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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

En Los Yungas & Moving Forward

Dear friends and family of Andes & Amazon group A,

We have arrived! After a week, we have descended from a high, snowy pass at 16,500 feet above sea level into the cloud forests and banana trees of Los Yungas at around 4,500 feet in elevation. It was a spectacular trek in the Andes, and we enjoyed fantastic weather. Our first morning at the base of Cerro Condoriri, we woke to cloudy skies and flurries that grew into a full-blown blizzard by the time we reached our first and highest pass at 16,500 feet. The group stayed strong and learned how to support each other as we continued onward toward the Huayna Potosí massif in the distance. Seeing the entire Cordillera Real draped in snow lit up our imaginations the rest of the day as we descended into glacial-carved valleys below and over three more huge ridges that lead to the summit of Huayna Potosí, thousands of feet above.

After our amazing (and cold) time in the high Andes, we descended north on an ancient Inca road into the beginnings of the Amazon rainforest, passing through treeline and watching the forest grow around us as the air got warmer and waterfalls started to appear on mountainsides where earlier in our route we would have seen only grass, rocks, and ice.

Three days later, we emerged into Los Yungas, a beautiful mountainous area full of blue rivers digging their ways through green river gorges. We moved into homestays in Tocaña, a small town across a deep canyon from the well-known town of Coroico.

Our upcoming itinerary looks like this:

November 16-20: Homestays and cultural immersion in the Afro-Bolivian community of Tocaña, in Los Yungas. Students are learning about Afro-Bolivian history and culture, the culture, politics, and economics of the coca plant, and the music of the region.

Monday, November 20: Student-planned travel begins! This “X-Phase” lasts 11 days until our final transference retreat in Samaipata. We depart Los Yungas on Monday morning for La Paz. We will gather our things that were left in El Alto during the trek and board a bus for Potosí, the first destination students have chosen to travel.

Tuesday, November 21-23: Potosí! Students are planning to tour the historc mines with a former miner, to visit museums, and immerse themselves into the colonial past and present of one of the richest silver mines in history that many credit as the primary reason for the existence of Bolivia, the rise of global colonialism, and for continued oppression of indigenous people. We expect it to be an intense experience full of big learning.

After November 23, student are planning to travel to Uyuni and Sucre.  We will update you on the itinerary as students finalize details over the next few days.