Torotoro National Park

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City of torotoro and surrounding

Toro Toro National Park is a national park in the Potosí (department) of Bolivia, situated among the eastern mountain ranges of the South American Andes cordilleras. The park features dinosaur footprints, canyons, caves and makes for excellent hiking. Well known is the cave tour where you spend 2 hours squeezing and climbing your way through a stunning cave. The park itself is easily accessible from the small town of Toro Toro, which is a four to six hour drive from Cochabamba.

Understand[edit]

Torotoro National Park is situated in the Northern Potosí department, 140 km south of Cochabamba and only accessible by gravel roads and riverbeds, which usually takes four to six hours but might take longer in the rainy season when sometimes the route becomes completely impassable.

The park is one of the major attractions for visitors to Cochabamba, and is most famous for its remnants of dinosaurs.

Landscape[edit]

Torotoro National Park covers 165 km² and is located at 18° 7' S and 65° 46' W in a semi-arid landscape at altitudes between 2000 and 3500 m above sea level, with canyons as deep as 300 meters. The park features caves, Paleozoic and Cretaceous calcitic deposits with fossils, and panoramic landscapes eroded by glaciers, wind and waters.

Flora and fauna[edit]

The Torotoro National Park offers scrubby woodland with wildlife like flocks of parakeets and the red-fronted macaw.

Climate[edit]

Sub-Andean climate has a cold winter from June to August, and a rainy season from December to March.

Get in[edit]

Torotoro can only accesses via Cochabamba. The main options to get to the town are to take the bus or one of the minivans, but if you can form a group you might also be able to arrange private transportation (which however is neither necessary nor economical).

By Bus[edit]

The bus from Cochabamba takes between 5-7 hours (depending on the season) and costs 23 Bs. per person. It occassionally stops to drop-off or pick-up inhabitants from the small villages on route. It's best to arrive earlier to the scheduled departure time in order to secure a seat (standing is common once all seats have filled up). The bus leaves from the south-facing side of Avenida Republica, 100 metres North from the roundabout with Avenida Rene Barrientos Ortuno (shortly before Calle Canoto coming from town).

The buses are scheduled as follows whereas no bus leaves on Mondays:

  • Thursdays and Sundays at 6.00 am.
  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6.00 pm.

By Minivan[edit]

Taking a 7-12 seating minivan is the more comfortable and flexible option. It takes around 4 hours and costs 35 Bs. per person. There are multiple departures per day (normally between 8.00 am and 8.00 pm) whereas the minivans leave when full (i.e. calculate some waiting time). They leave Cochabamba from Calle Mairana on the corner with Avenida Republica (south-facing side) - just a 100 metres North of the bus stop.

By organised tour[edit]

There are several tourist agencies serving tours from Cochabamba to Torotoro, but since tourism numbers are still low in Cochabamba this only is an option if you can get a group together. A trip by 4x4 to the park often comes with any arranged tour package. However, booking a tour (or a package with transport, accommodation and tours) is usually more expensive and less flexibel than organizing everything in Torotoro.

By Plane[edit]

It is possible to charter a small airplane to take up to 5 passengers from Cochabamba airport to Torotoro. Prices range around $140 US, and the flight takes about half an hour. Call (4)4227042 or (4)4246289 for details. A direct, privately chartered trip from Torotoro to La Paz (skipping at least 13 hours of bus travel) though seems to be impossible to organize.

Fees/Permits[edit]

The entrance ticket costs 15 Bolivianos for nationals and 30 Bolivianos for foreigners (as of May 2015) and needs to be purchased in the Tourism Office at the main plaza (you also have to inscribe your personal data into a register). The ticket is valid for 4 days and for all parts of the National Park.

Get around[edit]

The town of Torotoro is easily explored on foot, but for the National Park you will need a guide. There are daily tours (both in the morning around 9 am and in the afternoon around 2 pm) departing from the guides' office (opening hours: 8.30 - 12.30 and 14.00 - 5.30) opposite the tourist information on the main plaza. The guides will do their best to form a big enough group for prices to be acceptable and hence, a little bit of waiting should be calculated for. Since the park is being frequented by solo travellers and couples it is easy to form a group.

See[edit][add listing]

  • "Ciudad de Ita", or "City of Rocks" is a series of caves resembling an ancient city. There are alos rock formations looking like animals or diamonds.
  • The "Vergel" waterfall in the "Waca Senq'a Canon".
  • Dinosaur bone fragments and more than 2,500 dinosaur footprints, of biped and quadruped dinosaurs, theropods and sauropods from the cretaceous period 120 million years ago.
  • Llama Chaqui, an archaeological site southeast of the town of Torotoro with remnants of the Quechua culture.

Do[edit][add listing]

The two main tours in the National Park are:

  • The full day (7-9 hours) "Ciudad de Itas" tour starts with a one hour drive into the mountains (max. altitude: 3,800 m) above Torotoro where you will be dropped of to do a 2-3 hours hike in the "City of Rocks" (features caves, rock formations, views of the landscape). This is followed by a 45-minutes drive to the "Cueva Humajalanta" (add another 20 minutes walk) which is around 6 km long and 164 m deep - one of the longest and deepest caves in Bolivia, with stalactites and stalagmites, blind fish and waterfalls. The 2 hours hike through the cave is an experience on it's own as you will be climbing over big rocks and squeezing yourself through narrow passages. before walking and driving back to Torotoro. Advice: The cave might be hard to manage, if you have claustrophobia. Also expect to get dirty in the cave and bring some extra head lights if you can. The whole tour ranges between 500 to 700 Bs per group (maximum 7 people).
  • The 4-5 hours roundtrip walk to the "Vergel" (cow nose) waterfall in a spectactular canyon cost 100 Bs. per group (maximum 6 people). On the way to the canyon you will also see dinosaur footprints, a natural theatre, a natural bridge and the view from a mirador (viewing platform) on top of the canyon (similiar to the installations at Grand Canyon, USA, but for free!). You can also swim in the pools in the canyon surround by lush tropical vegetation.

In addition to these main attractions:

  • There are three more half- and full day tours which can in parts also be combined.
  • Visit the Pachamama Wasi museum, which is a house fully covered with rocks and coral. The friendly old man who runs it spent 50 years collecting and building it. Entrance to the museum includes a tour and costs 5 Bs. for nationals or 10 Bs. for foreigners. The museum closes at 18:00.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Thare are NO cash machine in Torotoro and credit cards are not accepted. Travellers must make sure to arrive with enought money. There are minimarkets all around town which provide groceries, alcohol and all other necessities. The Women Association of Torotoro runs a handcraft store where you can buy textiles and artesania directly from the women who made it. A great place to find unique pieces of andean textiles and souvenirs.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • The "Comedor" at the market offers local dishes (such as milanesa and fried chicken) for 10 Bs. per plate. The breakfast is recommended as well (especially the fried cheese things, they are super rich and stodgy but delicious and only 2.50bob).
  • Opposite the market there are several small restaurants serving an excellent Pique Machu for 15 Bs per plate.
  • Café del Pueblo is located at one block from the bus stop between the market and the plaza. The food is excellent, the kitchen is clean and the menu offers many vegetarian options (spanish tortilla, lentils, chile) as well as pastas, crepes and bolivian dishes. NOTE we had to order the bigger meals 24 hours in advance and there has to be a group of 4 people. We ordered the vegetarian chilli and it was tasty 25bob pp. They also have a nice inside patio to chill with a drink and snacks after a long day. You can order in advance for groups.
  • One block from the main plaza (follow the street going up) there is a restaurant with international cuisine. They serve an excellent lasagna for 45 Bs. and have a selection of pizza's, omelets, salads, sandwiches and cocktails.
  • "Como en Casa" features excellent breakfast, although the prices are a little higher than in the Bolivian restaurants. Try the tumbo (kind of maracuja) juice!

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • In front of the "Comedor" is a juice bar that serves fresh fruit juices for around 10 Bs. (depending on the fruits).
  • The restaurant mentioned above (one block from the main plaza) has happy hour from 19:00 to 20:00.
  • Locals enjoy buying beer in the supermarket and drink it sitting around the main street.
  • There is a Bolivian style nightclub which is open in the weekends. Ask locals for details.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Tour companies will often arrange lodging as part of a travel package, but if you arrive by yourself it is easy to find lodging and camping within the town itself. Reservations are not needed as there is plenty of accommodation available. Prices of budget accommodation range from 30 Bs. for a single traveler to 100 Bs. for a double. However, if you arrive at night, some accommodations might not open the door!

  • El Vergel, (One block from the main plaza). checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Nice and well maintained property with absolutely friendly owners. They also do the "Como en Casa" which is currently (May 2015) moved to the hotel's premises. 40 Bs. per person whereas they have rooms with 2, 3, 4 and 5 beds (ask for a private bathroom).  edit
  • Las Hermanas, (One block from the main plaza). checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Nice comfortable hostel that features breakfast with fruit salad in a beautiful garden with a lemon tree. 40 Bs per person, private room.  edit
  • Albergue Rosas T'ika is the only communitary hosting option in Torotoro. It is located behind the orange roof Coliseum. The building is new. Thay have a private room for 2 to 6 persons and a dormitory at a very economic price (30Bs per person). All profits go to the Women Association of Torotoro Rosas T'ika.

Cope[edit]

  • Torotoro has internet and telephone access (only in two internet cafes), but no WIFI. Entel has excellent 3G reception, bring your SIM card.
  • There is no ATM, so be sure to bring enough cash from Cochabamba.
  • It might be hard to find a money changer, so bring Bolivianos.
  • There is a hospital in town but no pharmacy.

Get out[edit]

The only form of organized transport available is to and from Cochabamba. If you need to get anywhere else in Bolivia (including Potosi or Sucre), you will have to travel through Cochabamba first. But for 1500 Bs. you can order a minivan to Sucre.

By Bus[edit]

The bus leaves from the office of Trans del Norte on Calle Charcas where you can also get your ticket for the day.

The buses are scheduled as follows whereas no bus leaves on Thursdays:

  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6.00 am.
  • Fridays at 6.00 pm.
  • Sundays at 2.30 pm.

By Minivan[edit]

Minivans leave all day from the market, but only when they are full. You can buy your ticket at the small office in advance and might enjoy a meal in the nearby Comedor or restaurants while the ticket lady will come and get you when the minivan is about to leave. You might also arrange to be picked-up at your accommodation. If you are in a hurry it is possible to buy empty seats to speed up departure.



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