When in Bolivia, a lot of people head straight to the Uyuni Salt Flats and miss a very beautiful part of the country, the Sajama National Park. That’s a real shame because the Sajama National Park certainly shouldn’t be missed. With its magnificent Andean landscapes, this park is heaven for photographers and adventurers alike. There are many reasons why you should put it on your bucket list.
1- The scenery is spectacular
For starters, the scenery in Sajama National Park is one of a kind. It’s breathtaking. As you drive through the park, you’ll come across reflective lakes, soaring volcanoes, bubbling hot springs and vast open plains. Then there’s the gushing geysers, Queñoa forests and the incredible views of the imposing Mt Sajama (the highest point in Bolivia). The park will not disappoint you and is 100% worth the journey.
2- There is barely anyone there
Driving through Sajama, we felt like we were the only ones in the park! It was so quiet compared to many of the places we’d visited recently. It was nice being able to enjoy the beauty of the park with no-one else in sight. There was no fighting for photo angles and no-one in our photos other than the llamas.
3- It’s Llama and Alpaca bonanza
If like me, you love Llamas and Alpacas then you’re in for a treat. The Sajama National Park is full of them! Wherever you look you’ll see them grazing, snoozing or drinking from the park’s streams. They are quite used to humans and are therefore not very scared of you. So, you’ll be able to get some great photos of them. Just don’t go crazy with the Llama selfies, unless they come to you.
You can also see wild Vicuñas grazing, although unlike the other two, they are wild and very shy. They will run away when they see you.
4- It’s Bolivia’s oldest National Park
Sajama national park was created in 1939 to try and preserve the local Queñoa trees that grow in the region from over-harvesting. Back then, they were being harvested at an alarming rate to supply charcoal for mining sites. Thankfully, thanks to those efforts, you can still see those trees around the park.
5- You can relax in the hot springs
One of the best things to do in the park is to soak in the natural hot springs while enjoying the awesome views of Mt Sajama in the background. Unlike some of the hot springs we visited in Peru which were packed, we pretty much had the entire springs to ourselves. Such a treat!
The cost to soak in the springs is 30 BOB per person. It includes a towel and use of the shower afterwards.
6- You can boil eggs in a geyser!
That’s right, bring some eggs and you can boil them in the geysers! It takes longer than it would if boiling it at sea level (because at that altitude water boils at around 80 degrees Celcius. But once done, it’s lovely. It was the best-boiled egg I’ve ever had!
Just be careful of course. Use the smaller ones and don’t you go falling in one of them!
What do you need to know before your visit to Sajama National Park?
The altitude may affect you
The park is situated at over 4,000 meters above sea level. That’s quite high up, so you might find yourself affected by the altitude, especially if you haven’t spent long in La Paz or elsewhere at altitude. You might feel out of breath, experience headaches and other sorts of unwanted effects.
To minimise altitude sickness, try to spend a few days in La Paz beforehand. The locals also suggest drinking plenty of coca tea. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You can also buy tablets to treat altitude sickness symptoms at pharmacies but be aware that they have some side effects.
There is an entrance fee
The cost to enter the park is 100 BOB per person.
Because of the high altitude, you can expect to be rather cold, especially at night when the sun goes down. Be sure to bring plenty of layers. Local hostals do provide you with lots of blankets but most of them don’t have any heating in their rooms.
Bring a warm sleeping bag too if you have one. We visited in spring and the temperature at night got down close to zero degrees Celsius. But if you visit in winter, you can expect extreme temperatures down as far as -20 degrees Celsius.
Although you can get there on your own by taking buses, it’s much easier with a guided tour. Tours might be expensive, but they make exploring the park a lot less of a hassle. You’ll also be able to access some more remote areas of the park.
If you get to the park independently, you will need to hire a taxi to take you around. The park is big and while you can hike some of it, you need a car to see the best parts of it.
We took a 5-day tour with Banjo Tours. It included pick up in La Paz, touring the Sajama National Park, visiting the Uyuni Salt Flats and a transfer across the border to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.
Where to stay in the Sajama national park?
Most people visiting the Sajama National Park stay in the village of Sajama. There are a few accommodation options there, ranging from camping to basic homestay-style accommodation and more comfortable hostels.
We stayed at Hostal Sajama, in one of their little traditional huts. Our room was basic but had a hot shower. The bed had many blankets to keep us warm and we were given a small heater for the night.
And to finish…
Here are some pictures from our road trip from Sajama to Uyuni via some pretty deserted roads, past stunning lagoons and some colourful wildlife. Enjoy!