Thousands of jagged rock formations reach for the sky in Valle de las Animas, a unique Bolivian destination that makes visitors feel as if they’ve landed on Mars. The name of the dramatic valley means Valley of the Souls and can be visited as a day adventure from the bustling city center of La Paz. Practically considered holy ground by locals, Valle de las Animas has various hiking trails to entice intrepid travelers looking for a bit of adrenaline to go with otherworldly landscapes.
Valle de las Animas is a curious natural wonder that is best accessed on a private journey designed by Kuoda, as we can take you to the hidden attractions located in this region of Bolivia. Read on to discover all you need to know about trekking through Valle de las Animas.
Where is it
Valle de las Animas is a peri-urban valley in southeast La Paz. It is roughly 18 miles from the center of the capital city and less than 6 miles from another impressive and popular erosion site, Valle de la Luna (not to be confused with South America’s most famous Moon Valley in Chile).
The site of towering rocks is located at approximately 3,965 meters above sea level. The altitude of Valle de las Animas permits visitors to take in views of the surrounding Cordillera Real mountain range.
How to get there
The trailhead of Valle de las Animas is on the edge of Ovejuyo, about 2.5 miles from the district of Cota Cota in La Paz. Your Kuoda travel designer will arrange private transportation to take you from your hotel or the La Paz city center to the start of the Valle de las Animas trek.
Kuoda will also pair you with a hand-selected tour guide to lead you up and through the Valle de las Animas. Simply enjoy the climb and the views while allowing a local expert to take care of the rest.
Ever noticed that Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, is shaped like a bowl? Some believe that the city was once a lake and that shifts in tectonic plates led to slow drainage of the lake. The water may have settled in the southern half for a longer period and, due to its acidity, prolonged the process of erosion in this sector.
Today, hundreds of years later, the forest of mammoth stalagmites draws international travelers seeking private adventure experiences. Some locals even say that the wind passing through the rock formations carries the voices of spirits.
What you will see while trekking
There are actually a few different routes that circulate Valle de las Animas, however, the most popular hike is about 4.5 miles and takes approximately 3-4 hours roundtrip. Witnessing the rock formations, which have been shaped by wind and time, is a precious experience. This Bolivian gem rarely sees crowds of tourists, meaning a visit to Valle de las Animas will feel like a genuine adventure!
But first, to reach this South American destination of such mystique, travelers must hike past a little lake, up steep slopes and along cliffs. There are few trees to be seen along the trek of Valle de las Animas, though you will come across plenty of sun-loving, high-altitude shrubs and grasses.
In terms of fauna, there are a few winged creatures that will fly past as you set one foot in front of the other, including Giant Hummingbirds and Andean Swallows.
Once you’ve reached the ridge, there is a figure in the background that will surely vie for your attention: Illimani. At 15,000 feet, Illimani is the highest mountain in Bolivia and seemingly watches over Valle de las Animas.
Grouped together and pointed like needles, there are thousands of geological formations at Valle de las Animas to busy a curious eye. Some visitors have commented that the spire-like stalagmites have an eerie appearance of what one could imagine being petrified souls. These figures loom some 100-230 feet high.
Best time to visit
Valle de las Animas is explored by way of gravel and dirt paths lined by cliff sides. With that in mind, it is best to avoid visiting during the rainy season as it can lead to mud and small landslides. The best time to visit Valle de las Animas is during the dry season which starts in June and lasts until September. As a bonus, this time of year brings blue skies to beautifully backdrop the earthen spires.
What to see nearby
Nearby you can also visit the Palca Canyon from which you’ll get a view of Valle de las Animas from below. As you walk through the Canyon you will want to keep your eyes peeled for the mountain caracara, a species of falcon that is thought to bring good luck. In the indigenous Aymara language, this winged creature is called alqamari. After about two hours of walking, you will end up in the small town of Palca.
Still craving unique erosion formations? Venture to Valle de la Luna. Remnants of a clay and sand mountain of yore– battered by years of harsh climate– result in a landscape that is truly out of this world. Trekking options as Valle de la Luna are also available.
How to enjoy Valle de las Animas with Kuoda
Valle de las Animas may look intimidating with its sharp peaks and rugged landscape, but it continues to face threats from modern life and urban expansion. For that reason, Kuoda commits to designing responsible travel itineraries for travelers looking to visit this rare gem of Bolivia.
Ready to combine luxury with sustainability? Contact us today to start planning your personalized journey to Bolivia’s Valle de las Animas!