El Vergel is rightly one of the highlights of any visit to Torotoro National Park. On this half-day tour you’ll see far more than just the picturesque El Vergel waterfall. After the magnificent miradors you’ll drop down to the pools for a swim – it’s a refreshing dip after a hike in the high Bolivian heat. But don’t forget the 900-step walk up!
WEE TIP: how’s your Spanish? If you have basic Spanish then you’ll probably be alright. If you don’t speak a word, then we have bad news: everything in Torotoro is in Spanish. Although the guides are learning English, for now they speak Quechua and Spanish (in that order). Our Spanish is pretty good, but even our vocabulary was tested with geology and dinosaur descriptions. We did hear English-speaking guides but they were on private tours and cost an awful lot more. Try make sure there’s at least one Spanish-speaker in your group!
El Vergel Tour
El Vergel Tour is probably the most popular tour in Torotoro National Park. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a mere Bs100 (for up to 7), you see an amazing amount of things and learn heaps about the park. It also doesn’t require any transport: it’s probably your best bang for Boliviano in the whole park. Your 3km hike from the town takes you the long way down the impressive Cañon Torotoro to a very pretty waterfall.
Organising the Tour
Before you get started on the tour you’ll need to make sure you’re organised. We’ve detailed everything you need to know about your entry ticket, organising a group and the best itineraries in our WIT: A Guide to Torotoro National Park. This post talks you through how to get there, where to stay, and why the journey to Torotoro could be the most dangerous part of the trip!
The tourist office (on the west side of town in front of the basketball court) is where you’ll need to organise everything. It’s open from 07:30 – 11:00 and 13:30 – 16:30. You’ll find a range of tour options inside the office and the helpful staff will give you some recommendations.
Before you join any tour, you’ll first need to buy your Torotoro National Park Entry Ticket. This is Bs100 and gives you x4 days (consecutive) access to the park. The park entry ticket office is right next to the tour office.
WEE TIP: if you’re walking in a group 4 (like we were), then the tour is going to cost you Bs25 each. That’s about $3.50. One (cheap) beer. Don’t be a scumbag by trying to avoid using a tour guide. First of all it’s mandatory, and if you’re caught (at the checkpoints – they really, really exist) without a guide you’ll have your entry ticket removed. They’ll also provide you with incredible information, and point out fossils and footprints you’ll likely miss. One cheap beer. For 4 hours. Think about that.
El Vergel Tour Itinerary
On your way you’ll see the following:
- Incredible dinosaur footprints
- A natural amphitheatre with river
- The ‘lover’s/divorce’ bridge
- Cañon de Torotoro Mirador 1
- El Vergel waterfall
- Cañon de Torotoro Mirador 2
Torotoro National Park is littered with super impressive dinosaur footprints that we would have walked clean past. Y0u’ll also see some on the Cavernas de Umajalanta tour, but for us these were better. They’re recently discovered too, some of them were only discovered in the 80s. Despite their obvious attraction, they weren’t fully appreciated until the 2000s, when archaeologists began to properly conserve and protect them.
WEE TIP: if you don’t fancy the 6km half-day tour, you can check out Chiflón Qaqa. There are dinosaur footprints on this more easy-going tour too. However, if you start with El Vergel tour, then Chiflón Qaqa will probably be a bit of a let-down.
The Tour Experience
Huellas de Dinosaurios
First of all, your guide will explain all the different dinosaur footprints located just out of town (Huellas de Dinosaurios). They’ll talk you through the history of the prints and share incredible detail about why the family were heading north, whether or not they were running and why there may have been predators nearby. Millions of years of rock movement and layers of sediment have trapped precious fossils here.
Expect to spend around 45-60 minutes at the dinosaur footprints. Next, you’ll walk along the river and down in to a small valley. Here you’ll see the locally adopted Ampitheatre. The river was completely dry when we were in town (May ’19), so we’re sure it looks pretty different in wet season.
There have been schools, artists and musicians hosting concerts here because of the incredible acoustics. Afterward, you’ll walk down the river to the “lover’s bridge.” See if you can figure out where it got its name. Marcelino also pointed out that it could be called the “divorce bridge.”
The Miradors & Cañon Torotoro
Once you’ve walked this stretch of river with some really cool natural rock formations, waterfalls and bridges, you’ll emerge at the 1st Mirador of the jaw-dropping Cañon Torotoro. There’s a vertigo-inducing walkway here and great opportunities for pictures. Incredibly, the canyon stretches for 14km.
Once you’ve taken your selfies and counted all the condors, it’s time for the highlight of El Vergel Tour. From here you’ll walk around 750 steps and 300m down to El Vergel waterfall. It’s a beautiful walk and you can even swim in the pools around the waterfall as well.
The waterfall is incredibly pretty and though it’s not the fastest one around, you’ll see it from some distance away. Huge boulders and rocks create tunnels and streams for turquoise water. Keep walking a little past the waterfall and you’ll also be able to get some shots from within a cave across from it.
Unfortunately, we took a little too long at the start of our walk. We didn’t have enough time for a dip, but the light for pictures was great. The water looked fantastic as well.
Now for the worst part. It’s 900 steps all the way back up to the 2nd Mirador. How is it more than the 750 down? Because you’ll come back a slightly different way up to the 2nd Mirador, which is higher. From that 2nd Mirador, it’s a 3km walk back to town along the road.
WEE TIP: please, please, please take care on the walk. At the miradors and on the walk in to the canyon there are no barriers whatsoever. This is Bolivian Health & Safety at its very best. There’s really nothing at all to stop you from falling off the edge, so don’t stray too far – especially in the dark.
El Vergel Tour Advice
We did this walk in the afternoon and although we basically had it all to ourselves, we would still recommend doing it in the morning instead. There’s a few reasons for this.
At the 1st Mirador we were shooting straight in to the sun. We basically did our walk at the hottest time of day as well. Since we spent so long at the footprints, we also ran kind of ran out of time at El Vergel waterfall. Although the light was fantastic, we didn’t have time for a swim. We also missed sunset at the 2nd Mirador (by about 15 minutes) and it was a long walk back to town in the dark, though we were underneath beautiful stars the whole way.
If you do the tour and love it (or hate it), please get in touch using our Comments below and give us your thoughts!
What You Need to Know
Guide: Bs100 (group total)
Time: 4-5 hours
So there you go! Our full guide to Torotoro’s El Vergel Tour. If you’d like to know about some of the other tours, then check out our full posts for Cavernas de Umajalanta and La Ciudad de Itas. For more information on the park itself, read our WIT: Guide to Torotoro National Park.
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