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Trek Change!

Hello friends and family at home!

Our course is now nearing its final stretch, and we have some news to share: our final trek plans have changed, due to climate concerns. It has been snowing every day since we arrived in El Alto five days ago, and it is very cold! Because of this, we decided it was no longer the best idea to go with our original plan of basecamping at the glacier Condiriri. It would surely be beautiful with all the snow, but also extremely cold. And since the snowing has not let up yet, the weather could be inclimate as well.

For this reason, we have decided to head to a lower elevation for the majority of our trek — but we will also get a taste of high altitude on the first day! Tomorrow, Monday morning, we will wake up early and head to Chacaltaya, one of Bolivia’s most famous mountains. At 5,421 m (17,785 ft), it used to boast the highest ski resort in the world. However, about a decade ago the resort closed because of the melting of the glacier due to climate change — a very sad fact for many Bolivians. Tomorrow the mountain will certainly have snow because of the weather recently, but it will also be a good time to reflect with the students on melting glaciers in Bolivia and how it affects water systems and access to clean water in cities like La Paz.

After the hike, we will head way way down — to about 1,200 meters, or 4,00o feet, to the community of Suapi. Suapi is located in the Yungas, the tropical region of the La Paz department commonly referred to as the “cloud forest.” Though not as low altitude as the Amazon, it is similarly warm and humid. We will set up a basecamp in Suapi, where we will camp for the next few days.

The following day we will go on a day hike to a geological feature called “Supay Punku”, which is Quechua and roughly translates to “The Door of the Devil.” The site is a popular hiking destination in the yungas for its beautiful waterfalls and unusual door-like rock formation. The hike will be about 7 hours roundtrip.

On the third day we will go on a shorter hike in the morning, for about 3 hours. We will hike around Suapi and learn about the surrounding community and ecological features. We will then return to camp for lunch, pack up, and head to the Yungas city of Coroico to start the final stage of our course. We cannot believe it is almost over!

Photos of our own trek are sure to come, but in the meantime here are some online photos of the places where we will be hiking.

Love from Team Bolivia!

-Instructor Jac