Cerro Villa Mar

Elevation Gain: 283m
Distance: 4.44km
Total Time: 1 hour 41 minutes
Date: November 11th, 2023

One of the most popular tours you can do around San Pedro de Atacama is actually in Bolivia. A 3-4 day tour from Chile up to the world famous Uyuni salt flats and back. Despite it being a bit of tourist mill, it’s a site that in my opinion shouldn’t be missed. The tour takes you through the alti-plano; a sort of Bolivian highlands where 5-6000m peaks fill the skyline in abundance. Most of the tour is spent driving though, with just a few short hikes interspersed. So, when we pulled into our first village for the night: Villa Mar I was happy to see a nearby summit that looked easy enough to walk up.

I asked our guide about it, as it didn’t show up on any maps despite having at least 100m prominence. I was told it housed some comms towers and one of the sub-summits was the site of an annual mini-pilgrimage. The mountain itself didn’t have any official name, but locals refer to it as Cerro Villa Mar; after the towns namesake. By the time I had all this info it was already dark out, but our guide suggested we could get up before breakfast and hike up on our own if we wanted. I was eager to get some exercise and Andrea was just as happy to wake up early to get some different views. So with that we went to bed.

Snowing on the way into Bolivia
Loading into our chariot for the tour. Pedro was our guide
Laguna Blanco was a fitting name I suppose
Clouds starting to clear
Cerro Colorado and Suri Phuyu beyond (according to Gaia at least)
Some neat Geysers on the way to Villa Mar
Another view
The expansive views around Laguna Colorado

Our alarms went off at 6am and we did our best to not wake up Rachel and Kate (part of our tour group). We slunk out and left under near full daylight. From the hostel it was a short walk through the village and then up a service road at the base of Cerro Villa Mar. Two village dogs began to accompany us as we climbed the easy road up. This road wound up the mountain all the way to the comms tower on the summit. It didn’t make for a very big challenge albeit we were above 4000m here. We followed it with ease and soon stood a top our first (and only) Bolivian summit for the trip.

Cerro Villa Mar in the morning light
A less obstructed view
The road up to the summit
Looking over Villa Mar
Our two village companions
Cerro Soniquera
Looking south
Almost at the summit
On the summit
Looking north. The snowy one at right might be Cerro Kala Katin
Summit friends and Andrea <3
Breakfast time

It was worth the early start as we had expansive views all across the highlands. The sheer size and number of the peaks was amazing and the massive plains in between was a truly unique view. We took some photos and then made our way down for breakfast… village dogs in tow.

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