One of the highest mountain ranges in the world, the Cordillera Real is a royal treat for climbers. In fact, its very name translates to â€śThe Royal Mountainsâ€ť, an honor given to them by the Spanish who were stunned at the range's staggering beauty.
Rising up between the Amazon to the east and plateaued altiplano to the west, the Cordillera Real is a granite mountain range northeast of La Paz whose majestic peaks are dotted along over 200 kilometers (miles) of land running north-south. The Amazon lowlands bring ample moist air to the area, which creates the beautiful glaciated peaks that glisten and beckon. The dramatic landscape zig-zags between snowy peaks, alpine valleys and sparkling, pristine lakes. Indeed, this is prime trekking terrority.
Because of its proximity to La Paz, Cordillera Real is the most visited of Bolivia's mountain ranges. That being said, it's still relatively untouched by Latin American travelers, who tend to gravitate more toward the Andean allures in Chile or Argentina. Despite still being in its early stages of tourist development, the Cordillera Real in Bolivia is widely accessible and a real jewel in any climber's crown. Whether trekking across or climbing up, the â€śRoyal Mountainsâ€ť offer breathtaking scenery and altiplano adventure for hikers and climbers of any level.
The top prize for Cordillera climbers is Mt. Illimani, whose peak is perched at 6,438 meters (21,122 feet). There are five other summits that are higher than 6,000 meters, and more than 600 peaks that rise up to over 5,000 meters. There are countless climbs to choose from, though the eastern side is relatively untouched, due to less accessibility and fickle weather.
Due to the high altitude and staggering landscape, the area is scarcely populated. However, Aymara and Quechua villages are sporadically situated along the foothills of the Cordillera Real.