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Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Bolivia, South America

Object Title: Licancabur

Elevation: 19553 ft / 5960 m


Page By: CBakwin

Created/Edited: Mar 1, 2005 / Jun 4, 2005

Object ID: 153749

Hits: 19759 

Page Score: 91.66%  - 36 Votes 

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Towering above Laguna Verde In the Southwest Antiplano of Bolivia is Volcan Licancabur. Actually located on the Bolivia/Chile border, the crater lake on the summit of Licancabur is said to be the worlds highest lake. Incas may have used the mountain to preform sacrifices and ruins can still be found on the top. While not the most technically challenging climb in the Andes, the sheer altitude and impressiveness of this volcano make it a very worthwhile climb, especially if you are trying to acclimate to high altitudes. When climbing Licancabur, you will be sleeping at approx. 14,500' and climbing to over 19,000'.

Getting There

Independent travel in SW Bolivia is difficult for forigners. most people get to Licancabur on a tour of the Salar de Uyuni and SouthWest Antiplano, which is very worthwhile in it's own right. There are also primative busses to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile from Oruro and Tupiza. Transportations options change frequently in Bolivia, check at the time of your trip. From Laguna Verde, the mountain towers on the other side from the road (SW) . The trail up begins near some small ruins in the draw to the south (Left) of the mountain as you look at it from the lake. You will have to go to the "Campament Secundario" office to get a permit for area and more information is available there provided you speak adequate Spanish. You can also hire a guide if you would like. Macario Berna (Senior Licancabur) has summited over 341 times and would be glad to take you up, he is very competent.

Red Tape

As mentioned above, you need to buy a permit for the area at the Campament Secundario office in Laguna Verde. We were told that it is required to have a guide, for which we were charged the outrageous (for Bolivia) fee of $30. We got a great guide, Macario, and had a great climb, but I'm not convinced that there really is such a requirement. You need to feel this out for yourself. Certainly the climb does not warrent a guide.

When To Climb

Since Bolivia is technically in the tropics, the seasons are not as pronounced as in higher latitudes, but summer is dec-march, also wet season. We were there in late January and it was very nice, though not warm. The high antiplano is "high and dry" and the sun is intense and the nights can be cold. Put on lots of sunscreen everyday and be prepared for temps down to the 20's F for January, colder in their winter.


I think you could camp about anywhere in the area, however, the refugio is very cheap and I'll always take a bed and a roof if one is available, I would recomment this . On the west end of Laguna Blanca, there are some nice hotsprings, Go there after your climb as opportunities to get clean on the Southwest Antiplano are few and far between. A little ways up the trail to the summit of Licancabur is a rock shelter (no roof) where some NASA scientists did some altitude research, I think you could camp there if you were clean and did not ask but there is no water.

Mountain Conditions

Check locally for conditions, Bolivia does not really have this kind of information avaliable and if you find yourself local to the mountain, ask several people because culture dictates that they give you an answer, even if they don't know, which can be confusing to people not familiar with Bolivian culture.

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-13 of 13    
pbakwinUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

More photos from this trip on my website at:



Posted Mar 24, 2005 4:15 pm
hyperbolictansUntitled Comment


Voted 9/10

Climbing Licancabur can be added as an extension to the standard 3 or 4 days Salar de Uyuni-laguna colorado-laguna Verde tour out of either Uyuni, Bolivia or San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. This tour is highly recommended if you´re in that part of the world.

If starting from Uyuni, ask to be drop off at the refugio at laguna Blanca, stay a night there, and tackle the mountain the next day. You will have to stay another night at the refugio before catching the following morning´s tour 4WD back to Uyuni or the bus into Chile. If coming from Chile, similarly stay in the refugio the first night, climb the mountain the next and continue with tour the following day. During the busy season, tours run everyday, breaking up and catching a later tour should not be a problem.

Staying at the refugio by Laguna Blanca costs 30 Bolivianos a night (slightly less than 4USD). Basic meals can also be catered for there.

At the Laguna Blanca refugio, the resident guide there, Bernardo and his 4WD to and fro Licancabur (approx 30min rough drive to the TH) can be hired at an exorbitant US$30 and US$40 respectively. The cost can be split among the climbing group.

Posted Jun 19, 2005 7:40 pm
MagicalAndesCosts update etc


Hasn't voted

We climbed Licancabur in April 2009 from the Laguna Blanca refuge. There are now 2 refuges. The main one is right opposite the Nat Park office (where you have to register your activities) and costs Bs40 (just under US$6) per person. Comfy beds, cost includes use of large kitchen (bring your own supplies). They are building more rooms adn administrator told us they may provide meals as well in the future. Guides are based here nad work on a rota basis. There is another more rustic looking refuge a few mins down the road on the shore of Laguna Blanca next to a house, which charges Bs30 person. Owners seems much less informed on what to do in the area or how to go about it. Camping in the area is an option though bear in mind there is very little water in the region (water in Laguna Verde probably not drinkable due to high mineral content which includes arsenic). As area gets v cold at night and if often windy well worth making use of the refuges if you can! The hot springs by Laguna Blanca are recommended to clean up, very enjoyable!

Guides at the main refuge now charge US$60/day (per group). The 4WD to Licancabur base was $40. Both are relatively expensive for Bolivia but not much you can do about it. Nat Park office says using a guide is compulsory and seems to be enforced if you're staying at the refuge. You could also climb Juriques volcano (approx 5700m) direct from the refuge (approx 6hrs ascent) or other peaks in the area, vehicle cost would vary depending on distance. Licancabur is by far the most popular climb. An organised group with their own vehicle and supplies could do some great exploring!

We did what the previous comment suggested, taking a tour from Uyuni and leaving it at the refuge. Getting back to Uyuni in another jeep was easy, a lot of tours drop people at the border and then return half empty. Road improvements (due to a huge mine at San Cristobal) mean most tours now return to Uyuni from the border in one long day.

For some photos see http://www.magicalandes.com

Cheers! James

Posted Aug 20, 2009 2:09 pm
PAROFESRight altitude


Voted 10/10

Barkin my friend, the correct altitude to that volcano is 5.917 m. A small contribution! :P

Cheers, great page!

Posted May 31, 2010 11:58 am
BaarbAttaching / map


Hasn't voted

Hi, was wondering if you would like to attach this page to the Cordillera Occidental range (http://www.summitpost.org/cordillera-occidental-chile-bolivia/339039)? Also adding coordinates to the page would be helpful in making the mountain show up map displays and searches. Thanks.
Posted Nov 1, 2011 10:18 am
CBakwinRe: Attaching / map


Hasn't voted

Love to but I'm not so good with computers, so it will probably be impossible. Thanks anyway.
Posted Nov 1, 2011 8:46 pm
kktclimb from Chile side only?

Hasn't voted

If I was starting from San Pedro de Atacama is it necessary to enter Bolivia and get Bolivia visas and permissions to climb?
Posted May 5, 2013 2:34 pm
CBakwinRe: climb from Chile side only?


Hasn't voted

You can climb from the chile side but I don't know the approach.... The summit is on the border. Good Luck
Posted May 7, 2013 12:14 pm
matthias.pabstRe: climb from Chile side only?


Hasn't voted

Apparently there are still some land mines on the Chilean side, so all the tours that leave from San Pedro de Atacama would still take you to Bolivia to climb the mountain. If Visas are required I don't know as I did it from the Bolivian side.
Posted Apr 14, 2014 2:41 pm
MagicalAndesRe: climb from Chile side only?


Hasn't voted

US citizens need a visa to enter Bolivia (can be got at the border) but most other nationalities dont (just a passport), immigration controls should be straightforward
Posted Apr 23, 2014 11:39 am
matthias.pabstAs Part of a Tour


Hasn't voted

In January 2014 it was possible to climb the mountain as part of a tour. With 4 friends it was possible to hire a driver for full 6 days starting in Tupiza and doing the regular Uyuni tour with two extra days for Uturuncu and Licancabur. The total cost per person was at 1800 Bolivianos (approximately 260 USD) including transportation, food (also vegetarian), accomodation and climbing permits/guides.

Also, all agencies we visited in Tupiza mentioned that a guide for Licancabur is mandatory. However, the ascent is basically a high altitude trekking with easy route finding.
Posted Apr 14, 2014 2:48 pm
mdouMarch 2014


Voted 10/10

March 2014, without much planning, I joined a normal tour in Uyuni and asked to be dropped off at the hostel near Licancabur. The hostel has rooms and basic food, no fixed cost. I was also told it was mandatory to hire a guide and for once I didn't mind since anyway I needed someone to drive me to and from the bottom of the trail. They charged me 50 USD for the service. You could go on your own but you would have to walk a few hours on flat terrain before reaching the start of the trail. As a matter of fact, I think you could walk and camp anywhere and no one would notice. My guide and I set out at 2 AM in his jeep and we reached the top of Licancabur way early. We stayed on top for an hour waiting for the sun to come out and it was really cold. We made a fire - not sure that's very guide-like considering there was only 2 pieces of wood on the whole mountain, but it was nice. I was back at the hostel by 8-9 AM and was able to catch a ride back to Uyuni that same morning. There is no public transportation in the area, it's basically an empty desert, so you have to catch a ride with one of the organised tours or hire a vehicle. Have a gps if you plan on driving/walking/riding on your own, there are no signs or roads.
Posted Dec 15, 2014 2:48 pm

Hasn't voted

Posted Sep 7, 2015 3:45 pm

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