Illimani is a beautiful mountain which dominates the panorama of La Paz. As Laura was saying that you can not see the mountain when you are on top of it, we decided to trek around it instead of going to the summit.
We started planning this hike by running around various La Paz mountaineering agencies to get the latest info of the trek, as our hiking guide book was four years old. We were very happy to meet Adolfo. He was organizing an all-inclusive expedition for two Dutch guys to the top of Illimani, and offered to give us a ride for a decent price. Unfortunately, only after we had already bought the lousy IGM map, we discovered that Adolfo also sells Alpenverein´s maps of the area.
|The best map we used so far!|
On Friday morning we loaded all our stuff into a not-so-big 4x4 combi and our funny driver drove us to Pinaya. It was a long drive on a dusty road, which did not make breathing easier. Pinaya is a small village from where the majority of expeditions start. We had a late lunch there and then hiked to Puente Roto - Illimani's basecamp. Here we spent the night with the others, helping the Dutch guys communicate with their guide, as he did not speak any English and they did not know Spanish.
|Central square at Pinaya|
|Puente Roto early in the morning|
Laura was already not feeling well during the evening. Her lungs were filled with dust from the road. This together with an altitude around 4500m was making everything difficult for her. Fortunately, the plan for the next day was a slow descent on a "road" around the mountain. We progressed unhurriedly, enjoying the gorgeous views.
|Laura with Illimani in the background|
We eventually reached Rio Umabamba, which had nice places for camping around it. Laura asked a local guy if it is ok to set up a tent near his farm and if we should pay him something. He was so nice and let us camp for free, so he got one of the Laura's great hugs in return.
The next day we decided not to go around as described in "The Andes Trekking + Climbing" book, but rather shortcutted over a small ridge directly to Estancia Totoral Pampa. The views we had from the saddle were just amazing.
|Beautiful view at the saddle (4612m) and Laura|
|Flowers at 4612m|
From the pass we descended to Totoral Pampa. We wanted to replenish our supplies, but we were told that the shop is in Tres Rios, rather than in Totoral Pampa. Before Tres Rios, however, our planned path turned right to an old mining road. The weather was getting foggy and there was one suspicious guy on the road. He seemed to be waiting for us and making some phone calls. When we talked with him a bit, he appeared to be most interested in the weight of our backpacks. This, together with the fact that the weather was getting worse, made us decide to descend to Tres Rios and get a ride from there back to La Paz.
|Tres Rios in not-so-good weather|
We got back to La Paz easily. All in all, even though Laura was not feeling well at the beginning of the trip and we returned earlier, this was a great trip to the mountains: the views on the last day just compensated for everything.