Nevado Sajama Climb: Facts & Information. Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost

Andrew AstonFebruary 24, 2019

Standing in the Sajama National Park, which itself is nestled within the famous and towering Western Andes, the Sajama Volcano peak (6,542 m) is the highest summit in Bolivia, and a popular climbing destination in South America.

Located just 200 km Southwest from the capital city of Bolivia, La Paz, and also right on the border with Chile, ascending Nevado Sajama is an excellent option for those wanting to experience a thrilling, challenging, beautiful and unique South American peak. Some of the climbing on Nevado Sajama is quite difficult owing to the high altitude, making it imperative that sufficient acclimatization time is adhered to before tackling each section, with some of the very steep sections also adding to the challenging nature.

The views of the landscape, scenery and terrain on offer are truly magnificent, as you can look out over the vast plains and valleys of the Bolivian countryside below, while also climbing through sensational scenery on the volcano itself, including the highest forests in the world featuring quenua trees. There is also an abundance of wildlife that call the region home, such as llamas, vicunas, alpacas, pink flamingos and mountain cats.

Here are some of the best tips to help you start planning an ascent of Nevado Sajama.

Climbing Nevado Sajama in Bolivia
The majestic Nevado Sajama. Photo courtesy of Eduardo Mamani Quispe.

Starting Point & How To Get There

The starting point for all tours is the capital city of Bolivia, La Paz, 200 km Northeast of Nevado Sajama.

Flying in to La Paz is the easiest option, and from there will be bus or car transport to Sajama Village, and then a 3 hour hike to base camp.

Duration

Climbing Nevado Sajama in Bolivia
It usually takes 4-5 days to complete the trip. Photo courtesy of Eduardo Mamani Quispe.

Most trips are over the course of 4-5 days, with the first two days being spent at base camp and then high camp, and the third day usually reserved for the ascent to the summit.

Slightly longer trip (6-7 days) are mostly combined with climbing the nearby Parinacota Volcano (6,348 m).

Physical Requirements and Technical Difficulties

Climbing Nevado Sajama in Bolivia
The climb is very physically demanding. Photo courtesy of Bernardo Guarachi.

Climbing Nevado Sajama is very physically demanding, as the extremely high altitude and steepness of many sections of the ascent can make the experience very uncomfortable.

Therefore it is recommended that participants have a very high level of fitness and acclimatization, as this will make the trip easier, more enjoyable and less stressful.

Climbing Routes

Climbing Nevado Sajama in Bolivia
All trips take the same route. Photo courtesy of Jaime Quispe Mamani.

All tours take roughly the same route in order to reach the summit.

Every trip begins in the village of Sajama, and from there it is a 3 hour hike to base camp (4,700 m). It is then approximately a 5 hour climb up to the high camp (5,600 m), and then a whole day is devoted to reaching the summit, which is roughly a 12 hour round trip. After that it is a descent back to base camp, and then onwards to Sajama.

Weather Conditions

Climbing Nevado Sajama in Bolivia
Conditions are consistently cold all year. Photo courtesy of Bernardo Guarachi.

Due to being high up in the Andes, it is consistently cold at Nevado Sajama all-year-round, with temperatures often dropping below 0 degrees celsius.

It is recommended to climb between May and October, as this is the dry season in Bolivia, and will ensure optimal climbing conditions, as well  as the best weather for before and after climbing the volcano.

Equipment

The following equipment is recommended to climb Nevado Sajama:

Head:
– Hat for the cold
– Hat for the sun
– Good quality sunglasses

Body:
– Waterproof Jacket (Gore-Tex or similar)
– Waterproof Trousers (Gore-Tex or similar)
– Winter Coat (Polar)
– Base layer thermals
– Walking Trousers (Windproof, soft-shell or similar)
– Warm winter Jumper
– Waterproof Poncho (optional)

Hands and Feet:
– Thermal and/or Waterproof Gloves
– Hiking Boots, warm and waterproof
– Walking Cane
– Walking Socks x 2 pairs
– Thermal socks

Backpack:
– Backpack of 30/40 litres
– Separate backpack to be exported by the horses

Hydration:
– Camelback bottle – 2 litres minimum

Miscellaneous:
– Sun Cream Protection
– Lip Balm

Camping Equipment:
– Bed Liner insulator
– Sleeping Bag
– Plastic plate, glass, and cutlery
– Torch

Estimated Price

Price generally depends on the length of the trip and number of people in the group. Groups of 4-8 people are approximately $500-$650 USD each, whereas smaller groups of 1-4 people are approximately $700-800 USD each.

Climbing Nevado Sajama is a truly brilliant and rewarding experience – start looking at our trips and give it a go now!

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