An encounter with nature
An encounter with culture
The Sajama National Park, is primarily pointed at protecting queñuas forests they had been exploited massively for being fuel for old trains. The protected area of Bolivia in the Sajama National Park area preserves the high Andean ecosystems. The Sajama National Park was established on August 2, 1939.
The Sajama National Park is in the municipality Curahuara de Carangas, first section of the Sajama province in department of Oruro.
Curahuara de Carangas is at a distance of 228 km from the city of Oruro and 100 km from the border with the Republic of Chile. Curahuara de Carangas is 3898 meters above the sea.
In the municipality of Curahuara de Carangas, apart from Sajama National Park, another attraction is the colonial church.
Talking about the colonial church, the “Sistine Chapel of the Andes” is the Chapel of the Highlands. It is one of the oldest shrines in South America.
The colonial church was built in 1608 and declared a “National Monument” in 1960.
Santiago de “Curahuara de Carangas” is in the colonial church. Santiago is the patron of “Curahuara de Carangas town”. The church is a jewel of colonial Indian art. It has murals painted with biblical passages. The subjects of the paintings are: Birth and Baptism of Jesus, Resurrection, Judgment, Last Supper, Our Lady of the Snow, San Cristobal, Flood, Noah’s Ark, killing innocents and other scenes.
The colonial church is known as the Sistine Chapel, because it resembles for its painted walls the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican. These pictorial pictures were particularly used to evangelize the Aymaras in the altiplano. The walls are made of adobe (bricks of clay, sand and straw highland) and lime. A layer of white paint on the walls of the church, stands in the sunny town of Carangas Curahuara.
The Sajama village is located inside the Sajama National Park and is part of the municipality of Curahuara Carangas, in this Town we can get basic food and lodging. The residents here have their origin from Karanga ethnic group who belonged to the Aymara Nation. The people of this village are also engaged in handicrafts. Tissues of lama, alpaca and vicuna are found here. This place is a resting point for visiting the surrounding areas.
Near the village of Sajama, Huayñacota Lagoon is located. This lagoon is ideal for observing altiplano wildlife, such as flamingos, birds in the area, including llamas, alpacas, American rheas, other animals.
Manansaya is a place in the Sajama National Park where there are some hot springs. The visitor can take a dip into the waters with medicinal properties and takes a break to relax into the waters. The waters have a smell of sulfur and the bottom of the water is dark. These waters are called hot springs of Manasaya. It is an obligate stop in the Sajama National Park.
West of Sajama National Park we can find the beautiful lagoons of height, these lagoon are right on the border with Chile. In the first lagoon Kashira could be observed Andean birds and also flora, as yaretas (plants that grow 1 millimeter per year) and yellow grasses. Near of Kashira is located Laguna Sorapata. Sorapata is located on more heigh than Kashira. The view of Sorapata lagoon is attractive. From the path that goes to the third Laguna We can see a majestic landscape of Pomerape, Parinacota Volcanoes and Kashira, Sorapata Lagoons. Chiar Khota lagoon is the third lagoon we visit. From Chiar Khota lagoon we see a spectacular scenery of Mountain Sajama and Chiar Khota.
For this trip it is important to stay overnight at the ecolodge Tomarapi, which is at the foot of the snowy mountain Sajama and at a distance of one hour from Curahuara de Carangas. Tomarapi is 4000 meters above sea level.
The Tomarapi ecolodge is administered by the Caripe community of Quechua origin. The people of the community manages the property rotatably. The Tomarapi ecolodge has a capacity of 11 rooms to accommodate until 35 visitors. Each room has electric light, private bathroom, hot water and heating. Tomarapi also has restaurant services. Besides, the Caripe community manages the Mountain hut called Pila, the same that is located on the slopes of Sajama Volcano at 5000 meters above the sea level. This shelter is suitable to stay overnight and is equipped with kitchen, bathroom and water.
The proposed journey begins on the first day, we leave Oruro city and head to Curahuara de Carangas town. In the town of Curahuara de Carangas you visit the beautiful Sistine Chapel of the Andes. The colonial history of the Sajama’s region is remembered in the Sistine Chapel of the Andes. The visit to this colonial church shows impressive paintings on its walls. Then we head to the Sajama village to accommodate us in a lodging. The Sajama village is located at the foot of the imposing Sajama volcano. At noon we lunch in Sajama. After recharge with lunch, we checked to enter to the Sajama National Park. We visit the Laguna “Huayñacota” where we can see the regional fauna and flora. After Lagoon “Huayñakota”, we visit the hot springs of Manasaya. A bath is taken in the hot springs of Manansaya that relax the visitor from stress and cure of some diseases. Manansaya hot springs are known by their medicinal waters. The ride makes us enjoy the peaceful Andean landscape.
The second day, we get up early to visit the stunning geysers and beautiful Lagunas de Altura (three lagoons) on the northwest of Sajama National Park. We go first to the geysers. The geysers are groundwater that are boiling and emerging from the depths. Then, we go to Kashira lagoon. In this lagoon we find Andean fauna and flora, including waterfowl, yaretas and yellow grasses. Then we walk to Sorapata lagoon. This lagoon is very close to the first. Sorapata is a very picturesque and marshy lagoon, so we must be careful where we stand, we spend a time for lunch in Sorapata. Then, we continue our way to the next lagoon, we can appreciate the majestic landscape of the two lagoons and Pomerape and Parinacota volcanoes. At that time, we come to Laguna Chiar Khota, in this place we can take great pictures of the Chiar Khota lagoon and the giant Sajama volcano. Finally, we go down through a valley to reach our vehicle to go to the Eco-lodge Tomarapi during our tour we have a constant view of the Sajama Mountain. We overnight in Tomarapi ecolodge.
After a restful night in the quiet of the Altiplano, you get up early to have breakfast and get ready for the ascent to Sajama as far as human strength permits. From the heights on the dormant volcano Sajama, we see the enchanting landscapes of the Sajama National Park.
The impressive Sajama is a challenge to climb. Usually we get to the top in three grueling days but the rewarding is the beauty of its landscapes.
The third day of jouney corresponds at the first day of ascent, we go to the base of Volcano by 4×4 vehicle to reach a forest Queñuas. For the ascent to the summit of Sajama, we must first cross a forest Queñuas which are small trees. They are a type of vegetation that grows only at high altitudes. After that, we walk around of 3 hours to arrive to the Mountain hut “Pila” Base camp where we rest comfortably. In the Refuge we rest until the next day to get up early to climb to high camp.
The fourth day of jouney corresponds at the second day of ascent we get up early and start our journey. We hike about 7 hours to reach high camp. Along the way we cross rubble of volcanic rocks. We arrive at High Camp where we establish our campsites to rest all afternoon.
The fifth day of jouney corresponds at the third day of ascent we get up at 1 am. We get ready to ascend to the summit of Sajama. We walk about 8 hours to reach the top where all our efforts are rewarded by the wonderful panorama. Really it is quite a feat the fact of arriving to the summit of Sajama and appreciate the beauty of the Bolivian altiplano. After our prowess, we descent for about 3 hours until High camp. In High Camp we pick up our equipment and continue to go down for 3 hours until reaching the Mountain hut “Pila” Base Camp. We overnight in “Pila” after our exhausting day.
The sixth day wake up early to have breakfast and continue our way down. After arriving at the foot of the volcano we go to the hot springs to take a short break. At the hot springs we have a relaxing time before heading to Oruro.
The cost of the trip does not include:
Socks, towel, swimsuit
Alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks