Nevado Sajama and Parinacota volcanoes, Bolivia
Holidays to Sajama National Park, Bolivia
More than 1,000 kilometres of well-preserved ancient Hispanic life can be found in the Oruro Department of western Bolivia - the Sajama National Park. The oldest national park in the country borders the La Paz province and the Lauca National Park in Chile and brings together some of South America’s best examples of terrain, wildlife and indigenous culture.
The area is home to snow-capped mountains, bubbling thermal pools and rough terrains that are brimming with the continent’s most fascinating species. Embark on a trek to the summit of the Nevado Sajama Volcano – the highest peak in Bolivia, towering at 6,549 metres. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, hike to the geysers of Walla Keris, walk the highland lakes or meander through the forested foothills of the Andes.
Further up the mountain range you will see shrub-like Queñoa trees that grow up to three metres high. Standing strong against the harsh mountain climates and flourishing in the dry air, intense sunshine and strong winds, these endemic trees bare the world’s largest crops of quinoa, dubbed the “wonder grain” and it’s the key ingredient to many local comfort foods, such as Bolivian stews and pesque – a cheesy risotto-like dish.
Existing on the terrains are legions of wild birds and animals that occupy the lowlands and high planes. Alpacas, llamas and vicuñas graze calmly on the hillsides while pumas and Andean cats prowl the plateaus. Wild condors and Andean emus peruse the arid plains, and exotic pink flamingos, wallata geese and small black coots live peacefully in the park’s diverse wetlands.
For all its natural gems and fascinating biodiversity, the Sajama park is also home to many examples of civilisation. There are decorative burial monuments, clay adobes and even a 17th century colonial church in the dusty town of Tomarapi.
A widespread community of 300 Aymaran families reside inside the park perimeters today. Don’t be surprised to stumble across enterprising locals who are looking to take advantage of Sajama’s growing ecotourism, peddling their wares outside their homes and along the tourist paths. Why not support the local economy by picking up some hand-woven textiles, painted handicrafts or ingredients sourced from the land?
With its rugged terrains, breathtaking mountains and beautifully preserved Aymara culture, Sajama National Park is a hard to beat idyllic snapshot of Bolivia’s undulating natural biome.
Discover one of dozens of natural hot springs
Hike to the peak of Nevado Sajama Volcano
Watch the geysers explode at Walla Keris
Taste Bolivia's Andean delicacies like quinoa pesque
Shop for souvenirs in a indiginous Aymara community