Villa Tunari – the easiest way to enjoy Bolivian jungle
We’ve made friends when in Torotoro. This beautiful couple (Bolivian and Spanish) wanted to make sure that we love their country. We do, we did even before 😉 but thanks to them we discovered places we definitely wouldn’t go to.
They introduced us to Cochabamba’s food and took us to Incachaca for a whole day trip, they also recommended to go for few days to Villa Tunari, so we went.
It’s awesome to have information directly from locals so we are now passing it onto you.
You can take a minibus that goes the direction to Santa Cruz from Cochabamba. After maybe 2 hours you get off at the main road next to the sign to Incachaca. Then you need to either walk the 4.5kms or stop a nearby locals who head that direction. After paying 5 BOB you get to hike down through really nice and lush jungle forrest to see some waterfalls and old electricity production house that has been built by Germans before the 1st world war. All the machinery is still there, it’s super cool.
Once you are done hiking and enjoying the nature, go back to the main road and make sure you get some Trutcha in the many restaurants near by. It’s fresh, directly from the pond and sooooooo good. We asked for a soup as well but because they didn’t have for all of us, they gave us a tasting portion for free.
To continue to Villa Tunari or go back to Cochabamba, you just need to hail one of the many minis on the main road.
This is the place where Bolivianos come for short breaks and weekends away. You will meet very few gringos. Catch minibus to Villa Tunari anywhere on the main road near Incachaca on the way to Santa Cruz (or directly at Cochabamba, minibuses leave as soon as they get full, 3 hours, 35 BOB from CBBA, 20 BOB from Incachaca). Make sure you bring your passport with you. Anywhere in South America they might ask for passport when entering jungle, this is because jungle is where the narco roads are thriving in South America, where coca is produced and probably made into other things as well.
You wouldn’t notice anything on the street, it doesn’t feel dangerous, nobody is offering you anything as they are passing by. BUT the prices for accommodation are much higher than anywhere else in Bolivia (Copacabana, La Paz, Cochabamba, Torotoro etc).
All of the hotels and hostels in the center were around 400BOB per night without breakfast (uh) so we opted in to stay at the beginning of the village in Hotel Aurora. It wasn’t good, lady at the reception wasn’t nice but we paid 160BOB per night.
Other than that, we actually didn’t spend that much and had a great time discovering the surroundings.
Things to do
- Eat PACU fish at Dona Alejandra, it’s the best fish I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.
We came back 3 times. It’s from Amazonian sweet waters and so oily they don’t have to use oil when grilling it. It’s heaven in a mouth and I would willingly die just to go to heaven (or wherever they serve it after life) to eat it again.
- Visit Parque Machia
Just 150m behind the bridge within the village is this nice park and for 6BOB you can hike up to the mirador. Don’t go during the weekend as there will be many locals and it might tear your heart apart (like it did to me) to see them running after the poor monkeys. If you go during the week, you will have the view as well as some time with monkeys to yourself. There is a refuge for monkeys that accepts volunteers.
- Volunteer at the Refugio Inti Wara Yassi
They always have slots available. Minimum stay is 2 weeks and the fee required is 1770 BOB. In return you get to spend time with all different kinds of monkeys, look after them or their habitat. You also get a place to stay and lunch is provided. New friendships and lifelong memories are for free.
- Visit Parque Carrasco
Enjoy a guided walk through the jungle and visit 2 caves with special kind of nocturnal birds. Make sure you jump to the river for refreshing swim after you finish.
Take a car (local public transport 3 BOB pp) in front of the central market that goes to Paractito. Make sure you take the seat in the booth 😉 There you have to take a mototaxi (aka sit at the back of a motorbike without helmet) for another 7km. We paid 8BOB for both of us.
At the park entrance you need to pay to get in, only possible with a guide. It’s 45 BOB pp but only if it’s group of 6 pp. It was just 2 of us, so they were asking for 180BOB for both of us. We said we will wait and within 10min there was a group of local tourist who joined us. 45BOB pp is still a lot for the 1,5hours we’ve spent there, so if you are on a tight budget I would skip this activity.
Before the entrance to the park is a river with super clean water, you’ll see many locals there taking a bath. We joined in after the walk and it was an absolute bliss.
The best part of our day was on the way back. As we got out of the river and started to walk, within 2 minutes there was a truck loaded with stones. We started to hitchhike and the local Bolivians took us with them all the way to Villa Tunari.
We finished the day with my favourite fish on the grill for 40BOB, one was enough for both of us.
Villa Tunari is definitely not the usual spot for Gringoes but if you enjoy the undiscovered, this is the place for you.
We’ve been to Villa Tunari in January 2018. If you have more up to date info, please share it in the comments.