Peru & The Quarry Trail Trek to Macchu Picchu – Travel Tips & Tricks

Peru, famous for one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. There are so many ways to see Machu Picchu, some more common than others. The known Inca Trail is one, but have you heard of the Quarry Trail?

Everybody has heard of the Inca trail in Peru, and for many, it’s a bucket list item for when they finally plan a trip to Peru and visit the infamous Machu Picchu. My husband and I were firmly in this boat when we booked our Peru intrepid tour. 

But when we were asked what hiking option we wished to do: Inca trail or quarry trail, we were intrigued. What was this quarry trail trek option?

The quarry trail is another hiking option for those wanting to see the Peruvian landscape and Machu Picchu and in our opinion, turned out to be our best option! Keep reading to see why 🙂 

How can you visit Machu Picchu?

There are various itineraries for Machu Picchu, but generally, the three most common options for visiting Machu Picchu are: 

  1. No hiking, you catch a train to the town Aguas Caliente and from there, hop on one of the many regular buses from the town up to Machu Picchu. This is ideal for visitors who don’t wish to trek or have limited time visiting this wonder of the world. 
  2. Hike the very well known 4D/3N Inca trail and on the last day, enter Machu Picchu at sunrise through the sun gate. 
  3. Hike alternative trails, including the 3D/2N Quarry Trail. At the end of the 3rd day after trekking, check into a hotel in Aguas Caliente and on the following morning (4th day), catch a bus from Aguas Caliente to Machu Picchu. 

For options 1 and 2 there is a wealth of information out there already, particularly from people who have hiked the Inca trail and lived to tell the tale. 

Below we would like to share our experience of choosing option 3 where we hiked the Quarry Trail and why we chose it over the classic Inca Trail. 

What is the Quarry Trail?

This 26km 3 day, 2 night hike takes you through gorgeous Peruvian landscapes, ascending to a maximum altitude of 4,450m (14,599ft) – slightly higher than the classic Inca Trail. Permits are not required to hike this trail, and while you think that may mean more hikers, it’s the opposite! 

Day 1: Beginning at 9 am, you first drive to Choquequilla, a ceremonial place for the Inca for a ‘test run’ mini hike. After the visit, you’re driven to the starting point at Rafq’a where you begin the 7km ascent from 3,600m up to your campsite at 3,750m. 

Day 2: From here, you’ll trek for 14km through two passes, reaching your highest elevation of 4,450m at Kuychicassa pass. You’ll see sacred sites including Intipunku (‘Sun gate’, though not to be confused with the Machu Picchu sungate!) and camp at Choquetacarpo at 3,750m.  

Day 3: Another early morning wake up, but with a more leisurely 7km hike back down to Ollantaytambo, with stops including Kachiqata quarry for which the trek gets its name. You’ll arrive back in Ollantaytambo town around midday and catch a train back to Aguas Caliente and spend the night in a hotel there. 

Day 4: After yesterdays shower and good night rest in a comfortable bed, take a bus from the town up to Machu Picchu at 6 am and catch the sun hitting Machu Picchu first thing in the morning. You’ll spend the day in Machu Picchu with a guided tour from 9 am – 11 am. 

Why choose the Quarry Trail over the Inca Trail?

While we didn’t do the Inca Trail, we were part of a group where fellow group members did do the classic route, and of course, we couldn’t help but compare notes. Keep in mind though our observations are based on what we experienced and what we factually know about both the Inca Trail and Quarry Trail. 

Below are some of our thoughts on why the Quarry Trail was an excellent fit for us and why it could be a better alternative for you too:

1)    You won’t be hiking with 499 of your closest friends 

Perhaps the best differentiator between the Quarry Trail and Inca Trail is the number of other tourist hikers you’ll encounter along your trek. On the Inca Trail, permits for 500 hikers are issued each day and sell out months in advance. This means that throughout your 4 days, you’ll be hiking alongside many other tourist groups, tour guides and their porters. 

In contrast, you are virtually hiking alone with your group on the Quarry Trail. During our 3 days, we encountered one other hiking group briefly on our second day; otherwise, it was all locals going about their daily lives. You truly feel you are trekking off the beaten path in the serene Peruvian wilderness! 

2) Be treated to unbeatable views 

Every day during our 3-day hike brought the most incredible views of Peruvian mountains and valleys. The scenery from start to finish was spectacular, with a particular highlight waking up on the 3rd day in the clouds as you looked out to views of Nevado Veronica mountain.   

3) No dreaded stairs

If you’ve read up on the Inca Trek, you’ll know the second day of the trek is essentially a giant stair master session at altitude. On the Quarry Trail however, there are virtually no stairs! It is predominantly meandering paths through the Peruvian landscape, and while there are definite inclines or steep parts, there is no full day dedicated to feeling the burn like in the Inca Trail. So, if you suffer from bad knees or ankles, this could be a key difference. 

4) Stress less with emergency horses! 

If you are worried about fitness levels or injuries, a bonus aspect of the Quarry Trail is it comes with emergency horses. Due to the terrain, pack horses are used to carry all bags, food and equipment (as opposed to the traditional porters on the Inca trail). Included in this team of horses are two horses designated “emergency horses”, which as the name implies, can be used in the case of any individuals falling ill or injured. 

On our trek, we had one lady fall ill with the flu on the first day, and two others suffer more severe altitude sickness. So for some parts of the trek, under the request of our guide they were popped up onto these horses. If these individuals had on the Inca Trail, they would have been forced to ‘tough it out’ or likely be turned back to town by their guides. 

Another minor side benefit of having horses as opposed to porters is the weight limit for your packed duffel is a little bit more lax. On the Inca Trail bags are weighed precisely to ensure Porters are not carrying additional weight, however, on the Quarry Trail this didn’t happen. That’s not to say you can bring your whole suitcase though as the duffel bags provided are limited in size anyways. 

5) Still physically challenging

Although emergency horses are provided, they are just that – only for emergencies and when needed. You are still climbing to elevations of 4,450m, and as two relatively fit and young people, we found the Quarry Trail physically demanding without being overwhelming. 

6) Meet locals and experience their way of life

A wonderful aspect of the Quarry Trek is passing through small local towns and having many opportunities to meet locals and see their way of life. 

Before embarking on our tour, our group leader took us to the farmer markets where we were able to purchase fresh fruits or biscuits to distribute to families we met along the way. 

On the morning of our second day, our guide provided wonderful insight into the lives of local Peruvians, with one family kindly inviting us into their homes and allowing us to see firsthand how they lived. 

7)    Only 3 days and 2 nights camping

Another benefit of the Quarry Trail for us was the length of the trek. At 3 days and 2 nights, it is 1 night shorter than the Inca Trail and we felt it was the perfect amount of time for us.  

8) You’ll be clean and well-rested for your visit to Machu Picchu

 When you finish trekking on the 3rd day and return to a hotel in Aguas Caliente, you’ll be rewarded with the best hot shower of your life. You’ll be able to sleep in a comfortable bed the night before and be well-rested (not to mention clean!) when you enter Machu Picchu. That simple luxury should not be discounted! 

9) See Machu Picchu without the hordes of tourists & still visit the famous Sungate

As you catch a bus up to Machu Picchu on the morning of the 4th day, you can be one of the first people to enter Machu Picchu. You’ll be able to experience the site people-free. As we arrived in the first wave of buses, we were also treated to seeing the first rays of sunlight hit the Incan site. 

A common misconception is that the Inca Trail allows you to be amongst the first people entering Machu Picchu. Whilst it does allow you a magical sight of seeing Machu Picchu through the Sungate at sunrise (albeit at a distance), you’ll need time to hike back down to the site. In contrast, those visiting Machu Picchu from Aguas Caliente by bus will enter the grounds well before the hikers get there. 

10) You’ll still be able to see the famous Intipunku Sungate

 After entering Machu Picchu by the main gates and snapping a few hundred photos, there is still the opportunity to hike up to the famous Intipuku Sungate. And the best part? By the time you arrive all the Inca Trek hikers will have started their descent down – so there won’t be a huge crowd! 

Also, whilst not the Machu Picchu Sungate, there is also a sun gate to be seen on the Quarry Trail. The vista from this viewpoint simply took our breath away. Emerging from the mist, it offered incredible views over the valley and was well worth the slight detour! This sun gate is located just before you reach the camp on the 2nd day and only adds an extra 15-20 minutes of walking time.  

11) No 3 am wake-up call! 

On the 4th and last day of the Inca Trail, hikers experience a 3 am wake up call and approx 1.5-hour wait in the cold outside the gates of Machu Picchu. While the gates only open at 5:30 am, many groups get up early to be the first ones in. This early wake up is also necessitated by the fact that porters need to pack up campsites by 4 am to be able to catch their early train back to town. If they miss the early morning one, their next train isn’t till nightfall! 

In contrast, if you are travelling to Machu Pichu by bus from Aguas Caliente, you can head down to the bus stop at any time you wish. If you do want to be one of the first ones in, however, you may need to start lining up from 4:30/5am. Being said, we only arrived at the bus stop at 5:50 am but through our wonderful guide, were able to jump straight onto a bus and bypass the queue. We’re still not quite sure how he managed it, so definitely don’t bank on your guide being able to do it too!  

Are you interested in booking the Quarry Trail?

We booked our Quarry Trail trek as part of our Peru/Bolivia intrepid tour here. [https://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/peru/explore-peru-bolivia-116640]

Just some final bits and pieces:

  • Keep an eye out for travel expos or sign up to Intrepid sale updates as you can easily get this tour at a discount. 
  • Remember to check your insurance covers activities at altitude!
  • Remember to check the weather at that time of year and bring layers. You get pretty hot trekking during the day but at night, temperatures are cold.  
  • If you have them, pack your trekking boots. 

 Being said, my husband and I completed this Quarry Trek with regular sneakers (and terrible tread!) with no issues. Luckily it didn’t rain during our trek as if it did, I think it may have been a different story…3

Check out some of our tips and tricks when travelling to Peru.

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10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Peru: Travel Tips & Tricks

Peru is one of the most beautiful countries, tucked away one the West Coast of South America. Home to one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu, Peru is a must see destination for any casual or adventure traveler. But before you go, here are some tips and tricks we picked up on our journey through Peru.

When we visited Peru, we had the luxury of being on an intrepid tour so whilst it generates a different perspective when travelling, there are nevertheless a few travel tips and tricks we picked up along the way.  

1) Yellow fever vaccination 

Per the SmartTraveller website, “You’ll need to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia if you’ve visited Peru in the previous six days.” [https://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/americas/south/pages/peru.aspx#entry_and_exit]

The US CDC also has the recommendation to be vaccinated for any travellers heading to the Amazonas, Cusco or Puno region. To be safe, add yellow fever vaccination to your list of things to do before you leave the country – particularly if you are heading to the Amazon region. Just remember to ideally have your vaccination 10 days before your arrival in the risky areas.

Looking out over the Amazon River, just as the sun sets behind an oncoming storm.
Looking out over the Amazon River, just as the sun sets behind an oncoming storm.

The good news is, the validity of the yellow fever vaccination was also extended in 2016 from 10 years to the duration of a person’s life – so you only need to be vaccinated once for life! If you are ever considering heading to Africa, that’s another incentive to get it as the vaccination is mandatory for travel to most African countries.

Don’t have your yellow fever vaccination or need a prescription but you’re just about to fly out?

If you’re like us and suddenly realise you may need a yellow fever vaccination to enter Bolivia (let alone head back to Australia!), don’t panic. There is a medical clinic at Lima airport who can get you vaccinated in under 5 minutes. Located beneath a set of escalators, next to the women’s bathrooms and directly opposite the gate 11 exit, this little medical clinic is a godsend. For only SOL145 you can get fully vaccinated for yellow fever (or measles, hep b or even the flu if you need!).

2) Don’t fall for tourist trap mobile plans! 

When we arrived in Lima, like most tourists, we checked out the mobile plans available at the airport. USD20 for 2GB by Entel or USD49 for 3 GB and unlimited calls nationally in 30 days seem somewhat reasonable when compared to Australian prices, but felt slightly expensive for Peru. We held off, and we are so glad we did!

A good tip and trick, is to research the best mobile plans before travelling to the country. But I guess that’s why you’re here!

Our tip is to go to the Claro store direct when you arrive. There was no waiting time, and including the SIM activation fee, we ended up only paying SOL35 (~AUD15) for 3.5GB of data over 30 days – much cheaper than any ‘tourist’ package or plan we saw at the airport. 

3) Withdrawing cash fee-free

While Visa is the most accepted card throughout Peru, like many other South American countries, cash is still widely used and convenient, particularly for tipping, paying for local food or souvenirs and entry to local attractions. As such, you might find yourself withdrawing cash quite often.

A couple of tips and tricks so you won’t be hit with local ATM fees? 

Look for Banco de la Nacion, or the “Multi red” red coloured ATM signs. It’s one of the few ATM’s in Peru with no local ATM fees.

 If these are hard to find, the lowest fee-paying ATM is BCP costing SOL13.50 (~AUD6) per withdrawal. 

 Whatever you do though, avoid BBVA which charges SOL25 (~AU11) per withdrawal! 

4) Tips and tricks for purchasing Alpaca products

Peru is famous for its alpaca and baby alpaca wear, however, be warned as every street corner vendor will swear what they’re selling you is “genuine baby alpaca”. If it costs only BOB$50 (~AU$20) for a baby alpaca jumper, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably not what they’re claiming it to be.

Meeting our first Lama up close and personal.  Time for hug!
Meeting our first Lama up close and personal. Time for hug!

Many of the jumpers sold by many stall owners are a synthetic blend, so make sure you know what you’re paying for. The basic test for real alpaca is it should feel cold to the touch – always, even if in sunlight. If you can as well, break off some fibres and light them as real alpaca will burn like hair whereas synthetic will melt. Genuine 100% alpaca jumpers will costs no less than BOB$200 (at a minimum with baby alpaca even more!) but if you’re still unsure head to stores such as Inca Brand or LAM where you’ll pay a bit more but be confident the garments are what they say they are.

Being said, a blend of alpaca and wool still makes a beautiful jumper!

5) Don’t drink the local water 

Unfortunately, all water in Peru is not potable, so you’ll need to purchase large bottles of water if you haven’t invested in a lifestraw. Many hotels will leave you smaller bottles of water for brushing your teeth, but we brushed our teeth using just tap water during our travels with no issues.

6) Allow yourself at least 2 days in Cusco to acclimatise

Cusco is often considered the gateway to Machu Picchu, but in itself is one of the most beautiful cities in Peru. 

 If you are flying into Cusco from Lima, remember to buffer time to acclimatise to the altitude as Cusco sits at 3,400m above sea level. In our opinion, I would allow at least 2 days in Cusco to acclimatise and see the former centre of the Inca Empire. This beautiful city has a lot to offer and is a great place to pick up any last-minute trekking items or shopping!

The one and only, Machu Picchu.
The one and only, Machu Picchu.

We are not doctors by any stretch of the imagination, but some key things to know about altitude sickness are:

  • Altitude sickness unfortunately can affect anyone – it doesn’t matter if you’re the tallest, strongest, most lean or yoga-loving person – there’s no way to predict who and how badly it will impact an individual.
  • There is medication you can take, commonly called Diamox, or Acetazolamide (if you need to buy it in Peru) that can alleviate the symptoms but it’s best to start these 2 days before you arrive at altitude. Be warned though it is a diuretic, so it will make you pee a lot more. It’s almost a glimpse into life at the age of 80+….
  • Stay hydrated and aim to drink 1.5 – 2L of water per day. Hydration plays a crucial role in helping you acclimatise!
  • If you are starting to feel the effects of altitude sickness i.e. headaches, dizziness, nausea or a general feeling of unwellness, rest immediately and if it gets worse, see a doctor. 

 Most hotels also hold oxygen tanks for guests as having 10-15 minutes of oxygen can also help alleviate the symptoms, so ask if you need it! 

7) Make sure to try the local favourite ceviche

Ceviche is fresh, raw fish marinated in citrus juice, typically spiced and is a highly popular dish in Peru, and definite must-try. Throughout Peru ceviche is prepared slightly differently, so why not try it in each region and see which one is your favourite?

8) Don’t flush toilet paper

Alas, like almost every other South American country, flushing toilet paper is a big no-no. Instead, look for the small covered bin in every toilet and kindly dispose of your used papers in there.

9) Try cocoa tea

The famous local cocoa tea is worth trying, if only for the cultural significance the cocoa plant holds in this part of the world. Sworn by locals to combat altitude sickness, it can come in handy those first few days acclimatising in Cusco. If you’re not a tea fan, try chewing it like the locals! (I warn you now though, it gives you a definite buzz if you chew it!) As it is a stimulant, it’s best tried in the morning rather than just before bedtime. 

Having a hot chocolate, looking out over the main square in Cusco, Peru.
Having a hot chocolate, looking out over the main square in Cusco, Peru.

 Also, don’t try and take any back into Australia – I’m 100% sure you’ll be on the next episode of Border Security.

10) Visiting Machu Picchu?

Make sure you’re ready for crowds and entry requirements.

With visitors topping over 5,000 a day in the past, the Peruvian government in 2019 introduced a host of new legislation governing Machu Pichu and restricting the number of visitors to 2,500 per day.

The one and only, Machu Picchu.
The one and only, Machu Picchu.

Check out our post here Machu Picchu tips and tricks, on the top 14 things to know before visiting Macchu Picchu. This will help make sure you’re ready for the best experience.

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5 of Our Must See & Do Activities In Bolivia!

Bolivia is much more than just the salt flats. From lagoons, to mountains, deserts, lakes and forests, there is something for everyone! Here’s 5 of our must see and do activities, when planning your trip to Bolivia.

Bolivia is a country that takes your breath away. Both literally and figuratively! Its largest city La Paz sits at greater than 3,600m above sea level which makes it the highest unofficial capital city in the world (Sucre is its official capital, but La Paz is the country’s seat of government). Whilst acclimatising to the altitude can prove tricky, it’s well worth the trouble.

Although most famous for its salt flats, that’s not all Bolivia has to offer. Beyond the salt flats there are equally breathtaking lagoons, mountains, deserts and lakes. The true beauty of Bolivia we experienced is in the variety of landscapes we passed through and richness of experiences on offer. It’s the only country on our trip where we’ve managed to experience -18°C degrees at geysers above 5,000m and mountain bike through tropical forest climates within the same week.

There is a wealth of activities to do in Bolivia, but below are our 5 favourite must do things in Bolivia.

1) Take a 3 day tour of the salt flats and surrounds, departing from Uyuni

Most people have seen at least one photo of the infamous Bolivian salt flats with its mirror effect or mind deceiving endless plains of white salt. At over 10,582 square kilometres in size, it’s the largest salt flats in the world, with Neil Armstrong famously spotting it from the moon and mistaking it for a giant glacier.  

It’s so popular now that Japanese tourists are even known by locals to fly for over a day just to reach the salt flats, stay for 3 days taking photos before promptly flying back home again! (We call that dedication to the gram)

All that aside, it’s an absolute must visit when in Bolivia. Rather than merely doing a 1 day salt flat tour though, we’d highly recommend taking the 3 day tour through the salt flats and surrounds. Note it may say ‘3 day salt flat tour’ but typically tour companies only spend 1 day on the salt flats with other 2 days spent exploring other equally impressive and beautiful Bolivian landscapes.

Although it is extended periods of driving each day, there are many stops along the way, and the driving will be worth it in the end 😊

Our recommendation:

  • Most tour companies will stop at key sites such as the red lagoon, arbol de piedra, antiplanic lagoon and hot springs, however not all visit the lesser known black lagoon. This lagoon with it’s cute long eared rabbits was the highlight for us in the 2 days outside the salt flats!
  • A 3 day tour takes you into some of the most remote places in Bolivia, away from big cities and lights. It’s therefore a perfect time to do some night shots of the sky, if you have the right equipment. You can check out some tips to do this here.

Look out for our tips and tricks post for Bolivia coming soon with things to look out for when booking your tour operator!

2) La Paz cable car

When we arrived in La Paz, our first impressions of the city as we drove through the congested, dirty streets was somewhat lacking. Considering it is Bolivia’s largest city, home to over 2.3 million people it lacked the beauty and expanse one usually finds in a major city. But rest assured, you can find this in La Paz if you ride their extensive Teleferico (cable car) system.
To see and appreciate the beauty of La Paz, you have to go high! High above the streets where you get a birds-eye view of the valley across which the city is sprawled.

Opening in 2014 as a means to improve congestion and reduce travel time for locals between La Paz and El Alto, the Teleferico is an easy system of coloured aerial cable car lines and an inexpensive way to see the city. Costing only 3 Bolivianos per ticket per line (~AU64 cents), you can ride the cable car system in a circular route around the city in a few hours.

When we were there in May 2019, the Teleferico was never congested and with its prominent coloured lines, dead easy to navigate.

Our recommendation:

  • The red (linea roja) and yellow lines (linea amarillo) give the best birds-eye view of the city, so they’re a must-see. Hop off at the stop El Alto and perhaps if it’s a Thursday or Sunday peruse the supposedly largest outdoor market Mercado 16 de Julio in South America. It’s a giant flea market with everything from pots and pans to car parts.
  • The newer white line (Linea blanco) travels through downtown city buildings too, so provides a different and unique perspective to the other lines.
  • The cable car system opens late, so grab your camera and take the purple line (linea morada) to El Alto to get some great night shots of La Paz!
View of the cit of La Paz in Bolivia
The view from the La Paz cable car

3) Visit Potosi mine

Located to the south east of La Paz (2.5 hr flight or 8 hr drive away) lies the seemingly mundane but historically significant town of Potosi. First founded in 1546, it was once one of the wealthiest cities in the world and larger than Paris and London at the time. Potosi as a silver mining town was established by the Spanish and for 473 years has produced over an estimated 60,000 tonnes of silver. In the second half of the 16th century alone, Potosi accounted for over 60% of all silver mined in the world.  
In keeping with true colonial fashion, the spoils of Potosi were promptly shipped back to Spain where the wealth of the city funded the Spanish colonisation of the New World. It is famously quoted “You could build a silver bridge from Potosí to Madrid from what was mined here – and one back with the bones of those that died taking it out”.

A visit to Potosi mine itself is an incredible opportunity to learn about the history of the town, the process of silver mining and importantly get a glimpse into the modern Potosi miners life. We will warn you though that a mine visit is not for the claustrophobic as to first enter the mine, you need to crouch down and walk through a small mine shaft opening. Once inside, the tunnels do open up to standing height however it is never what you would call spacious!

It is a surreal feeling standing in a mine shaft dug out and still standing from colonial times. The most eye opening part of the tour is being able to see first hand the conditions and working life of the modern Potosi miner. It’s harsh, back-breaking work in what can only be viewed as unsafe conditions with minimal safety equipment, large pits on the side of narrow walkways descending stories down and blasts of dynamite echoing in seemingly close chambers. Hearing about teenage workers and the alcoholism amongst miners is a sobering and sad experience, and one we’ll remember for a long time.

In total, we descended approx. 100-200m into the mine for about 45 minutes, but trust us when we say it felt like much longer and further and never have we been happier to see day light again.

Our recommendation:

  • We highly recommend taking your tour with a miner collective, so all tours are run by miners and profits shared amongst them.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. You’ll be given a thin protective jumpsuit, face mask, hard hat with torch and gumboots for the tour.
  • Visit the National Mint of Bolivia too in Potosi to learn more about the cities fascinating history and see how silver was minted into currency in colonial times. Whatever you do though, don’t forget to bring a jacket as it’s the worlds coldest museum as our tour guide liked to joke!

4) Visit Bolivia’s capital city Sucre

What La Paz lacks in beauty and grand buildings, Sucre makes up for as the political capital of Bolivia. With a population of only 300,000, it is perhaps the antithesis of La Paz, being a relaxed, congestion free city and pedestrian friendly – relative to La Paz! Being lower in altitude at only 2,800 m above sea level, during winter it also has a warmer climate than other cities such as La Paz, Potosi or the salt flats, so can be a welcome warm relief.

Try out local ice cream parlour Vaca Fria.

Known as the ‘white city’ for its fondness of whitewashed buildings, Sucre is a beautiful showcase of colonial architecture and a definite must for those looking for a few relaxing days!  

Our recommendation:

  • For great views of Sucre visit the recoleta, a little piazza close to downtown that overlooks the city and close to downtown, and Convento de San Felipe. A beautiful old monestary, climb to the top at sunset and stand on the roof for a beautiful view of Sucre.
  • For something different check out Parque Cretácico located 5 km from the city centre. Accidentally discovered in 1994, over 5,000 dinosaur tracks preserved in what use to be the banks of a river, were slowly revealed after the top layer of sediment from a mining area eroded. It currently covers an area of 1,200m x 110m and is one of the largest deposits of footprints in the world, and is interestingly seen as a vertical wall now, thanks to tectonic plate shifts.
  • It is rather odd walking down to a historical site that is located right next to a cement quarry, but it is definitely cool seeing footprints from 65 million years ago up close.  The park provides tours in English as part of the entry ticket and if you decide to go, be warned – there are a lot of stairs!
  • My personal favourite – try out local ice cream parlour Vaca Fria. They have delicious flavours, but my favourite is the yoghurt ice cream with honey and quinoa pops. It’s so refreshingly it honestly feels like you’re eating a breakfast snack, so your guilt factor is way less!

5) “You have to do death road!” -Biking down the notorious North Yungas road

Once labelled the “most dangerous road in the world”, the reputation of North Yungas Road precedes itself. Nicknamed death road, there have been many write-ups about this infamous road, but perhaps the main thing to note if you are considering embarking on this 70km bike ride is that in 2006 a new much safer road was opened for cars. This meant the part of North Yungas road most famous for car accidents and deaths is now largely left to just cyclers and quad bikers as cars now take the safer route. Thankfully on our ride, we didn’t have to compete against cars for space on the narrow dirt road.

Once labelled the “most dangerous road in the world”

That being said, it is still dangerous and if you have never ridden a bike before, Bolivia’s death road is perhaps not the time to start. If however, you are a competent rider, this bike ride is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the views you get are genuine showstoppers.

The most common response I got from people who had visited Bolivia when I told them we were going was “You have to do death road!”. Now that I’ve joined these ranks of people, it’s my turn to say it.

We’ll be posting a detailed write up on death road and our experience shortly so stay tuned for it! In the meantime check out our gallery here.

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