After a wild few days in the Bolivian Amazon where we hung out with monkeys, hid from crocs and swam with pink dolphins (never once disturbing the environment, we might add!), it was time to leave in search of our next adventure, Torotoro.
Not overly happy with the thought of this potentially being our final Amazon experience, for now, we decided to swap our love of tropical surroundings for more desert like conditions
Meeting Henrik, our German comrade, he told us about his trip to Torotoro National Park near the city of Cochabama. There he spent a few days hiking through canyons, diving under waterfalls, visiting old Inca villages and seeing some pre-historic dino footprints.
Holy shit! We were so in.
But first, we had to make the gruelling journey from Rurrenabaque to La Paz and onto Cochabamba. Big fans overnight busses, not so big fans of unnecessary pittstops, we decided to go full steam ahead and make the 24+ journey back-to-back, something that seemed a little too ambitious.
From Rurrenabaque to La Paz:
There are more than 4 companies that have regularly services leaving Rurrenabaque’s main Terminal de Busses. Busses to La Paz.
The earliest bus we know of is 11am with overnights running from 5pm, 6pm, 6.30pm etc. Do NOT pay more than 60B (€7.50) per person, if you secured a cheaper ticket coming into Rurrenabaque, keep the ticket (or take a photo) and flash it at the company to secure the same deal. All bus companies seem to charge the same 60B price.
We took the 6.30pm bus with Trans Total, the antique bus doesn’t have a toilet, and only offers reclining seats (not exactly semi cama as advertised) but it does have really decent leg room.
The bus arrives to the Trans Total offices in La Paz at around 8am.
From here you want to get to the main bus terminal. Facing the Trans Total office, take a right to the main road and jump any collectivo with “Ceja” displayed. Tell the driver/auydante “Terminal de Busses La Paz”. It takes around 20 minutes and costs 2B (€0.25).
The collectivo may drop you at the back of the bus station, along the main road. Take the stairs and walk straight into the back entrance.
From La Paz to Cochabamba:
Busses heading to Cochabamba are found on the right hand side, next to the main entrance.
The cheaper busses at just 30B (€3.75) run until around 1pm. After that prices rise to 50B (€6.25), you will secure an overnight bus for 50B. Especially if you book it early.
We took the day in La Paz to renew our visas and catch up with friends (and Crazy Dave… again!) so we booked an overnight with the company Bolivar, leaving at 10.30pm. Bolivar busses are equipped with toilets (but ours was locked and apparently broken) but at least, as advertised, the seats are semi cama.
Two gates up from Bolivar is a luggage storage service. We stored our large bags for 10B (€1.25) and our smaller ones for 6B (€0.75).
Fed, watered and with our fresh new 30 day visa, we boarded the the Bolivar bus and got settled for the evening ride. Temperatures drop drastically throughout the night so wrap up! As you near Cochabamba it gets a little warmer (thank God!). We went to sleep shivering and woke up in a layer of sweat, pulling into the Cochabamba bus terminal at 6.30am.
From Cochabamba to Torotoro:
Unless you plan to stay in Cochabamba, which we decided against, the final leg of the journey is a 5 hour bumpy drive in 15 seater collectivo to Torotoro town.
Collectivos leave from the corner of Avenida República y Vallegrande. To reach the Avenida, you can grab any collectivo from outside the bus terminal, or endure the 20 minute walk. Just be sure to grab some water, Cochabamba is hot, even at 8am.
To walk, exit the bus terminal via the main entrance, take a right and walk straight along the main road. There will be a number of junctions but stick with the middle main road (it’ll make sense when you see it).
The old reliable of asking locals works too since everyone in Cochabamba are genuinely so friendly. It’s said they are the nicest people in Bolivia, and we agree.
Once you reach the Avenida República y Vallegrande, the large orange signs for Torotoro will be screaming for your attention. The collectivos leave when full, or at least have minimum 7 people so be prepared to wait at least an hour or two.
The 5 hour journey costs 35B (€4.40) but we haggled them down to 30B (€3.75). The drive is bumpy, and at times uncomfortable, with the driver speeding along cliffsides dodging the rubble and rocks that attempt to bounce off the car. It’s like a mini death road.
However the drive is simply stunning. Almost like a fake set background. After 3 hours or so, the landscape turns into a rocky rainbow. Layers of mountains compete for height, all pebble dashed and stripes with colours of pink, white, green, and red. Every 500m or so, the road changes from loose rocks, embedded pebblestones, newly built stone bridges and dirt tracks.
An isolated drive, we can only describe it as Bolivia’s desert with colourful ground stone in place of white sand. Have the camera in hand, and grab a window seat. This is a peculiar landscape just waiting to be snapped and shared.
Landing into Torotoro, find your base, get some well deserved rest and get ready for a trip to one of the most beautiful and unusual National Parks.
For our ungraceful guide to accomodation and the Torotoro tours, pop on over here.