Located about 90 minutes northeast of La Paz, Bolivia’s capital city, the small town of Sorata (elevation 8000 ft) is situated in a valley surrounded on all sides by the rugged snow capped Andes Mountains. Sorata is very popular with the trekking crowd. Having visited Sorata on my most recent tip to Bolivia, I can attest to its popularity with young trekkers. In fact, Sorata markets itself as being the trekking capital of Bolivia.
All the tourists I met – most of them were 22-35 years old – came to Sorata specifically to do some trekking. There are a number of popular multi day trek options in the area. It seems that the only non-trekker in Sorata was yours truly. Due to a very bad leg, a multi day trek - especially in very cold weather at high elevation – would not be very smart, so I decided to stay put in town. That being said, I did my fair share of walking every day.
While hiking to the Gruta lagoon – some 12KM away - I met a group of young Israelis. Like most young Israeli travelers, they had recently completed a stint in the Israeli army before embarking on a one-year journey around the world. I talked to one of the young guys in the group, a wiry fellow in his early 20’s. He related how he recently completed the arduous 3-day trek to the summit of llimani while staying in La Paz. That wasn’t surprising in itself – given his relatively young age - but I was a little bit taken aback when I discovered that he was a moderate smoker
I met another small group of people at my hostel who were embarking on a multi day trek after breakfast to the nearby. One of the trekkers was an amiable British chap in his early 40’s. He had done some moderate trekking in the UK and Europe and he was a smoker as well, not a heavy smoker albeit. Trekking with him were two ladies – early to mid 30’s - that he met while traveling in Bolivia. The owner of the guesthouse set them up with an experienced local trekking guide equipped with donkeys, food supplies and other gear. Apparently they were going to camp outside along the slopes in sleeping bags.
Although I enjoyed myself immensely during my short stay in Sorata - especially after befriending a precocious young street dog - somehow I felt that I was missing out on something – because I wasn’t able to trek. Oh well…