Torotoro’s main draw is the amazing number of dinosaur footprints that can be found in the area. During our time there, we went to a few different places where you could find them (Cerro Waylas and Carreras Pampas had the most), and they were pretty incredible. It is fun to stand in the exact same area where a dino once stood.
At each set of footprints, Victor (our guide) explained what type of dinosaur they think left the track. Looking back on all the pictures, we probably should have taken notes about what he was saying, because now we can’t remember which print belongs to which dinosaur. We did learn that prints with pointed toes were from carnivores, and prints with rounded toes were from herbivores.
It also helped when Victor had little plastic dino replicas that would help show which dinosaur had left the tracks.
As we walked around, we kept finding different types of prints.
All the prints were left when the dinosaurs stepped in mud, and then the mud solidified in to mudstone. The tectonics in this area were really active at one point because some of these plates shifted and the tracks look like they are running uphill.
The shape of the mountains in the surrounding area really show how plate movement shaped the landscape.
Our favorite print was this one- of a pterodactyl, the flying dino! It is kind of hard to tell, but the front two marks are the footprints and the two marks behind are where its wings touched the mud.
After getting our fill of dino prints (we won’t bore you with more pictures), we set off on a little hike through the mountains on a trail called Las Siete Vueltas (The Seven Turns).
We lucked out with Victor as our guide because as a child, he walked this path every day to get to school since his family lived at the top of the mountain. He had interesting stories for us like the time he saw a ghost, the time there was a mule and salt accident, and the legend of the rock known as “The Devil’s Mouth.”
After hiking for a while, we came to an area COVERED with sea-fossils. These were even older than the dinosaur footprints! They think that these fossils date back 350 million years, from when this whole area was an ocean.
So as if the fossils and dino prints weren’t enough, one day we were told to put on clothes we wouldn’t mind getting dirty. We were taken to the Umajalanta cave system, which is supposedly the largest in Bolivia. We figured we would just enter the cave and have a little look around, but it was much more complicated than that.
It turns out that we had to climb, shimmy, and crawl our way to an underground waterfall, and the home of a rare blind catfish. This ended up being a serious caving adventure, and a ton of fun, but it was a very different experience than caving in Colombia (no swimming in this one).
Along the way we found many amazing stalagmites and stalactites. All the different formations had different names based on what they looked like.
Kristen was especially excited by a formation which looked like a big pile of chocolate, but turns out it didn’t taste so great.
The cave continued to get tighter and tighter, at one point we had to “army” crawl and wiggle our way through.
This experience was more challenging than we originally thought it would be, but it was a blast the entire time.
We made it to the waterfall, but unfortunately did not see any of the catfish while we were there.
Again, Victor challenged us with some ropes and tricky crossings.
Dirty, tired, and happy, we safely found our way out of the cave and enjoyed being reunited with the fresh air and blue skies.
Each day we were in Torotoro, we grew to like it more and more. The absolute beauty of this area, combined with the amazing activities, make it a special place that more people should visit.
And there is still more to come!