Trekking the Pre-hispanic Trails around Sucre, Bolivia The city of Sucre merits a stop on any Bolivia itinerary. Those passing few for a few days will find whitewashed Spanish colonial architecture to admire and fun markets to explore. Others will choose to call Sucre home for a few weeks or even months in order to take advantage of the variety of Spanish schools there.
Sucre is also the gateway to some of the best outdoor trekking to be found in Bolivia, thanks to a non-profit organization called Condor Trekkers. Encouraging travelers to "be more than just a tourist," the organization makes the most of its trekkers' dollars through various community-based development projects and tourism capacity building projects. It trains local tour guides and helps the area turn its natural and cultural assets into basic tourism infrastructure.
If this weren't enough reason to support Condor Trekkers' work by choosing to take one of their tours, you'll also take in the raw and defiant landscapes in the department of Chuquisaca that are quintessentially Bolivian. Choose from Condor Trekker's itineraries of two-day trips, three-day trips, and four-day trips, depending on the level of difficulty you're looking for in a trek and the amount of time you have to spend in the outdoors of this southern Bolivian highland region. Here are a few of the area's highlights to look for on a Condor Trekkers trip:
The trek to this market is always scheduled on a weekend, as Sunday is market day in the village of Tarabuca. This is a fascinating opportunity to experience the traditions and culture of Quechua village life. You can sample typical food in the home of a local and spend some time wandering around a characteristically vibrant market of local produce.
The Inca Trail
The local government of Sucre has undertaken a project to restore the pre-hispanic trail from Chataquila to Chaunaca, a segment of road that formed part of a huge network of trails which extended throughout Bolovia and southern Peru during the Incan empire. Now, trekkers will find that the path is well groomed for hiking.
The Maragua Crater
One of Bolivia's most fascinating natural phenomenons, the Maragua Crater sparks the imaginations of its beholders. How was it formed? Could it have been a giant meteor or explosion of some sort? The most defended (and the least dramatic)theory is that it was formed by millennia of erosion. In the slanted walls of rock strata that have been exposed, you can see shell fossils of marine life that once inhabited the area.
A favorite stop on the trail is the site where dinosaur footprints have been preserved in the rock sedimentation. Little information has been confirmed about the species of dinosaur that left the tracks or during what period, but some basics can be surmised: it was a three-toed species, probably carnivorous.
Arguably the sweetest reward after several days of strenuous trekking is a soak in the hot springs of Talula. After arriving to the village, crossing the Pilcomayo river, and setting up camp, trekkers can unwind in the natural thermal waters of the hot springs. Surprisingly developed and built up into a comfortable round pool, this is another example of a Condor Trekker initiative to work with local communities toward tourism readiness. The organization helped fund and organize the hot springs project so that the Talula community can leverage it as a source of income.
As part of the cultural experience aspect of the tours, Condor Trekkers uses local transportation to supplement walking to get from point to point. For example, tours that end in the village of Talula transport trekkers back to Sucre via camion, the daily truck that locals use to convey themselves and their goods to and from markets. In the back of this deep truck bed, you'll get very cosy with local indigenous women and their bundles of goods. Take a deep breath and try to get comfortable -- this is part of the real Bolivia experience.
Condor Trekker trips are led by a combination of local guides and international volunteers. Contact them if you're interested in becoming a volunteer.