The Choro Trail
I've hiked two of the pristine Inca treks in Bolivia - Inca treks, Inca roads or Incan Trails - whatever you prefer to call them. The first half of the pictures below were taken during January, 1989. This is the Choro Trek, which begins in the middle of nowhere and ends near "almost" Corroico. You actually have to hitch your way from the end of the trek to Corroico. These treks weren't designed to be tourist traps by any means, so you've really got to be resourceful... but that's half the adventure. The Choro Trek works like this: You hitch hike your way along a road that leads past where the trek begins, then you hike until you reach the end of the trail, at which point, you hitch to the nearest town. Always be prepared for it to not work out as planned because it won't work out as planned... but it sure will be amazing when you look back at the entire experience after a solid meal and a hot shower. (note to self: next time, pay the extra dollar for a hotel with hot water in Corroico)
The first picture is a shot from the road. I was in a truck hitching to where the trek more or less begins. My very rough map points to the statue of Christ as the beginning of the trek - and there it is! "Stop the truck stop the truck!" ...It's noon in the middle of a typical summer day yet it is starting to snow. Snow, in the tropics. Does that give any hint as to the altitude at the begining of the Choro trail? It's very grey because we're literally in the clouds. I don't know if it's still fair to call it fog when you're at 16,000 feet. When the clouds come down to you I think it's fair to call it "fog" - but when you go up to the clouds - well... you get my point.
Ruins along the way during the early part of the trek. It is day one and we're climbing to find the mountain pass. And I do mean climbing Climbing CLimBinG CLIMBING. It's all streight up the side of a mountain untill you reach the mountain pass...
One of my biggest regrets from this trek is NOT taking a billion pictures. We hiked it at the worst possible time - during the middle of the rainy season, so the rivers were higher than normal, and parts of the trail were just plain sloppy. I wish I had a picture of the switchbacks to put on my site because it was streight up. At one point we decided to skip a switchback and just climb... Boy was that foolish. It wore us both out physically, and we each slipped a billion times sending rocks plummeting down the hillside.
When we finally reached the mountain pass, the view of the valley far below was beyond words... We were greeted with another wall of switchbacks - this time descending into a lush sea of greenery. Not exactly jungle like the trail will eventually become... but after the stark barren Altiplano, suddenly the world was green - and it was still far far below us. If you've got vertigo, this view would really reek havoc with your mind. It felt like we were walking THROUGH a movie screen with the world far below... it was almost unreal. Sadly, I don't have a picture of it because I was too lost in the moment. Also - we were already falling behind as this was the beginning of day one on the trek, and night was coming soon.
Another picture from day one of the trek, after we'd reached the bottom of the wall of switchbacks.
One of the highlights of this trek - at least for me - was the series of bridges we walked accross. This one doesn't look too bad. Pretty basic stuff.
This one spooked me a little because it really wobbles as you walk accross it. Still, it's pretty basic stuff.
Then comes the exciting part. There had been a bridge here, but it was wiped out by a flood a few weeks prior to our arrival. The bridge had been temporarily replaced by a wire.
Yes, I said "a wire." This isn't how a typical 17 year old spends his summer vacation (of course, that's a Bolivian summer. This was during January)
Surely that was to be the most exciting part of the trail... but there was one more suprise yet to come: Pictures don't seem to do this bridge justice because they somehow make it look smaller than it really is. See the parts in the middle where some of the branches had given way? It's a long way down - then again, you're an IDIOT if you're on this bridge & looking down!
They say that Corroico is at the end of this trek - but it isn't. We walked for a few miles & then were lucky enough to find somebody heading our way... so we hitched the rest of the way in the back of a small truck. Corroico is a wonderful town found deep in one of those Bolivian valleys they call the Yungas. Very tropical and though this picture doesn't do the scene any justice - Corroico is beautiful. What a wonderful place to relax.
The Takesi Trail
The Takesi trail, also known as the Taquesi trail and Inca Road, is trail is a bit more traveled than the Choro trail. This is partly because it's a little easier to reach, and it's a lot less grueling than many other trails. Still, hiking it in the middle of a Bolivian winter proved to be quite challenging. I hiked this trail in the summer of 1993.
This is, by far, the highlight of Takesi trail. Though it was paved in stone hundreds of years ago, there are sections that are still in amazing shape. It's beautiful to see, but it can be murder on the feet. Obviously, stone isn't the softest surface to walk on, but the real problem comes when it rains. Those stones become very slippery. At times, it was easier to NOT hike on them, as you can see in the photo below.
Yes, that is the trail.
The trail really gets grown over in places.
This was an astonishing find. On the final day of the Takesi trail, we came upon what can best be described as a soda shop. Keep in mind that, at this point, we are hours from any form of civilization. The man who owns this shop must have hiked the trail to buy bottles of soda, which he then sold to anyone hiking along. The soda was warm, being that there's no electricity for refridgeration, and the soda shop was nothing more than hand-made table with a pair of benches, covered by a thatched roof.
With that, we've reached the end of my pictures.