Filled with stunning nature and incredible natural history, visiting Torotoro National Park Bolivia should be top of your list on your trip to Bolivia.
Torotoro National Park was given UNESCO world heritage status in December 2019. With previous difficulties getting to Torotoro (more on this fun later) and with the C-word in 2020 (shhh) even since the UNESCO world heritage status Torotoro remains an untouched gem. I was genuinely shocked by the beauty compared to how little it is known.
Torotoro National Park is next to Torotoro town. The town itself used to be a small village but has grown a lot because of the rise of tourism in the region. It is quite remote and has stunning countryside around it. Torotoro town has really embraced its history of dinosaurs so has lots of dinosaur statues all over the town.
Why Visit Torotoro National Park
Torotoro is home to the dinosaur, well, not literally. It is home to many Dinosaur footprints. The footprints that you can visit are 65 million years old, quite mind boggling really. As well as dinosaur footprints dotted around, there are many other amazing things in this park! Torotoro National park is home one of Bolivia’s largest cave, an incredibly stunning canyon and beautiful scenery.
Where to stay in Torotoro
Torotoro is quite a small town but there are few options depending on your budget. The accommodations tend to be pretty simple but comfy. I stayed in Hostel Wilma and quite liked it. Another option that looked good is Hostal Claure.
Where to Eat in Torotoro National Park
There is a food court in the centre of Torotoro town that has lots of options. All of the food is local and is the cheapest food you will find. One lunch time I had a meal that was really tasty for 5 Bolivianos – brilliant!
There is not a huge amount of restaurants to choose from in Torotoro. Sadly, many restaurants have shut down as a result of the Covid pandemic. Most of the restaurants are in the centre of town and are a lot more expensive than the local food options. I ate in Torotoro Hostal Restaurant and I really liked it, it was made up to look like a cave!
How to get to Torotoro National Park
Now this is hot of the press! I read in many blogs and travel guides that the road between Cochabamba and Torotoro is horrible, bumpy and takes up to 6 hours. However, a brand new road has opened, woop woop! When I visited in May 2022, the road between Cochabamaba and Torotoro was finished and paved apart from the last 30 minutes up to Torotoro town. The last 30 minutes were dsuty and bumpy and to be honest I am glad I wasn’t on a road like that for 6 hours. The journey from Cochabamba to Torotoro in a public bus took me 3.5 hours in total.
At the moment, Torotoro national park is only accessible from Cochabamaba, There is 1 road in and out. This is why it has not always been the easy to get to in years gone by. If you were to look on a map, you would see that Torotoro is significantly closer to Sucre than Cochabamaba. Sucre is often a natural next stop for a trip to Bolivia. So you might think this would be possible, sadly no. I have heard rumours of a road being under construction from Torotoro to Sucre, if this opens, please let me know in the comments. I think once this road opens Torotoro will become significantly busier (visit now when it’s a hidden gem!).
Collectivo from Cochabamba to Torotoro
The public bus from Cochabamba costs 35 Bolivianos. There is no timetable the bus leaves when there are enough people on it. So you kinda have to try your luck and pray to the travel gods that lots of people want to go at the same time. I personally waited 45 minutes for my bus to fill up but I have heard stories of people waiting a lot longer.
Torotoro Entrance Ticket
The entrance ticket to Torotoro costs 100Bs and is valid for 4 days, bargain. The ticket can be bought from the office in Torotoro town. The guards check the tickets at each entrance point to the park so keep it with you throughout your time in Torotoro.
Visiting Torotoro National Park Bolivia with a Guide
Visiting Torotoro National Park is not allowed without a guide. And to be honest, the paths are not marked at all so a guide is necessary. The guide office is right next door to the permit office. The guides accept groups of up to 6 people. The cost of the guide is the same if it is a group of 1 of 6 people. So the guide office is where you want to get you maximum charm on and try and befriend others doing the same thing.
The local guides do not (yet) speak English, so you can treat it as a free Spanish lesson. If you would like and English speaking guide, you must organise this through a tour office in Cochabamaba with the price tag that comes with it.
Visiting Torotoro National Park Bolivia with a Tour
All inclusive tours from Cochabamba operate to Torotoro. They offer 2 days 1 night including transport and an English-speaking guide. The tours are often full on weekends to the cost is significantly less as it is divided by many people. I tried a tour company for this during the week and was quoted 1200Bs per person (we were 2 people). If I were to do it on a weekend it would be 500Bs. Because of that we decided to do it on our own and it was very easy to do.
The tours include transport to and from, entrance ticket, accommodation and food. It is significantly cheaper to visit Torotoro without a tour group.
Where to Visit in Torotoro National Park
There are 3 main ‘circuits’ to visit in Torotoro; Vergel, Caverna Umajalanta and Cuidad de Itas. Each circuit takes a half day. Each circuit needs to be accessed using a vehicle so that cost is on top of a guide if you do not have your own transport.
Torotoro National Park 2 day itinerary
It is easy to fit all the main sights in Torotoro National park in 2 days. When visiting Torotoro National Park Bolivia, this is the itinerary I recommend:
Day 1: Travel to Torotoro national park in the morning, visit vergel circuit in the afternoon.
Day 2: Caverna Umajalanta in the morning, Cuidad de Itas in the afternoon. Either travel back to Cochabamba in the evening or stay another night in Torotoro.
The Vergel circuit highlight is the canyon and the waterfall within it. In this circuit, you get stop off at an area that has footprints of at least 5 different dinosaurs. After this, the walk takes you to the ‘Natural Theatre’ which shows layers of rock that are millions of years in the making. In the wet season, this walk is a long a river, in the dry season (when I visited), the riverbed is dry and you can walk along it easily.
Along the riverbed there are 3 naturally occurring rock bridges. The first is the bridge of marriage because it starts as 2 then becomes 1 (to quote the spice girls). The second is the bridge of divorce because it starts as 1 then splits. The third bridge is called the bridge of reconciliation because it rejoins and there is a heart shaped rock next to it.
After the walk along the river bed, the path brings you to a stunning mirador (view point). It kind of pops up out of nowhere, a view over a very dramatic canyon. This was truly beautiful and there is a walkway that takes you over the canyon to get a great photo.
From this view point, there is a walk down into the canyon which is down many steep steps. The path then goes on through the bottom of the canyon to a lovely waterfall. You can swim in the pool of this waterfall but it was really cold so I didn’t.
On the way back to the centre there are 2 options to take: back up the steps or walk up the canyon. Our guide presented these options are relatively similar, it turns out they weren’t at all. The walk back up the canyon involved climbing up rocks, wading in knee deep water and quite a steep climb up out of the canyon. It was great fun but definitely more adventurous.
The Carverna Umajalanta
Warning: if you are claustrophobic, I don’t recommend going into the cave. There are points where you must crawl through tight spaces.
Torotoro national park is home to one of Bolivia’s largest caves, Umajalanta. This was my second day visiting the park so I had arranged with friends we had met the day before and the guide we used the day before too.
It was a short 10 minute drive to the drop off point at the beginning of the path. From here it was a quick walk up to the guide point of the cave. On the way, we saw even more dinosaur footprints. At the guide post, we were told to leave our bags and any items we didn’t need. (This also included Milo, the lovely dog I was travelling with at the time). We were given hard hats that had a head torch attached to them too.
If you have visited caves in Europe, normally the visits are on lit walkways and it doesn’t seem adventurous. This is not the case with the cave in Torotoro. The visit involves climbing on rocks, using ropes to climb down and crawling at sections. The surface underneath can get quite slippy so I was glad to have my hiking boots.
At the lowest point in the cave, our guide asked us all to turn our headtorches off. It was darkness like I had never seen. I was waving my hand across my face and I saw absolutely nothing. There is no light that reaches that deep so I was very grateful for my headtorch.
The way out is the trickier section. There are multiple options but we chose the ‘easiest’. This involved a very tight space for about 1m, this meant we all had to rotate on our side and put our shoulders through and then drag ourselves forward. It then involved about 8m of army crawling. Shout out to military people, it’s hard! It also meant that all of our clothes were dirty so don’t bring anything you don’t mind getting mucky.
Cuidad De Itas
To be honest, I didn’t visit Cuidad De Itas. If you have read more of my posts, you know I always like to give an honest and truthful opinions about places that I visited. I didn’t visit Cuidad De Itas because other members of our group had to leave early so didn’t have the time.
Cuidad de Itas is a ‘rock city’ that have naturally formed caves and passages. It is a bit further away from the entrance point of the park on top of the hill. It gives a view over the park as well as the hills. There are also a small amount of cave paintings on the walls. It’s a shame I didn’t visit it but let me know in the comments what it was like!
That’s the end of the ultimate guide to visiting Torotoro National Park Bolivia
I hope you have enjoyed this guide to visiting Torotoro National Park Bolivia. Let me know your favourite spots and if you had a good time in the comments!