Nature wise Bolivia has been blessed with many beautiful and diverse landscapes. Shall we start with the obvious? Yes… let’s explore the Andes Mountain Range in Bolivia… I should say mountain ranges for there are various ones!
The Andes Mountains
The Andes mountains are the longest mountain range in the world. It’s located along the entire western coast of South America, and is 4,500 miles (7,242 kilometers) long. The mountain range spans seven countries — Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
Bolivia has a nice chunk of the Andes defining its three geographic zones: the mountains and Altiplano in the west, the semitropical Yungas and temperate valleys of the eastern mountain slopes, and the tropical lowlands or plains (llanos) of the eastern lowlands, or Oriente.
The Andes run in two great parallel ranges or cordilleras through Bolivia. The western range (Cordillera Occidental) runs along the Peruvian and Chilean borders. The eastern range (Cordillera Oriental) is a broad and towering system of mountains stretching from Peru to Argentina. The Altiplano stretches between the two ranges. It is 805 kilometers (503 miles) long and 129 kilometers (87 miles) wide. At about 12,000 feet above sea level, it is nearly 300 miles wide. And as if that’s not enough, there is also a “Coordillera Central” and sub ranges too!
The following map shows the Bolivia and that thick brown area is the Andes:
The Western Andes Mountain Range
This is known to Bolivians as “La Coordillera Occidental.” It is of volcanic origin and has many volcanos dormant volcanoes and solfataras, volcanic vents emitting sulfurous gases. It also has many high peaks including “Nevado Sajama,” Bolivia’s highest point at 21,463 ft (6,542m) with permanent snow cover:
Nevado Sajama volcano:
This is an amazing video by a couple that climbed to the top of Nevado Sajama. They climb on penitentes (spiky ice) in the dark at 3:00AM!
This is a view of the Sajama National park in the antiplane.
Let’s have a little mountain break here, in the antiplane or “El Antiplano” just like Bolivians do!
The Altiplano, the high plateau between the Western Andes Range, and the Eastern, comprises four major basins formed by mountainous spurs that jut eastward from the Cordillera Occidental about halfway to the Cordillera Oriental. Along the Altiplano’s eastern side is a continuous flat area, which has served as Bolivia’s principal north-south transport corridor since colonial times.
There is a very special church located in the the Antiplano. It’s called “Santiago De Curahuara De Carangas Church” and is considered to be the Sixtine Chapel of the Bolivian Antiplano frescos, some dating from its the 1600’s. In the next photo you can see Nevado Sajama in the background.
The most impressive site in the Antiplano is lake Titicaca. But we won’t be visiting there today, I will dedicate a post to this incredible place! Coming soon!
The Eastern Andes Mountain Range
This is known to Bolivians as the “Coordillera Oriental. ” This is a much older mountain range and it starts on the north side of Lake Titicaca, extending southeastward and then south to the Argentine border. The northernmost part of the Cordillera Oriental, the Cordillera Real, is an impressive snow-capped series of granite mountains. Some of these peaks exceed 6,000 m (19,685 ft) and two – Illimani 6,424 m (21,076 ft), which overlooks the city of La Paz, and Illampu 6,424 m (21,076 ft) – have large glaciers on their upper slopes.
I found this impressive site that gives you a 3D graphic perspective of this area.
You can actually move and see nothing but peaks all around you. So impressive! I’m overwhelmed and I’m not even there… I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be surrounded by peaks like that. Must be so humbling…!
You can visit the site HERE.
This is what Nevado Illimani looks like in photos:
And this is La Paz, the capital of Bolivia with this mountain in the background!
How beautiful it looks! Imagine seeing that from the capital city in your country! What?!!!
The Central Range
In reality it’s a part of the East Range. Here the land is a large block of the Earth’s crust that has been lifted and tilted eastward. The backbone of the cordillera is a high, rolling plain, with elevations from 4,200 m (13,780 ft) to 4,400 m (14,436 ft), interspersed with irregularly spaced high peaks.
Here you can find a peak called “Nevado Condoriri” or Kunturiri, a mountain with the shape of a Condor’s head. It is breath taking:
Here is a video as well:
While researching for a video I found one in Spanish that showed how these peaks are melting and they are an important source of water to people in La Paz and nearby towns. How can we enjoy and preserve all these amazing places?
Well, that’s all I have for today… I’ve peaked and I’m mountain/volcano topped for sure!!! ^ ^
If you want to keep exploring Bolivia’s Geography visit THIS site.