The Choro Trail
The only way to visit Cotapata properly is by walking through the park along the pre-Hispanic Choro Trail. Running almost entirely downhill, the 70km trail is easy to follow and can be walked in three to four days. If you have your own camping equipment, a compass and (ideally) a map, it’s relatively simple to do without a guide.
La Cumbre to Chukura
The trail starts near La Cumbre, the high pass 22km north of La Paz. From the lakes just before La Cumbre, head north-northwest to another pass, Abra Chukura (4860m), which is marked by a stone cairn (apacheta). This 45-minute walk is the only part of the route that is difficult to follow – if in doubt stick to the rough track winding up to the pass. From the apacheta, a well-paved stone path plunges down the left side of the deep valley of the Río Phajchiri, passing the ruins of an Inca waystation, or tambo, after an hour or so. After two to three hours you’ll reach the small village of Chukura.
Chukura to Challapampa and Chairo
Below Chukura the cloudforest begins, the vegetation gradually thickening as you descend. After another hour you reach Challapampa, a small village with a shop and a camping spot by the stream. Three hours down the valley, at the village of Choro, the path crosses over the river on a bridge and climbs east along the right-hand side of a deep, densely forested valley – the track is still largely paved and is supported by a well-preserved stone platform in places. Note that several travellers have reported robberies in this area. The next available water and camping spot is another two hours or so away where a stream crosses the path; about three hours beyond that you reach Sandillani. From here it’s another two hours down the valley to the end of the trail at the village of Chairo.