While I was in Sucre, I really wanted to do another multi-day trek – but unfortunately the companies I emailed never responded to my enquiries (a very common and frustrating occurrence in Bolivia). I subsequently told one of the companies about this and the person I was talking to seemed genuinely horrified that nobody had gotten back to me. He went and found my email in their system, and sure enough – there was no reply. He apologised profusely. I pointed out (though not quite in as many words – too nice for that) that had someone replied, I would have been able to join the trek that was scheduled and they would have made more money.
Anyhoo – this left me with limited options of getting out of the city to explore the surroundings. So I popped my head into most of the agencies in town to ask what they had going on over the 4 days I’d be there. Turns out, all but one had absolutely nothing. Now I realise it is low season, but there were a reasonably large number of gringos in Sucre … how can they not have any groups going anywhere??!! So I signed up for the 1 day tour with Cretassic Tours.
The main reason I was keen on this tour was that you got to walk part of the Inca Trail that exists in Bolivia (just to be different, I’m keen to walk the less-well-known Inca Trails that traverse a lot of the Andes in South America 🙂 Like when I hiked the Inca Trail in Ecuador ). Actually, it turns out this trail near Sucre was built by the Yuras well before the Incas (hence it is actually known as the Pre-hispanic trail), and is quite different to the typical Inca trail. In particular, it is much wider and does not have any stairs. This was because its original purpose was for trade between the highlands of Bolivia (quinoa) and the jungle regions (coca leaves) and was designed for the llama herds that would transport the goods between the two.
When the Incas came to this part of Bolivia, they simply acquisitioned the trail and improved upon it, including adding some features to help with water management.
Given that we started at the highest part of the trail at Chataquila, it was a very pleasant 1.5-2 hour hike down to the valley floor at Chaunaca. The upper reaches of the trail are mostly original and made of quite large rocks placed together to form the path, but towards the bottom the trail has had to be reconstructed, and they have used much smaller rocks for the job. Give me the orginal trail any day! It was much easier to walk on.
Once we’d reached Chaunaca, we jumped back in the 4WD and headed to Maragua for lunch at what seemed to be a deserted hostel, and then to the lookout over the Maragua “Crater”.
I say “crater” because this feature is not caused by a meteorite or a volcano or anything as sudden and dramatic as that. Apparently it is an example of where several geosynclines are meeting in the one area. And to be honest, it is nowhere near as obvious and pronounced from the ground as the other craters (meteoric and volcanic) that I have seen. I miss studying geology!
After our short visit to the “crater”, it was off in search of more dinosaur footprints.
First up though – were more marine fossils.
As we were walking along, our guide, Grover, was telling us how he very recently discovered the biggest dinosaur footprint ever found. Given the amount of joking around he’d done throughout the whole day, we all went “yeah sure”. We didn’t get to visit that footprint (though it was quite close by), but instead visited more trackways, similar to what I’d seen in Toro Toro National Park.
They really were lots of them, and all over the place.
More Theropod tracks (believed to be Carnotauro Sastrei), Sauropod tracks (believed to be Saltasaurus Loricatus) and Ornitischia tracks (believed to be Ankylosaur).
They were cool – as dinosaur footprints tend to be – but I think I was a bit dinosaur footprinted out by this stage :-/ The craziest thing was hiking away towards the car and looking back to see the local kids playing soccer on the dinosaur trackways.
We stopped off at a beautiful lookout in the Cordillera de Frailes to break up the trip back to Sucre – and this is where Grover proved with news articles that in fact he did discover the largest dinosaur footprint very recently. This, after me telling him about “the boy that cried ‘wolf'” earlier in the day 😉
Recommendation: I highly recommend the one-day trip, particularly if you haven’t stopped off in Toro Toro National Park. It gets very hot so take lots of water as well as sun protection.
Cost: 250 Bolivianos which includes an English-speaking guide, transportation and lunch.
Time: 8 hours