Hike the Takesi Trail

24.9 miles 6233.6 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Christian Murillo

This 2 or 3-day trek will take you along an ancient Incan trade route, from the impressive high-altitude Andes Mountains, all the way down through the thick sub-tropical forests of “Los Yungas”.

The Takesi trail is a 40km section of the Inca trail that covers some of the most diverse landscapes in the region, and has significant pre-columbian history that will keep you engaged the entire time.  Although the trek is not too difficult, there is a fairly significant climb in the beginning of the hike and over 2,500m of descent down to “Los Yungas” (the jungles), after the 4,700m pass at “La Cumbre”. 

A serious hiker might be ambitious to pack superlight and attempt the entire trail in a single day and stay in one of the few hostels in Yamacachi.  However, even braking up the hike into 2-days can be quite demanding, so 3-days would be a good conservative and relatively leisurely option to the trail. 

To get to the trailhead in Ventilla (3200m) from La Paz, you can either take a bus, hire a taxi/Uber, or use a tour agency.  A large blue sign with almost no content left on it marks the start of the trail on a dirt road just beyond Ventilla.  The trail begins to climb gently up the dirt road, as you can see llamas and alpacas grazing in the valley below.  After about 2-3 hours, you will pass a pond on your left-hand side as you approach the next unhelpful sign on the trail.  Here you will fork to the right, as you begin the steep ascent up to “La Cumbre”.  Between the high altitude and the steepness of the climb, this section of the hike is sure to be a killer workout for even the most avid hikers. 

At 4,700m, the air is very thin once you get to the pass above the Mina de San Francisco.  If you are lucky, clear skies will reveal views of snow-capped peaks and an impressive valley below.  Just below the mine, the ancient cobblestone trail widens and begins with a series of switchbacks to descend down the steep mountain.  You may notice retaining walls and channels for water runoff, which remain intact to this day, a testament to the quality of engineering of the Incan civilization.   

As the decent continues, you will pass the old mining camp, llama pastures, and glacial lakes along the wide trail before arriving in Takesi village.  This small village is simplistic living at its best, with simple structures made out of stone.  The Takesi River runs adjacent to the village, providing water for the campsites just below the town.  The water is very clean, but there is no shortage of domesticated animals in the valley, so you will still need to treat the water.  

Starting the second day, you will cross the Takesi River on a surprisingly sturdy wooden bridge that looks as if it may have been constructed by a family of beavers.  The trek continues to drop in elevation, and as the flora grows larger, you will notice the air becoming significantly warmer and easier to breathe.  All along the wide trail are stunning vistas revealing incredible mountains with greenery clinging onto even the steepest slopes.  In some spots, the trail is dug into very steep sections of the mountain, with only a few bushes separating the trail cliffs dropping down to the river, about 1000m below.

Once you get to about 3,000m in elevation, the high-elevation bush gives way to hardwood forests as you enter the small town of Kacapi.  Just on the other side of the village, the narrowing trail descends steeply down another 300 meters, where you will find another river crossing.  Another rudimentary bridge will suffice in crossing this cascading section of creek.  The glistening white boulders and grassy banks of this river make for a great spot for a lunch break before climbing another 200m over the next ridge.  The last section of hike continues to descend quickly down to 2100m before revealing views of the rather unpleasant mining town of Chojlla.  There are some busses that head back to La Paz from Chojlla, but you may want to just hike the extra 30-40 minutes to get to Yamacachi, which has busses leaving to La Paz at 4:30am, 1pm, and 4pm.  These busses (as with all Bolivian transportation) can be unreliable or even unavailable, so patience and flexibility are valuable traits after the long hike. With all of that said, this is a fantastic trek that is very accessible from La Paz with incredible Incan structures that remain intact and breathtaking views.  Especially in the lower elevations, keep an eye out for wildlife, as opportunities abound to see all sorts of butterflies, colorful birds, and even the majestic condor. 

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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