Generally speaking there is a lot of work to do prior to a given Bolivia trip as all of the
food and accommodations for clients are generally taken care of by the guide. Following
are a few of the most important things to make sure that the trip goes smoothly.
• Make sure that the clients are all booked into rooms. This is often not done by the
office so it is very important that the guide takes care of this when he arrives.
• We pay for client rooms on the nights that we are supposed to be in the hotel. If a
client needs to go back to the hotel early or decides to stay longer, they will be
required to deal with those fees.
• Generally clients share rooms, but they may wish to pay for rooms of their own.
If this happens, we will pay for half of that room on days when we are supposed
to be in town.
• Call Jose and book him for airport pick-ups of clients. If communication is a
problem over the phone, he will come to the hotel and stand around waiting for
you. Write down the dates and times for him as they come in to you. You may
also use Hildago or Juan for airport pick-ups and drop-offs.
• Visit Nestor at the Hotel Libertor. He will provide transportation to the climbs.
Decide what you need – as in either a bus or jeeps – and let him know. Write
down the dates, locations, and times that you require a pick-up. Leave him with a
written record of the pick-ups and drop-offs.
• Alternately, if it is convenient, our bus driver may be able to book busses and
Jeeps on his own. If Nestor isn’t getting us what we need, use Hildago (283-
4733). The same goes for Hildago if he doesn’t have things together.
• Contact Juan and make sure that he is available to help with shopping for food
and the like.
• If possible when in the city, return flights for clients should be confirmed.
• Generally, guides take money out of the ATMs on a daily basis when in the city.
Even if you do not need the money, take it out and put it into the safe at the Hotel
Max Inn for use later.
• For all portions of the trip, it is good to have photocopies of the client list with
their passport numbers on it.
• Hotel Max Inn provides a very poor breakfast after 7:30 in the morning.
Jose(Taxi Driver) 223-5987
Nestor(Booking Agent) 272-1487 – Home
220-2424 – Work
Hotel Max Inn 249-2247
William Ortiz(Spanish Teacher) 2-313-721
Juan(Bolivian Guide/Cook) 719-97326 – Cell
The boys will do as much or as little work as is needed. They do this every month every
year, so they know what is required. Conversely, they sometimes get complacent. This
is unlikely to happen on the first trip of the year, but it can happen as time goes by.
We generally use Juan and Martin as the two principal people we work with. Then
depending on trip size we will switch off on either Dimitri or Felix. If someone causes
problems during a trip or during a prep – as in getting drunk while they are supposed to
be working – make sure they know you are displeased. Dimitri has been fired in the past
for such transgressions, but there have been issues with each of the boys over the years.
If you have to doc pay for such an issue, that is what you have to do.
There are two primary parts to the prep day. The first part is to buy food and the second
part is to pack. Generally the we will go with the boys to Rodriguez market for a third of
the food buying, then the guides will go to the supermarket for a third of the buying, and
the boys will run around the city picking up things for a third of the buying. Be sure to
get receipts from the boys for anything they buy and make sure these receipts make
Create a menu with Juan in the morning of the prep day and then decide with him what
needs to be purchased. He’ll make a list of freshies that he and the boys will buy
separately. The Guide will provide him with cash for this.
Following with a description for each day is a sample menu. This does not necessarily
need to be followed perfectly.
Bolivia Part One – The Trek
Day One – Arrival and Orientation
Generally clients will show up early in the morning. I like to leave a note about places to
get lunch and perhaps places to visit at the front desk. Usually we will meet at four in the
afternoon for an orientation and a gear check.
Orientation Items to Cover:
o Introduction – Where does everyone live and what is their climbing
o Trip Itinerary – Also what time we will meet for dinner tonight after the
gear check and what time we will meet the following morning for the city
o Ask about Spanish proficiency among the group.
o Make sure people tell guides when they are using prescription or non-
o Talk about theft issues in La Paz.
o Remind people not to take sleeping pills at altitude.
o Talk about food safety when wandering around the city.
o Generally dinner bills will be split evenly among group participants. Be
sure that anyone who doesn’t like this is accommodated.
o Talk about the danger of traffic in La Paz.
o Have clients photocopy their passports.
o Let clients know about the safe at the hotel for valuables.
o Tell clients how much money they will need for different parts of their
o You can get money from the ATM in Bolivianos. Let people know what
they need to do if they don’t get money from the ATM…the ATM cheats
o Talk about Part IIB and identify anyone in that group.
o Identify vegetarians and accommodate them.
o Talk about use of the sat phone and trip reports on the net.
o Get passport numbers for a list that will be distributed at checkpoints.
o Talk about turning in room keys when leaving hotel.
o Identify the laundry place around the corner or use the laundry at the hotel.
o Talk about what people will need for the trek.
o Complete a gear check.
At the Orientation it is important to talk about what will be needed on the trip. It is
important to go through people’s gear. It is important to talk about how to avoid stomach
ailments. And it is important to talk about the possibility of home sickness. Try to
prepare people for this last by pumping them up for the adventure that they will have in
all three parts of this trip.
Day Two – City Tour
For the actual city tour, it is good for the guide to prep himself ahead of time. Some good
places to take people on the tour include the Witches Market, the Prado, the Capitol,
Plaza de San Francisco, and the Museo de Coca. Depending on time, some or all of these
things may be seen.
Be sure clients know where restaurants, movie theatres, tour services, and shops are for
their free days. It might also be good to suggest places for people to see and things for
people to do on free days, such as a Tiwanaku tour or to go on a downhill mountain bike
tour with Gravity Assisted Mountain Bikes.
Personally I find it interesting to visit the Museo de Coca, the Art Museum on the Prado,
the Museum at San Francisco and the Museum under La Terreza.
It is common for people to continue flying in on this particular day, so the guide must be
Lastly, the boys will probably do a lot of their packing on this particular day.
Day Three – Trek begins
There is no reason to leave super-early on this first day. If you leave at nine, then clients
get to eat breakfast somewhere aside from the hotel. Have the bus arrive at 8:30.
Before we leave on any given day, it is common for Juan to run and get fresh bread from
a vender nearby. This is one place where receipts are quite uncommon, so keep good
It is good to start at the small mine site for clients to check things out. Be careful.
The camp is somewhat interesting. The area is nice. There is some bouldering, some old
mining ruins to explore, and some interesting side-trail type hikes to make. Encourage
clients to explore so they acclimate.
Cena: Chicken, Potatoes, Rice, Cake
Day Four – Hike over the Pass and down Beyond Takesi
This is a bit of a longer day with some real elevation gain and some of the best views of
In the past we have paid porters to do trash clean-ups on this trail. If you feel that this is
a need, provide them with trash bags and then decide on a fee that is fair but saves some
money. For example, give each porter two trash bags – one for each day – and then pay
them 25bs per bag.
Deseyuno: Eggs and Potatoes
Cena: Sopa de Quena – Soup with lots of stuff in it.
Day Five – Hike to the Small Camp in the Jungle
This is another rather large day. There is a good place to stop on a hillside where a
woman sells cokes and beer out of her house to trekkers.
It is possible to rent out a room in the building where we stop, but it may not be very
Deseyuno: Oatmeal and Fruit
Day Six – Hike One Mile to a Pick-Up Outside Small Mining Town
Plan for a nine a.m. pick-up from just outside the mining village of Chojlla.
At the end of the trek, the guide will pay the arrieros and ayudantes. It is also important
to let them know when the next trip will start so that they are available.
Almuerzo: Sandwiches on the bus.
*There have been trips which have gone to Isla de Sol instead of to Sirique. To date,
there are no notes on this particular alternative.
This will be the same as the other prep day, but it is important to make sure that
appropriate climbing gear is available.
Bolivia Part Two – Condoriri and Huyna Potosi
The Weather in the Bolivian mountains can be quite stable in June and July, but thunder
and lightning storms are the norm in August and September. Be aware of this when
planning your climbs. If the weather starts to deteriorate, it is best to descend rather than
to become pinned down in a lightning storm.
Juan may guide clients along with American Guides. He has been trained by AAI, but
his skill-set is not super high. He has guided Condoriri and other difficult peaks in the
area by himself in the past.
Day One – Sirique
The Sirique day is a long day, so the pick-up should be no later than eight in the morning,
At lake Titicaca, a boat will be waiting. It is important to make sure this happens via
Nestor. There have been problems in the past.
Sirique has a small museum in it which focuses on Thor Hierdals adventures. If the
Guide’s Spanish is not up to snuff it would be good to read up on this. In addition to the
museum, there are many small locally made gifts available. Often it is good to try to get
clients to buy in places like this as opposed to in the city.
Souvenirs may be sent back to the hotel with the bus or with clients that will not be
continuing on to latter parts of the trip.
There is a lot of begging on this island. It is good to avoid giving away money. Pens and
pencils for the kids are best, but if that is not possible then candy may be okay.
The begging on this part of the trip makes it very uncomfortable. In the future it may be
better to go to another place on this day if such a place can be found.
After the trip to the island we make a bus trip to the start of the short trek into the
Almuerzo: If clients wish to pay for lunch, there is an excellent restaurant next to the
lake. If not, Sandwiches will be fine. If we do eat at the restaurant, we
must pay for the boys and the bus driver’s meal.
Cena: Chicken, Potatoes, Rice and Cake
Day Two – Travel to Basecamp
In the morning we trek into basecamp and set up. The best camp is the high camp
beyond the lake. In the past we have camped in a small area before the lake as well.
We will meet our arrieros in the morning and will load up burros and llamas for the trek
After we are set-up it would be advantageous for people to hike around to acclimate.
There are small mountains on either side of the camp that can be climbed without ropes
or too much exposure.
Make sure the animal people are aware of when we need them to return.
In addition to all of this, sometimes there is an altitude lecture at this point. It is
advantageous to get out the Gammow Bag and to set it up. If a guide doesn’t have
experience with this device, this is an excellent time to experiment.
Deseyuno: Yogurt and Fruit
Day Three – Skills Day
Work on basic skills required to climb the peaks on the glacier.
Deseyuno: Eggs and Potatoes
Cena: Sopa de Quenua
Day Four – Skills Day or Climbing Day
Generally the first peak attempted is Pirmida Blanca.
Day Five – Climbing Day
The second peak attempted is generally Pequena Alpamyo.
Cena: Mexican Night
Day Six – Rest Day
Potentially easy skills can be dealt with on this day. Sometimes guides must work to get
people up peaks they weren’t ready to do earlier.
Day Seven – Climbing Day
Depending on the schedule a third peak might be the easy route on A Le Darecha,
Condoriri, or El Dente de Holomen. Most of these are not in the guidebook. Ask Juan
Cena: Sopa de Quenua
Day Eight – Hike Out and Travel to Zongo Pass
In the morning of day eight we generally hike out and meet the bus at eleven in the
morning. If there will be a change in the later itinerary it is important to make sure that
the bus driver is aware of this change at this point in time.
Pay off all of the debts to the arrieros, ayudantes, and people who may have provided
other things like trout or coca-cola at this time.
After the pick-up we will travel to El Alto for a re-supply. It is possible to eat lunch here,
but it can be a little sketchy. Sometimes it is good to have clients make a lunch for the
bus ahead of time to avoid the El Alto restaurants.
After El Alto we will drive to Zongo basecamp.
Almuerzo: Sandwiches or El Alto
Cena: Chicken, Rice, Potatoes, and Cake
Day Nine – Go to High Camp
Climb up and establish high camp at the last rocks. Often we break-down basecamp and
have Martin or whomever stay at the Refugio. There have been problems with thievery
in the basecamp in the past.
Deseyuno: Eggs and Potatoes
Day Ten – Summit the Mountain
After summiting, many teams elect to go back to LaPaz a day early. This is fine if
everyone is okay with it. AAI does not pay for this extra night in the hotel. As such,
there must be a consensus from the entire team to do this.
If you wish to leave on this day, book the bus for two o’clock in the afternoon. Should
you come down late, the bus will wait. Often the change in the itinerary is done on Day
Eight when we see the bus driver.
Cena: City or Sopa de Quena
In the past when terrible weather has hit the mountain, we climbed the relatively straight
forward mountain of Charquini which is right behind the Zongo basecamp.
Pick-up at eight in the morning.
This is the same as other prep days. However, sometimes you will have two days to get
things done. This is a good time for clients who are interested to take tours.
Make sure flights home are confirmed.
Bolivia Part III – Illimani or Sajama
Day One – Travel to Pinya and Hike In
Book the pick-up for nine in the morning. Plan on jeeps for this trip as opposed to buses.
We often use Juan’s jeep as well.
We will have lunch after the very hot and long jeep drive to Pinya. After lunch we will
hike to basecamp with animals and porters carrying the vast majority of the gear.
Cena: Chicken, Rice, Potatoes, and Cake
Day Two – Climb to High Camp
Porters will help make the trip to high camp on Illimani.
Deseyuno: Eggs and Potatoes
Day Three – Summit and Drop back down to Base Camp
Make a very early start on this peak and expect some technical difficulties. Porters will
arrive around noon to help descend.
It is possible to descend all the way back to Pinya on this day. However, this is a huge
day if you do this. The advantage is that the people of Pinya will slaughter a pig or a
lamb for a feast to finish out the trip.
Almuerzo: Sandwiches or Bars
Cena: Sopa De Quenua or a Pig/Lamb Roast
Day Four – Drive back to LaPaz
Book the pick-up for ten in the morning. If hiking out from basecamp, this may be a bit
early, but he will wait.
In the event of poor weather, Sajama is often a better option. However it is significantly
further away from LaPaz. It is best to get permission from the office before attempting
Sajama instead of Illimani.
Juan 130bs for Cook/Prep days or $58 for days of both cooking and guiding.
*There are 23 paid trip days for a normal three part trip.
The Trek: Condoriri:
Tabucio 76bs Emilio 70bs per day
Rafael 76bs Llamas 18 each per day
Tomas 76bs Burros 36 each per day
Ayudante 50bs Ayudantes 30 each per day
Horses/Burros 40 each per day
Hacinta 70 per work day, including camp guard duty.
Ayudante 30 per day
Arrieros 40 each per trip
High Camp Porters 70 each per trip
Pig or Lamb for Roast 200
Juan’s Jeep $175
Food Allowance for Boys 50bs per city day
Airport Pick-Up 100bs
Airport Drop-Off 50bs
Tip for Jose 100bs
Gear Storage $45 per month for Juan’s storage.
Guides Room at Max Inn $300 per month
BAT Driver Tip 25bs
Boat Driver Tip 10bs
Issues that May Arise on the Trip:
1) The ATM doesn’t give you any Money:
Occasionally this happens. Keep your stub and make a report to your bank when you
return to the United States.
2) A Client Decides to Go Home Early
Unfortunately this is quite a common thing. Many people are burned out on the third
world after part two. Do your best to change their minds, but if not they may be able to
change their tickets at the American Airlines office in LaPaz.
3) A Client Requires a Doctor
There is an English Speaking Doctor nearby Hotel Max Inn. Inquire at the Desk about
Often times the Doctor will make house-calls for an American client. Usually he’ll bring
a nurse and an intern with him on these visits.
An evacuation from a back-country locale in Bolivia is an extremely difficult proposition.
Guides will have to depend heavily on Juan and the boys.
From Condoriri, it may be possible to flag down a vehicle which is dropping off
climbers. A guide may also have to get a ride on a motorcycle to the main road in order
to call for help. People will be very willing to help Americans with money throughout
On Huyana it may be similar. There is a phone a few miles down the road – the phone in
the building that we camp behind doesn’t call out. In addition to this, don’t forget about
the phones the boys are carrying. These may or may not work.
Minibuses and Taxis pass by Zongo Pass on a regular basis and should not be hard to flag
If there is an emergency due to altitude, the best place to evacuate to is the airport. At the
airport they have an oxygen tent. In addition to this, planes come and go all day which
are going to lower altitude locations.
5) The Roads are Blocked
Juan may have an idea of an alternative if Roads are blocked. Peaks like Murata or
Sajama may be more accessible than other places. Sometimes mountains may be
accessed by round-about routes.
6) Potential Rock Climbing Alternative
There is potentially a days worth of Rock Climbing and Rappelling in Zona Sur. This
may be a potential way to wait out road blocks or other problems in the mountains.
7) Additional Help
We have attempted to use Juan’s brother in the past with mixed results. It may be
necessary to ask Nestor for an additional guide or to go to another company for help.
Be aware that untested guides may have had little to no guide training.
8) Juan’s Driving
Be aware that Juan’s night vision is not very good. Be wary of his driving at night too
much or with clients before sunrise on airport pick-ups.
Bolivia Inventory Dylan Taylor – September 22 2004
slings (shoulder length) around 20
non locking biners 24 need more!
locking biners 10+
pickets 14 mostly SMC's, some MSR's are pretty beat up
ice screws 19 no expresses or maybe one, most screws are dull.
pins 8 (mixed)
stoppers 1 set
60m ropes (1/2) 5
60m ropes (singles) 3
30m ropes 2
they are kept in juan’s house - would come in handy for Huayna
wands ? in a whiteout
Tent stakes lots
Wild country 2ps 1
WC 3prs 2
MHW 3prs 4
3 (screen walls allow lots of animal poo to blow in and cover
food at night - might be better to replace with tents that don't
dining tents 2 have mosquito netting for walls)
HC cook tent (north face) 1 (in tatters, this thing will fall apart any day)
fuel bottles 9
stoves (XGK) 8
lamps 4 two broken
gas stoves 2
tables 1 broken - need to replace for 2005 season
Things to send down:
a couple more pulleys
new MSR pickets
some new (express)
new dining tent that is shit proof
another tent or two (had to throw away four tents)
new repair kit (include lots of seam grip, repair tape, zipper sliders, seam ripper, zip ties
blue plastic tarps for trek and Huayna high camp
Send down a couple of those new shitty MSR prophet tents since they won't get used anywhere else
anyway and they would be perfect for Bolivia