Chulumani

Chulumani is the capital of Sud Yungas. It is an attractive, relaxed and friendly little town, perched on the slopes of a hill with magnificent views across the valley to the forest of Apa Apa and the villages of Chicaloma and Irupana. There are many coca plantations in the area. Almost 70% of Bolivia's coca is grown in the Yungas, with nearly 20,000 ha of this crop under cultivation in 2007.

Sights

Chulumani's neat little streets are a mix of colonial-style houses and modern buildings. Running off the lovely plaza is Calle Lanza, lined with stalls selling fruit and vegetables, piles of green bananas and several cheap eating places. Saturdays and Sundays are market days when Afro-Bolivians come dressed in traditional costume. The town throws a party, Fiesta de San Bartolomé on 24 August. It lasts for 10 days but the first three are the best.

Near Chulumani is the village of Sikilini, which is at the end of the Yunga Cruz Trail . There are plenty of interesting walks in the area - to ancient villages, down to Apa Apa Ecological Park, up to Inca terraces at Pastogrande, to one of 12 clean rivers or simply by taking any path leading out of town.

Hikes from Chulumani

There are many day walks from Chulumani.

El Paraísois a one-hour trek.


To get to Río Kala Kala, take the lower road at the Mirador Ladera and down to the Puente de Tablas, downstream from here there are natural swimming pools and forest.

Another hike is to the village of Ocabaya, to visit its ancient church. Ocabaya is also where the 1952 revolution began. The hike takes 2½ hours.

Irupana and Chicaloma

From Chulumani it is 1½ hours by bus to the old colonial village of Irupana (population 11,000), which hosts a fiesta on 5 August. Three hours beyond Irupana  are the seldom-visited Inca ruins and terraces of Pastogrande with a beautiful river flowing below.

Another road to Irupana goes via the village of Ocabaya (2½ hours away), also passing through the Afro-Bolivian community of Chicaloma, where the Saya, a traditional and now famous Afro-Bolivian dance, was born . This village hosts its Santísima Trinidad festival on 16 July and you can see the dancing at its Corpus Christi celebrations in late May. This road is less direct and used less often, and transport from the tranca in Chulumani is infrequent, so ask around.

Apa Apa Ecological Park

The main road to Irupana passes the turn-off to Apa Apa, a protected forest of 800 ha, 8 km from Chulumani. This is the last original subtropical Yungas forest in the area with plenty of interesting wildlife, such as small deer, agoutis, hoachi, nocturnal monkeys and many birds including parrots and hummingbirds. Even porcupines, pumas and the rare Andean spectacled bear are sometimes seen here. The flora includes many orchids and giant leche-lechetrees which have a small 'cave' in the trunk.

The park is managed by Ramiro Portugal and his US-born wife, Tildi. Ramiro was born locally and knows the area well; he also speaks English.
Day trips can be arranged including transport and a guide.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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