Sajama and the Altiplano

Oruro is surrounded by barren Altiplano where the hardy inhabitants manage to eke out a meagre existence by herding llamas and growing potatoes and quinoa, the only crops that will survive in such a harsh environment. Yet this desolate region has many hidden gems for the visitor.

Scenery is magnificent in Parque Nacional Sajama, to the west of Oruro, a must for nature lovers, trekkers and climbers. The park is rich in high Andean flora and fauna, including several endemic species. South of Sajama, the Río Lauca area has lakes and unique coloured chullpas(funerary towers). South of Oruro is Lago Poopó, a bird sanctuary and southwest of Poopo, the very beautiful Salar de Coipasa, smaller than the better known Salar de Uyuni and linked to it by the Ruta Intersalar. Archaelogic sites and villages lost in time are scattered along the way.

The Oruro countryside is inhabited mainly by Aymara people, but it is also home to the Carangas in the Sajama area and the Chipaya around the lake and river basins. The latter is the oldest ethnic group in Bolivia, perhaps in all of the Andes. This unique nation, with its own language, today struggles to survive.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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