On thursday 26th may, I left Cochabamba to go to the National Park of Torotoro. I did the trip with 3 other people form the UK, Alice, Chris and Ian all three from Nottingham. I met them all in the hostel in Cochabamba the day before.
It was a 5 hour trip on a mini-bus on countryside roads (quite bumpy) but beautiful ! This part of the country carries it’s name well : The Valleys, we drove through loads of them and the landscape changed so many times. As we were going over a hill, the scenery behind wasn’t the same. It’s a very dry region. The grass is burnt but a few trees manage to be green. The mountains are very particular shapes.
We arrived in the village of Torotoro around 2pm and we went to look for a hostel, we quickly found one (probably the nicest in town) for 50 Bolivianos per person per night without breakfast. The beds were comfortable and there was “agua caliente” ! The name was Asteria, near the main square. Then we went to buy our ticket for the National Park on the main square, 30 Bolivianos for 4 days. We also found a restaurant as we were quite hungry after this long drive.
Torotoro is situated south from Cochabamba at 2’700 meters high in the department of Potosi. The village has about 1’000 inhabitants and is in between two chains of mountains.
DAY 1 – Torotoro Canyon, El Vergel
Alice, Chris and I woke up early on Friday morning, Ian was sick so he stayed in the hostel. We went to eat breakfast at the market then we walked to the main square where we met two girls who were in the same bus from Cochabamba. Sophia half Danish, half Bolivian and Arisa from Japan. We decided to go on a trek in the canyon. We paid 30 Bolivianos per person for a 5 hour hike with a guide. (Everybody meets on the main square in the morning to form groups to lower down the prices of the tours).
For the first time of my life (I think) I saw really dinosaurs foot prints ! I must say, it’s pretty amazing to think that billions of years ago, the animals were at the same place as you and you try and imagine them walking around. The prints are very clear on the ground and recognisable. After a while we were walking in the bed of a river until we got to a natural rock bridge to cross over to the other side where a watch tower was installed to overlook the canyon of 300 meters deep.
e then hiked down 700 steps to get to the bottom of the canyon where we jumped from rock to rock which was fun, I felt like I was a kid again ! We arrived in the place called “El Vergel” where there is a waterfall and tropical vegetation all year round. The other parts of the canyon are very dry and there isn’t much water in the river. We stayed a bit in the place, where we ate a sandwich and I had a little nap in the sun. For the courageous people, you can have a dip in the natural swimming pools but the water is not very warm !
As we paid 10 bolivianos extra per person, we didn’t walk the same way back. We continued to walk back up the canyon then we had a bit of a climb to get back to the top which was more of rock climbing than hiking. We finished our tour back in Torotoro 5:30 hours later. It was the first time of my life I went inside a canyon and I really enjoyed it even though all my muscles of my body are sore. It was worth the effort !
DAY 3 – Ciudad de Itas
On Saturday morning, we all got up to be ready at 7 am to go and eat breakfast then go to the main square to leave for our day trip. We were the same group as the day before plus Ian who was feeling better. We got in a 4×4 jeep and we went up to 3’600 meters high. As we were in the car we were all blown away by the landscape. This place is so special and i’m so glad I came ! When we got to the top after an 1:30 hour in the car, we started walking in this “Ciudad de Itas” between rock formations which look like the Kopje in Zimbabwe. In the old days, people where living there in caves. Again, we had to walk from rock to rock and we also did a bit of climbing. The view from this place was amazing. We could see all the chains of mountains and the colours were very special ! I think that no where on earth actually looks like this place. It could come out straight from your imagination, like in a film with dinosaurs.
When we finished this hike of 2 hours, we got back to the car and drove to the next stop : the caves. Unfortunately I’m clostrophobic and I didn’t want to go and visit them as I hate being in small dark closed places. I accompanied the group to the entrance and went to wait for them in the sunshine for 1:30 hours, which really suited me ! I had a good book and it actually passed quickly ! They got back and then we went back to Torotoro at about 4 pm.
For our last night, we had to change hostel as the one we were staying in was fully booked for a group, so we went to the hostel Sophia and Arisa were staying in. We got a room with four beds for 25 bolivianos per person. The beds were less comfortable but at least we didn’t need to travel back to Cochabamba on the same day and arrive there at night.
I really enjoyed my time in this little village, where the air is pure and there is no pollution. It was one of the places I wanted to visit in Bolivia and it’s really worth the travel ! If you love the nature, you’ll be in paradise here ! Torotoro should be on anyone’s list of places to visit in Bolivia !