Torotoro Part Two- So there were dinosaurs here once…

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.

I wouldn't want to mess with this guy.

I wonder where he was headed.

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.

We loved the little plastic dinos! (And no, the shadow is not our guide getting hammered... just one of us quenching our thirst.)

As we walked around, we kept finding different types of prints.

Some were teeny-tiny.

Others were HUGE!

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.

These are from a heavy four-legged dinosaur, but this area was flat when he walked around.

The shape of the mountains in the surrounding area really show how plate movement shaped the landscape.

Crazy mountains.

This was once all flat ground.

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.

So weird to envision a pterodactyl landing here!

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).

Beautiful day for a hike!

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.”

Joe checking out "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.

Some sort of ancient sea plant with shells mixed in. (And yes, you could pick them up.)

We "heart" Torotoro!

Just a few of the many marine fossils we found at 10,000 feet above the ocean.

So many fossils, so little time. It was difficult to resist the urge to take some with us.

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.

Kristen at the cave entrance, in her cool protective equipment. Joe tried to tell the guide that she didn't need a helmet because nothing could hurt her hard, Italian head.

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.

Joe standing next to the "Tree."

Kristen was especially excited by a formation which looked like a big pile of chocolate, but turns out it didn’t taste so great.

Almost looks good enough to eat. This one was "The Christmas Tree."

Nothing like taking a picture in the dark to give you that startled look.

The cave continued to get tighter and tighter, at one point we had to “army” crawl and wiggle our way through.

Joe making his way through a tight area.

This experience was more challenging than we originally thought it would be, but it was a blast the entire time.

Kristen happy she doesn't have to army crawl anymore.

Seriously? We have to go through there?!?

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.

Kristen climbing in the cave - Stop smiling and pay attention!

Dirty, tired, and happy, we safely found our way out of the cave and enjoyed being reunited with the fresh air and blue skies.

Happy to see the outside of the cave again!

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!

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About shoefry

Taking off for a year to see what the world has to offer.
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3 Responses to Torotoro Part Two- So there were dinosaurs here once…

  1. Tee says:

    Wouldn’t that have been priceless if you saw some guy in dino-stilts walking around making footprints for tourists? Now that would have been impressive.

    And man, I can’t believe Victor had to experience that mule and salt accident. That was epic, and people are still recovering. Mules still shiver every time they see a little girl in a yellow dress carrying an umbrella while being rained on and spilling salt as she walks. It was a terrible time for all, and a real dark spot on Bolivia’s history.

    So, to sum up: dinosaur prints not real; dangerous accident; and I hate you both more.

  2. Dad and Mom Fry says:

    Everytime we begin to think that you have had one great adventure and that the sights couldn’t get any better…we get the next blog and photos. What a wonderful and amazing adventure for you two. Enoy, be safe and hurry home.

  3. Pingback: San Pedro de Atacama: Welcome to Chile! Now, hand over your wallet. | shoefry

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