We love mountains

My thoughts and experiences cycling, snowboarding and travelling around the world

Sajama National park, Bolivia

Sajama park is amazing. It doesn´t feature much in the guide books, it is hard to reach and generally too much hassle for most. However this means vast unspoilt landscapes, spectacular mountains, empty hot springs and a real sense of adventure. It really is one of the greatest places I have ever been.

We booked a bus bound for Arica in Chile planning to hop off in the middle of nowhere and walk or hitchhike into the park. In reality we didn´t quite follow the Spanish instructions but it seemed the bus we booked didn´t go where we wanted, we had to get a local bus 125km to meet the bus from La Paz at a random junction. After waiting for an hour in the middle of nowhere we caught the connecting bus heading to Arica. A kind Chilean man translated our plans to the driver and we were set. We missed the turn off to the park, apparently we could get a taxi easier from Tambo Quebo at the border. After 2 hours waiting for a taxi it seemed walking might have been better option! We were sat in what seemed the local dodgey border point shop, every 5 minutes another man came in and handed over cash or received cash or small parcels. I suspect this was the place you could get whatever you wanted in the area. (except a taxi!) Apparently the taxi drivers were all at the Fiesta or something. Finally a local man was tracked down and in the now complete darkness we handed over 100 Boliviano´s to get into the park.

After a scary bumpy ride down a long dirt road we pulled up in a village, almost completely dark except for the odd electric light flickering. We entered the only open hostel in the village that we had luckily called ahead to book. A 5 year old boy showed us to our room. We had our own 6 bed dorm in a domed hobbit like building covered with grass and mud brick walls. The en suite had no hot water but was pleasant enough. We brought food with us so chose to decline dinner. This seemed a lucky escape when we entered the kitchen. Dirty plates everywhere a rack of dead animal parts, bones and a hacksaw for preparing, kids running around and few dirty pans used for cooking. Marion prepared our boring pasta, the other guests enjoyed their dinner in ignorance of what lurked behind the kitchen door!

The hobbit room was cold very cold, but the 6 thick blankets meant a good night sleep. Ready for our hike into the park.

Next day we hiked for about 6km which at 4600m altitude was quite breathless. We arrived at some remote empty hotsprings, with the best view you could possibly imagine, take a look at the photos!

We walked back between Llamas and volcanoes, visited deserted mud brick village, saw the odd nomadic looking man aimlessly wandering.

There was another hike to geysers and up hills with a view or even a hike/climb up  Sajama mountain at about 6542m, which we passed on. Apparently the locals had a football game at the top a few years back, so can’t be that bad to climb!

After a few days staying in the park we shared a lift back to the border. We then hitched across no mans land to Chile with a border official, his car had seen better days so gave him few Bolivianos. We then hiked into lauca park in Chile.


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This entry was posted on August 2, 2013 by in General Travel, Hiking, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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