Awesome view of Cordillera Real
Mountain Chacaltaya (5 363 m asl) extending only 25 kilometers from the capital city of Bolivia La Paz, is famous mainly by the only Bolivian ski resort with the highest located ski lift in the world that was once here. After the glacier finally dissolved, skiing is no longer possible here, but the place is definitely worth a half-day trip. First of all, you can enjoy beautiful views of Cordillera Real with six thousand high beautiful mountain Huayna Potosi in the foreground, or if you are just a „weekend“ tourist, you can easily overcome here the limit of five thousand meters above sea level.
Altiplano above La Paz
The road to Chacaltaya rises from the center of La Paz to El Alto town with its million inhabitants (formerly referred to as a district of La Paz) already lying on the upland plain of Altiplano. El Alto stretches up to 4 100 m above sea level, making it the highest city in the world. The dusty road is full of potholes and so the minibus bounces here a lot. The last houses in El Alto end up in 4 280 meters above sea level and then begin barren plains of Altiplano.
The roads branches off on the old gigantic moraine. Our road begins to rise with a view of two forgotten lakes. The second road leads directly to Huayna Potosi to the lagoon Milluni and over the pass Zongo to Yungas – another favorite destination of mountaineers and trekkers.
Huayna Potosi and laguna Milluni
Local giant Huayna Potosi (6 088 m asl) will tower against you at the very end of the valley. In the foreground is an interesting laguna Milluni (4548m asl)
The road under Chacaltaya
The road winds in several twists up with occasional views of Huayna Potosi and plenty of ponds to the south of the road. First, you will pass a meteorological station and finally arrive to the destination – the hut of the club Andino Boliviano – Refugio Chacaltaya (5 250 m asl).
Refugio sits on a small rocky promontory overlooking the mist-drenched Altiplano with La Paz and El Alto in the background. Here is the starting point to a very short ascent to the mountain itself. Already here there may be people in your tour, who will have so strong headaches and general weakness that they will not be able to get off the minibus and stay in the parking place outside the hut.
Fifty kilometers away on the horizon is visible ice crown of Illimani (6 438 m asl), which is the second highest mountain in Bolivia and the dominant of all views from La Paz. This south-eastern part of the mountain range is significantly less glaciated than its northern part. In addition, there is no real main ridge. The mountain range is interrupted by incredible number of valleys.
The ascent path to Chacaltaya
The path leading to the top is quite fine and in good weather also without snow. After a few minutes disappears Refugio down. From here you can nicely see not only the ponds, but also the winding roads around the mountains.
View of Chacaltaya
You can actually ascent to three five thousand high peaks during this short trip. Mountain directly above Refugio (5 330 m asl) is not yet Chacaltaya. Chacaltaya is over one shallow pass on.
The final ascent to Chacaltaya
From the top of Chacaltay (5 363 m asl) /so only 115 altitude meters above the parking place/ is not visible Refugio, but only „fake“ hill above it, which people sometimes mistakenly regard for Chacaltaya.
Barren Cordillera Real
View north is of the barren windswept ridges.
We recommend to walk a little further to even higher mountain (5 395 m asl), where you can enjoy silence and you will not meet a living soul here. If you look back, you can see Chacaltaya and the top before it above Refugio.
Impressive Huayna Potosi
The main magnet is Huayna Potosi dominating the horizon.
When you return to La Paz, you can admire local mountain lakes once again.
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