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While Mum and Dad escaped to the tropical heat of Rurrenabaque, Ems, Adam and I embarked on the Choro Trail- a 3 day hike starting at La Cumbre, a few hours from La Paz. I had given Emma three options to choose from while the parents were away- mountain biking down death road (apparently it used to be the worlds most dangerous road, but is now mostly just used by cycling tourists), climbing Huyana Potosi a 6000m peak accessed from La Paz, or the Choro Trail (in the valley next to death road). She chose wisely the most pleasant and the cheapest of the three. With the walk starting at 4800m and descending to 1200m we were expecting it to be a lovely down hill stroll.

Ems was recovering from a bout of gastro (it turns out I passed my nasty bug onto her) as we struggled with our full pack up the first hour of the walk, and toughest part of the hike, from La Cumbre where the bus left us, up to a pass at 4800m.  Adam surged ahead oblivious to the altitude as usual, and had fun taking photos of our laboured tiny steps slowly, slowly taking us higher. The bare, desolate high mountain scenery was quite beautiful, and a contrast to the valley that we peered into at the pass. We started the long rocky decent, and after the initial steep section walked through very pleasant sheep farming area shrouded in light mist for the rest of the afternoon. Stone was everywhere- old stone walls still used as animals pens, stone houses, and the stone path from the Inca period that we ambled along.

We moved quite slowly, a little shaken from the exertion of climbing the first hour to such a height, and arrived at our campground very surprised to find a huge group of tents already set up. Unfortunately we had started our walk on the same day as a group of teenagers, about fifty of them, walking the Choro Trail and the Inca Trail in succession. We managed to find an area away from the hordes and had just enough time to set up camp before the sun disappeared.

The second day we started in the cool mountain village, surrounded by grey stone, and followed the paved path, continually descending into the valley, with more and more greenery appearing all the time, until we were surrounded by tropical lush greenery. For the afternoon we walked on a high valley path, with the stone left far behind, about 2/3rd of the way up the hillside. The temperature increased dramatically, and we were shedding clothing and were covered in a layer of sweat in no time.

Although the path was easy to navigate, our map was terrible, so a few times our time estimates to camp were widely out, but we eventually reached the spot for the night before the large group arrived. There were a couple of grass clearings on the edge of the valley, and not enough space to accommodate everyone comfortably, so we went on a little further to camp on a flat section of the path close to a waterfall. We bathed in the refreshing water, and enjoyed the peaceful surrounds.

The final day was similar walking, along a narrow mountain path, through the tropical growth – ginger and banana plants everywhere, and many beautiful flowers and plants normally so exotic for us at home. We passed a few little families, usually with a small plot on the edge of the hill, with a small vegie patch and a few chickens. After we had lunch looking all the way down the valley from where we had come, we started the long, dusty and extremely hot decent to the final town at the base of the valley. The path wound slowly down, until we arrived, drenched in sweat, foot sore, and very happy to have level ground to walk on again. It had ended up being a much tougher hike than any of us had imagined a predominantly downhill walk could be, but also much more beautiful and lush than I had imagined Bolivia could be. Such a contrast to the stark plains of La Paz and El Alto just a few hours away.

After we had recovered somewhat in the shade we paid for an overpriced taxi to Coroico, then jumped in a collectivo back to La Paz to meet Mum and Dad for dinner and catch up on their jungle adventures.


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