A tour of La Ciudad de Itas requires a wild drive out to the north of Torotoro National Park on dusty, swirling roads. Since you’re in Bolivia, there’s a fair chance the van will break down. The roads are bumpy. You’ll gasp for oxygen at 3,800, but the views, sights and incredible natural formations make this a brilliant half-day tour.
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!
La Ciudad de Itas Tour
The Ciudad de Itas is another popular tour. You’ll drive 21km (45m) north, deep in to Torotoro National Park, arriving at a city of rock formations believed to have been a community many years ago. The drive is out of this world. Once there, you’ll explore mesmerising caves, ancient paintings, endemic plants, outrageous views and overall just beautiful scenery. The site is located 3,800m above sea level so pack your coca leaves.
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 manage to do this tour in a group of 7 (like we did), then the tour is going to cost you Bs46 each. That’s about $6.50. 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.
La Ciudad de Itas Tour Itinerary
On the tour you’re going to see the following:
- cave paintings
- crazy rock formations and animal-shaped stones
- the salt wall
- fossilised sea-life
- sweeping views of the surrounding valley
- la Iglesia
- the devil’s cave
- archways and stone-seats with a view
You may be relieved to arrive. The roads are pretty treacherous, and the tour group in front of us suffered a broken-down van. They arrived around 30m behind us.
From the town of Torotoro you’re essentially driving all the way up the Sinclinales and behind them. There are no barriers on the winding roads with huge drops, so those not so good with heights may prefer to sit on the right hand side. Otherwise, the views are absolutely breathtaking the whole way there.
The Tour Experience
On arrival there’s barely a car park, but there are two squat toilets. You’re a short walk to some ancient cave paintings. Your guide will explain the history behind them.
Your guide will point out fossils, animals and ancient sea life on the way to the salt wall. All of this is evidence of La Ciudad de Itas being underwater at some point. Try get your head around that as you stand 3,800 high in the baking Bolivian heat.
You’ll learn about the local plants including menthol, tumillo (part of the oregano family) and more. There are rocks as old as 4000BC.
After the salt wall the pathway opens up with beautiful mountain views. This is the perfect spot for a rest and some snacks, before you turn the corner in to the cathedral. This is the highlight of La Ciudad de Itas tour, and the picture you’ll see being used in the promotional packages. It’s an amazing place.
You can walk in to the pitch blackness of the Devil’s Cave. Then, at the end of the walk you’ll enter another really cool cavern, and then above it afterwards for views of the landscape all the way to 5,000m+ Cerro Tunari.
La Ciudad de Itas Tour Advice
We would recommend doing this tour in the morning. We both ended up a bit pink (of course) even doing the tour in the morning. It must be pretty tough-going in the afternoon heat, at that altitude as well. It’s also a really, really good idea to combine this tour with Cavernas de Umajalanta. There are a few reasons for this.
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.
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: Bs120 (total)
Transport: Bs200 (total)
Entry: Bs5 pp
Time: 4-5 hours
So there you go! Our full guide to Torotoro’s La Ciudad de Itas Tour. If you’d like to know about some of the other tours, then check out our full posts for Cavernas de Umajalanta and El Vergel. For more information on the park itself, read our WIT: Guide to Torotoro National Park.
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