Our 2011 Trip
Our 2011 trip took place the last week of July during the middle of the South American winter when temperatures are cooler but the weather is at its best. Building upon our experiences of the first year, we added on a few additional days to get the most of our time in Bolivia. In total, the trip lasted ten days
After arriving in the city of La Paz, we took an early flight down to Cochabamba where we checked into our hotel and rested for a few hours before beginning our city explorations. Like last year, we visited La Cancha, the city’s enormous open air market, but this year we also scheduled a few more cultural excursions. This included a visit to the palatial home of Bolivia’s early-twentieth century tin baron, Simon Patiño, and an open air bus tour to learn more about the city’s history while viewing its many plazas and churches. Participants enjoyed the opportunity to meet and spend time with our local friends in Cochabamba so much the first year we decided to continue the tradition and spent the afternoon together after enjoying a big lunch of pique macho, a local favorite.
After nearly two days in the city we were ready for the reserve and loaded our bags on the racks of two 4x4 jeeps early in the morning. Halfway to the reserve we stopped at the highest point on the road, known as Apacacheta, to offer coca leaves to the mountain spirits, or apu, in return for safe travels. By mid-afternoon, we reached the end of the road and began the final part of our journey to the lodge: a two-hour hike through an expansive mountain canyon. We were greeted to a fine display of eastern Andean weather as late afternoon mist, brushing nearby mountain peaks, was dissipated in the bright Bolivian sunlight.
We enjoyed good weather at the lodge with warm, sunny days and cold, frosty nights. Again, the local condor population did not disappoint. As we approached the edge of Infiernillo canyon on our second day, we had the chance to observe several flying overhead. This year we also had the luck to watch a pair of condors mate in a nest tucked into the walls of Infiernillo canyon.
We also made it to lake Calzon Cocha, following a steep trail up a narrow alpine valley complete with pinnacled mountain peaks, mossy streams, and spectacular views. At the top we were treated to a rest at the lake and a visit to the mysterious qhewiña groves nearby. We followed a narrow grassy ridge on the way down and watched as a bright sea of clouds pushed in from the East, eventually enveloping us in a dense fog as we reached the lodge.
We also paid a visit to the reserve's cloud forest which lies several hundred feet below the lodge where we able to enjoy lunch by a waterfall, do some birdwatching and receive a few ethnobotany lessons from our local guides. We spent our last night at the lodge participating in a traditional K’oa ceremony, which gave us a chance to learn about traditional Andean culture and spiritual beliefs while thanking our guides, hosts, and cook for their hard work and friendship.
The next day we returned to Cochabamba, where we rested a night before catching a flight the following morning to La Paz from where we traveled to Lake Titicaca. The three-hour van ride gave us a chance to take in the austere beauty of Bolivia’s high Altiplano region and provided some early glimpses of Lake Titicaca's intense turquoise hue. We had lunch at the lake-side town of Copacabana and stayed to watch some of the local religious celebrations. From there, we took a short boat ride to Island of the Sun where we hiked up to our hotel, perched on a hillside overlooking Lake Titicaca and the Cordillera Real, Bolivia’s highest mountain range.
We spent the next day exploring the windy, austere island on foot with visits to nearby Inca ruins. The next morning we caught the ferry, returned to La Paz, and headed to the airport to catch our evening flight back to the United States, bringing an end to another fantastic trip.
Our First Trip to the Reserve
In September of 2010, Yunga Perdida led its first group of tourists to the Northern Tiquipaya Wildlife Reserve. The trip, which lasted eight days, provided us the opportunity to explore the reserve while learning first-hand about the area’s spectacular biodiversity and the threats it faces. Each day provided gave opportunities for hiking and exploring, while the evenings provided time for quiet and relaxation.
Before setting off for the reserve, we spent a couple days exploring Cochabamba. Bolivia’s third largest city, Cochabamba is notable for its mild climate, colorful open-air market, and ease of accessibility. We stayed at the centrally located Hotel de la Torre, shopped for supplies in Cochabamba’s open air market, climbed to the city’s 108-foot Christ statue in cable car, and enjoyed traditional Cochabambino cooking in the home of Bolivian friends.
The four-hour jeep ride to the eco-lodge gave us a chance to observe traditional lifestyles in Bolivia’s countryside while passing through several distinct ecological zones. After climbing out of the temperate valley in which Cochabamba lies, our route passed through Bolivia’s high Altiplano. We were met with frigid gusts as we crossed high mountain passes (14,000+ feet) before beginning our slow descent to the eco-lodge.
We spent the next four days at the eco-lodge watching Andean condors ride thermals, enjoying endless vistas of the sub-tropical Eastern Andes and exploring the area’s mountains and forests on foot. The group enjoyed the natural landscape and views offered by the lodge's 11,000 foot elevation. Local guides led us on day hikes to visit the nearby Infiernillo canyon, the moss-draped cloud forests, and local villages.
On our last night, we were invited to participate in a traditional Andean K'oa ceremony. The ceremony gave us an opportunity to learn more about Andean religion and express our gratitude for the trip and the work of our hosts. We were honored by our hosts’ openness and willingness to share their beliefs and traditions with us.
The next morning, after packing up, we started towards Cochabamba with one last stop in the community of Huari Pucara to have lunch at the home of one of our guides. After saying good-bye, we returned to the bustle of the city with memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.
In the news...
Bolivia's Garden City
Famous for it's year-round spring-like climate, Cochabamba is Bolivia's third largest city with a total population of nearly one million. The city, which sits in Bolivia's Central Andes, enjoys a generally sunny climate except during the summer (Dec.-Mar.) when daily rains and thunderstorms turn the surrounding mountains an emerald green color. With a median temperature of sixty-one degrees Fahrenheit, Cochabamba is typically warm during the day and cool at night due to its 8,500 foot elevation.
Because of its favorable climate and rich soils, Cochabamba has long been viewed as ideal site for settlement. Archaeologists believe that the fertile valley in which the city sits has been inhabited by Native Americans for at least a thousand years. The Villa of Cochabamba was originally founded in 1574, several decades after Spanish invaders arrived in South America. In the colonial era that followed, Cochabamba, which is sometimes referred to as "Bolivia's breadbasket," flourished economically by supplying a steady supply of wheat and corn to mining populations in Bolivia's barren highlands.
While an influx of rural migrants keeps the modern city growing, the original city center remains readily walkable. Cochabamba's downtown is now an interesting mix of the old and new as colonial-era cathedrals and plazas remain among modern high-rise buildings.