Bolivia's highest mountain impresses because it stands free from other mountains. Sajama, a volcano, can be climbed in four days but only by experienced and fit climbers.
The area of 80,000 hectares around the mountain is protected since 1939 and is named after the mountain, National Park Sajama. In this region are more volcanoes and here you can find the highest situated trees in the world, the Quinual Tree. Vicuñas, condors, Andean pumas, armadillos, flamingos and Andean wild cats are animals that live here.
1st day: You will go by bus or in private 4WD car to Patacama, a small village on the main road to Oruro, where you will have breakfast. The drive continues and goes through dry steppe landscape until the next stop for some last shopping on the market.
Sajama is a small and very remote village without electricity and water at an altitude of 4,300 m, based at the foot of Sajama Mountain, with its 6,542 m the highest mountain of Bolivia. Here you will register and pay the entrance fee for the National Park.
From here you will continue further to base camp at an altitude of 4,700 m with a beautiful view at the mountain that you are going to climb. The night will be cold.
2nd day: Heavily packed you continue to high camp through a bare and rocky landscape. The camp is on the west ridge at an altitude of 5,700 m. So you have to make 1,000 altitude m and with full backpacks it will be hard.
During the first part the trail is easy and you can find a good rhythm to walk. The last 200 - 300 altitude meters will be very hard, the snow is slippery and you have to climb up steep slopes with very loose stones/debris, a hell of a job with the big backpack and in the thin air.
When you reach high camp you can finally put down your backpack and put up your tent.
The strong winds and the cold will put you in bed very early. Hopefully you can sleep at this altitude.
3rd day: You will have to wake up in the middle of the night but you will be happy because finally you can leave your tent. After breakfast you put on your crampons. Immediately it goes up steep, luckily today your backpack is much lighter. A small ice wall with a sharp ridge will be the key part, smaller and less difficult as at Huayna Potosí. But the total climb is very steep and therefore hard. It is almost impossible to get a good rhythm. However the highest mountain of the country motivates of course and so you keep pushing yourself higher and higher until you reach the top. The top almost has the size of a football field. The air is extremely clear; therefore you can see the Cordillera Real in the far distance and beyond. You will enjoy a fabulous colour pallet on the Parinacota Mountain.
The guide will let you enjoy the scenery but not too long. He will urge you to go down to high camp before the ice fields get very soft and to warm up a little bit. Going down from the top to your tent is not so hard, but be careful.
At high camp you will have a break before you pack all your stuff together and then take a shortcut over a snow flank down to base camp.
Here you can decide if you want to walk down to the village, to save yourself another night in the tent. An option is to visit a thermal bath to relax; it is an open-air hot spring and lies a few km from the village. Here you can go to a local restaurant where you can enjoy a good dinner. There are no toilets, electricity and water but you will not be fussy about these things anymore and the most important thing is a warm bed.
4th day: In the morning you have time to take some pictures from the volcano in the crystal clear sky or, if you stayed at base camp, walk down from here to the village.
In any case you should try to take the classic Sajama picture; through the white entrance gate of the graveyard. Then it is time to head back to La Paz by car, where you can take a nice hot shower and have a real good dinner.
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