The "Pearl of the Andes" is often described as having the most beautiful setting in Bolivia. The surrounding valley has an abundance of trees and flowers. Though there aren't many attractions in town, it serves as a base for hiking. A number of Inca trails begin in the area, including the Maipiri Trail (one of the longest intact pre-Columbian footpaths in the Americas), which runs between Sorata and Mai-piri. Two other good hikes go from Sorata to the lowlands: the Takesi Trail and the Gold Diggers Trail, which is still very much in use by Bolivians. (The trail was named by Incan peasants who used it to transport gold to their overlords.)

We highly recommend taking one of these hikes if you're in reasonably good physical condition and have about six days to spare: You'll not only have an athletic adventure in a beautiful landscape (ranging from icy passes to steamy jungles), but you'll also have an unforgettable cultural and historical experience. The walks end in peaceful towns where you can take a break before returning to La Paz. The more adventurous may want to climb, rather than trekā€”it's possible to reach altitudes of 19,750 ft/6,000 m from Sorata. English-speaking guides, Amerindian porters and mules are available for hire locally and in La Paz. The less-driven traveler will find that Sorata is a nice place just to sit in the plaza under the palm trees or to relax on the porch of the hotel. The colonial architecture in such a beautiful setting and the peaceful pace of life make Sorata a charming place to hang out. 45 mi/70 km northwest of La Paz.

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