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The Mirador Killi Killi

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“Why are we walking?! There are buses which go up to Killi Killi”. Aw man, don’t be a such a wimp, Jürgen! We need the exercise. And it’s not even all that high.

Mirador La Paz

Turns out, it is even all that high! Killi Killi is one of the more central viewing points in La Paz, and one of the easiest to reach by foot, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cake walk. When we crested the summit of the deceptively steep hill in Villa Pabón, we were panting and red-faced. But we felt like world-beaters and had our fists raised in the air like Rocky. Da-dum-dadda-dum dadda-dum dadda-dum! But instead of showering us with applause or lifting us up onto their shoulders, the other people at the top of the viewing point completely ignored us. Hmph.

Killi Killi is an awesome spot to check out the city. In fact, in 1781 it was used for just that purpose by the indigenous leader Tupác Katari during his raid of La Paz. In 2007, the city erected the mirador, in the process saving the hill from an ignoble fate as a trash dump. Check out our pics from Killi Killi… and if you go yourself, take a bus!

Location on our Bolivia Map
Valencia, Spain Travel Blog

Inca Killi Killi
Dense City
Bizarre City
Cathedral La Paz Bolivia
Downtown La Paz
Incredible City
Killi Killi
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Steep Curve City
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July 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm Comments (5)

Our Three-Day Hike Around Sucre, Part II

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Our Three-Day Hike Around Sucre, Part I

On the second day of our hike, we woke at sunrise with aching shoulders, backs and legs, but possessed by a strange energy. The Crater of Maragua was within sight, and the promise of restorative thermal baths at hike’s end made us eager to get moving. But breakfast and packing up the campsite took longer than anticipated: a delay which would later haunt us…

Horror Hike

But let’s not jump the gun! Within minutes of setting out in the morning, we reached the rim of the Maragua crater, a natural depression formed by the movement of tectonic plates. About 100 families live in the crater, working fields of wheat. Local kids spend their days hunting for the sea fossils which abound in the crater, then unloading them on passing tourists at incredible prices. A young girl sold us the fossil in the picture below for €2. If I were a more cynical person, I would set up an international fossil trade and get rich by exploiting child labor.

Bolivian Fossils

The ascent out of the crater was deceptively long and arduous; the incline became steadily more steep as we progressed, and there was a total lack of shade. At the top, we rested for a spell, then found a shady spot for lunch. As I wolfed down my avocado-egg-mayo-tomato sandwich, I perceived a growing sense of worry in our guides. We were encouraged to eat quickly, and I overheard a debate about skipping the next stop on the itinerary: dinosaur footprints.

Luckily, we didn’t. About a half-hour away, we found a large set of Brontosaur and T-Rex footprints etched into a petrified lava field. They were perfectly clear, and their age (150 million years) left me breathless. The footprints, the crater which we passed earlier, and the sheer size and majesty of the Andes surrounding us, brought to mind our trip to Kentucky’s ridiculous Creation Museum. Gazing upon the layers of sediment and stone which mark the staggering age of these mountains, I thought to myself, “Creationists: you can suck it. You can just absolutely suck it.”

T Rex Print

Getting back on the trail, our group’s pace picked up considerably. We were still four hours from the thermal baths, and the sun was already low in the sky. With only a couple of short breaks, we soldiered ever onward, but dusk soon enveloped us, far from our destination.

It was a moonless night. We turned on flashlights and began a perilous descent down a crumbling mountain. The ground was sand beneath our feet and, in the dark, we half-stepped, half-surfed down the pebbles. Almost everyone slipped a couple times, but thankfully, no one tumbled down into one of the mountain’s many crevices.

With our deliberate pace, the descent took an hour, ending at a river. “The baths are on the other side”, our guides explained. “We just have to cross this little river, and that’s that!” I took one look at the raging current and thought to myself, “No fucking way. There is no fucking way.” But I wasn’t about to be the only voice of negativity, so I dutifully hiked up my shorts, strapped myself onto a rope, and linked arms with Janet and Isabelle.

And so, in the dark of night, a chain of nine adventurers slowly entered the river. Step by step, very carefully, considering every inch. The water was cold and fast, and quickly getting deeper… we were almost silent, only quietly saying things like “stone here” or “careful on the left”. Or, “Shit shit SHIT! HENRY FELL! Pull back! HOLD HIM!” Henry, our guide, had been at the front of the line and when the water reached his mid-section, he lost his footing and was swept back. But our chain held, and we pulled him and ourselves safely back to shore.

So, the river wasn’t going to be crossed. Our guides apologized for the exhilarating danger, and suggested an alternative route to the baths. Just twenty minutes, they said.

Twenty minutes! That would later become the funniest joke of the night. The ensuing hike, back up a huge mountain in sopping wet boots, took well over an hour. Jürgen and I were already exhausted, and almost didn’t make it. I still have no idea how we mustered the energy, but after one of the most physically challenging hours of my life, we arrived at the thermal baths.

When I saw the baths, I dropped my backpack and my pants, and put on my swimsuit, not bothering to separate myself from the group for the sake of privacy. That would have required more walking. Soon, I was submerged in hot, mineral-enriched water directly from the mountains. While most of the group soaked, passing around a bottle of rum, our selfless guides Romina and Henry hunted for wood, built a fire, cooked and delivered freshly made soup and stir-fry. I hope I remembered to say thanks!

That night, I slept more deeply than I have in ages, despite the cold sand beneath the tent. We awoke at 8am and after a final breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, piled in a truck headed for Sucre. The 90-minute trip gave me plenty of time to think back on the adventure we’d just had. In a word: unforgettable. My body was sore for days, and I doubt we’d be eager to do it again, but it was an experience which will stay with me forever.


Our thanks to the great Condor Trekkers crew. Sure, some things might have been better organized, (certain night-river-crossings avoided, for example), but the crew went out of their way to provide a fun experience. It didn’t take long to think of Henry, Romina and Yao more as friends than guides. Condor Trekkers are a non-profit, whose fees help the communities through which they pass. We saw the clean water wells that the company has financed, and met people who obviously appreciate the assistance. If we were to do another big hike in Sucre (and that’s an unlikely “if”), we’d choose Condor Trekkers again.

Trekking Guide for Bolivia

Sunrise Andes
Hiking Bolivia
Good Morning Bolivia
Wild Nature Bolivia
Trekker Breakfast
Family Hike
Condor Trekkers
Donkey House
Donkey Farm
Farm Land Bolivia
Bolivian Woman
Colonial Church Bolivia
Maragua Mountain
Bolivia Photos
Cave Bolivia
Double Donkey
Girl Bolivia
Bolivian Girl
Crater Bolivia
Crater Kids
Bolivian Boy
Stuck Bus
Bolivian Adventure
Sucre Far Far
Moon Landscape
Insect Tree
Good 2 Be Last
Sceptical Kids
Religion Bolivia
Bolivian Oven
Bolivian Hut
Dino Footprints
Pacha Mama
Running Girls
Poison Worm Thingy
Hot Spring Sucre
Hot Spring Sucre
Golden River
Hot Spring Bolivia
Wet Boots
Morning After
Bye Bye
Hiking Bolivia
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June 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm Comments (18)

The View from San Felipe Neri

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Great Hostels in Sucre

It was our first day in Sucre, and the women in the tourist office seemed to be competing over who could be the most helpful. The younger lady took an early lead by piling brochures into my hands, offering advice on bus connections and informing us about upcoming festivals. However, her opponent, older and more deliberate, claimed victory after hearing Juergen say he was a photographer. “Ah! I bet you want a view over the city.” Yes, that is exactly what we want!

Sucre Panorama

Minutes later we found ourselves on the roof of the Iglesia de San Felipe Neri, looking over the top of Sucre. The city is a lot larger than I imagined, surrounded by mountains, and on this day, with a perfectly clear sky, the views were breathtaking. We spent an hour snapping goofy pictures, climbing the bell towers, and taking it all in.

Below us, in the courtyard, groups of schoolgirls played and studied around the patio’s fountain. San Felipe Neri was founded in 1795, and today is connected to the María Auxiliadora College, which educates girls of all ages. This was our first bit of sightseeing in the city, and it served as the perfect introduction. If there are two things Sucre has in abundance, it’s churches and schoolchildren.

Well, and beauty. Sucre has that in abundance, too, if our views from San Felipe Neri were at all representative. Access costs just 10Bs, and entrance can be gained at the front door of the school. Don’t be shy about ringing the doorbell.

San Felipe Neri
Corner of Nicolás Ortíz and Colón
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Convento San Felipe Neri
Sucre Blog
Nun Felipe Neri
Sucre Girls
Praying Woman
Bolivia Blog
Bench Sucre Felipe
Sucre Bolivia
Sucre Hills
San Felipe Neri Convent
Sucre Church
Colonial Sucre
Sucre Design
Architecture Bolivia
Photographer Bolivia
Bells Iglesia Felipe
Felipe Stairs
Eager Tourists
Drops of Sucre
Bolivia Photos
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May 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm Comments (4)
The Mirador Killi Killi "Why are we walking?! There are buses which go up to Killi Killi". Aw man, don't be a such a wimp, Jrgen! We need the exercise. And it's not even all that high.
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