Maragua Crater with Condor Trekkers - the Total Package!
We met wonderful people during our Maragua Trek - Thank you Condor Trekker!
Bolivia is an extremely diverse country, from deserts to Amazon rainforest, from volcanos to the some of the highest mountains in the world.
Even Sucre, the capital, has definitely conquered our hearth. Not only we loved the pulsating white city of Sucre but we also fell in love with its surrounding landscapes. The region's mountains might not be renowned to be the highest in the country but they are absolutely worth a visit if you spend enough time in this wonderful part of the country.
DISCOVER OUR FAVOURITE SPOTS IN SUCRE AND ITS WONDERFUL REGION HERE
We already knew that we wanted to hike the Maragua Crater and our choice of operator was obvious: Condor Trekker.
Our main reason to come to Bolivia was initially volunteering with Condor Trekker, a non-profit organisation which organises treks in the Sucre region and gives 100% of its income back to the local community (after paying the local guides and the actual expenses of every trip). Unfortunately, we decided to shorten our volunteering trip, but we still wanted to make a difference and support such an amazing organisation.
Condor Trekker hospitality and organisation left us in awe - Maragua Crater Trek in Bolivia
This trek is the total package!
Four days through mountainous landscape and typical Bolivian villages in the company of a local guide
who talks the local language, Quechua, and Spanish and cook some amazing vegetarian food!
LEARN HOW TO PREPARE FOR ALTITUDE IN OUR BLOG POST ON ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT IN NEPAL HERE
Amazing encounters with the local population along Maragua Crater Trek in Bolvia
DAY 1 - Sucre - Chaunaca
DURATION: 9 hours approximately (including 1 hour 30 minutes of transfer to Chattaquila)
We meet outside Condor Café at 6:30 in the morning – there are already few people waiting for the guide, these will be our hiking mates for the next few days.
WANT TO SEE MORE OF BOLIVIA? DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL POTOSI HERE
Our local guide, Crispin, opens the café for us and let us fill up our water bottle and check our equipment. We also meet Maude, the assistant guide who is volunteering at Condor Café. She will help with carrying food and preparing meals and translating from Spanish to English – that would have been us if we would have done some volunteering in Bolivia. Next time!
In half an hour we are ready to jump on a jeep with a driver and the guide which takes us to the start of our 4 day hike, Chattaquila, in one and a half hour.
A local woman praying in front of Chattaquila church - for pacha mama or the Virgin Mary? Maragua Trek, Bolivia
Here Crispin and Maude set up a yummy breakfast in front of the small church of Chattaquila and Crispin takes us into the church for a ritual offer of coca leaves to the Pachamama, Mother Earth, which the Quechua population recognises in the Holy Mary. We also have our first try of coca leaves chewing which is supposed to help with altitude sickness – it tastes good but we can not really say they made a difference. Our guide is chewing lots of it so maybe that’s what we are supposed to do too.
Wow moment on our first day along the Maragua Crater Trek, Bolivia
We start hiking along the ridge through awesome rock formations and we get to know our amazing hiking mates, all from different countries and with great stories behind. We arrive at the first set of rock paintings after a steep descent into a rock "canyon" through which flows a refreshing stream. We leave our backpacks behind to reach the paintings in a wet cave - Crispin explains they are pre-Inca paintings, quite impressive!
Pre-Inca rock paintings - quite impressive! Maragua Trek, Bolivia
We can give try to some rock climbing up a steep rock wall before retracing our steps along the main trek which takes us to the second set of paintings just in time for lunch. A old local man comes to collect our fees and explain more about these remarkable paintings which also date back to before the time of the Incas!
Rock climbing time! Maragua Trek, Bolivia
We then descend through a scenic valley until we are just above the town of Tumpeca. Another descent to the river, cross a suspension bridge, and we continue on to Chaunaca where we will spend the night in a colourful hostal.
We all have a quick shower, not too hot but comfortable. After a session of yoga with the girls and the local children, we prepare dinner together with our guide Crispin and enjoy a tea under the stars.
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Getting ready for dinner at Tumpeca hostel, Maragua Crater Trek in Bolivia
DAY 2 - Chaunaca - Maragua
DURATION: 7 hours approximately plus 2 hours for the Garganta Del Diablo and waterfall walk
Today we will walk about 15 km following a pre-Inca trail which leads all the way to La Paz and Cuzco. Messengers (chasquis in Quechua) used this trail to deliver information across the country.
Yes, we have to cross the river right there! (Maragua Crater Trek, Bolivia)
I have the best Birthday breakfast ever with lots of laughs and good energy. We start hiking under a sunny sky, following the picturesque valley of the river Ravelo, where we experience our first river crossing as the bridge is under repairs!
FIND OUT MORE TIPS ON HOW TO STAY ACTIVE DURING A LONG TRIP HERE
"Ravelo Bridge has fallen down, fallen down, fallen down" - Maragua Crater Trek, Bolivia
We then head up past waterfalls and spectacular rock strata and once at the top we set up a beautiful picnic lunch and enjoy the stunning views of the river and the Inca Trail.
Not bad for a lunch break! Maragua Crater Trek in Bolivia
We finish lunch just in time before the clouds come in and it starts raining – in spite of the bad weather we enjoy every moment and we finally reach the majestic naturally formed Crater of Maragua. This crater was not created by a meteor or a volcano but by the movement of tectonic plates.
Maragua Crater from above along Maragua Crater Trek in Bolivia
We are so lucky as, when rain starts to get serious, we reach our accommodation for the night in the village of Maragua in the heart of the crater. We leave our backpacks behind and as soon as the rain stops, we’re out again exploring this fantastic valley – first, our guide Crispin takes us to La Garganta del Diablo, the waterfall known as the Devil’s Throat. Here we take turns to enter the cave, the Devil’s mouth (La Boca del Diablo).
La Garganta del Diablo - anyone fancy a shower? Maragua, Bolivia
We keep descending into the canyon to reach a beautiful waterfall and Crispin, Maude and I take a refreshing “shower” before ascending again – time for an afternoon break with some prickly pears caught fresh from the tree.
Tunas anyone? Delicious prickly pears from the tree in Maragua, Bolivia
Tonight we will sleep in a beautiful community based hostel, and Crispin prepares a delicious dinner for us – before bed time we enjoy some more talking and laughing. What a great company!
BOLIVIA IS SO MUCH MORE! CHECK OUT OUR ROAD TRIP TO SUR LIPEZ AND UYUNI HERE
Dinner time in our hostel in Maragua, Bolivia
DAY 3 - Maragua - Potolo
DURATION: 8 hours of hiking approximately
We wake up early to tackle the longest day of the trek, 20 km of hiking (12.5 miles) with a lot of up and down.
From Maragua, we hike out of the crater enjoying splendid views, and reach Niñu Mayu, a site with dinosaur footprints. Such a cool spot with prints from a sauropod (brontosaurus or dinosaurs with long neck) and prints from a terapod (a carnivorous dinosaur smaller than a T-rex).
Terapod or sauropod? Dinosaur footprints at Niñu Mayu in Bolivia
We enjoy lunch under a tree before pushing onwards to Potolo where we stay at a community based hospedaje (an hostel financed by the a charitable project). The landscape is truly stunning, passing through rocky colourful outcrops and red sand dunes.
Have you seen a flying donkey? Never mind =) Maragua Crater Trek in Bolivia
After a tea break with biscuits and crackers in our hostal in Potolo, we venture out to explore the village – we cross a couple of quinoa fields and magically we find ourselves in the house of a local woman to learn more about the weaving techniques of the famous Jalq’a textiles.
HAVE YOU SORTED YOUR INSURANCE AND YOUR VISA? FIND OUT HOW TO PREPARE FOR A WORLD TRIP HERE
Our guide Crispin with our volunteer guide Maude in a quinoa field in Potolo (Maragua Crater Trek, Bolivia)
The lady hopes we buy her work - it’s rather expensive and we don’t have the cash with us and unfortunately have to refuse, however this is a wonderful way of contributing to sustain local communities instead of supporting less authentic manufacturers.
Very patient local woman weaving an amazing Jalq’a tablecloth in Potolo, Bolivia
We do our grocery shopping for the evening here and buy fresh local products from the lady, including potatoes and choclo (large kernel variety of corn, yummy!). We all help in preparing dinner and Fabio and I volunteer for the most tedious peeling of all – the fava beans! Anyway, we are all having lots of fun listening to local, French, Italian music and dinner brings more laugh again.
Super food from the Potolo Community (Maragua Crater Trek, Bolivia)
DAY 4 - Potolo - Sucre
DURATION: 1 hour approximately (or even less) plus 3 hours of transfer to Sucre
Our last day! Even if under the rain we climb up the highest hill on top of Potolo for a panoramic view of the valley. Last hike before we board a local bus which brings us back to Sucre in 3 hours.
A cloudy morning over Potolo valley along Maragua Crater Trek in Bolivia
The road is unpaved and bumpy but we get the chance to see beautiful landscapes from the windows. Once in Sucre, we make our way to Condor Café for a final lunch, included in the package. Time to say good bye to our great hiking mates, to next time Maragua!
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