Bolivia's most distinctive geographical feature is the Altiplano, a high arid plateau between 12,000 and 15,000 feet, 500 miles long and in places over 150 miles wide. The Altiplano extends in a series of broken highlands from Colombia southward to northern Chile and Argentina, but it is at its highest and widest in Bolivia and Peru. The Altiplano is bounded on the west by the Cordillera Occidental, and on the east by the Cordillera Oriental. The Cordillera Real, the highest and most often climbed of the Bolivian ranges, rises north and east of the Altiplano, in the area surrounding La Paz, the highest capital city in the world (11,910 ft.). Several lesser ranges also rise in Bolivia, in some cases independently of the main three ranges, and in other cases as their sub-ranges. The Cordillera Apolobamba, for example, is a continuation of a Peruvian range, and is one of several subranges comprising the Cordillera Oriental.
The Cordillera Real is a high mountain range, rising to the immediate north and east of La Paz, the highest capital city in the world (11,910 ft.). Five mountains rise to over 20,000 feet. The snowline is high, at about 18,000 feet, above which glaciers cling precariously to the mountain faces.
The Cordillera Occidental rises to the west of the Altiplano, and extends along the frontier of extreme Northeastern Chile, Southwestern Peru, and Bolivia. It is comprised primarily of high isolated volcanic peaks, many of which are perfectly symmetrical cones that are relatively easy to ascend. The highest peak of Bolivia, Sajama (21,424 ft.), is one such volcanic cone.
The Cordillera Oriental is the easternmost Bolivian range, stretching along the eastern edge of the Altiplano. It is comprised of various sub-ranges, and is generally lower than the Cordillera Real. Many of the mountains here have excellent rock summits, and are more suited to rock climbing than are the higher, more heavily glaciated mountains elsewhere in Bolivia and throughout the Andes. The highest of these peaks is Jachacuncollo (19,652 ft./ 5990 m).
The Cordillera Apolobamba is a remote high range that stretches from southern Peru into northern Bolivia. In Peru, it is the southernmost of the Peruvian sub-ranges comprising the Cordillera Oriental. Apolobamba is a vast snowy wilderness. The remoteness of its high peaks, coupled with extreme glaciation throughout the range, lend an expeditionary quality to the approaches here. The highest peak is Chaupi Orco (20,013 ft./6100 m). Like much of the central Andes, the dry season runs from May through September.
Peaks of Bolivian Andes
Check out any of the following peaks for additional information:
- Acotango - 19856 ft./6052 m.
- Ancohuma - 21095 ft./6430 m.
- Cerro Chello Cunka - 17880 ft./5450 m.
- Cerro Chello Cunka Este - 17716 ft./5400 m.
- Cerro Chualluma - 17684 ft./5390 m.
- Cerro Kuchu - 16306 ft./4970 m.
- Cerro Mullu Apachita - 17611 ft./5368 m.
- Cerro Tunari - 17060 ft./5200 m.
- Chacaltaya - 17700 ft./5395 m.
- Chachacomani - 19928 ft./6074 m.
- Chearocko - 20101 ft./6127 m.
- Condoriri - 18530 ft./5648 m.
- Guallatiri - 19888 ft./6063 m.
- Guane Guane - 16719 ft./5096 m.
- Huayna Potosi - 19996 ft./6094 m.
- Illampu - 20873 ft./6362 m.
- Illimani - 21200 ft./6460 m.
- Jallayco - 17139 ft./5224 m.
- Jankho Huyo - 18084 ft./5512 m.
- Maria Lloco - 18117 ft./5522 m.
- Mururata - 19242 ft./5865 m.
- Nevado Jacha Huaracha - 18176 ft./5540 m.
- Nevado Parinacota - 20807 ft./6342 m.
- Pequeno Alpamayo - 17618 ft./5370 m.
- Pico Austria - 17480 ft./5328 m.
- Piramide Blanca - 17159 ft./5230 m.
- Sairecabur - 19613 ft./5978 m.
- Sajama - 21463 ft./6542 m.
- San Pedro - 20161 ft./6145 m.
- Serkhe Khollu - 18195 ft./5546 m.
- Taapaca - 19226 ft./5860 m.
- Tarija - 17241 ft./5255 m.
- Wila Llojeta - 17208 ft./5245 m.
- Wila Manquilisani - 17467 ft./5324 m.