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Just 30 miles (50km) from La Paz as the crow flies, subtropical Coroico is the perfect place to chill out for a couple days and get some respite from those bitterly cold highland nights. Although the region boasts some nifty nearby attractions, many visitors are quite happy to just sit by the pool with an ice cold beer in hand.
Minivans (30BOB / US$4.30) and minibuses (25 BOB / $3.50) leave the northern La Paz bus terminal in Villa Fatima during the day when full. The journey takes about two hours and passes through some spectacular scenery, from icy Andean peaks to the lush jungle below. The same journey runs in reverse starting from the Coroico bus terminal just downhill from the main plaza. Daily buses depart towards Rurrenabaque (120 BOB / US$17) around noon and take at least 15 hours.
A more adventurous way to get to Coroico is the three-day El Choro trek which starts in La Cumbre just north of La Paz. The demanding (on the knees, anyway) trip begins on a high mountain pass and descends deep into the green Yungas valley which becomes more dense and sweltering with each passing day. The trip can be done solo or on a tour with one of La Paz’ many travel agencies.
Another adventurous option is to sign up for a rafting trip which goes from nearby Caranavi all the way to the northern wildlife mecca of Rurrenabaque. The trip lasts several days and can be combined with hiking, cycling and over activities.
Make an advance reservation during Bolivian public holidays when the town fills up with Paceños (people from La Paz). Rates vary greatly between midweek, weekend and holiday periods. Always check the room before paying and ask for a discount in quiet periods.
High end: Three-star Hotel Gloria is the town’s fanciest dig, boasting a relatively luxurious outdoor swimming pool, in-house restaurant and games room. Expect to pay around 420 BOB (US$60) for a double room.
Mid range: Right on the main plaza, Hostal Kory is a great mid range option for those who like to be close to the action. It’s a little worn down in parts but has a swimming pool and huge balcony with unbeatable views of the valley. Standard doubles go for 200 BOB ($US29).
Sol y Luna is a beautiful secluded resort located about 20 minutes’ walk uphill from town. A number of private cabins and shared rooms are for rent, all centered around a lush garden with a swimming pool and plenty of hammocks to relax in. Perfect for couples and groups looking to get away from it all. Prices range from 160 BOB to 440 BOB per double.
Sol y Luna, Apanto Alto, Coroico, Bolivia (591) 71561626
Budget: Residencial Coroico and Hostal 1866, both near the plaza, offer bare bones basic rooms for 40 BOB per person. Nothing special but better than others at that price range.
Just down the stairs from the main plaza, Carla’s Garden Pub offers the town’s best European fare in a super laid-back atmosphere. It’s the best place to meet other travelers for a beer in the evening.
Pizzeria Toto serves up the Coroico’s best pizza (far superior to the generic restaurants on the plaza) as well as superb handmade pasta with a variety of delectable sauces. The place is cramped and the foreign owner can be a little curt, but that’s a small price to pay for excellent Italian cuisine in a far flung Bolivian town.
On the main plaza, a line of kiosks serve cheap and rather delicious fried chicken (14BOB / US$2) at night, while in the mornings great tucumanas are on offer for 5 BOB (US$0.70) a pop. Be sure to get some freshly squeezed juice from one the local vendors too – cheap and refreshing.
The main plaza is the town’s focal point, with plenty of benches and greenery making it a relaxed place to sit back and watch the world go by.
The Death Road
All companies offering cycling trips down The Death Road from La Paz can include the option of finishing in Coroico instead of returning to the big city. Those looking to begin their tour in Coroico can organize to meet up with a La Paz group in the morning for a small additional cost. Ask at Carla’s for details.
Rivers and Waterfalls
Three waterfalls to the east of town make for a pleasant daytime excursion. Look for minibuses with the sign cascadas near the plaza or set off on foot for a pleasant one hour hike through valleys and coca plantations. Another river and waterfall region known as Vagantes is more beautiful but difficult to reach. There’s no public transport so hire a return taxi (100 BOB / US$15) or hit up the tourist office on the plaza for directions on the three-hour hike. Be warned that people have drowned in the rougher areas, so approach the water with caution.
La Senda Verde
About 15 minute’s drive from town is an awesome little animal refuge that has been looking after vulnerable wildlife for over a decade. The places protects rescue animals from 54 different species, including caimans, speckled bears, snakes and all kinds of birds and monkeys, all of which can be visited on a guided tour (100 BOB / US$15). Those looking to stay a little longer should check into their onsite eco-lodge or consider volunteering to work with the animals. From Coroico, either jump on an infrequent minibus towards Yolosa (15 BOB / US$2) or hire a private taxi (70 BOB / US$10) to get there.
Located in Yolosa at the end of the Death Road, Bolivia’s best and biggest zip-lining experience offers adventurous mountain bikers the chance for one more adrenaline hit. Punters soar 1,150 feet (350 meters) above the jungle floor through lush Yungas valleys at breakneck speeds of up to 50 mph (85 kmph). The 5,000 foot (1,500 meters) circuit adheres to the strictest international standards and costs just 255 BOB (US$37) per person. Transport options are the same as nearby La Senda Verde.