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Coroico. Travel Guide of Coroico City, Bolivia

Welcome to our Travel Guide of Coroico City. You will find here a comprehensive information over Coroico, including Coroico hotels, Coroico history, Coroico climate, around Coroico, activities in Coroico, festivals and events, travel companies and hostels.

Coroico Travel Guide.

1. History of Coroico.

Coroico Travel Guide, Bolivia

The first settlers of the Yungas were inspired by economic opportunity. In the days of the Inca empire, gold was discovered in the Tipuani and Mapiri valleys, and the goldcrazed Spanish immediately got in on the act. To enrich the royal treasury, they forced locals to labor for them, and the region became one of the most prolific producers of gold of the continent. Today the rivers of the lower Yungas are ravaged by hordes of wildcat prospectors and bigger mining outfits.

The sweet coca of the yungas is the most often consumed in Bolivia and as a result, the region has been at the forefront of coca revolution of Morales with the cocaleros (coca farmers) finding themselves newly empowered as a political force. However, they have been unable to find a united voice, with two main factions forming; Las Proteccionistas, the more established highland farmers who want to defend the localized economy, and the more numerous Nacionalistas, from newly colonised lower altitude areas who seek to expand the coca economy. Las Proteccionistas claim that coca is the only viable crop at the altitudes at which they live and that policies of Morales actually threaten their livelihoods by opening coca cultivation up to the multitudes.

While Coroico is a metropolis by Yungas standards, it feels like a sleepy hilltop village and maintains a relaxed ambience despite being one of the more popular destinations for weekending paceños (La Paz locals) and chilling travelers. Perched eyrie-like on the shoulder of Cerro Uchumachi, it commands a far-ranging view across forested canyons, cloud-wreathed mountain peaks, patchwork agricultural lands, citrus orchards, coffee plantations and dozens of small settlements. When the weather clears, the view stretches to the snow-covered summits of Mururata, Huayna Potosí and Tiquimani, high in the Cordillera Real.

Coroico is derived from the Quechua word coryguayco meaning golden hill. The biggest attraction of the town is its slow pace, which allows plenty of time for swimming, sunbathing and hammock-swinging. The hill-walking around here is more strolling than trekking, which appeals to stiff-legged hikers from the Choro trail or those nursing bruised bottoms after the hectic mountainbike descent from La Paz.

Coroico is relatively warm year-round, but summer storms bring some mighty downpours. Because of its ridgetop position, fog is common, especially in the afternoon when it rises from the deep valleys and swirls through the streets and over the rooftops.

The town festival is on October 20, and Saturday and Sunday are market days. On Monday the town closes down, with most stores and restaurants re-opening Tuesday morning.

2. Basic Information About Coroico.

Emergency Police (Main Plaza).

Immigration No immigration office in Coroico, La Paz will ne the place.

Internet Access Únete (Plaza García Lanza) Offers the most reliable internet access in town.

Laundry Lavandería Nancy Vega (Zuazo Cuenca) For machine washing; it is a couple of blocks east of the plaza.

Medical Services There is a basic regional hospital near Hostal El Cafetal, but for serious medical treatment you will be happiest in La Paz.

Money There are no foreign-card-accepting ATMs in Coroico.

Post and Telephone Entel and Post Office at main plaza.

Tourist Information Tourist office (T. 74015825, Plaza García Lanza, 8:00-20:00) Can provide guides for local hikes. There is also a small information kiosk at the bus terminal.

Electricity 110V.

3. Weather in Coroico.

The physical beauty of the Yungas is astonishing, and although the hot, humid and rainy climate may induce lethargy, it is nevertheless more agreeable to most people than the chilly Altiplano. Winter rains are gentle, and the heavy rains occur mainly between November and March. The average year-round temperature hovers in the vicinity of 18°C, but summer daytime temperatures in the 30s are not uncommon. As a result, the region provides a balmy retreat for chilled highlanders, and is a favorite R&R hangout for foreign travelers. The mountains of the cordilleras, on the other hand, are serious, lofty beasts and conditions can be extreme, with warm days, and nights that drop well below zero.

Temperature in Coroico, Bolivia Rainfall in Coroico, Bolivia

4. The City of Coroico.

a) The Town

Coroico Travel Guide, Bolivia

No much to see at Coroico but the place is more to chill out and relax.

5. Around Coroico.

a) Hills, Rivers and Colorful Paths

Coroico Travel Guide, Bolivia

Around Coroico there is many places to hike, close rivers are suitable to swim and relax and paths to trekking are everywhere.

b) La Cumbre - Coroico (El Choro Trek)

Coroico Travel Guide, Bolivia

The La Cumbre to Coroico (Choro) trek, which traverses Parque Nacional Cotopata, is one of premier hikes of Bolivia. It begins at La Cumbre (4725m), the highest point on the La Paz–Coroico highway, and climbs to 4859m before descending 3250m into the humid Yungas and the village of Chairo.

Along the 57km route (which is in the best condition during the April to September dry season), you will note a rapid change in climate, vegetation and wildlife as you leave the Altiplano and plunge into the forest.

Energetic hikers can finish the trek in two days, but it is a demanding walk more comfortably done in three days. Many people allow even more time, or organize a stay of a few days in the albergue (basic accommodation) at Sandillani.

Prepare for a range of climates. It can be pretty cold, even snowy, on the first day, but you will soon be in sweatier climes. For the lower trail, light cotton trousers will protect your legs from sharp vegetation and biting insects. The Inca paving can be pretty slippery, so make sure you have got shoes with grip.

Once you find the trailhead, the trail is easy to access and follow. From Villa Fátima in La Paz, catch any Yungas-bound transportation and ask to be dropped at La Cumbre, marked by a statue of Christ, where the trek begins.

The road climbs steeply out of Villa Fátima, and less than an hour out of La Paz at the 4725m crest of the La Paz–Yungas road is La Cumbre. For the best chance of good clear views of the stunning scenery, start as early as possible, before the mist rises out of the Yungas.

At the statue of Christ is a park registration office where you should sign in. Traditionally this is also the place to perform the ritual challas, which asks for blessing from the gods and good luck for your journey. In former times it was an Aymará sanctuary, being replaced by the Christ monument in the colonial era. From here, follow the well-defined track to your left for 1km then turn off onto the smaller track that turns right and passes between two small ponds (one often dry). Follow it up the hill until it curves to the left and begins to descend.

At this point follow the light track leading up the gravelly hill to your right and toward an obvious notch in the barren hill before you. This is Abra Chucura (4859m), and from here the trail tends downhill all the way to its end at Chairo. At the high point is a pile of stones called Apacheta Chucura. For centuries travelers have marked their passing by tossing a stone atop it (preferably one that has been carried from a lower elevation) as an offering to the mountain apus (spirits).

An hour below Abra Chucura lie the remains of a tambo (wayside inn) dating from Inca times.

One hour below the tambo is the hamlet of Estancia Samaña Pampa, where there is a store selling water, a grassy campsite, a shelter and another registration hut.

A short way further on, basic supplies are available at the village of Chucura (Achura, 3600m). Here you pay a toll for maintenance of the trail: you will notice the difference it makes as you head on. A walk of an hour from here leads to some campsites, which are found along the river. The sites are nice, but you might wish to push on down the beautifully paved Inca road to Challapampa (2825m), a lovely village with a roofed campsite and simple shelters approximately seven hours from the start point. There are toilets, and water is available from a convenient stream below a bridge close to town.

After two hours following beautiful but slippery stretches of pre-Columbian paving, you will reach a suspension bridge across the Río Chucura at Choro (2200m). The track continues descending steadily along the true left (west) side of the Río Chucura, where there are some small campsites and a store providing drinks and snacks.

From the ridge above Choro, the trail alternately plunges and climbs from sunny hillsides to vegetation-choked valleys, crossing streams and waterfalls. You will have to ford the Río Jucumarini, which can be rather intimidating in the wet season. Further along, the trail crosses the deep gorge of the Río Coscapa via the relatively sturdy Puente Colgante suspension bridge.

The trail continues through some tiny hamlets, including San Francisco and Buena Vista, which are separated by the stiff ascent and descent of the Subida del Diablo. Some five to six hours from Choro is the remarkable Casa Sandillani (2050m), a home surrounded by beautifully manicured Japanese gardens with a view. You can camp here; it is best to book ahead. Built from natural resources available in the area, the atmospheric wattle and thatch rooms are comfortable. Rates include breakfast as well as a guided walk, and dinner is also available. Even if you are not staying, you can use the toilets for a nominal fee. There are also several snack and soft-drink stalls, and a clear water supply is provided by a pipe located diagonally opposite the house (to the right, 20m along the main trail).

From Casa Sandillani it is an easy 2.5 hours downhill to Chairo, where camping is possible in a small, flat, grassed area with no facilities, near the bridge above town.

It is possible to walk the relatively level 12km past the Río Selva Resort or take transportation from Chairo to Yolosa (16km) and then catch an onward service the 7km to Coroico. A few private vehicles head to Yolosa and Coroico on most days, but beware of being charged scandalous prices.

6. Tours and Activities in Coroico

a) Hiking

Coroico Travel Guide, Bolivia

For pretty views, head uphill toward Hotel Esmeralda and on up to El Calvario, an easy 20-minute hike. At El Calvario the Stations of the Cross leads to a grassy knoll and chapel. There are two good trailheads from El Calvario. The one to the left leads to the cascadas, a trio of waterfalls two hours beyond the chapel. The trail to the right leads to Cerro Uchumachi (five hours round-trip), which affords terrific valley views.

A good walk of a day will take you to El Vagante, an area of natural stone swimming holes in the Río Santa Bárbara. Follow the road toward Coripata to Cruce Miraflores. Here, turn left at a fork in the road and head steeply downhill past Hacienda Miraflores; at the second fork, bear right (the left fork goes to Santa Ana). After two hours along this route, which features a stretch with some pre-Columbian terraces, you will reach a cement bridge. Turn right before the bridge and follow the river downstream for 20 minutes to a series of swimming holes and waterfalls. The water is not drinkable, so carry water or purification tablets – and bear in mind that the return route is uphill all the way.

It can get extremely hot while hiking, so carry plenty of water.

b) Horseback Riding

Coroico Travel Guide, Bolivia

A recommended spot for horseback riding is El Relincho (T. 71923814). Trips sometimes include a barbecue lunch. The owner, Reynaldo, also offers a two-day trip round Uchumachi, all-inclusive. El Relincho is between Hotels Esmeralda and Sol y Luna, a 10-minute walk above town.

c) Mountain Biking

Coroico Travel Guide, Bolivia

The area around Coroico is great for mountain biking. Companies offers day trips to attractions in the region for all levels of rider, including a guide and packed lunch. Readers have reported the trips as being good-natured if a little disorganized.

d) Whitewater Rafting

Coroico Travel Guide, Bolivia

About three hours north from Coroico is the Río Coroico, which flows through the Nor Yungas. This is the most popular commercially rafted river of the country, and is the most convenient to La Paz. The river features well over 30 rapids, great surfing holes, dramatic drops and challenging technical maneuvers (most of these can be scouted from the river and from several bridges).

It alternates between calm pools and 50m to 900m rapids, with sharp bends, boils, mean holes, undercurrents, sharp rocks and rather treacherous undercuts.

The whitewater normally ranges from Class II to IV, but may approach Class V during periods of high water (when it becomes too dangerous to raft). There are few spots to take out and rest, so stay focused and be prepared for surprises.

Access is from the highway between Yolosa and Caranavi; the best put-ins are 20 minutes north of Yolosa and near the confluence with the Río Santa Bárbara, 50 minutes by road north of Yolosa. Just look for any track that winds down from the road toward the river and find one that provides suitable access. Trips average three to five hours. For the take-out, look on the right side of the river for a devastated steel bridge (destroyed in a 1998 flood) across a normally diminutive creek. Do not miss it because after this the climb to the road up the steep jungled slopes is practically impossible, and it is a long, long way to the next possible exit.

The Río Huarinilla flows from Huayna Potosí and Tiquimani down into the Yungas to meet the Río Coroico near Yolosa, and is best accessed from Chairo, at the end of El Choro trek. Although it is normally Class II and III, high water can swell it into a much more challenging Class IV to V. The full-day trip is best suited to kayaks and narrow paddle rafts. The new Yungas Hwy passes right by the take-out at the confluence of the Ríos Huarinilla and Coroico.

The whitewater is great, but unfortunately the high tourist season coincides with the dry season. Several agencies around the plaza offer day-long rafting trips.

7. Festivals and Events.

January 1: New Year 's Day.

February or March (changeable date): Carnival.

April (Changeable date): Easter.

Palm Sunday: The Saturday before Easter. People enter temples with branches which the clergy bless.
Holy Thursday: It is a tradition of the people to visit 12 temples of the city, one for each apostle, in this day.
Good Friday: Procession of the Holy Sepulchre.

June (Changeable date):

Corpus Christie: Commemoration of the Body of Christ.

June 21 and 24: Andean New Year and San Juan

Aymará New Year and San Juan The winter solstice is celebrated across the Altiplano around June 21, the longest and coldest night of the year. Festivities feature huge bonfires and fireworks in the streets, plus lots of drinking to stay warm.
San Juan (June 24) The Christian version of the solstice celebration. The solstice celebrations are most lively at Tiwanaku.

July 16: Anniversary of La Paz.

August 6: National Day.

Bolivian Independence Day Copacabana stages its biggest event during the first week in August. It is characterized by round-the-clock music, parades, brass bands, fireworks and amazing alcohol consumption. This coincides with a traditional pilgrimage that brings thousands of Peruvians into the town to visit the Virgin.

September 21: Day of Spring. Youth and Students of Bolivia.

November 1: Todos Santos (All Saints Day).

This is a pre-columbian tradition when the people go to visit the Tombs prepared at home by the relatives of the deceased and where the friends are offered the same food and drink liked by him.

November 2: Difuntos (Day of the Deceased)

The tombs are dismantled and the people celebrate in the memory of the deceased.

November 3: Alma Cacharpaya (Soul of the Calypsobreakers)

Those in charge of dismantling the tombs show up in the home of the deceased with an orchestra so that the soul of the deceased will be happy.

December 24 and 25: Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

8. Travel Companies and Tour Operators in Coroico.

Some tour companies offering hiking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, biking around main plaza.

9. Hotels and Hostels in Coroico.

Hotel Esmeralda (avenida 16 de Julio, Website).

Hotel Viejo Molino (Michel Perez cornes San Antonio, Website).

10. Restaurants and Bars in Coroico.

La Senda Verde (Reyes Ortíz) Serving home-produced coffee from a refuge in nearby Yolosa, this little cafe is a great place for breakfast. It is set in a quiet courtyard.

Villa Bonita (T. 71922917, Héroes del Chaco s/n, 10:00-18:00). This delightfully peaceful garden-cafe is 600m from town but feels a world away. The relaxed, personable owners offer delicious homemade ice creams and sorbets bursting with fresh fruit, tasty sundaes with unusual local liqueurs, and an eclectic range of vegetarian dishes. Meals are served outside where you can appreciate the valley views.

Luna Llena (T. 71561626) The small outdoor restaurant at the Hostal Sol y Luna is run with a motherly hand by doña María, and has a well-priced, tasty menu of Bolivian and European dishes including vegetarian options. An extraordinary treat if you have a group – or can muster one – is the Indonesian buffet for eight to 20 people, which must be booked a day in advance.

Murcielaguitos (T. 71229830, Pacheco s/n, Fri and Sat night), in the Residencial 20 de Octubre, where students from the agricultural college join others to dance to loud Latin music and sing karaoke.

11. Getting There and Away.

Bus Buses departs from La Parada in Coroico.

  • La Paz-Coroico-La Paz: (170 Km paved road) Daily departures from 5:00-17:00.
  • Yungas Area-Coroico-Yungas Area: (Paved and unpaved road) Daily departures to Chulumani, Yolosa from the Cruce.

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