Day 12 was split in two, because we finished the hike in the Cordrillera Real in the village, Chaca Pampa at 2 pm. The trailhead for the Choro trek (where we chose to start) was at the Refugio Huayna Potosi, which was 15 kilometers further up the road, and it was pretty much up hill all the way. The 15 kilometers and 1100 meters in elevation would take at least 5 hours to walk, which would be impossible to make today. Since it was just a walk on a gravel road, we decided to wait for a ride. Not many cars are passing by here. During the next hour 4 cars passed by, the first was full, the next two turned of the sideroad to Chaca Pampa, but then a silver pickup truck stopped. We explained, that we only needed to go to the Refugio Huayna Potosi, and he was willing to give us a ride. We decided to give him 20 BOB, when we were dropped off, to pay for the gasoline/diesel, and in hope off, that he would pick up other hikers in the future. At 3.30 pm we were on the trail leading from Huayna Potosí towards the Choro Trek.
Huayna Potosi just peaking out of the clouds during sunset
Get the full GPS track and typographic map over the 61,5 km here: “The Choro Trek”.
Check out our overview of the hike here and to download the GPX tracks: “Cordrillera Real and Choro Trek (Overview)”.
How to prepare for 2 weeks of hiking? Check out this post: “Food, gear and maps for the Cordrillera Real and Choro Trek”.
Hiking the Choro Trek is a huge change in landscape. The old Inca trail takes you from the bare cliffs and downhill into the jungle
Day 12, Huayna Potosi to Choro Trek: 5.5 km (2 hours and 35 minutes) Ascent 205 meters and descent 330 meters
Start/finish elevation 4760/4640 meters
Highest elevation 4950 meter
We are still on day 12. The lower picture shows the elevation curve from Refugio Huayna Potosi, where we had one last pass in 4950 meters, and after that it started going downhill. After getting dropped off at 3.30 pm we didn’t have much time before sunset, so it was all about getting over the pass and down to an elevation below 4700 meters, to get a good nights sleep.
From the Refugio Huayna Potosi we followed an irrigation canal towards a lake
This part of the walk was absolutely amazing. Even with the clouds rolling back and forth the landscape was just breathtaking
As we reached the lake we started walking uphill over a steep mountain ridge reaching 4950 meters before descending on the other side. It was easy to follow the irrigation canal, and a more or less visible trail was leading over the ridge – walking in the footprints of the lamas.
As we descended it was getting dark, and we started loosing the trail. We used the typographic map on MyTrails until reaching the valley and found a place to camp on the trail in 4640 meters. It was pitch black, before we were ready to cook our dinner.
Day 13, Choro trek day 1: 25.6 km (7 hours and 55 minutes) Ascent 140 meters and descent 2425 meters
Start/finish elevation 4640/2370 meters
Highest elevation 4640 meter
This was the spot, where we had set up the tent last night. Pretty much right on the trail
We were ready to descent down through the valley to reach the Choro Trek
Esben still chasing the perfect lama photo – do you think he got it? I love this picture
Close up photos
Not much navigation on our way down through the valley, because we knew that we just had to go downhill, at this point in the upper part of the valley there was no trail to follow. The lack of navigation resulted in a small detour between some pretty big rocks, but we were quickly back on track.
Reaching the trailhead of the Choro Trek at Samana Pampa
We had studied a write report “El Choro Trek unguided, Bolivia” from Desk to Glory (Thank you) while preparing for the hike in the Cordrillera Real. So we, that this place “Samana Pampa” had a small tienda, where we could resupply food. It is also possible to camp for the night, but the us it was time for our first cup of coffee in 2 weeks. The coffee was thin, but it was still amazing together with a piece of chocolate.
Resupplying on the Choro Trek is possible during the hike, but bare in mind that it is also expensive (the locals have to bring the supplies all the way out here). Before leaving Samana Pampa remember to register in the book on the counter. This is not the official place to register, which is further down the trail. Buying a few snacks and two bags of instant noodles for two meals.
From here it was easy to follow the trail
Stopped at the official house (it looked brand new) for registration, 20 Bob per person. The money is used for maintaining the trail, and during the hike we saw several places, were the dense underbrush had been cleared, one of the hanging bridges had been rebuild and parts of the trail had been rebuilt after the heavy rainfall in February 2018 had flushed it away.
It was downhill all the way – we descended 2425 meters in elevation over 25.6 km
It was like the cloud-cover was getting more dense in the valley, but we kept underneath it due to our descent. A descent like this can be really hard on the knees. We both felt it even after getting in “hiking-shape” through the Cordrillera Real. So keep that it in mind.
As we came to the first hanging bridge, we saw that it had been taken out by the rainfall in February 2018. One of the towers had been torn away and moved several meters down river. The bridge was completely gone.
But the locals had build a new hanging bridge out of the debris from the old bridge
We had now descended so many meters in elevation, and we felt the humidity and the trees and leaves were getting greener
We camped for 15 Bob for one tent and two persons at camping Lucia – additional I could buy 4 eggs, which we had for dinner together with one pack of instant noodles
Day 14, Choro trek day 2: 22.4 km (7 hours and 40 minutes) Ascent 720 meters and descent 1085 meters
Start/finish elevation 2370/2005 meters
Highest elevation 2300 meter
The next morning we had to cross the river again, and a more simple replacement for the destroyed hanging bridge had been made. The temporary bridge did its job, and we made it to the other side with dry feet.
I had really been looking forward to all the beautiful hanging bridges, but the third one was in so bad condition, that it was not possible to walk across – would we ever get to walk across just one hanging bridge?
There are several campgrounds on the Choro Trek, this one served as a good spot for a break. Also most of the campgrounds have a small tienda, this even had more instant noodles, Coca Cola, chocolate bars, eggs, canned tuna etc. So you can do the Choro Trek in 5 days instead of 3 if you want more time to enjoy the hike. We bought some snacks and two more packages of instant noodles.
Our view over the canyon has we left our break spot
Lunch spot and our last meal of soy protein and polenta. After eating 16 meals with soy protein over the last 2 weeks, I had to put on a happy face to get Esben eat it . Ketchup is a lifesaver.
Back on the trail the second day was a mix of uphill and downhill
This was also the most interesting day to notice the old Inca trail. Several places along the way the staircase was intact, and other places the trail was supported underneath by tall stone walls. We found it very beautiful and fascinating, how the Inca’s had build this trail to last for so many years.
A long this part of the trail dry stone walls had been built, and we also found signs of old buildings
Life in the jungle
Finally we reached an intact hanging bridge, the wooden “planks” or “sticks” almost brand new – Well we got to walk across it !
It was time to camp as we reached the last campground “Sandillani” on the Choro Trek. The campground and hostel (yes, they have beds with mattresses) is located just 8 km before the small village, Chairo where we would finish our hike. They even have cold showers, and knowing that we would have to spend a couple of hours in a mini-bus with other people when going back to La Paz, we paid for a shower.
This place also had a more well stocked tienda, where we bought chocolate, crackers, beer and eggs – Sunset on the Choro Trek
Day 15, Choro trek day 3: 8 km (2 hours and 20 minutes) Ascent 15 meters and descent 700 meters
Start/finish elevation 2005/1280 meters
Highest elevation 1960 meter
Not much to say about the last 8 kilometers – it was downhill, and the trail was still easy to follow. As we arrived in Chairo, we bought an ice cream, while the nice lady in the store would find us a “taxi” that could drive us to Coroico. She came back with her son, that would drive us to Coroica for 160 Bob. First we thought is was a bit pricy, but the drive took one hour, and he also had to drive back to Chairo. If you can hook up with other people on the Choro Trek, and finish at the same time you can take a mini-bus from Chairo to Coroico, which cost less (don’t know how much), but we didn’t meet anybody else while we did the hike.
In Coroico we bought a few more snacks, fresh fruit and a piece of bread for the trip in the mini-bus back to La Paz. In Coroico we found the bus station, which is just next to the football station, where two local teams were playing. We got the last two seats in the mini-bus (35 Bob per person), and with in two minutes we were racing towards La Paz. Yes, I mean racing. We asked one of the other passengers, who told us, that this trip usually takes 2,5 hours, but after just 1 hour and 45 minutes the mini-bus pulled over – We had arrived in La Paz.
We had to walk 10 blocks before getting to the WHITE teleférico, buying a few snacks on the way (eating a “flødebolle). Relaxing in the teleférico we were almost back, where we had started 2 weeks early in La Paz at Hotel La Fonte. We have had an amazing hike both in the Cordrillera Real and on the Choro Trek. They are extremely different, but a challenge to walk for 12 days in the Cordrillera Real and what a way to finish by walking downhill for 3 days enjoying plus zero temperatures. Check out our overview of the hike here and to download the GPX tracks: “Cordrillera Real and Choro Trek (Overview)”.