Torotoro National Park, Part II: From Cave Paintings to Cave Hiking

Our second day at Torotoro National Park started off with a beautiful ride up the mountains. It’s amazing how much altitude changes everything. As we began to ascend, the weather quickly turned from warm and sunny to cold and rainy. At one point we had to get out of the jeep so that Alex could attempt to drive through the incredibly muddy roads at the top of the mountain! A bit dangerous, but it worked out fine.

Passing by a herd of sheep on the way up

Passing by a herd of sheep on the way up

The cavernas part of Torotoro National Park was only discovered about seven years ago. Beautiful landscapes, tall arching caves, and the discovery of ancient cave paintings now draw tourists to the area.

My camera can't do this landscape justice: it was way more gorgeous than this!

My camera can’t do this landscape justice: it was way more gorgeous than this!

P1010733

Cave drawings

Cave drawings

As we came upon a set of cavernas, our guide explained that once upon a time, cattle robbers brought their stolen herds to these caves and held them in this area for some time. When some of the villagers finally discovered where their stolen cattle were being held, the robbers quickly let them out of the caves and ran away with them down the mountain. They were never recovered. 

P1010756

P1010821

P1010758

We also saw vizcachas! Mountain bunny-like animals with long whiskers, that tend to build their homes on the tops of rocks.

Vizcachas, perched up high on some rocks

A couple of vizcachas

The landscape continued to be absolutely stunning: layers of rock and mud over time created amazing land formations in an array of colors – blue, green, red, and tan…

DSC04010

P1010864

P1010860

After a tour of the caves, our tour guide took us up a precarious little tree ladder to get a view from on top of the caves:

Looking out onto the land

Looking out onto the land

Afterwards, we hiked back along the tops of the rocks/caves (a difficult feat when the rains made some routes impassible) until we made our way back to the car. After a lunch of chicken sandwiches (South American sandwiches = one piece of meat and one piece of cheese between white bread) and bananas, we were off down the mountain again to check out one of the major caves in the area.

A puddle reflecting the sky on the way back

A puddle reflecting the sky on the way back

I’ve done cave tours in California before. Nothing compares to cave tours in other countries! Since it’s the rainy season in Bolivia right now, the caves’ walls and floors were filled with higher levels of water. It all made for a very “interesting” and exciting experience when we had to crawl on the ground or go down ladders into cave chambers filled with rain water!

"Velociraptor" tracks on the way to the caves

“Velociraptor” tracks on the way to the caves

Hiking down to the start of the cave

Hiking down to the start of the cave

P1010986

No really though, it was very fun. A little bit crazy at times when we had to climb down wet and slippery cave walls while hanging onto ropes, but it was definitely never boring!

Climbing down the ladder and around a giant puddle

Climbing down the ladder and around a giant puddle

People used to enter the caves with candles and write their names on the cave's ceiling. SCARY. After a while, the candles suck up all the oxygen in the cave and go out!

People used to enter the caves with candles and write their names on the cave’s ceiling. SCARY. After a while, the candles suck up all the oxygen in the cave and go out!

We climbed up and down the cave walls using a lot of ropes

We climbed up and down the cave walls using a lot of ropes

Crawling sideways through cracks

Crawling sideways on the cave floor through a narrow passageway. Some people were freaking out on this one…

Crawling through a very narrow crack. Not for the claustrophobic or really large!

Crawling through a very narrow crack. Not for the claustrophobic or the obese, unfortunately!

There’s not a lot of history to caves – most of the time guides just show you cave formations and talk about how they look like other things, like “Christmas trees” or some animals. While the caves extend for miles and miles, we went in a loop down one passage way and up another.

The "organ" pipes

The “organ” pipes

The mini "Christmas tree"

The mini “Christmas tree”

The hike out was another great adventure. My rock climbing skills definitely came in handy throughout the day…

Group photo!

Group photo!

An amazing view of the cave entrance with sunlight shining down greeted us at the end of our journey:

Coming out!

Exiting the cave

Afterwards, we went over to the main area of Torotoro where tons of dinosaur tracks have been recorded:

Mama and baby tracks!

Mama and baby tracks!

P1020064dino prints

Tracks from one veggie dino that was running away from carnivorous dinosaurs

Tracks from one veggie dino that was running away from carnivorous dinosaurs

All in all, a pretty great day 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: