September 15, 2015
This is the start of a 5 day/4 night trek with Bolivian Journeys in the Condoriri Mountains outside of La Paz. For a full review of the company and our experience see the previous post.
We met Marco, the general manager of Bolivian Journeys, the night before at our hotel to pay him and go over some details about the trip. He speaks very good English and was much more congenial in person than through emails. Our guide Thomas, however, would speak only Spanish.
We left an extra bag, laundry to be done and valuables to be placed in the reception safe at the hotel. Marco suggested that we bring very little money.
We were to be ready at 7:30AM in order to beat the morning traffic. They actually arrived early and Marco was there to introduce us to our guide Thomas.
The drive out of La Paz was nearly the same chaotic drive as the bus ride into town the previous night, albeit not as much traffic.
We headed out of town on the same road under construction, only this time we turned towards the majestic peaks to the northeast and took a dirt road along the river through dramatic scenery of golden foothills dotted with small farmsteads of grazing sheep, llamas and alpacas.
At about 10AM we reached our destination near Wata Pampa at 4400 meters/ 14,436 ft. – an abandoned community building in the middle of nowhere. In view of the campsite is the Condoriri range, Huayna Potosi in the distance and the Korwar khota reservoir – one of the water supplies for La Paz.
We take a short slow walk in the hills to acclimate. Thomas saunters in front but never gets too far ahead.
The golden hills, glacial blue lakes and snowy peaks are spectacular.
We head up to a shepherd’s shelter at the top of a hill to rest. The rock enclosure is enough to keep the cold wind off of us. Thomas falls asleep, Don rests his eyes and I read.
Around noon we head back down.
At the casa grande Don helps Thomas put up the tent. It’s a sturdy construction that we’ll be glad to have later.
We rest awhile and finally around 2PM Thomas tells us the hot water is ready. He has also prepared smashed avocado and cheese for sandwiches, a pretty light lunch but dinner will come early.
After lunch we rest while the clouds are starting to build up in the mountains. The wind howls and the thunder begins shortly followed by pelting tiny snow balls.
By evening the weather has calmed again. Most of the clouds are gone and the crisp evening light glows on the hillsides.
Dinner consists of vegetable noodle soup and pasta with meat, peppers and tomato along with a choice of hot beverage.
We watch the last changing colors on the clouds and head to the tent.