LLICANCABUR – el. 5916 m.a.s.l.
La Laguna Verde makes an ideal base. There, we find rudimentary accommodations: a mat and a warm meal. The ascent of Llicancabur, the most popular of the South Lipez, is in fact not very pleasant because of the scree of volcanic cinder characteristic of most of the ascent (one step forward-two backwards…).
Nonetheless, the view from the crater is without a doubt the most beautiful of Lipez. The highest altitude dive in the world occurred in the lake, often frozen, occupying its crater, in search of Inca relics. Usually, There is no snow until the summit.
Count 8-to10 hours round-trip for average but acclimated hikers.
TTUNUPA – el. 5400 m.a.s.l.
The best way to ascend Tunupa is to establish base camp in the village of Jirira and to sleep in the shelter of Don Carlos and Dona Lupe. Warm welcome.
The best way to reach the often desert neighboring village of Coquesa, is to climb to the cave of the “mummies” (a must!). This track takes us to the mirador offering a great view over the Salar. Then, start climbing the volcanic cinder scree, in the direction of the lower part of the crater. The wind is often very strong there; don’t forget your mountain gear even though the ascent may appear easy...
The final part to the crater is difficult (one step up-2 down). But from up there the view is splendid!!!
Count 6 to 7hours round-trip for good and acclimated hikers.
OLLAGUE – el. 5870 m.a.s.l.
lThis area is far from touristy paths. Note that the village of Ollague is a border post crossed by one of the rare Bolivian railroad still functioning today. The trip on this train from Calama to Uyuni (stop in the railroad station of Ollague) is an adventure in itself, thanks to the unexpected events sure to occur during this trip out of last century (2 departure weekly from Uyuni, check on location).
The particularity of this ascent is that this peak offers a dirt track all the way to 5600 meter above sea level! Still today, the miners (sulfur open pit excavation) live and work permanently at over 5000 meters above sea level. Don’t hesitate offering them coca or beer, they will be delighted.
UTURUNCU – el. 6008 m.a.s.l.
This volcano doesn’t have a well-defined crater. The interest of this ascent lies mostly in the view from the summit: over lagunas Celeste, Amarilla and Lipez. You will notice some volcanic activity (be aware of the sulfurous yellow emanations) on the volcano hillside, easily noticeable during the ascent.
Access/Itinerary: Reach the village of Ketena Chico (small but pleasant guesthouses), to the East of the Laguna Colorada. In the neighboring village of Ketena Grande, you will find gas and basic food. From Ketena Chico, cross the river skirting the village in your 4WD and follow the track leading to the base of the volcano. A track leading to an ancient mine (sulfur) takes you half way up the summit (5000 m). Sometimes, the snow doesn’t allow us to go all the way to the end of the track. The 1000 meters of elevation left to do will take a few hours following a trail circumnavigating the steepest slope on the left.
Bring along some warm clothes and a good sleeping bag (night are cold 5 to -22 degree Fahrenheit in the height of winter)
Night in the home of local hosts: basic but clean in general
April to November: dry season
November to March: rainy (the salar is under water, and it is also incredibly beautiful!).
In Uyuni: See the train cemetary. And eat at La LOCO.
Near Jirira: Visit the mummies near the abandoned village of Coquesa
Near Uyuni: Visit the ancient mines in the village of Pulacayo
South of the Salar: Take the detour to the mining camp of San Christobal (known by the locals). The village has been moved and et reconstructe entirely to a different location (houses, cemetery, church...). Stunning scenery!