Bolivia / Travel

Coroico: Getting Lost in the Yungas

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We left La Paz for a couple of days to visit the small town of Coroico, three hours away in the Yungas region of Bolivia. Many people know Coroico as the town you arrive at after cycling along the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Road’, but unfortunately most tours require you to turn back around again and head almost immediately back to La Paz. Charlie, the South African owner of the hostel we stayed in said that was a huge problem for the town. Situated in gloriously beautiful countryside, with green coca farms all around and impressive mountains in the distance, many arrive in Coroico and want to stay, imagesurprised by how lovely it is. Charlie said that lots of people then return to La Paz on their obligatory tours and then come back to Coroico independently a few days later. However, lots of travelers are on a tight schedule, and disappointingly never return. Coroico receives little or no publicity, other than a small section in the Lonely Planet guide, and that’s where it’s downfall is. Luckily we had lots of time and were keen to leave La Paz for a bit of rest and relaxation, and Coroico was waiting to give us just that.

It’s a small town with a few restaurants and a happening market, but apart from that there isn’t much to ‘do’. We spent an afternoon wandering the town, and then found a lovely pub (called Carla’s) with an excellent view of the surrounding countryside. The next day we went for a long walk in search for some natural pools, about a three hour walk away, that had been recommended by Charlie. As we set out he said, “See you later, if you manage to make it back!”. We thought he was joking. We took his directions and a poorly photocopied map from the tourist information in the town and set off on our way.

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The first part of the walk was just walking towards the neighbouring town, which was easy enough. We arrived there about an hour later and asked an old man at a bus stop for some directions. He waved us off down a little path leading out of the town through some coca farms. We thanked him and yomped off. Once we had been walking for the total amount of time it ought to have taken, we came to a fork in the path and had no idea which way to go. Our map was terrible and the old man hadn’t explained where to go next. It was baking hot and we had drunk half our water. We didn’t even know if we had been walking the right way for the last hour or so and had expected to be there by this point. We were completely in the middle of nowhere, with nobody to ask. After much deliberation we decided to turn back, as we didn’t want to keep walking if it was in the wrong direction, only to have to walk back uphill again for twice as long.

We were disappointed, but the walk itself was beautiful, so in the end it didn’t matter. Exhausted and hot, we caught a small minibus back to Coroico and headed back to Carla’s pub for an ice cold beer. Who needs to swim anyway?! If our Spanish was a bit better I’m sure we would’ve made it, so it’s our fault really.

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Coroico was a lovely break from the loud, intoxicating La Paz. In fact it’s the complete opposite. It’s at much lower altitude, so we enjoyed being able to breathe again and we enjoyed some much needed sunshine. Just beware of the munching bugs (Toby had 30 bites on one leg alone!). I’d recommend it to anyone, even just for one night, as the Bolivian countryside is very scenic and peaceful.

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