Cordillera Real Trek Day 3: Lago San Francisco To Chojña Khota

Previous Post: Day 2 – Alto Llojena To Lago San Francisco

  • time: 7:45 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • distance: 10 kilometers
  • high point: 5129 meters
  • campsite: 4741 meters
  • Route: download day’s kml file here

Leaving the campsite at 7:45 after our breakfast of fruit, cereal, and most importantly, coffee, we set off.  As the elevation chart below illustrates, we began with a bit of a descent to the river. We crossed it and walked on a llama track on the slopes above Lago San Francisco for a while before heading towards our high point for the day.

Day 3 - distance and elevation

Day 3 – distance and elevation

 

Trans-Cordillera Real Day 3 (Lago San Francisco to Chojña Khota)

looking back at our Day Two campsite

looking back at our Day Two campsite

leaving Lago San Francisco behind

leaving Lago San Francisco behind

perhaps Cerro Jankupiti on the west side of the Rio Jalanta valley

perhaps Cerro Jankupiti on the west side of the Rio Jalanta valley

glacial stream coming from Cerro Kasiri

glacial stream coming from Cerro Kasiri

glacial lake on south side of Cerro Kasiri

glacial lake on south side of Cerro Kasiri

We also saw the French trekking group – two couples – again. Actually we saw their donkey train moving the gear to the next campsite, the very same one that we were headed for at Chojña Khota.  (The term khota is the Aymara equivalent of the English  “lake” or the Spanish  laguna.)  They were moving up a sandy slope that had me thinking we were in the Morocco desert!  I would later find out that they had started from Sorata the day before us and were headed as far as Condoriri.  I got the impression that their route was dictated more by where the donkeys could go and not by how up close to the mountains they wanted to go. All trekking routes are not equal!

our advance scout and the équipe Français donkeys heading for the pass

our advance scout and the Équipe Français donkeys heading for the pass

break time while the donkeys push on

break time while the donkeys push on

When we got to the day’s high point around 12:30 we stopped for lunch.  From a couple of the pix below you’ll notice that we also had some great views of the Cordillera from our 5129 meter vantage point to enjoy and frame in our viewfinders.

taking in the mountain view

taking in the mountain view

Cerro Kasiri - an epic view

Cerro Kasiri – an epic view

break time at the high point of the day

break time at the high point of the day

looking down on our Day 3 Campsite - the plateau to the right of the laguna/khota

looking down on our Day 3 Campsite on the plateau to the right of the laguna/khota

coming down the scree slopes to Day 3 Campsite

coming down the scree slopes to Day 3 Campsite

Our campsite sat on a plateau perhaps thirty meters above the bottom end of the lake; the French party had set up camp some distance further down on the banks of the river flowing from the khota. Down on the side of the road that comes up to the lake the dining tent was set up.

Day 3 campsite at Chojna Khota

Day 3 campsite at Chojña Khota

Day Three campsite - the cook tent area

Day Three campsite – the dining tent/cook tent area

down by the khota (laguna) below our campsite

down by the khota (laguna) below our campsite towards the French camp

Cerro Calzado above Laguna Carizal.

Cerro Calzada above Laguna Carizal.

The Illampu Circuit:

Beyond Chojña Khota a trail heads up into the Cordillera alongside Laguna Carizal and then between Cerro Kasiri and Cerro Calzada before following the Rio Chajolpaya to the east side of the Cordillera. It is 12 kilometers from Chojña Khota over the 5000-meter Paso Calzada to the village of Chajolpaya on the east side.

illampu-circuit-map

This trail – the Camino Calzada – is the one that trekkers who are doing the Illampu Circuit come down.  Having started their trek in Sorata, they head to the east side of the Massif before walking through Cocoyo and over the Paso Sarani to the Camino Calzada.

from Chajolpaya to Chojna Khota on the Illampu Circuit

from Chajolpaya to Chojna Khota on the Illampu Circuit

The last two or three days of the Illampu Circuit does in reverse the approximate  (it will depend on the guide and the donkeys!)  route we took to get to Chojña Khota from our starting point near Sorata.   The Yossi Brain Trekking In Bolivia guide-book has a 12-page section on this trek with all the maps and basic itinerary.  He suggests 5 to 7 days for the Illampu Circuit.

Brain’s guide book is accessible at Google Books.  You can read the section on the Illampu Circuit (pages 89-101) online here.  Do take into account that the guide book dates back to 1997!

Next Post: Day 4 – Chojna Khota To Rio Jalapa Just Below Jistana Khota

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