustrates the confusing state of transcribing Aymara names into English.  For example, the massif referred to as Chearuku or Chiaroco on other maps appears as Ch’iyaruq’u on the O’Brien map.  Ancohuma becomes Janq’uma. It will probably take a few more years before a uniform English spelling of the various peaks and valleys of the Cordillera develops. Using Spanish language rules to transcribe Aymara sounds into English seems a bit silly.  Until the dust settles, Google a different spelling, and you often get different websites!


US Defence Dept Topographic maps:

NIMA - US Govt

Another map set was published in the late 1990s by NIMA (National Imagery and Mapping Agency), a U.S. government agency and branch of the Defence Dept.

Bolivia - topo index for Cordillera Real Norte

The 1:100,000 maps, which cover the Sorata to Illimani stretch of the Cordillera Real, can be downloaded below –

Even if you have a good map and compass reading skills, an extended walk down the west side route of the Cordillera Real is not the place for an unguided adventure. At the very least, you could arrange a muleteer (arriero is the Spanish term) and a donkey or two to carry food and supplies.  The arriero would also serve as your guide and help you negotiate with any locals you might meet.

We saw one other trekking group in two weeks; we did not pass through any villages – they were all much lower down in the valleys we traversed.  On occasion, we met people who – I learned later – had come to collect a fee for passing through or camping on their land, the Campesinos seeing the upper reaches of the valley as a part of their communidad.

Cordillera Real Trek Route - west side

Cordillera Real Trek Route – west side

Here is a list of our camp spots over the roughly 110 kilometers of the route and the daily lowest, average, and highest altitudes. It makes clear the high-altitude nature of the trek and puts the 1420 meters of the Torres del Paine’s highest point (Gardner Pass) or even Machu Picchu (2430 meters) and the Inca Trail’s Dead Woman’s Pass (4,215 m) into perspective.  (Click on the blue to access that day’s maps, images, and summary.)

Day     To                                      Dist     Min     Ave      Max

1          Alto Llojena                       8.6     3696   3870   4042

2          Lago San Francisco        9.7     4042   4559    4889

3          Chojña Khota                10.1    4504   4769     5129

4          Jistaña Khota                  5.6     4567   4898     5188

5          Upper Kelluani Valley       9.1     4460   4924     5348

6          Upper Chachakumani     8.9     4460   4933     5350

7          rest day Chachakumani

8         Rio Jallyawaya Valley      11        4461   4623     5040

9         Laguna Khotia               11.5     4453   4790     5038

10       Alka Khotia                      8.6    4395    4537     4784

11        Juri Khota                    10        4515    4815     5096

12       Chiar Khota                    7.1     4669    4895    5306

13       above Botijlaca               7.5      3811     4509    4995

14       Botijlaca                          2        3578    3669    3806

The kml tracks for the entire trek (a 205 kb kml file) are in my Dropbox folder. Download here. You will need to have the free Google Earth app installed on your computer or mobile device to open it.


Update: In July 2018, I uploaded an expanded and more detailed version of the section dealing with route choices and maps.  If you think of doing this trek independently, it may have some useful information, especially about the Wikiloc GPS tracks.

Mapping Bolivia’s Cordillera Real Trekking Routes

If you’d like to see more about each day’s route – maps, elevation gain and loss, and the photos I took along the way, it all starts with the link to the next post in blue below.


You can access the day-by-day posts with the following links –

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50 Responses to Trekking Bolivia’s Cordillera Real – Maps, Basic Info, and Planning Advice

  1. Jeanne Marie Thomas says:

    Hi-thanks for all of the amazing information. My husband and I are interested in day trips to the highest places possible in the Cordillera Real. We are strong hikers (actually fairly experienced climbers) but I have really bad hands due to serious frostbite damage and I can’t endure the cold of an overnight. Do you have any ideas for round trip day trips? Or are there multi day trips where we could sleep in a home or hostel? We would really like to see one or more of the high passes.

    Thanks-I appreciate any tips.

    • true_north says:

      Jeanne Marie, the Cordillera Real does not really lend itself to day hikes with a return to a hostel at the end of it. There is no nearby accommodation except the tent you pitch. A place where this would be possible is El Chalten and the Fitz Roy area where long day hikes are possible using El Chalten as your base camp.

      Having said that, a brief two or three day Cordillera Real trek that would include Juri Khota and Chiar Khota as well as the pass in between them would give you a wonderful slice of the Royal Range. You could also include a walk up to Pico Austria. My Day 12 itinerary has pix and discussion of the route. There is a road from La Paz to Laguna Tuni and from there you could choose to head for Juri Khota or Chiar Khota and then drive back out again on the same road. I’m afraid this is not a day hike. More like a two-night in a tent hike which would also require a guide who would also provide the transportation to get to the trailhead.

      You know your hands best but would not a pair of goose down gloves or the use of those chemical handwarmers make it possible to spend one or two nights in a tent. The temparature would be around freezing – maybe a titch above. During the day you could just wear a T-shirt!

      My first Cordillera Real post discussed various trekking/climbing agencies in La Paz. Why not get in touch with one or two of them and see what they suggest? Do note that in terms of prices, Bolivia is not Nepal – and from what I hear even Nepal is getting more expensive! That is just the way it is – and it is still worth it.

      Beuna suerte with your plans.

      • Jeanne Marie Thomas says:

        Hello again and thank you. I am contacting a number of guide agencies, but I thought you might be a bit creative – as you have been. We will put El Chalten on our list! I will think about the glove idea. Even when skiing at 8,000 feet in the US I have pretty serious problems although I have very expensive ski mittens with cashmere liners. Still, I will think about strategies for brushing my teeth, etc, in the cold temp. Somehow I have the impression it will be in the teens or low twenties at night in September. I will check further. I really appreciate your ideas and will check out the Royal Range. And the guide prices seem fine to us, all things considered.

        Jeanne Marie 360.480.9244

        Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2016 01:09:14 +0000 To:

      • true_north says:

        Jeanne Marie, temps definitely did not dip into the teens or even the low 20’s when I was there last September. Maybe high 20’s on a few nights.

        After I posted my reply I thought further about the hostel idea and Nepal came to mind. Of all the high places I’ve walked, it has the most extensive network of trails on which you can walk from teahouse to teahouse, never having to tent at all. The Annapurna Circuit would fit the bill – if you haven’t considered or done it already. So would a walk up the Khumbu Valley to Everest Base Camp or Kala Pathar.

        The Swiss mountain town of Zermatt is also a fabulous walking destination if “high” is what you want. An extensive hut system takes you right across the Monte Rosa Glacier from one Italian hut to the next – the spaghetti traverse!

        In any case, enjoy your time in the mountains – and send me the link to your pix when you post them!

      • Jeanne Marie Thomas says:

        Hi Ramblin Boy,

        You are a wealth of great information. I love all of your ideas. My husband and I now have the freedom of controlling our schedules, and we want to do everything, despite a few relatively small limitations (mainly my hands, really). I had very bad frostbite due to inexperience and poor gear on a glacier climb (and an inexperienced team that refused to turn back). My fingers were black and my hands were treated as if I had a severe burn, so I think they are pretty seriously damaged. Oh well.

        Great to get the feedback about the nighttime temps in the high country. I am searching through my equipment-and I just may decide to tough it out.

        In any case we plan to have fun and I will check out all of the destinations you have mentioned.

        I truly appreciate your interest and generosity.

        Jeanne Marie 360.480.9244

        Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2016 12:47:18 +0000 To:

      • true_north says:

        Happy trails!

  2. Julie De Coninck says:

    Hi, Thanks for all the information! In November we did the hike to Everest Base Camp and back home I already dream of another exciting hike in the mountains. Next summer I would like to hike Transcordillera in Bolivia or Aconcagua in Argentinia. Did you do this one already?

    • true_north says:

      Julie – great walk, isn’t it! Of all the places I’ve been to, the Khumbu Valley comes out on top. I love the mix of mountain majesty and Buddhist culture it has. the closest I’ve come elsewhere is in the Peruvian Andes with the Quechua cultural element.

      Re: the Cordillera Real. As you can tell from my post, I found it a great walk. Unlike in Nepal where the trail takes you from village to village, the Cordillera Real trek is above where the villages are. At the most you get to see llama paths and the occasional shepherd. The Isla del Sol was a great place to spend a couple of days given all the Aymara and Inca cultural spots.

      Re: Aconcagua. It is described as a non-technical but still demanding trek given the high altitude. At 65 I think I hit my peak in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca with Tocllaraju at about 6050 meters and Ecuador’s Chimborazo at 6200 m. There is certainly no lack of mountaineering outfits ready to take you up Acancogua! If you are looking for high altitude treks and fairly non-technical climbs I’d say Ecuador and Peru represent better value – but of course, you won’t be climbing the single highest peak in the Americas!

      If by summer you mean June – September then Bolivia and the Cordillera Real would work since those months are prime time for trekking in Bolivia. Acancogua climbs take place from December to February so that wouldn’t fit in with your summer plans.

      In less than two months I will be down in Bariloche, Argentina doing some hikes in the Andes above Lago Nahuel Huapi (2000 m maximum) and perhaps climbing Tronador and Lanin volcanoes. Which reminds me, I better get outside for today’s aerobic workout!

      Buena Suerte in finding your next adventure!

  3. Gustavo says:

    Hey! First of all, congratulations on your writing and photos, they are both great! I think I’ll be around Peru and Bolivia around april-may looking for good treks. My plan was to do the Huayna Potosi climb and the Huayhuash but your blog made me question this.
    Should I just stay around cordillera real instead of the huayhuash? How would you compare those 2?

    Thanks and safe travels, greetings from Brazil!

    • true_north says:

      You’ve picked two great trekking and climbing destinations! No matter which one you choose – Peru or Bolivia – you will want to go back for more. To eliminate travel time by doing both in one trip, i would choose one this time and do the other one next year!

      Your April – May time frame is just before the prime June-September season. It will be less busy; it may be a bit more cloudy and wet – but who can say any more! If you want to climb Potosi make sure to give your body a week or so to acclimatize to La Paz’s 3300 meters. Ten days on a Cordillera Real trek would put you in excellent shape! It will help keep costs down if you have other people sharing the costs.

      Good luck with your adventure. There are no bad choices!

  4. Felix says:

    Dear true_north,

    I wanted to thank you very much for your comprehensive resource on the Transcordillera. I don’t know if your blog was written with this intention, but it is a great guide for anyone wishing to retrace your group’s steps.

    My girlfriend and I have just returned from doing almost the exact route you did, following your GPS waypoints. Actually, we did the first 5 days of the Illampu Circuit to avoid the Laguna San Francisco area and then followed your route from Paso Calzada all the way to the Condoriri base camp – unsupported, without mules or a guide. It took us 15 days in total.

    This would have been absolutely impossible to do without your GPS track and the detailed descriptions! Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to do this awesome hike on our own!

    Kind regards and best wishes from La Paz,

    • true_north says:

      Felix, congratulations to the two of you for an incredible hike. To do the entire thing without any support – to carry all your food and your accommodation – wow! I am impressed! You noticed from my posts that I did it the deluxe easy way and still found it a physical challenge. Ah, to be like you and in my twenties again!

      I am glad to hear the GPS track was useful; you will have noticed that there are stretches where the device did not record a location for an hour or two! I really should have brought my Garmin Oregon 450 device for a 100% accurate GPS track of the route!

      Tell me- what did you do for food? Were you able to resupply en route or did you start off from Sorata with everything? Any hassles with local campesinos as you traversed their valleys? One more thing – I met a German hiker in his mid-to-late 20’s in Bariloche this February who wants to do the Cordillera Real hike on his own. I met him as he was hiking from Bariloche across the Andes to Chile! Would you mind if I forwarded him your email so he could get in contact with you? You would be able to give him advice on issues that my posts do not cover.

      Thanks for taking the time to write. I appreciate the positive review! Now you really must write an account of your experience. There are many hikers out there who can benefit from what your learned in your epic walk. As you noticed when you surfed the net for information, there is not much out there.

      Send me the link to your trip report when you upload it!


      • Felix says:

        Thank you very much for your reply! You are absolutely right, we need to share our experience so that others might also be able to experience this incredible hike. Please feel free to forward my email address, we are always glad to help!

        Although we often times did not find a trail at all your track was actually very spot on in the most important places. The only really difficult situation in our opinion was the pass following Cerro Wara Warani – difficult to find the way up and unbelievable from the top that straight down was actually the correct way! And we had about 10cm of snow cover that day… Luckily, some Cairns led the way.

        To answer your questions: We brought all the food we needed for 16 days with us from La Paz. Breakfast consisted of powdered coffee and milk and oatmeal with raisins. For lunch we actually were incredibly lucky to find peanut bars in La Paz – almost every woman on the sidewalk here sells them. From what we can make out, they consist of crushed peanuts held together by honey. They are by far the best trekking lunch I have ever had! Dinner was the only thing where we went very specialized – we had brought enough freeze dried meals for 2 from Germany for the entire trek. Needless to say, this was still not a whole lot of food – maybe 1500 kcal per person per day. I’m sure each of us lost at least 5-7kg of weight during the hike.

        The only place where we bought food during the trek was Cocoyo on the 3rd day of the Illampu circuit, but all we bought were a couple of sweets to make the evenings more enjoyable. Except for this, there are no places to restock (and all the tienda sells are sweets, pasta and canned tuna).

        Considering the locals we were actually very pleasantly surprised. We did avoid the Laguna San Francisco because of the history of robberies but everyone else we met was extremely nice. I think they were at least as suprised to see us as we were to see them. Only one person wanted to have money for camping, a herder on the first night just above Lakathiya. The more remote we got, the nicer the people became: Some came by just for a chat, others stopped what they were doing to show us where to best cross a stream and some construction workers on the Illampu circuit were so perplexed to see us they got out their smartphone to take a picture! Maybe this attitude changes in high season, but we only had great encounters with the locals!

        We will try to put down all the important info in the next couple of days to create a little “addendum” to your perfect description for people who would like to do this hike unsupported… I will keep you updated!

        Kind regards,

  5. Cam says:

    Great write-up! A friend and I are heading to the Cordillera Real next month, and I was hoping to pick up a copy of the Liam O’Brien 1:135,000 map. I haven’t had much success finding one online, and I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the bookstore in La Paz where you bought it?

    • true_north says:

      Cam, The Spitting Llama on Linares 947 may have a copy of the Liam O’Brien 1:135,000 map available. It is getting a bit old! Here is a review of the bookstore from a recent Rough Guide –

      Spitting Llama review

  6. Birgit says:

    Hi True North,
    i read your description of this trek and would like to do it with a friend of mine in the middle of august. we’d like to make it a little shorter though (like around 7 days). do you think this might be possible? and where can i download the gpx file you made from your route? i just borrowed a garmin etrex 20 from another friend.
    or maybe Felix has some suggestions…
    greetings from amsterdam


    • true_north says:

      Birgit, August is a good time to do this trek. You would have to shorten it considerably in order to get it done in seven days, using a starting point that is accessible by vehicle. Note that Felix and his friend took 15 days! We took 14.

      You will need to arrange a shuttle to drop you off at the start and then pick you up at the end of your trek. A better plan might be to find a few extra days so you are under less pressure to keep moving when it might not be the best to do so.

      I would get in touch with one of the La Paz agencies I mentioned in my post for more information on possible shuttles and other information and advice. Javier at Andean Summits is very knowledgeable about the area and the issues you will face. Your safety and security should be key factors to consider in any plan you make. Make sure you also include a week’s worth of acclimitization time before you set off on your walk and include a day or two for unforeseen things happening!

      Re: GPS tracks. Unfortunately, I left my Garmin Oregon at home for this trek and only brought my SPOT Connect along. It only records a location every ten minutes and sometimes it did not record a location for an hour or more. The result – not 100% accurate! Here is the track in kml format which you can view in Google Earth. The last morning’s walk down to Botijlaca was not recorded.

      And here is the file converted into a GPS file that your Etrex 20 can read. (My brother has the same Garmin device which we use on our canoe trips! Make sure you practise using it before you set off!)

      Let me know if the GPX file works! Good luck with your adventure. It is a fantastic hike!

      • Birgit says:

        thank you for the fast reaction! i downloaded the map onto our gps, but i can’t open it/don’t see it on the device itself. we wanted to only do half the route and were wondering which part you might recommend to do…
        this also depends on the fact that we’ll need an accessible starting and end point. i’ll get some info with the agencies in la paz you mentioned.
        we’re off to peru now, so we’ll have plenty of acclimatization 🙂
        thank you so much for your information again!

      • true_north says:

        Birgit, Days 9 to 14 might be your best bet for a shorter hike. Whoever arranges your ride to the start point will be able to tell you the options.

        Re: the GPX file. Garmin devices require a special file format for maps on their devices. You have to import them by using their Basecamp app in Windows or mac OS. It is all a bit awkward!

        If you have a smart phone you might try the wikiloc app. I used it in Argentina when doing some hiking in the bariloche area a few months ago. I was impressed.

        Here is one Cordillera Real file I found at wikiloc –

        You just need to buy the app to have complete access. You might be able to use it for Peru too!

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  8. Keila Beckman says:

    Incredible report. Congratulations!!
    You do not have the 7 day tracklog?

  9. kathrin says:

    heyhey:) I just did the Cordillera Real traverse solo and unsupported based on your tracks:)

    It took me 10 days to codoriri basecamp ( including one disaster-resupply day). From there i continued to Huayna Potosi ( 2 days) and to Coroico via the Choro trail ( 3 more days).

    Thank u sooo much for sharing your track. i could not have done the northern part withour it. It was an amazing experience although certainly the hardest thing ive done so far… the altitude + the cold exhausted me to the limit;)

    • true_north says:

      Kathrin – heyhey, indeed!;) I thought the other two German hikers were pretty amazing to do it without a guide or support but now you go and do it on your own! Congratulations! That you did it with my vague gps tracks is amazing!

      You also picked a less than prime time of the year to do it! June to September is more typical than April! The walk down the Choro Trail must have warmed you up as you finished your epic solo hike!

      Tschüss -and enjoy the calm before your next adventure!

    • Gordon Muir says:

      Hi Kathrin,

      I am currently lounging in La Paz planning and acclimitizing for the Cordillera Real traverse. Did you arrange a food resupply? Who did you use for this service and how much did it cost? Do you have notes for accessing the start/end of the trek by bus? If you happen to be around La Paz let me know, would love to meet up for a chat.

      True North- great resource as I am planning – thanks! I am assuming that you are from Ontario? check out Nastawagan Trails for a 120 km hike in your back yard. Called the Ottawa Temiskaming Highland Trail.


      • true_north says:

        Gordon, I doubt that Kathrin is following this post so do not expect an answer! Do read the comments by Felix about food supply and resupply. It sounds like you need to start off with all you need.

        Hiring a donkey and arriero in Sorata might be the way to go – you’d have a guide and someone to carry your gear and food. Having said that, Felix and his friend, as well as Kathrin on her own, were able to “git ‘er dun” without any help.

        However you go, enjoy your walk!

      • Anonymous says:

        Hey:) I didn’t arrange anything. I just hitched/ walked out to a place called Penas from Khota thya. I wouldn’t recommend it though. The choice of food was well not that great;) like bread cookies crackers….but i survived;)

        From La Paz to the trail I took a minibus to Sorata. They leave from the cementerio whenever they are full. As I mentioned I continued on to the Choros Trail to Coroico from there. Minibuses to La Paz leave all the time from the plaza;)

        I’m in Peru by now so unfortunately won’t be able to meet up:( Feel free to ask if u got any more questions:)

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  12. Jana Kalousova says:

    Dear true north,
    this is by far the best page I have run into on any trek we have done so far – beautifully written, all the infos one can need in a neat form. Thank you for doing this!
    We are a group of 6 and plan to do Cordillea Real on our own too in September, Felix and Kathrin gave me even more courage now! Saying this, would it be possible to have a contact to Felix as we would love to get his GPS data?
    Best regards from Munich, Germany

    • true_north says:

      Jana, unfortunately I do not have Felix’s email address. His comments – and the comments of the other trekkers who used my kml file – will be very useful to you in making your plans and finding your way! The less-than-perfect kml track from my Spot Connect GPS device that Felix used is this one –

      In GPS format it is available here:–23-Bolivia-final-.gpx?dl=0

      As I mentioned somewhere, my device oncly recorded a location every ten minutes – and sometimes it left a gap of an hour or more. So – not the best but still usable! If you create a better track, I’d be happy to include it in my post so that future trekkers will benefit from a more precise record of the route! Just send it to me after your walk down the cordillera.

      September is also when we did our trek and the weather was fine. You might consider hiring an arriero and a donkey in Sorata and starting from there. A donkey can carry up to 40 kg. – that is a lot of food and tent. Bring as much of your gear and food from home as possible since imported camping-related products are expensive in la Paz.

      Have a great walk – and maybe come back here with a mini-trip report when you get back to Munich. Tschüss for now!

      • Felix says:

        Hi Jana!
        Good thing I still get email updates when somebody comments on this post 😉
        Unfortunately, we did not record our own gps track but rather followed the one provided by true_north. If you have some experience hiking (which you will need anyway for this hike), you probably will not have a difficult time following his trail. For the most part of the walk, there isn’t a perfect way anyway and you just have to find your own trail that takes you in the direction you want to go in.
        The only thing that I would’ve wanted to know beforehand is that the gps trail does not give you an accurate picture of the pass following Cerro Wara Warani. If you get there, follow the stream on it’s right hand side (so the left hand side of the valley, as you’re walking upstream). Once you get to the lake, cross the stream and head more or less diagonally across the rugged plateau toward the lowest pass in the chain of mountains visible. The plateau will constantly gain altitude, and at the end you need to traverse across a very sketchy scree slope toward the pass, which is to your right hand side. Once on the pass, go straight down on the other side. This seems insane when you’re standing on the pass, but as the skree is very deep it is possible to slide, almost like skiing. This brings you straight to the valley floor. The gps track is missing a couple of waypoints during this time, so it seems like true_north went a very different, more diagonal way, but there is no other realistic alternative in my opinion to what we did.

        Another thing that I would definitely recommend is to download all of true_norths blog concerning the hike and carry this with you. Sometimes it is very helpful to look at a picture or read a description and know that you’re in the right place.

        If you have any more questions, you (and anybody else interested) can email me at hifelix [at]

        Kind regards, Felix

      • true_north says:

        Felix, thank you so much!

  13. Barbara Brown says:

    true north – at the end of august I will join a Mountain Kingdoms trek (the exact route you note above I think) on the west side of the Cordillera Real. We will be well supported but I am a map person and yearn to have my own map. How do I do this? I have the Yossi Brain book but it only includes part of the west side trek. any help greatly appreciated. Barbara, Ottawa, Canada

    • true_north says:

      Barbara, good choice of agency and trek!

      Re: maps. Not a lot of choice out there! I have a copy of Liam O’Brian’s A New Map of The Cordillera Real De Los Andes. The 2009 reprint is a copy of the 1995 original.

      The Bolivia military topos I found were not very helpful!

      There is a 1:50,000 German Alpine Club map – click on the title for the information – TREKKING MAP – CORDILLERA REAL NORTH / ILLAMPU (BOLIVIA) | ALPENVEREIN. It covers the Andes from Sorata to Huayna Potosi – just what you need. It was published in 1987!

      You can find a copy of the map at The Maps Company. See here for their list of Andes maps.

      You will have fun with the half-dozen variations place and peak names have depending on what trip report or map you are looking at!

      What you might do is cut and paste my satellite images of the different days of the trek. Or – you could open up my kml file of the trek in Google Earth and create your own map.

  14. true_north says:

    I’ve just uploaded a post dealing with route planning and maps. I added more information to the material in this post on maps, specifically access info on Wikiloc uploads, US Govt 1:100,000 topos, and Alpenverein maps. You can see the post here –

    Mapping The Cordillera Treking Route

  15. One again THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your posts about the Cordillera Real. It was a big help in planning our own hike in the Cordillera Real (5-19th of August 2018), unsupported (me and my boyfriend). Right now we are working on our description, but we made this overview with GPS (GPX) track, that can be downloaded:

    p=3498&preview=1&_ppp=507833aac2 (This link will work until the 16th of October because it is a preview. Efter that date you can find it here on our website: We hope that the GPS track can help others in hiking the Cordillera Real.

    True_north, you have also asked what we do about food. When we have to bring food for so many days (we had for 13-14 days, and could buy few supplies on the Choro Trek the last few days). I am working on a preparation post including food, gear and maps, I will let you know when it is done. You can also use this post as inspiration: (this is only food for 4-5 days, but in general you just have to bring more of the same.

    I can be contacted on my e-mail:

  16. Just finished a more thorough description of our preparations, and description of our hike in the Cordillera Real and the Choro Trek. We just wanted to share the preview links as quickly as possible, so hopefully it can be a help to others. Preview link for our hike in the Cordillera Real and Choro Trek, which we did from the 5th-19th of August 2018.

    After October 28th 2018 (all posts have been officially posted on our website), you can find all the hiking posts together here on our website:

    “Food, gear and maps for the Cordillera Real and Choro Trek”:

    “Hiking the Cordillera Real (day 1-4)”:

    “Hiking the Cordillera Real (day 5-8)”:

    “Hiking the Cordillera Real (day 9-12)”:

    “Hiking the Choro Trek (day 12-15)”:

  17. Agostino Ghetti says:

    We are two 26 years old guys from Italy.
    Actually we are in the north of Chile and we are going to travel up to La Paz to visit the Cordillera Real. We love mountains, we experienced a lot of trekking and mountaineering in the Alps. We are travelling in South America with our gears and our attention is now on the beautiful Cordillera Real.
    By reading this beautiful blog (and also all the precious informations on the attached blogs) we now would like to hike all the East Trekking, as you did.
    We want to do it on our own and we think to be enough fit to do it (we just need to acclimatize for about a week before to start)
    We have clear ideas on the food and the logistic. We have your GPS files on GPX Viewer on our cellphones and many other trails applications. And also, we know an Alpinist in La Paz we can ask informations about the general conditions (snow on the trail, weather forecast, etc)
    The only thing we want to be more sure about is the safe aspect: which possibilities we have if an injurie or a disease happen to us during the trekking? Are there small towns relatively close to the trail we can rely on if something happen during the hike?
    Anyway, thank you very much for your informations and for sharing your experience. This is an essential tool for everyone that loves mountains, as we do.

    • true_north says:

      Agostino, Your contact in La Paz will have better information than I do. I would also get in touch with one of the trekking/climbing agencies I mention – Javier at Andean Summits or Andreas at Andean Ascents. They will have the best information for you and would be able to arrange transportation for you if you don’t mind spending a bit of extra money instead of taking local buses.

      You ask how far away you are from help. It is good that there are two of you and not just one. There will be no one else doing the trek at this time of the year! At the bottom of most valleys ​you will traverse there is a little settlement or a road. It would take perhaps six hours to walk down valley to get help.

      You would be wise to acclimatize before you set off. La Paz is definitely worth a few days of exploration as is visiting Isla del Sol. After a week in those two places – both around 4000 meters – you’d be ready for something more. Most of the trek campsites are above 4000 meters and there are a few 5000+ meter passes and peaks along the way.

      I am just not sure what the weather will be like. It is the rainy season – wet with possible landslides down lower and snow as you get higher. If you do the traverse I did on the west side of the mountains there may be less moisture coming up from the Amazon and therefore less rain. Then again, with El Nina maybe there will be more moisture coming in from the Pacific! Your contact or the trekking agency guys will have a better idea!

      The one thing you need to be is totally self-sufficient. Once you start there is really nowhere to go shopping for food!

      Buona fortuna con i tuoi piani! And do write back when you finish and let the readers of this post know how you did. You will be adding to the knowledge bank for the next crazy trekkers who will decide to walk in the Cordillera Real!

  18. Frida says:

    Thanks for all the information! It was really useful when planning for my Cordillera Real trek, which I did solo and unsupported. I walked from Sorata via Cocoyo and Camino Calzada, then followed your tracks until Botijlaca, from there I continued to La Cumbre.
    It was an amazing and challenging trek! Without your tracks (which I draw at my Liam O’Brien map and navigated after with compass 🙂 ) this trek would not have been possible to do.

    For others who want to do this trek: At Laguna Khotia and Laguna Jistana Khota, there where at this time some construction work, which make this places not so nice for camping.

    About to buy maps in La Paz, the bookstore The Spitting Lama has closed down, but at calle Illampu there are several shops that sells maps including Liam O’Brian A New Map of The Cordillera Real De los Andes and outdoor equipment, for example Sampaya at Illampu 803.

    Thanks again for a great blog!
    Regards, Frida

    • true_north says:

      Frida – wow! wow! wow! Congratulations!

      You are one adventurous soul to have done this on your own and with no support. And then you kept on going to La Cumbre! Your comment will inspire yet more people to take on a challenging but epic walk. I will insert the info on the maps in the post to save others the bother of looking for a shop that no longer exists!

      Thanks for writing me…it makes doing the blog worthwhile.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Your post brought back a lot of memories of my climbing times in the Andes with the Manani brothers, Yossi Brain, Stan Shepard, and other unforgetable characters. It brought a smile to my face, and a few tears remembering how Yossi and Stan passed in the mountains that they loved so much. Glad to see that some enterprising Bolivian printer has kept my map of the Cordillera Real in print.
    Liam O’Brien

    • true_north says:

      Liam, your map lives! Along with the Yossi Brain books, it helped open up the Cordillera Real to climbers and trekkers. Your memories of Yossi Brain had me googling for more info. The AAC website had a touching “in memoriam”

  20. Pingback: The Trans Cordillera Real Trek in Bolivia - Unguided 13 Days from Sorata to Botiljaka - Less Traveled World

  21. Jacob Colbert says:

    What GPS did you use for this trip?

    • true_north says:

      Jacob, I only brought along my Spot Connect. I regret not taking my Garmin Oregon 450; it would have done a better job – but at the cost of gobbling up way more batteries. These days I might just take my Polar Vantage M with its GPS capability – more than good enough if you’re are in the hands of a local guide!

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