Andes Website : Climbing, Skiing, Trekking and Guidebooks in South America

Dates December to March
Duration 14 to 18 days
Grade 1B
"Andes" Leadership Fee (includes leaders expenses)

 About £2200

Easy High Altitude Ascents in Northern Chile.



All are per person.

"Andes" Leadership Fee (includes leaders expenses) -- About £2200

Estimated Airfares -- £1000

Estimated Travel Costs in Chile -- £400

Estimated Accommodation & Meals -- £200

ESTIMATED TOTAL COST per person  --  £3800


What's included in the price you pay ANDES and what's not.


This expedition will be based in northern Chile. This is an area of the Andes we know well, having run many successful trips in the past twenty five years, including five previous trips to the 6000m peaks around the Laguna Verde that feature on this itinerary.

The expedition will fly out to the provincial city of Copiapo via Santiago, the capital city of Chile. After an initial acclimatisation phase of three days camping and walking at about 3500-4500m in the area known as Vallecitos we will move to the very scenic Laguna Verde base camp. We'll do some further acclimatisation climbs here including the ascent of at least one 5000m+ peak. There are small hot springs right by the campsite at Laguna Verde, and some very beautiful views. The title picture at the top of the page was taken at this campsite at sunrise.

Once better acclimatised we'll climb some of the larger peaks in the area with the aim being to summit at least two 6000m+ peaks. Likely summits we may try include Barrancas Blancas 6119m and Peña Blanca 6030m. These peaks are just day trips from our base at the Laguna Verde, using a 4x4 for approaches, so very little backpacking is required on this trip. This main mountain trip will be a 7 night expedition away from civilization.

All of the peaks on this itinerary have no technical climbing on them and are just "walks". But these "walks" can be over very rough and unstable ground, and it is all at extreme altitude. We do not expect to need an ice-axe and crampons for the peaks on the main itinerary. The ascents on this expedition are suitable for strong hillwalkers, although previous expedition experience is preferred due to the demanding weather and camping conditions. Please call or email if you have any questions about the suitability of this trip for you.

Outline Itinerary

Day 1-2  Flights to Santiago and Copiapo
Day 3 Preparation in Copaipo
Day 4-6 Acclimatisation walks from camp at 3000m
Day 7-10 Ascents near the Laguna Verde.
Day 11-12 Fly home via Santiago


General Information about our holidays

Please read our warning on altitude before booking this expedition to high altitudes.

Who runs 'Andes' and where we are based

General information about equipment, accommodation, flights, meals etc.


The plateau of the Puna de Atacama lies on the border between Chile and Argentina and includes a huge area over 4000m above sea level. There are still unclimbed peaks of over 5000m in this remote area. Some of the peaks in the area were climbed at the time of the Inca empire, when the mountains were worshipped as gods by the inhabitants and were ascended in order to make sacrifices. The Puna is one of the most beautiful and haunting places in the Andes, compared by many to the high plateau of Tibet. The scenery is a bit desolate for some, but the huge open spaces, clear air and big blue skies leave a deep impression on everyone who visits this area.


Copiapo is a small provincial capital in the Atacama desert at the foot of the Andes, about 500m above sea level. It is the nearest access city with an airport for the Chilean side of the Puna de Atacama. Copiapo is a major mining centre in northern Chile, so we'll apologise in advance for there not being a great deal of touristic stuff to see around town but at least you'll get a good steak and a hot shower! The hotel we normally use also has nice relaxing grounds and a swimming pool.

Summit day on El Muerto, January 2017 ANDES expedition.

Summit day on El Muerto, January 2017 ANDES expedition.


Despite the fact that at first sight the high plateau of the Puna de Atacama is very barren, the area is really quite good for seeing some of South Americas unusual wildlife, particularly on the 4x4 drives into and out of the mountains. Vicuña and guanaco are wild relatives of the llama and are seen frequently in the foothills. On the lagoons there are flamingos and other species of birds and on this trip we can pretty much guarantee to see a condor circling the peaks.

Flamingoes on the Salar de Atacama near the village of San Pedro, our acclimatisation base.

Flamingoes in the Atacama near our acclimatisation base.


Although there is no difficult climbing involved in the ascents planned on this expedition, climbing to such heights is still a serious matter because of the lack of oxygen at high altitude. We will allow time for expedition members to acclimatise to the altitude but because of the nature of the expedition we recommend clients to have previous successful experience at altitudes of about 4500m-5000m.

For this expedition good mountain fitness and stamina are important, but for high altitude expeditions clients also need good cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) fitness. This can only be maintained, by a program of intensive exercise such as sprinting (not jogging), squash or sprint cycling. This should be done in small doses (e.g. half an hour every other day) over a period of at least two months.

Clients should be prepared for cold nights camping and be prepared for very windy and dusty weather at times out in the mountains. As we'll be a long way from the nearest supermarket we will have to put up with some tinned and freeze-dried food in our diet during our time in the mountains. All clients are expected to help with the routine work of this type of expedition; pitching tents, cooking and washing up


The climate at altitude in the Puna de Atacama is very cold and extremely dry. In the mountains temperatures can fall to -20ºC at night. During the day in the mountains it can feel very warm in the strong sun, but it can also be bitterly cold and windy. It should be dry all the time we are in South America, although there is a chance of a snow flurry, or occasional afternoon thunderstorm in the mountains. As we are near the tropics come prepared for about 10 hours of darkness every night. Temperatures in the valleys around Copiapo and in other low lying areas will be a very pleasant 20-25ºC during the day.

Relaxing by the Laguna Verde on the Chilean side of Ojos del Salado.



Our expeditions are designed to be small and flexible. The expedition will be co-ordinated, organised and lead by us, but we will consult and involve the expedition members when planning the day-to-day details of the trip. Please note however that the leaders decision is final where the safety of the group or any member is in jeopardy; for example where retreat or diversion is necessary due to illness or bad weather. The minimum number of customers we need to run this expedition is three. The maximum size of the expedition will be four customers plus leader.

Dinner at 4300m, Laguna Verde, ANDES expedition, January 2017.

Dinner at 4300m, Laguna Verde. ANDES expedition, January 2017.


All clients must be insured for medical costs and repatriation in an emergency. We recommend having insurance for baggage, personal liability and cancellation as well. If you would like further advice please ask. Chile is a well developed country. Vaccinations for tetanus, typhoid and polio are recommended. The country is very safe and relaxing to travel in; theft and muggings are no more likely than they are in most of Britain or Europe.


Our price is for leadership/guiding and mountain services only. It INCLUDES the leaders fee (wages) and all their expenses, such as flights, travel, hotels, meals, permits. It also INCLUDES his or her share of communal expenses, which may be such things as 4x4 rentals, diesel and fuel, mule and porter costs, shared hotel rooms.

 Our price also INCLUDES all mountain services such as provision of tents, stoves and all other communal camping equipment, all mountain food including all camp food and lunches on day trips. It also INCLUDES any communal mountaineering equipment that may be necessary, and on most expeditions emergency use of satellite telephone link.

Our price does NOT INCLUDE - your flights, your insurance, your hotel/hostel accommodation, your meals taken at cafes and restaurants, your share of communal travel costs (e.g 4x4 rental, mule costs), your personal climbing and camping equipment (i.e. used by you alone, such as sleeping bag, ice-axe, crampons), permits or peak fees payable by yourself.


This is an adventurous mountain trip and all clients will be exposed to an element of risk by taking part in this itinerary. While we take all reasonable precautions to reduce risk it is neither possible nor desirable to completely eliminate these additional risks. Some of these hazards carry the risk of serious injury or death. It is important that you understand the risks involved before signing our booking form. We have identified the following areas as the principal additional risks of this itinerary. This is not a fully inclusive list - please ask if you would like to see a more detailed risk assessment of this itinerary before booking.
Driving, hotels and general safety : In Chile the driving, fire standards and general safety standards are not quite as high as in Europe, although they are now very good
Extreme remoteness : You will be camping in a remote area for an extended period and therefore obtaining medical assistance for any problem will be a slow process. There is no chance of a helicopter rescue.
Minor slips and falls : due to steep, uneven and unstable ground.
Weather : The Puna de Atacama is occasionally affected by severe and sometimes dangerous storms, including thunderstorms. There are frequent high winds. Forecasts are not so reliable.
Altitude : At high altitudes there is an increased risk of medical problems, most obviously altitude illness.
Mountain Hazards : In certain places you may be subjected to a slight risk of rock fall.

Map of Ojos del Salado