A sign reads 'Umajalanta' at the offices of Cavernas de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia Bolivia

WIT: Torotoro’s Caverna de Umajalanta Tour

With a landscape as dramatic as Torotoro National Park, it would be a miracle if there weren’t caves to explore. The biggest and best one is seen on the Caverna de Umajalanta tour: a series of underground tunnels and caves stretching for kilometres. Grab your headlamp and your scruffiest clothes – this is a cracking and full-on half-day tour in Torotoro National Park.

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!

Caverna de Umajalanta Tour

You’ll only spend 90 minutes inside the caves. This is more than enough, and you’ll get to see just about everything worth seeing. There are stalagmites (sadly damaged), stalactites, tunnels and archways which all lead to a waterfall. Try not to panic when you hear bats, and have to force yourself through awfully thin gaps.

A stone with sea life fossils trapped in it, Caverna de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia
Millions of years old

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.

Pools and streams within Caverna de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia
Apparently this is what some of the pools look like. We had no idea until the flash went on

WEE TIP: if  you manage to do this tour in a group of 7 (like we did), then the tour is going to cost you Bs40 each. That’s about $6. Two (cheap) beers back home. 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 rocks features you probably won’t notice. Two cheap beers. For 4 hours. Think about that.

Caverna de Umajalanta Tour Itinerary

On the tour you’re going to see the following:

  • dinosaur footprints
  • sea-life fossils
  • a miniature ‘valle de la luna’
  • caverna de Umajalanta

The caves are located right next to Cabañas Umajalanta. Even if you’re staying here with your own vehicle, you’ll need to organise a guide to enter the caves. It’s forbidden to explore Torotoro National Park without a tour.

The walk to Cavernas de Umajalanta from the car park. Torotoro National Park, Bolivia
A lovely walk from the car park

The Tour Experience

On arrival you’ve got a 20-30 minute walk to the office. There’s lockers, information maps and a particularly cute puppy. On the walk, you guessed it, your guide will point out more dinosaur footprints and fossils.

People in helmets walking in to Cavernas de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia

These dinosaur footprints are still impressive, but we preferred the ones on El Vergel hike. The sea-life fossils are very impressive though, and you’ll see a miniature Valle de la Luna. It’s small, but the shapes of the rocks are certainly interesting.

If you’ve been reading our posts for a while you’ll know that we despise caves. Torotoro National Park managed to change our mind for the moment. After descending in to the cavern your guide will show you some impressive, but sadly damaged stalagmites. There’s graffiti too, but that’s a complaint for another time.

A tour guide explains the formations within Caverna de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia
Marcelino’s the boy

It’s a fun journey down to a miniature waterfall and an easy climb back up. Sure, at one point there’s a tight squeeze through to the next tunnel, but it wasn’t as bad as we’re heard. You’ll be using the mandatory ropes, headlamps and your best cave-crawling abilities for a fun 90-minutes. Your guide will point out interesting formations and a few shapes you should recognise. If you’re lucky you’ll spot some bats and blind fish too.

A tourist squeezes through a tight space in Caverna de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia
This is the only real section that’s a tight squeeze

WEE TIP: if you’re in any way claustraphobic or uncomfortable in tight spaces, then this is not for you. There’s no reward for being brave here – just leave it out. We saw an, ehm, rather large gentleman pretty shaken up outside the caves. He’d struggled with the tight spaces and had a panic attack, ruining the tour for his group. If you’re not good with small spaces, there’s plenty in Torotoro to keep you entertained regardless!

A girl with a helmet smiles within Caverna de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia
All smiles in the tunnels

Caverna de Umajalanta Tour Advice

We did our tour through the caves of Umajalanta in the afternoon. This works perfectly, since you’ll be avoiding the sunlight during the hottest time of day. It’s also a really, really good idea to combine this tour with La Ciudad de Itas. There are a few reasons for this.

A blind fish in a pool in Caverna de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia
Imagine being a blind fish. What’s the point eh

They both require transport and complement one another perfectly on a full day tour. Around halfway back on your drive from La Ciudad de Itas, you’ll stop at Cabañas de Umajalanta. This is a great lunch break, with sublime views of the Sinclinales. The Cavernas de Umajalanta are basically next door.

Finally, make sure to wear old clothes. We mean clothes you don’t care about getting covered in mud, cave-dirt and bat shit. It wasn’t too cold when we were there, so you shouldn’t need too many layers.

If you do the tour and love it (or hate it), please get in touch using our Comments below and give us your thoughts!

Light peers through the end of the walkway in Caverna de Umajalanta, Torotoro National Park, Bolivia
Light at the end of the caverna

What You Need to Know

Guide: Bs120 (total)

Transport: Bs150 (total)

Entry: free

Equipment: Bs12 pp

Time: 3 hours

So there you go! Our full guide to Torotoro’s Caverna de Umajalanta Tour. If you’d like to know about some of the other tours, then check out our full posts for El Vergel and La Ciudad de Itas. For more information on the park itself, read our WIT: Guide to Torotoro National Park.

SHARE THIS POST

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *