While I really enjoy visiting historical sites, I also love visiting nature sites and taking in the scenery. While my trip to the town of Copacabana and Isla del Sol mixed both history and nature (a perfect combination), this trip to Palca Canyon was focused on getting some fresh air, exercise, and taking in the scenery with the beautiful rock formations in a place that is located not too far from La Paz, Bolivia.
Admittedly, I was a bit tired on the day I had this tour since I had had a very long day tour to Copacabana and Isla del Sol the previous day. However, I was very excited to see what kind of place this was. I was not really sure what to expect, but when I came upon this tour on Viator, it struck my interest. In the past, I was never one for hiking, but it had developed into a bit of a hobby of mine over the past few years, and I was looking forward to getting some fresh air and exercise in the great Bolivian outdoors.
After a quick breakfast at the hotel, I waited in the lobby until the tour guide appeared. After some brief introductions, we then got into his car and headed to another to pick up a woman from Colombia who had scheduled the tour at the same time. Since neither the tour guide or the woman spoke much English, it was up to me to use my rather limited Spanish skills to communicate with them. It was not always easy, but I did find myself becoming a bit more comfortable speaking in Spanish to them.
Because the tour guide did not speak as much English as what was advertised, he often gave long explanations in Spanish and then gave a cursory explanation in English. While I did admittedly have some annoyance at this, I tried to think positively about this and tried to follow along with the Spanish. It was not easy since I was only able to pick up about 25% of what was said. However, I definitely think my Spanish skills have improved significantly since learning it in high school over 15 years ago.
In order to get to Palca Canyon, we were driven down a rather rough and bumpy road that led to the small town of Palca. After a short restroom break in the town, we drove a bit further before reaching the entrance to the Canyon. The first thing that struck me were the beautiful rock formations that jutted out like jagged teeth in various places. Aside from the three of us, the entire Canyon was completely devoid of people.
For the next few hours, the guide led us around inside the Canyon where we were able to get some beautiful photos. The weather was perfect with very few clouds, and it was not particularly cold. While the hike was quite easy, it was necessary to be careful since it was very easy to slip between rocks and twist an ankle. There were also a couple times when the climb was a bit steep, but it was certainly doable for anyone of reasonable fitness.
At the end of the tour, we had a lunch break near the entrance of the Canyon before being driven back to La Paz. Because of student strikes in the city, the roads to our hotels had been shut down, and the tour guide initially wanted us to use the funiculars that are commonly used in La Paz in order to get to our hotels. However, he did not explain this English; therefore, I was quite lost about what he was talking about. Eventually, he agreed to walk us back to our hotels.
Overall, Palca Canyon was a fascinating place to visit because of its wonderful natural rock formations, and the fact that it is a not commonly-visited site in Bolivia, so it is still relatively undiscovered. I would very strongly recommend a visit there for anyone who enjoys hiking, the outdoors, and seeing some beautiful nature and rock formations.
Have you been to Palca Canyon? What did you think of it?
Please enjoy the photo gallery! All photos were taken by me using a DSLR and iPhone.