After a couple of hours sleep on the night bus from La Paz, I wake up because we are not moving. It is 4.15am, and we are supposed to arrive in Tupiza at 6am. Or so I was told. When I look at my phone, I see that we are actually in Tupiza. I quickly grab my stuff, put on my shoes, and when I am downstairs, the bus is already moving, and the driver hidden in his cabin. I bang on the wall, he stops, and I jump off before the bus continues to Villazon on the border with Argentina. I am supposed to leave a few hours later for a four day journey through the south west of Bolivia, but there are not enough travellers and I learn that I will leave a day late. Fortunately, Tupiza has spectacular nature on its doorstep, and after dropping my luggage in y room for the night and some shopping, I am on the way to the Canyon of the Inca.
While still in the outskirts of the pleasant town, I start to climb, and when I leave the last houses behind and turn a corner, I find myself between a reddish landscape with hills and trees. I am walking a track, but don't see anyone. The canyon is still very wide here, cacti grow on the hills standing om both sides. Then, I see a flat layer of rock sticking out of the landscape on the right, and walk closer. This is called the Puerta del Diablo, or Devil's Door. It is slightly curved, and looks like a hard layer of volcanic rock. When I climb to the top, I see it stretches out to the other side of the valley: it is really the entrance gate to the Canyon of the Inca. From here, the canyon gets always narrower. I pass the Valle de los Machos, which has a collection of phallic rocks pointing to the sky. A few curves later, I seem to have reached the end of the canyon: an open space, and a tiny waterfall coming down from the reddish rock. A Bolivian family is having a rest, and we chat for a while, before they leave. I have some grapes, and then the more exciting section of the hike starts.
Climbing the rocks brings me higher up in the canyon. Sometimes, it looks like I have reached te end, but I always find my way up. There are several more, and higher, waterfalls. The canyon is narrow, at times very narrow, and then widens again. Green trees grow in the shade. The last part of the canyon is suddenly black rock, and then I climb a steep mountainside to what is the pass between the Canyon of the Inca and the next one. There finally is some wind to cool me off, before I descend into the smaller canyon. Different, and more, cacti here. While the canyon seems wider at the higher part, it gets progressively narrower and more spectacular the lower I get, and there are stretches I have to squeeze myself through the reddish rock walls. When I reach a man-made wall which would cause a waterfall, I know I am getting closer to the inhabited world. I have to jump off, and in the end, climb a gully before I reach the rim of a hill from which I can see Tupiza at my feet. Apart from the Bolivian family, I have not seen anyone on the entire trek. After a hike up to the viewpoint of the Cerro Elefante, I head back to town - I am starved, and treat myself to a big dinner to replenish the burnt calories.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Tupiza canyons (Bolivia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Tupiza canyons. Read more about this site.