Chacaltaya Travel Guide

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Assen Stefanov

Chacaltaya is something else. With its altitude of 5395m it towers above the highest peak in Western Europe , Mont Blanc (4808m) and almost reaches the heights of Elbrus, Europe ’s absolute power (5642). Moreover, one does not need even boots to conquer it (at least in the dry season this is the case). The road leads up to 5300m elevation where the welcome chalet and altitude sickness center are located. From there on there is a little hill to be climbed – a challenge in the thin air environment but nothing compared to miles of trekking with alpine equipment, Sherpas and years of experience. So there is nothing to loose and much to gain. The vistas are magnificent. On one side is the omni powerful Illimani; opposite is the Huayna Potosi, La Paz’s water supplier; kitty cornier are the stormy clouds of the Amazonas in general and the Yungas in particular; across is the silvery lake Titicaca in the barren haze of the Altiplano.  

There is a catch. The mount seen initially from the chalet is not the highest peak. It is actually the highest point of the highest ski lift in the world. What a title! Once there one realizes that the job is only half done. At this height the decision to go on and finish the task properly with ascending to Chacaltaya itself could be a difficult process. Even the most stubborn heads must feel a bit mushy.  

What to do on the way up? The opportunity presents itself. Scores of wild, semi wild or seemingly wild llamas graze the parched land. Along are the beautiful views of Chacaltaya, Huayna Potosi and Illimany. Why not combine the two and take this dream photo of intrigued llamas with some of the highest peaks on the planet and all that without any Hollywood involvement. Well, you might want to receive some help from your helpful guide to usher these wonderful animals in the frame.


November 06, 2006 change by giorgio

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