Los Yungas Area

Overview

Introduction

Los Yungas is a beautiful area of deep valleys separating the high Andes from the Amazon basin. This tropical region is where many African slaves found refuge after escaping the mining camps of Potosi (many of their descendants have remained in Los Yungas). The trip to Los Yungas from La Paz can be harrowing—the mountain roads are narrow—but the scenery is spectacular and constantly varied.

Although Los Yungas is sometimes visited as a day trip from La Paz, the trip can be tiring (and, at times, nerve-racking). We think you'll want—and deserve—a day of rest in either Coroico or Chullumani. Both these towns are beautiful and the weather is warm enough for swimming (most hotels have pools). Coroico, in particular, has several nice hotels and restaurants. Chullumani is farther away and attracts fewer tourists (which, for some, is part of its appeal). Horses are available to tour the terraced coca fields, to trot along the running rivers or to carry you through the beautiful, hilly country.

The cloud forest in the higher altitudes differs considerably from the lowland jungles: In the clouds, ferns and moss grow from the trees—a magical scene accented by cool rivers and clear cascades of water. There are thermal baths and good fishing, too. The region is a great place to meet local Aymaras, many of whom still carry their belongings on their backs in brightly colored wraps called ahuayos.

If you really want to get to know the region, you can walk from La Paz to Coroico along an Inca trail. It's quite an adventure: The trip takes three to four days and follows a magnificent stone walkway over a high pass (15,750 ft/4,800 m) and then down to the moist heat of the Yungas. Guides for this trek can be hired through travel agencies in La Paz. Los Yungas is about 60 mi/100 km northeast of La Paz.

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