Sajama National Park

Sajama National Park


Location: Oruro Department Map

Area: 1,002 km²


Description of Sajama National Park

Sajama National Park is located in Oruro Department in Bolivia. This national park covers an area of 1,002 km². Sajama National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative list in 2003. This is one of the highest national parks in the country and all of the World. Its highest peak of Nevada Sajama reaches a height of 6,542 meters (21, 463 ft). Needless to say altitude sickness and low temperatures are two common dangers that might haunt tourists who will venture in this land. Precautions should be taken. Additionally Sajama National Park is inhabited by the Aymara native tribes. These people managed to preserve harmony with the surrounding environment and still inhabit their historic land.


The climate of the area is characterized by being semi-arid and cold, the average annual temperatures are around 4.6º C (maximum 6.9º C and minimum 1.0º C). Temperatures at night are below 0 ° C. The annual rainfall is 321.1 mm, with monodomal distribution, January being the wettest month. In addition, the area is characterized by receiving high levels of solar radiation throughout the year due to low cloudiness and high elevation. The temperature at ground level undergoes drastic fluctuations between day and night.

Atmospheric pressure
From December to February and partially March, the advection of moisture and convective winds in the afternoon produce cloud formation, reducing radiation reception. There are clear differences in the amount of solar radiation received in the dry and wet season. In the wet season the average radiation levels are 1200 wm.-2 and in the dry season, 800 wm.-2.

On the other hand, during the transition period between the wet and dry season (October to November) the highest values ​​of solar radiation are recorded. The climax occurs at noon, unlike morning and afternoon because the atmosphere is covered with convective clouds (Hardy et al. 1998). On the other hand, during the wet season (December to February until March) the radiation levels decrease due to the advection of humidity and the convection of clouds during the afternoon, which cover the high plateau and prevent the sun's rays from reaching the surface of the earth. The greatest amount of radiation is recorded at noon, this decrease during the afternoon due to the presence of clouds. Finally, in the dry season (May to June) the cloud cover is reduced and occasionally cold fronts arrive that carry precipitation and snowfall.

The Sajama is influenced by the tropical climate, but due to its southern edge of the tropics, extra-tropical currents also influence during the dry season. A low temperature variation is observed during the year, this generally follows the annual radiation cycle. The average temperature is 4.6 ° C and the minimum temperatures recorded in January are -7.5 ° C and in June -14.1 ° C. The thermal variation can reach +/- 8 ° C during the day (Liberman-Cruz 1986, Braun 1997, Hardy et al. 1998).

The ambient temperature is influenced by the solar radiation received, in January the average temperature is 7.5 ° C and in June, -14.1 ° C. The thermal amplitude during the day is greater than the annual thermal amplitude because the Sajama is at a low latitude and high elevation (Liberman-Cruz 1986, Vuille et al. 2001).

The variation in Relative Humidity is marked during the year, between 0.2% to 99.9% during the year. During the wet season (December-February) the relative humidity is 90% and the specific humidity is 3.6 g Kg.-1. High humidity values ​​are associated with east winds that transport moisture from the Amazon (Hardy et al. 1998, Vuille et al. 2001).

During the dry season (May-July) the humidity can drop up to 20% for several days. The specific humidity values ​​reach up to 0.99 g Kg.-1. Extremely dry periods are interrupted by short periods of high humidity, produced by humid episodes related to polar air masses that reach the Altiplano (Hardy et al. 1998).

Wind speed and direction
Wind speed changes significantly in mid-May, winds accelerate unexpectedly and remain for most of the time. The average wind speed from May to October is 20 m / s and in December to February, 2.6 m / s, decreasing in the afternoon hours.

During the dry season the wind blow north to the northeast. Winds can reach high speeds and are generally associated with dry conditions. While during the wet season, the wind runs south to east. Winds from the east provide moisture that influences precipitation. In the month of April there is an inversion of the wind direction, from north to northeast, which remains until August (Liberman 1986, Hardy et al. 1998).


The rivers that drain the area belong mainly to the Lauca river basin, which belongs to the Coipasa salt flats basin. A small sector to the north belongs to the Blanco river basin, tributary of the Desaguadero river. Both basins are part of the Endorheic Basin of the Altiplano. The most important rivers are Sajama and Tomarapi. But for characterization purposes the area was divided into four Sajama, Tomarapi, Esquillani and Blanco basins. Although there is no detailed study of the glaciers of the snowy Sajama and the Nevados de Payachatas, these provide important tributaries to the Sajama, Tomarapi and Esquillani basins. The volume of water stored in the glaciers is unknown although an estimate of 113 m depth of the glacier for the summit of Sajama has been made. Another important component of the hydrography of the area is the lagoons of the puna and the high mountain areas. Highlighting the Huaña Kota lagoon north of the town of Sajama for being an important source of water for community members and wildlife and as a refuge for birds.