Jurassic Park? Torotowow!

One of the places I’d considered visiting in Bolivia was Torotoro, a national park which I knew would be difficult to get to, but I didn’t realise quite how difficult! Nobody knew what time the 8 1/2hr bus left La Paz for Cochabamba, so we just had to go to the bus station in the morning and hope – which turned out to be fine. We arrived in Cochabamba just before dusk, tourist information desk closed, went to the nearest ok hostel we could find and took the last available room. Two minutes before they shut, we went to the BoA office to book our 30-minute flights to Sucre for four days later: ten times the cost of the overnight bus on “serpent-like” roads in bad condition – worth it!

A few people we asked gave roughly similar answers about where we should catch a bus for Torotoro the next morning and at what time, and a detailed post on trip advisor agreed with them. Luckily we had a kind helpful taxi driver, because there was no bus there! He helped us find a nearby collectivo office instead, so we paid and waited for an hour and a quarter for the car to fill up so we could go. Turns out the bus had left at ten to six, just before we’d got there, because it was already full.

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The 4 1/4hr journey was astoundingly impressive! This amazing valley is barely even marked on the map! So glad not to have taken a night bus as we would’ve missed this, and grateful to Ariane for her company or I’d have skipped this entirely. The road is cobbled for a lot of the way, which must have taken an age! Most of these pictures are from the way back, where we took the Trans del Norte bus instead. The striking green blue purple and red earth colours are from different mineral layers in the rock. 🙂

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We’d found information about one place to stay which sounded well-equipped and helpful, so after both spilling fruit juice down ourselves (?!) we walked there with all our heavy bags, not clear whether the price quoted was for one night or two, as it wasn’t written anywhere. Only afterwards did we realise it was 3 times the price of other, ok, places in the small town, though I guess we did have a dinosaur guarding our door… Ah, difficult Bolivia – thank goodness I wasn’t alone!

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After meeting a German couple who knew Ariane from Cusco, we went for a guided walk to see the big attraction – dinosaur footprints from millions of years ago! And a fossilised claw! Sheltered from the storm for a while too…and then heard that it had caused a power cut to the entire valley!

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We also saw a small part of the Torotoro canyon, and then some rock paintings thought to date from ~200BC, depicting the mountains and the sun & stars. 🙂 Returning to a pitch dark town, we ate by candlelight in the central market as they had gas cookers rather than electric. No hot showers for us in our ‘expensive’ hostel!

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Next morning we saw bigger and better dino-prints – huge herbivore tracks with small carnivore tracks right next to them – the chase!

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Past a ‘natural theatre’, we reached the deepest part of the Torotoro Canyon, 300m deep and awesome! With endangered red-fronted parrots whirling and squawking.

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Climbing down into the canyon, we saw huge fossilised dinosaur vertebrae and reached beautiful groundwater falls.

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Electricity back on, after some food at Como en Casa restaurant (where the owner actually smiled! Such a rarity in this country!), booking our bus ticket back for 6am the next day, and finally persuading the hostel to give us something to take away for breakfast, we prepared to leave this interesting little town and go back to Cochabamba for one night.

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Posted in Bolivia, Cochabamba, Torotoro

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