Trekking in the Bolivia offers a wide variety of wilderness adventures for visitors seeking the rugged and unexplored. Whether you’re looking for a trek like the first Europeans took when venturing into the unknown jungles of the Amazon, or traveling in the footsteps of the Inca over vast stretches of the Andes, trekking in Bolivia delivers when it comes to outdoor adventure.
Most adventure travelers will first land in the capital city, La Paz. La Paz is a wonderful place to begin your off-the-grid trek and embark on a once in a lifetime passage through the most popular treks in the Bolivian Andes.
Trekking the Choro Trail from the Andes to the Amazon
The Choro Trail is a pre-Inca trail that showcases some of the most iconic and diverse landscapes that Bolivia has to offer.
Winding your way through the steep valleys and farming villages to the north of La Paz will bring you to the Cumbre Pass, the beginning of the Choro Trail.
Begin your ascent towards the top of the pass on an easily distinguishable path. As you rise, the weather typically becomes cloudy, cold and usually snowy. From the top of the pass, you’ll have great views of La Paz behind you and the vast Bolivian lowlands in front. The trail is all downhill from here.
Descending from the pass, you begin to enter the warmer, subtropical region of Las Yungas. Here, though still mostly cloudy with periodic rainfall in the summer months, trekkers will continue on the path marked with signs and information.
The views of the surrounding landscape are hard to put into words. With every corner you turn, there seems to be an entirely new landscape, each more stunning than the last.
Continuing into more lush, verdant terrain, the ecosystem comes to life with a vast number of birds making themselves known as you enter their domain. The trail ends at Chairo, about three days after the start of the trek.
There are camping posts operated by local villagers where an overnight stay can be had for as little as a dollar a night.
Venturing down this beautiful trail alone is possible as it does not deviate from the solitary path. Getting lost is not an issue, but the trail does have a slight reputation for being unfriendly and stories of the occasional robbery.
If you are not comfortable with the potential safety risks involved with traveling alone, a guided tour may be more suitable.
Follow in the Footsteps of the Inca on the Ancient Takesi Trail
Like the Choro Trail, the Takesi Trail was once a trade route established by the region’s ancient inhabitants. A path of flat stones offer an obvious and relatively easily traversed path through the mountains.
Beginning at the Cumbre Pass, hikers take a slightly different route from the Choro Trail, climbing upwards of 4,660 m. (15,280 ft.) to the summit, where again the usual snow and clouds engulf hikers before descending into Las Yungas.
A mountain lake rests undisturbed alongside the path at the top of the pass, a surprising sight in the high altitude.
The valley begins to transform into mossy, abandoned mining villages surrounded in dense ferns alongside the Takesi River. Descending further in to the Yungas valley gives way to spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, while a look behind shows the true scape of terrain in which you passed.
The trail ends after crossing the Yungas river, and eventually running into the mining town of Chojlla, where you can find a ride out of the valley and back to La Paz.
The Takesi Trail is only about 30 km. (19 m.) in distance and much less difficult than the Choro Trail. It is a great place to start for the novice looking to do some trekking in Bolivia.
The trail can be completed in one day by the more experienced and energetic hiker, but there are camps established periodically throughout the hike offering hikers the chance for an overnight stay for around a dollar.
Doing this trek without a guide is feasible as it is marked by signs and continues on a single, well-beaten path. But, as any time you’re trekking in Bolivia, it is best to have a local guide who can help you avoid uncomfortable situations in remote villages.
Again, joining a guided tour is recommended for the novice, as even here, the trail can be disorienting in some sections, especially with the usual cloud cover.
Trekking the Condoriri Trail: Get Ready for Altitude
The Tuni Condoriri (named for its similar shape to an Andean Condor) is a hike that takes most people three days and two nights, crossing two passes that reach as high as 5,000 m. (16,300 ft.). This stunning trek is not for the faint of heart… or short of breath.
Condoriri National Park protects large swaths of the high plateau and offers visitors the opportunity to challenge both body and mind in high altitudes.
Arguably the most popular hike in Bolivia, the Condoriri Trail’s best assets are its stunning views and the sheer stillness of the altiplano region.
Passing through the Zongo Valley and climbing further up, trekkers arrive at the Chiarkota Lagoon; a picturesque, crystalline body of water, freshly melted from the summits above.
Continue trekking on and head into the high peaks of the mountain range, battling cold temperatures and thinning air. Continuing on through the Andean Range, arrive at Los Pasos de Jistaña Apacheta, the highest natural mountain pass of the trek. With stunning views of the high plateau and the surrounding peaks lasting far in to the horizon, this high point was once used in ancient times – pre-dating the Inca – as an altar and place of offering to the gods.
Feel free to make your own offerings and give thanks to the Andean gods before continuing onward! Aside from the beauty of the immense, surrounding peaks of the Condillera Range, there are also a multitude of colorful mountain lakes that litter the path, allowing for some truly amazing scenes of natural wonder in this high altitude environment.
The solidarity of the region is perhaps the most appealing and memorable of aspects for visitors as the area is largely unpopulated due to the harsh, mountainous environment. From this elevation it is also possible – weather permitting – to see the glistening, sun-bathed waters of Lake Titicaca far off in the distance.
Attempting this hike alone, or in a group without a guide, is ill-advised.
Joining a guided tour or hiring a private guide is recommended as the trail can be disorienting, icy and will involve some overnight stays. Spending the little extra money to enjoy the beauty that this region has to offer is well worth the investment.