Sorata is best known as a convenient base for hikers and climbers pursuing some of Bolivia’s finest high-mountain landscapes. Peak hiking season is from May to September.
Ambitious adventurers can do the seven-day El Camino del Oro trek, an ancient trading route between the altiplano and the Río Tipuani goldfields. Otherwise there’s the challenging seven-day Illampu circuit, though there have been reports of robberies on this route in recent years and it's recommended to go with a guide who can make monetary offerings to ensure a safe journey.
The ultimate hardcore challenge is the 20-day Trans Cordillera route: eight days gets you from Sorata to Lago Sistaña, with possible four-day (to Huayna Potosí) and eight-day (to Illimani) extensions. Hikers should carry the Alpenvereinskarte Cordillera Real Nord (Illampu) 1:50,000 map, available online.
While it’s possible to hike independently, it is best to hook up with a guide, mainly because of the need to be aware of local sensibilities and the difficulty of finding passable routes. The most economical, authorized option is to hire an independent Spanish-speaking guide from the Asociación de Guías de Sorata.
Staying Safe on Hikes Outside Sorata
It can still be somewhat dicey to go it alone in the area, but with a guide and some local wisdom, you can do just fine.
- In this region and the Cordillera Apolobamba, it is recommended that you travel in groups and with a guide.
- To stay safe, check with the guide service, your local hotel and fellow travelers before heading out.
- To connect with and support the community, hire a guide from the local association of guides and porters.
With its thrillingly steep descents and spectacular mountain scenery, the Sorata area makes a top two-wheel destination. The Jach’a Avalancha (Grand Avalanche) Mountain Bike race takes place in Sorata each year, typically in October. This is the biggest downhill race course in South America based on the Mega Avalanche format. It is a 2000m descent using a mass start, and draws riders from across the world.
One of the best trips around is the descent into town from the mountains astride Lake Titicaca. From La Paz, take a Sorata-bound bus to the pass north of Achacachi and then choose either the main road or any of the downhill routes along unpaved roads. Most routes eventually lead to Sorata – or come at least within view of it (but it’s wise to have a map). Throughout the ride you’re presented with superb views of towering snowcapped peaks, plunging valleys and tiny rural villages. La Paz–based Gravity and local company Sorata Xtreme offer guided rides here.