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Cordillera Apolobamba

From the Peruvian border on the east to the edge of Parque Nacional Madidi in the north, the Cordillera Apolobamba is the outlying continuation of Bolivia’s Cordillera Oriental. It is a mountain range north of Lake Titicaca with dramatic peaks and incredible trekking opportunities, a part of Bolivia’s off-the-beaten path backlands which is growing in popularity. The region of the Apolobamba is protected by the Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Nacional Apolobamba--a 5000 square kilometer area, made up of rich eco-regions that are part Andes and part Amazon. The cordillera’s most notable peaks are Chaupia Orco (19,829 ft / 6,044 m), Cololo (19, 406 ft / 5,915 m) and Palomani Grande (18,799 ft / 5,730 m).


Throughout the colonial 15th and 16th centuries the mountain range was mined for gold, but was eventually abandoned by the Spanish during the Great Rebellion of 1781. There are rumors that a rich gold supply still lies underground, yet to be discovered. This means, that whether it’s discovering riches or discovering routes, the Apolobamba is a mountaineers dream. There are vast landscapes, jagged peaks, and the Lagunillas to Agua Blanca hike is enough to bring brave backpackers through this wild area for exploration and excitement. The area is not just for professional climbers however, adventurers of all sorts will love the flora and fauna here, some of which cannot be found anywhere else. This includes spectacled bears, pumas, condors, and huge packs of vicuñas, among many other species.


The two base towns in the cordillera are Charazani and Pelechuco. Both are basic mountain towns, but are getting used to coming in contact with the occasional outdoor adventure gringo on the Trans-Apolobamba Trek. This area, which was once unknown to travelers, is slowly developing, though it is still extremely isolated, making transportation access difficult (vagonetas run infrequently and private jeeps and taxis are costly). Also, because of it’s secluded position in northern Bolivia, the highly traditional Aymará and Quechua communities may see tourism as a somewhat invasive practice. There is even another community, the Kallawayas, one of Bolivia’s most unique and socially secluded indigenous tribes. They are settled on Curva, a locale 12,467 feet (3,800 m) above sea level and are decedents of the Tiwanaku culture known for their secretive healing powers. Most Kallawaya healers work with over 300 herbs, though they also use music and dance as mediums of spiritual medicine.


As aforementioned, the Apolobama is a fairly inaccessible area of Bolivia. The roads are unpaved and uncomfortable, but buses, taxis and jeeps all service it, however irregularly. Tickets for buses can be purchased in the Cemetery District in La Paz. This is the cheapest option ($5 / 35 Bs.), but the slowest as well (7 - 12 hours, depending on where in the Apolobama you plan to go). Taxis heading to Charazani and other Apolobamba towns be picked up in the Cemetery District, and jeeps can be arranged on Sagarnaga Street in La Paz (check out Saranani Adventure Tour Operator).



Neighborhoods in Cordillera Apolobamba: Area Protegida Apolobamba,

Other places nearby Cordillera Apolobamba: Mapiri, Santa Rosa, Chulumani, Caranavi, Around Chulumani, Cordillera Quimsa Cruz, Guanay, Coroico, Sorata and Yanacachi.

By Margaret Rode
A self-professed city girl, sassy staff writer Margaret Rode hails from Chicago where she received Bachelor degrees in English Literature and Spanish...
09 Jun 2009

Top Places in Cordillera Apolobamba

Area Protegida Apolobamba

The Area Protegida Apolobamba, also known as the Apolobamba Integrated Management Natural Area, is a protected area of 4,837 square kilometers in the provinces of Bautista Saavedra, Franz Tamay and ...
City Zone
Area Protegida Apolobamba, Cordillera Apolobamba, Bolivia
View Cordillera Apolobamba Map

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