One of Bolivia’s best and most popular treks, the Takesi Trail (2–3 days) is a fantastic 40km hike starting near La Paz that crosses the Cordillera Real and plunges down into the steamy forested valleys of the Yungas, emerging at the village of Yanacachi, west of Chulumani on the road from La Paz. Also known as the Camino del Inca (the Inca Trail) the Takesi is one of the finest remaining pre-Columbian paved roads in Bolivia, and passes through an amazing variety of scenery. Relatively easy to follow and not too strenuous, it’s ideal for less experienced trekkers and can be done without a guide.
Ventilla to Estancia Takesi
The Takesi Trail starts at Ventilla, a small village set at an altitude of 3200m some 20km east of La Paz. From Ventilla, turn left off the main road and follow the clearly signposted track that winds up the valley northeast to the village of Choquequta, ninety minutes away. Here you can usually hire mules for the ascent to the pass or the entire length of the trek. Follow the track uphill for another ninety minutes until you reach a crumbling wall with a map of the route painted on it. Turn off the road to the right along a broad path which winds steeply uphill, with fine pre-Columbian paving soon evident along its length. After ninety minutes or so you reach the highest point on the trail, a 4600m pass marked by a stone apacheta from where there are fantastic views of the looming glacial peak of Mururata (5868m) to the east. From here the trail continues about ninety minutes northeast down a broad valley, through llama pastures to the herding hamlet of Estancia Takesi, passing an abundance of good camping spots along the way.
To Kakapi and Chojila
Below Estancia Takesi, the path crosses the Río Takesi onto its right bank, where it winds along steep slopes high above a thundering gorge. The air gets warmer and more humid by the minute as the trail drops below 3000m, and the sides of the valley are soon covered in lush vegetation. After two to three hours you’ll reach the village of Kakapi, after which the path, now heading east, again crosses a river. Continue uphill for half an hour to Chojila, a small and friendly settlement with a campsite (see Achachilas and Apus). It’s still over three hours from here to Yanacachi, so if you’re not in a hurry, it’s the perfect place to stay overnight.
Chojila to Yanacachi
From Chojila, descend for 45 minutes until you reach a concrete bridge; cross it and turn to the right. After a while, you’ll reach an aqueduct, which leads straight to a road. Be careful if you’re following the aqueduct in the dark – there are holes in the concrete slabs underfoot. When you reach the road, follow it around the bend and take the left, uphill fork. Soon, the road passes an unpleasant sulphur mining settlement known as the Chojlla mining camp. Unless you get a lift from a passing vehicle, you’ll have to follow the road for another two hours to get to the tranquil village of Yanacachi, just off the La Paz–Chulumani road.