We happened upon Coroico, a hidden paradise in the Bolivia jungle, quite by accident and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. It’s a small but culture packed town a couple hours from La Paz at the the other end of Death Road. It offers unmatched relaxation and an amazing waterfall route just outside of town. It’s a perfect place to chill out for a few days!!
After thankfully surviving Bolivia’s Death Road, my best friend Teresa and I took one of the most nail biting “taxi” rides in the world to the subtropical Coroico. The van came to halt and we jumped out of that vehicle as quickly as we could, simply happy to have our feet on the solid ground. And that that “solid ground” wasn’t at the bottom of the mountain!
We didn’t know what to expect when we got to Coroico. All we knew was that, after flying into and spending a few days in La Paz, it was time to move on and see the other wonders of Bolivia. It was my birthday and I wanted to celebrate by doing something a little more extreme, so naturally, we decided to go all out and bike Death (Yungas) Road!
By defect, since we weren’t interested in returning to La Paz after the tour, we made our way to the little Boliva jungle town at the other end of Death Road. And that’s the story of how we ended up in Coroico. Open for a new adventure.
Like most plazas in Latin America, the main square was bustling with energy- people sitting and chatting, selling juices, playing music, and kids using plastic bottles as soccer balls.
Coroico back-drop is the Bolivia Jungle
We set foot on a little exploration, walking up, down, and around the cobbled and crooked streets. We found a hostel and dropped our bags before setting in search of my birthday beers. The outskirts of town, just a few blocks from the center plaza, revealed blue skies and vegetation covered mountains as far as the eye could see.
The streets themselves were filled with tiny restaurants, many offered cozily inside homes, internet shops, and mini-markets selling water, juices, snacks, toilet paper, and all the daily goodies.
We happened upon the main market and meandered through but, since it was getting dark, most people were putting away their fruits, veggies, and spices. It was a small, indoor market with one skinny aisle and one open section on each of the two sides. With hoards of flies making pit stops on each piece, the meats and cheeses made me cringe a bit, but there were some huge papayas and other intriguing fruits I’d never seen before.
Mosey the side streets for little restaurants set up inside homes.
All of a sudden got a whiff of a most delicious smell floating through an open door. Then, some yummy looking sweets caught my eye. We went inside and found a woman folding clothes and talking to, what I presume, were members of her family. Inviting us to sit down, she gave us the banana-muffin deserts that had lured us in. She then asked if we wanted a flan/pudding type desert to go with it… it was freshly made and she said it was a perfect complement for the muffins. Of course we said sure!!
She sprinkled some cinnamon on top and we happily dunked the muffins in the pudding. The place was quite cute, its walls covered in paintings, crafts, and a big collage of the woman’s family. After a few minutes, she came out and talked to us, probably curious as to who we were and where we came from. She was so sweet, very grandma-like, telling us all about Coroico, her life and her family. She pointed to the collage and proudly shared that her family it for her as a birthday present.
An insider tip on visiting the waterfall route.
She told us that a “must visit” for this little Bolivia jungle town was the waterfall route just a few kilometers from the center. Our eyes widenened and we eagerly listenend. Waterfalls, woo hoo!
On the way home we took a lap around the plaza, talked to one of the jewelry sellers, and then finally just sat on a bench and enjoyed the breeze. Next to us was a man selling the juices we’d seen everywhere. Curious, I asked what exactly they were but he only spoke Quechua, the native language, so we decided to wait until daylight to try ’em out. We picked up some beers and headed back to our room to have my most relaxed, but special birthday cheers.
The main plaza is always the place to be.
The next day there was a big line leading up to some women with baskets. Intrigued, we made our way over. They were selling bread, empanadas, and our favorite, rellenas. Rellenas are banana, rice, or potato pastries stuffed with meat, veggies, and potatoes. Since everyone was crowding around, we figured it was in our best interest to order one too!
Then, thirsty, we made our way to finally find out about those juices. The woman had 3 big jugs on her table, each with a different juice – one peanut, one peach, and one flax (they also contained some other seasonings like cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, etc). Teresa ordered the peach and I ordered the peanut… both were very refreshing! It’s so fun trying new things.
Into the Bolivia jungle and in search of waterfalls!
With our tummies satisfied, we headed to the minivan taxi for a 40 minute, $.50 ride to the end of (what I’m calling) “waterfall way.”
We left town, traveling past many other tiny towns of 10-20 houses and a couple waterfalls. When the van driver instructed us to get off, we walked through some tropical forest-like area and came upon an impressive waterfall. Children were playing in the little pool it created underneath.
Some little girls came up to Teresa and I and nervously asked if they could take pictures with us. Growing up in a non-touristy area, they definitely don’t see many people like us and were particularly entranced by the whiteness of Teresa’s skin and my height. It was cute and they were so excited… first taking a group picture and asking if they could each individually take a picture with us. Everyone was all smiles, the girls standing in-between us, and it was a special moment.
We walked back towards town so that we could make a stop at each of the waterfalls along the way. We had gotten terrible bug bites the day before, so we walked in our flip flops and stopped in each of the flowing springs to “ice” our itchy feet and ankles.
At one of the waterfalls, a man was using the free water and washing his motorbike.
When we got back into town, we walked through the markets to buy some of the blankets we’d seen the night prior. I ended up choosing 2 beautifully knit pieces from one of the women, spending a total of about $20 (100 bolivianos). While in most countries bargaining is part of the custom, here people make so little and the prices are so low, that I personally preferred to pay face value.
Sure, they were giving me tourist prices- but, in the end, me saving $1-3USD is nothing and them making 10-20 bolivianos more could make a difference. When I handed her the money it was quite touching… I had the 2nd biggest bill in their currency, a $100 boliviano, and she just looked at it in her hand, held it in the air, and kissed it. The smile on her face and glean in her eye was 100% genuine. She looked at me, said “thank you”, and I said thanks for such a beautiful blanket.
Before heading out, we wanted to eat lunch at this French restaurant Teresa found on Trip Advisor. It is called El Cafetal and YOU HAVE TO GO THERE! No, I am not paid for that comment haha. But not kidding, we thought about staying in Coroico another day, just so we could go back to eat the next day. It’s also a hostel. Here’s a link to check out El Cafetal in Coroico, Bolivia.
It ended up being quite a walk outside the main part of town… but oooh, it was so worth it! I wanted to stay another day just to be able to come back and eat there again. We had a delicious tomato soup, mouth-watering mushroom pasta, and a drop-dead-can-I-have-another crepe smothered in roasted bananas and melted chocolate.
Part of the adventure was finding “the treasure” in each of our dishes… the tomato soup contained a fly, the pasta a little metal ring, and the crepe a thin hair! But, life moves on and guess sometimes that’s the price when everything is homemade 🙂 The food was out of this world scrumptious and the view was out of this world enchanting.
Coroico was such a colorful, friendly, and just-living-life town… and a wonderful place to spend my 26th birthday. I highly recommend Bolivia travelers to spend a few relaxing days here. It’s impossible to regret!
Put together an epic plan to tour Bolivia off the beaten path!!
Bolivia is a geographically diverse country with so much to explore. Check out the rest of the articles and set your “what not to miss in Bolivia” list!
- Things to do in La Paz & the Witches Market
- Bike Yungas Road, aka, Bolivia’s Death Road
- Uyuni Salt Flat Tours and the famous funky perspective photos
- Take the Cable Car across the skies of Cochamba
- Check out the jungly Villa Tunari
- Spend a few days in Copacabana and Sun Island, Isla de Sol
- If you get caught in a strike, don’t worry, so did we. What to do?