Hiking the Cordrillera Real (day 9-12)

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Get the full GPS track and typographic map here over the 158,3 km here: “The Cordrillera Real”.

Check out our overview of the hike here and to download the GPX tracks: “Cordrillera Real and Choro Trek (Overview)”.

How to prepare for 2 weeks of hiking? Check out this post: “Food, gear and maps for the Cordrillera Real and Choro Trek”.

Day 9, Cordrillera Real: 13.5 km (5 hours and 25 minutes) Ascent 585 meters and descent 360 meters

Start/finish elevation 4420/4550 meters

Highest elevation 4680 meter

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We left Laguna Q’ara Khota behind us, and headed straight up the hill towards the next pass. It looked like it was gonna be an easy day with only 4680 meters as the highest point. While we were walking uphill, we were looking for a trail, the report from Peter Albinger had mentioned a trail, and also a trail was marked on Maps.Me.

Looking back at Laguna Khota Thiya

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Yes, we did find a trail, that we could follow the rest of the day. We followed the trail over the mountain ridge, and it made the steep descent so much easier, because it would had been hard to find an easy way down on our own.  As we descended towards Laguna Allka Khota, we walked through a small mining town. The town was deserted, but probably because they where in the mine working.

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As we walked across the river, we came to a gravel road, that we could follow further into the valley. The dirt road leads out of the mountains to the village, Pariri. We also came across these lamas, that didn’t wanted to move way from the road (left picture). In the Cordrillera Real we saw hundreds of lamas and alpacas, which are farmed for their wool and meat by the people, who live here. In the left picture you see lamas an in the right picture you see alpacas. The biggest difference are the their head and ears. The lamas head is more lean with longer ears and less compared to the alpaca, whos head almost looks like a teddy bear.

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A lama in the mountains wlEmoticon-camera Hiking the Cordrillera Real (day 9-12)

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It was an easy day, and we decided to walk to the northeastern end of Laguna Allka Khota, where we arrived early afternoon after just 5 hours and 25 minutes. We really considered continuing, but after looking at the map, and saw that the next part was over a pass in 5075 meters. Also we still try not to camp in more than about 4500 meters to get a good night sleep. Since we don’t have included a resting day, we decided to take the rest of the day off.

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It was time for a shower in the freezing river wlEmoticon-freezing Hiking the Cordrillera Real (day 9-12)

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After hiking for 9 days without a shower it felt COLD and AMAZING. We also washed some clothes, and hang it to dry on the tent. When the sun was setting, we put the almost dry clothes inside the sleeping bag, to get more dry during the night (it is a really good trick for drying out clothes, but only put a few items inside your sleeping bag). The rest was hung to dry inside the tent, and would be hanging from our backpacks the next day. We each only carry 2 pair of underwear for hiking. We wear one pair while hiking for 2-3 days, while the other ones can be washed in a river and dry while hanging on the outside of the backpack. We do the same thing with the two pairs of hiking socks, that we use. If the socks gets too sweaty, you easier gets blisters on your feet, so switch around and wash (no soap or use a little bit of biodegradable dishwashing soap) the used pair in a river.

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It was a bit windy so we decided to cook inside the tent, and enjoyed a cracker with chocolate peanut butter on top. Esben got a little too creative with the topping from his snack bag. It is one of our favorite desserts when hiking, crackers with peanut butter! It is a “calorie-bomb”, and great to fall a sleep on. Due to the short days (only 11,5 hours of daylight per day) 12 hours would pass, before we would eat breakfast the next day, so you need some extra calories before going to sleep.

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Day 10, Cordrillera Real: 11.7 km (6 hours and 15 minutes) Ascent 670 meters and descent 500 meters

Start/finish elevation 4550/4770 meters

Highest elevation 5075 meter

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Frozen water in the bladder was a returning event every morning. The sun was shining and we started to climb towards the pass

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No snow on the way up, but as soon as we walked across the mountain pass big snow patches were laying ahead of us. At the same time we found a barely visible trial

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Walking towards our lunch spot by the small lake

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As we were eating lunch a group of three horses lead by a man came down through the snow. The horses seamed to struggle through the snow. They stopped by the lake, and the man told us, that he was a part of a guided group (2 people and one guide). The man was sick, so we offered a warm cup of water (we were getting low on food and tee) with some drops of honey pollen extract. He stopped coughing, at least for a while, and was happy (once again another good meeting with one of the locals). It seems like this last piece of the trek was more used than the first (day 10, 11 and 12). The barely visible trail, was now easy to follow as we descended from the pass.

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We still had one more mountain ridge to pass before descending towards Laguna Juri Khota

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A small break leaning against the rocks

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After passing the mountain ridge Laguna Juri Khota came into view

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The descent was moderate steep, and in loose sand/gravel, but not difficult

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As we descended towards Laguna Juri Khota we decided to walk left around the laguna. We meet two people with a guide, who walked the other way around (right)

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After walking 1/3 of the shore we found a flat spot, where the sun would shine early in the morning, and we camped for the day hoping for an early start the next day.

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Day 11, Cordrillera Real: 14.1 km (8 hours and 5 minutes) Ascent 860 meters and descent 885 meters

Start/finish elevation 4770/4700 meters

Highest elevation 5120 meter

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Ready the next morning, when the sun just came over the ridge

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The trail was visible most of the way, also as we walked through the snow

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Stopping at the glacier lake for a snack and to fill up some water (filtering the water, because we saw lama poop)

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Getting up and around the cliffs from the lake towards Paso Chakoti was difficult, and after trying a few places we found a path, that we felt were possible

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Safe after passing the cliffs, we enjoyed the view of the glacier lake – panoramic view wlEmoticon-camera Hiking the Cordrillera Real (day 9-12)

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A visible trail lead to Paso Chakoti in 5120 meters, which was our last pass over 5000 meters on the trek in the Cordrillera Real. When we reached the pass Huayna Potosi (6088 meters) was visible. What an amazing moment, and that we had come so far.

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From Paso Chakoti (5120 meters) a trail lead towards the top of Pico Austria (5327 meters). A detour to the top will probably take about 3 hours from the pass. From the top of Pico Austria you can be lucky to have the epic view of the “condor”, not the bird, but the mountain Condoriri (5648 meters), which are spreading its wing to both sides. Just before Paso Chakoti we had the view of Condoriri (the head of the condor) and the left wing.

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We decided not to hike to the top of Pico Austria, because our plan was camp beyond the next pass “Paso Condoriri” (4890 meters). We could follow a clear trail, as we descended towards Laguna Chiar Khota, the only part that slowed us down, what a small patch of snow.

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We found a sheltered spot from the wind and had lunch at Laguna Chiar Khota

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It is possible to hike on both sides of the lake, which is used for people who do a day hike to the top of Pico Austria. On day 1 they reach Laguna Chiar Khota, and the next morning they leave very early to get to the top of Pico Austria before the clouds are forming. This will give you the biggest change of viewing the full “condor” from the top of Pico Austria. As we hiked uphill east of the laguna, we really enjoyed the view, the location of Laguna Chiar Khota with the snow covered mountains was absolutely amazing. Heading uphill we could follow a trail most of the way towards Paso Condoriri

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Hiking uphill meeting lamas everywhere

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Esben was really working hard on getting the perfect lama photo wlEmoticon-camera Hiking the Cordrillera Real (day 9-12)

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Getting closer and closer to our second to last pass in the Cordrillera Real

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Reaching the top of Paso Condoriri

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We followed our GPS points from Peter Albinger, and hit a steep part. We saw a trail north of us and decided to cut across. We think that it is possible to hit the more northern trail further up avoiding the steep descent. The more northern trail is marked on “MyTrials”. As we reached the valley we decided to camp right next to the river, or what was left of the river. I was setting up the tent, while Esben made water.

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Day 12, Cordrillera Real: 15.2 km (5 hours and 25 minutes) Ascent 280 meters and descent 1310 meters

Start/finish elevation 4700/3660 meters

Highest elevation 4890 meter

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Our last day on the Cordrillera Real, started with heating up water inside the tent (yes, it was cold) and frozen socks wlEmoticon-freezing Hiking the Cordrillera Real (day 9-12)

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We only had one more pass left in 4890 meters, as we were ascending, we could look down at Laguna Tuni. You can drive to Laguna Tuni and a little bit passed it, and from there a trail leads to Laguna Chiar Khota, which for many it the starting point for getting to the top of Pico Austria.

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Again as we reached the top of the last pass, Huayna Potosi came into view

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A jump of happiness from Esben as we walked over the last pass

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It was with mixed feelings, that we walked across the last pass, because we were overly happy, that we had made it so far, and at the same time we had taken the decision for continuing the hike on the Choro Trek. First we had to descent through the valley leading down to the small village Chaca Pampa. The descent through the valley was beautiful wlEmoticon-sun Hiking the Cordrillera Real (day 9-12).

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No trail leading out of the valley, but it was easy to find our way, we just had to walk downhill

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As we started to descent towards the lake, we found a visible trail leading to the right around the lake, which was in accordance with our GPS points from Peter Albinger.

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Cows on the trail

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We had lunch 30 minutes before we reached Chaca Pampa

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In Chaca Pampa we got rid of all our garbage. It was more difficult to get across the river, which had wiped out the bridge in February 2018 after a huge rain storm.

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A local told us that we could cross the river a little bit further up at the power station

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We reached the road, where our plan was to catch a ride to Refugio Huayna Potosi. Just saying, that not that many cars was passing by

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After about 1 hour only 3 cars had passed by, and two of the cars had turned of towards Chaca Pampa. Then a fourth cars came through the clouds, a silver/grey pick up truck. It didn’t look like it was gonna stop, so I pretty much jumped out on the road, to get the car to stop. If it was because of me jumping out on the road, I don’t know, but the car stopped. We told the man, that we only had to go 15 km further up the road to the Refugio Huayna Potosi, and he let us into the car and gave us a ride. We decided to give him 20 Bob for the gasoline/diesel, here in Bolivia the locals only pay 3,78 Bob per liter of gasoline. Climbing 1300 meters in elevation on the 15 km drive to Refugio Huayna Potosi, which would have taken us 5 hours to walk, only took 35 minutes in the car.

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We had food left for 1,5 day, but would need to resupply for 1,5 day extra on the Choro Trek, also we had run out of toilet paper. We got dropped of at the Refugio Huayna Potosi, but everything was closed. We met a mini-bus with two tourists, who was waiting for the place to open, since they had planned to stay there for the next couple of days before climbing the top of Huayna Potosi. Since everything was closed, we asked if we could buy a roll of toilet paper. It is the most expensive roll of toilet paper, that I have ever bought, 5 Bob for a tiny roll. Buying more food had to wait. At 3.30 pm we started the second part of our hike from Huayna Potosi towards the Choro Trek.

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