Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cordillera Real truly regal trekking

From November 8 to 19 we trekked through this beautiful and high mountain range in Bolivia, just outside of La Paz. Eduardo Mamani of Bolivian Mountain Guides organized this fabulous adventure for us. The "classic" trek takes the "backside" of the Cordillera Real. But that means that the Amazonian fog makes visibility poor in the afternoons and the valleys are quite deep, making views of the snow-capped mountains rare. Our trek is a new one. It covers the "front" of the Cordillera, facing the Altiplano and Lago Titicaca. Every one of the 9 trekking days offered views of the lake, glaciers hanging on to 6,000+ metre mountains, lagunas and plenty of local livestock and wildlife. We enjoyed blue sky mornings, followed by the amazing sights of Amazonian clouds/fog wafting across the passes of the Cordillera in the afternoons. Even though we came at the beginning of rainy season, climate change has again been kind to us: in 12 days we had only 2 afternoons and 2 evenings of precipitation - but we never had to pull out the rain gear as we were nestled into our comfy MEC Twin Peaks tent.

Our excellent trekking guide, Andres, not only led us across 5,000+ metre passes and through valleys offering a great variety of landscape, but shared his pride in his Aymara culture and Bolivia´s beauty. Our evenings were spent in the cooking tent with Felix and Andres talking about mountains, cultures and life as we live it.

This amazing trek culminated with the ascent of Huayna Potosi, our first mountain over 6,000m!

But before we get to that, here are some impressions of the vistas and life in the mountains of the Andes oriental.

Getting the gear ready for the trek.
FLTR: Jose (driver), Felix (cook),
Andres (guide) and Inga (trekker).
Waiting for donkeys and donkey drivers.
Camp on Day 1. Yup, there´s absolutely nobody around.
Just llamas and their herders. And Lago Titicaca, el mar
de Bolivia, on the horizon. A daily view on this trek.
Andres, Jan and Inga having a fine time with our first pass
over 5,000 metres! (Photo by the multi-talented Felix)

Andres, Jan and Inga above one of
the most gorgeously coloured
lagunas. We camped just below it.

Our camp on Day 3. Still just us and
our team :)
Felix prepared all of our food. Every
day he tracked us down for lunch
along the trail.

Breakfast nook with a view. Morning of day 4.
Day 4 camp site. Jan taking a break
before moving in.This was the last
day for our first two arrieros, who also
take care of the camp each day.

Camp day 5. Here we started to have
rustic services like a bathroom,
maintained by the community in
that valley. Also, first time another
group was camping with us.

Day 6 we summitted Pico Austria at 5,350 m! This trek was
filled with firsts in terms of heights we obtained. I never
even had a twinge of a headache, Jan did suffer a bit on the
way up, though, with a cold and upset stomach. But, in good
style she persevered and made it up on her own steam.
Day 7 - packing up camp. Victoria
(middle), Felix´s wife was our arriero
for 3 days. Their daughter (front) joined
them for a night.

Inga forever trying to take pictures
of birds. Near Lago Esperanza - also
an abandoned mining community.
Day 8. This day we saw more people than any other on our
trek. A group of 14, plus guides, cooks and arrieros, and their
llamas and donkeys, of course! While amazingly cute and
sure-footed, llamas can only carry 12 to 15 kg, while donkeys
carry up to 40 kg.
Camp day 9. The end of our trek
and the beginning of the preparations
for climbing Huayna Potosi.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jan and Inga,
    I am back from a full week training in Toronto. A lot of news came in from you since last week. First freezing rain in Ottawa this morning. Winter is definitely coming. 6000m, incredible ! Adventure at its best !