Cerro Kari Kari

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View from the peak, complete with lakes, Cerro Rico and the city in the background

Cerro Kari Kari is 4965 meters high and overlooks the fascinating city of Potosi, once the largest and richest city in the Americas because of its silver. Of course this richness only helped the Spanish while millions of indigenous people died in the mines. It is said that all the silver extracted from the mines could have built a bridge to Spain, but that another bridge could have been built from the bones of the slaves who died in the process of extracting it. If you would like to see how colonialism fucked up Latin-America Potosi is the place to go. To this day many people, including children, are working in the mines under horrible conditions earning hardly enough money to survive.

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Potosi with its many churches and colonial buildings

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Entrance to the mines of Cerro Rico

Despite Potosis dark history however, the city is surrounded by beautiful nature and untouched mountains. So after visiting the Casa de la Moneda Museum and learning about the cities history, Melina and I decided to climb our first real mountain. We had met in Samaipata where we instantly bonded over having the same (unreliable) trekking book and shared plans to discover the Bolivian mountains without a guide. So after meeting up again in Sucre and starting with an easy trek to the seven waterfalls nearby, we decided to take on Cerro Kari Kari.

On our way to the peak we passed countless lama flocks and went a little crazy chasing them for the ideal picture.

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Lama looking surprised at two german travellers 

We walked along several artificial lakes build by 20 000 slaves to provide water for the city and passed green valleys and small streams. Incredible views of the exploited Cerro Rico with its hundreds of mines accompanied us along the way.

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Laguna San Sebastian with Cerro Rico in the background

When the path ended we searched our own way up the steep mountain, stuffing our cheeks full of coca leaves to help with altitude and exhaustion. When we were almost at the top and taking a little break enjoying the incredible view, a single hiker appeared out of nowhere and passed us at an incredible speed. As we finally reached the top he had already continued to other, higher mountains although it was already afternoon and he only carried a tiny backpack. We never saw him again but really hope he made it back home safely!

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Yeah – I made it to 4965 meters

As to us, we slowly made our way to the city again, going down to yet another green valley and passing even more lamas, streams and lakes in the warm afternoon sun.

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Melina was crazy about the little river

Finally we watched the sun set behind the Cerro Rico before we walked the last 200 meters to take a bus back into the city full of history and run-down colonial buildings. Crazy how such beautiful nature can be found side by side to the evidence of horrible crimes and the exploitation of a whole continent.

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Sunset at the end of our hike

 

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