Bolivia has a wide range of climbing and trekking opportunities for both novice and expert a like.
For some reason though Bolivia doesnt see the high numbers of trekkers and climbers like Peru and because of this there are less opportunites to join up with set departure groups.
Only a handful of treks and climbs have regular groups departing so if you are looking for something more specialist it is much easier if you are doing so as a group.
If this is the case contact us with your requirements and we will try to put together a proposal for you.
Here we will provide information on the most popular Treks and Climbs aswell as some useful information to help you plan your trip in advance.
Bolivia has a very diverse range of environments from the steamy Amazon jungle to the Andes mountain range.
Obviously much of the trekking and all of the climbing takes place in the mountainous areas and this makes La Paz the ideal base for most of the trekking & climbing trips.
The Cordillera Real mountain range can be reached from La Paz in just a couple of hours drive making a number of treks and climbs very accessible from the city.
Whilst there are many possabilities for trekking in Bolivia there are a number of routes that are considered the classic trails
Some of these are ancient Inca Trails that wind down from the mountains through to the semi tropical Yunagas areas.
There are also treks in the mountains that range from easy 1 day options through to epic 15 day traverses of the Cordillera Real mountain range.
Here is our pick of the top treks:
Huayna Potosi 6088 meters
For climbers wanting to add some 6000 meter peaks to their list of summits Bolivia offers suitable options for all abilities
There are also more than 600 mountains over 5000 meters in the country many of which are seldom climbed.
Here is our pick of the top climbs:
Tuni Condoriri Pico Austria
Some of the shorter treks dont require particially high levels of fitness but in general all multi day treks and climbs require at least a moderate level of fitness.
What is 'moderate' ? - a basic interpretation is that you should be able to walk , carrying a backpack, for at least 7 hours per day with a few breaks and a lunch stop.
This is average time for trekking days on many treks but you should check the itinerary to be aware as sometimes days can be longer or shorter, involve lots of steep climbs or decents , which can effect energy required.
For climbing you should aim for a higher level of fitness as it is a more strenuous activity than trekking and it is best if you can do some training before hand if possible.
For climbing the best training is climbing mountains! But we understand thats not always possible so a mixed plan of trekking/hiking whenever possible with weekly cardio (running & biking), strength training for legs (squats, dumbbell lunges, presses are good) and strenghening of back and core are all recommended.
The level you train to will entirely depend on your current fitness, age and what you actually plan to climb. Some climbs are commonly climbed by people with no focused training and general fitness levels.
Of course the altitude of a trek or climb makes a big difference also. The higher the altitude the more stress is placed on your body and this increases exponially the higher you go.
Acclimitization is something that is often not taken seriously enough by many people but it can absolutely be the difference between summiting a mountain or not. It can mean a trek feels much harder for someone than for their more acclimitized colleagues.
In general for climbing we recommend you spend at least 5 days constantly at an altitude of over 3000 meters prior to attempting climbs such as Huayna Potosi , but really you should aim for 7 days or more.
With some itinararies this can be happen quite easily. For example if you spend some time in Cusco, do a trek for a few days, travel from Cusco to Puno , Copacabana then onto La Paz then all of those places are above 3000 meters and will mean your body is quite well adjusted.
Another example is for people coming from the south of Bolivia or from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and taking one of the 3 Day Salt Flats Tours , which spend most of the time above 4000 meters and even travel as high as 5000 meters over some passes.
Something to note though , and a mistake some people make, is that you have to make sure you don't go to lower altitudes during this acclimitization period as you will start to declimitize as your blood cell count readjusts back to its previous levels.
For example we have seen well acclimatized people arrive in La Paz, then take a trip down to the Pampas & Jungle in Rurrenabaque, which is around 300 meters, then return wanting to climb a mountain but find they are struggling to be at the altitude of La Paz.
Typical Examples of Climbing Equipment Supplied on Tours
Climbing tours in Bolivia will usually include specialist equipment such as mountaineering boots, crampons, harness, ice axe,ropes, helmet, gaitors plus some of the clothing such as mountain jacket, gloves, insulated trousers.Headtorches are often included but you need to supply your own batteries
You will usually need to bring your own backpack, trekking boots for approach hikes, inner clothing layers such base layer, mid layer, insulation layer. liner gloves to go inside mountain gloves, trekking/climbing socks, fleece hat and sunglasses.
Sleeping bags are not usually included but can be hired and it is often possible to lend an item if you are missing something , like a fleece or backpack for example but you would need to check as it is not on the included list
Trekking tours will usually include tent, sleeping matttress, cooking & eating equipment (stove,fuel, pans, plates, bowls, cutlery etc) with sleeping bags available to rent at an additional cost. Guide often carry a basic first aid kit.
You would need to bring your own suitable clothing, water bottle, personal medicines, additional snacks, sun glasses, sun cream, insect repellents etc.
Of course some people choose to trek independently and if they dont bring everything with them look for equipment and supplies upon arrival in Bolivia.
In the past there wasnt much availability of camping equipment but now it is quite easy to buy things in La Paz although alot of things are not top quality and there are many fake items of top brands.
For example, North Face branded clothing is easy to find but is counterfit. The Chilean brand DOITE is good value, readily available and not fake. You can find original brands such as Black Diamond, Marmot and others in The Wall Adventure on Calle Illampu located next door to Kanoo Tours office but if you can bring things with you it will be cheaper as imported equipment is highly taxed and therefore expensive.
Mountain Guides Training in Bolivia
We always recommend you should have a good travel insurance for a trip to Bolivia as it can save so much stress and expense should you have a incident during your trip,
When it comes to mountaineering and trekking it is evenmore advisible and if you are coming to Bolivia with the main purpose of climbing and/or trekking then a specialist insurance is the best way to go.
Many people though just decide to try their hand at climbing when they get to Bolivia and might just try a one off summit of Huayna Potosi for example.
If this is the case you should probably check your travel insurance to see if you will be covered as many policies do not cover mountain sports or have a limit of to what altitude they cover.
In fact a number of cheaper policies we have seen dont even cover you for just being in La Paz!
It is hard to get additional insurance cover when in La Paz, at least at decent prices, so it is much better if you can sort something out before leaving home.
In the UK the British Mounteering Council offers very good insurance packages which require you to become a member.
Membership of the BMC though means you recieve good discounts (usually 15 to 20%) at many outdoor gear stores so if you are buying equipment for a trip the discount can pay for itself
In the US the American Alpine Club is worth checking out , again you are entitled to discounts with membership and they arrange insurance packages through partners
Important - you should be aware that there are very limited search and rescue services in Boliivia.
The one service that does exist is made up of volunteers and whilst many members are certifed guides, fireman etc they have very little in the way of funds, equipment is mostly their own.
There arent any helicopter rescue services of the kind you see constantly whizzing buy in Alpine resorts like Chamonix.
If there is an incident it can take many hours for rescuers to get out to the area. If a helicopter is required then it would likely be from the miltary if anything is avaialble and incur a significant cost (1000s of USD).
The main reason therefore for having insurance is in case of medical costs, which for quality care can be expensive.
Last Updated 7th August 2018
Huayna Potosi is a beginner level mountain climb over a 3 day period including basic training, equipment and a rare chance to get over 6000 meters without being an experienced climber. Highly recommended. This is one of the most popular climbs in South America.
Stunning scenery with amazing snowcapped peaks, beautiful Andean lakes, good altitude training before climbing or simply an easy way to go on a fantastic short trek in the majestic Cordillera Mountain range. Highly recommended for everyone and perfect for those who are short on time but still want to experience the stunning views only Andes can offer.
This is our budget Takesi Trek option. The Takesi trek is a popular trek from La Paz with some of the best Inca paving in the Andes. Mostly downhill it passes through cloud forest to semi-tropical rainforest. It is available to trek in 2 or 3 days and an English-speaking guide can be available upon request.
The El Choro trek is the most popular trek with tourists due to its easy accessibility from La Paz, stunning views and varied scenery. Ranging from chilly Andean mountains, down through cloud forest to semi-tropical rainforest it offers a range of conditions to deal with but is also a fantastic introduction to the varied environments of Bolivia and the different conditions you can encounter trekking here.
This short but challenging trek follows a high altitude trail between two of Bolivia's most famous mountains - Huayna Potosi and Chacaltaya. All of this trek is above 4500 meters so it is essential to be well acclimatised to undertake this. This is a good option as altitude training if you are planning Huayna Potosi later on.
Illimani is the mountain that overlooks La Paz and is considered the guardian mountain of the city. It is the second highest peak in Bolivia standing at 6438 meters (21,122 ft) and the highest in the Cordillera Real. This is a challenging climb and while not very technical some experience is required. This climb is run only during the dry season.
This 4 day climb of Mount Sajama is a chance to climb the highest mountain in Bolivia at an altitude of 6549 meters. This is not a technical climb and can be attempted by well acclimatised beginners.
Pequeño Alpamayo is a 5370 meter (17618 feet) mountain that is part of the Condoriri Massif. Not very technical this is a good option to climb before attempting larger peaks or purely for the incredible views it provides. This is Andean mountain scenery at its best and one reason this is the second most climbed peak in Bolivia.
Climb to the top of Cerro Tunari and experience incredible views of the Cochabamba valley below and mas far as Illimani mountain in the distance. Pass near ancient traditional communities, spot the majestic condor in the wild, see herds of llamas and if we are lucky some wild vicuñas. Glistening mountain lakes, mysterious fossil formations and Quenua forests (world's highest trees) all make for a fantastic mountain adventure out of the city in just one day.