SAJAMA AND LAUCA
The Western mountain range, natural border between Chile and Bolivia, is the dividing line between the dry and desolate landscapes of the Pacific and the comparatively populated ranges of the Altiplano. From the heights of its volcanoes, the Incas could oversee a vast territory while performing sacred rituals in the accessible and perfectly conical craters such as the one of Parinacota. For the Andean mountain climber, it is pure pleasure to Immerse oneself in the sumptuous surroundings loaded with secular traditions and the reward at the end of the effort, a breathtaking panorama: the Bolivian altiplano on one side, and to the other, the unending descent to the Chilean beaches of the Pacific.
The national parks of Sajama and of Lauca, heart of this mountain range, are amongst the little recognized wonders of the area. In addition to the majestic volcanoes, they also shelter many animal species. Kingdom of the alpacas and viscachas, flocks of vicunas, ñandus and even some condors can be spotted there. Anecdotally, on the flanks of the volcano Sajama one can find a type of shrub, the kenua, surviving at more than 4100m (12,500 feet) altitude!
Few mountaineers come here. Maybe an attempt of Sajama a week, during the hight season. A little more for the nearby easier summits.