13th May 2014
I’ve already mentioned all the things we got up to in the beautiful Bolivian capital of Sucre – in between Spanish lessons, that is – but there is one place I left out of the previous post. On the Tuesday, we got up early and caught a bus to the very last stop on the outskirts of town, to hike to Las Siete Cascades, a series of seven waterfalls surrounded by rocky cliff walls.
The hike was a pleasant one, in spite of a slightly overcast morning: along a dirt track through a small village, where pigs snuffled at the side of the road and young shepherds led herds of goat or sheep down steep, rocky paths to graze. We had only vague instructions from a friend who’d done the hike the day before, so finding the way was a little tricky, but luckily there were plenty of people around and everyone I asked smilingly pointed that we were going the right way.
We followed the nearly dry river along, clambouring over large rocks and hopping back and forth across the skinny steam, until we reached the first fall. This one is tiny and not particularly impressive, but the second was just around the corner and quite pretty. To get up to three and four, there was a bit of climbing involved, first up a steep hill alongside the cliff which waterfall number two tumbled over, then along the top of the cliff and down a rocky channel, where somebody had piled up stones as steps. Waterfall number three was small, but poured into a large, blue pool of icy water, which we had to wade through in order to climb up the mini cliff to get past.
The fourth waterfall was the prettiest we found; at about ten foot high it certainly wasn’t the most impressive waterfall we’ve seen on our trip, but it was surrounded by tall cliffs of smooth, grey rock and it gushed, white and foamy, into a pool of the most unreal blue water I’ve ever seen. The setting was beautiful, although the water in the deep pool was way too cold for swimming (my feet went completely numb after a few seconds), so we sat down in the secluded little rock clearing for lunch. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to waterfalls five, six or seven. A lot of climbing is involved, and Sam couldn’t get up the cliff-face alongside the fall without a boost – which I was much too weak to give him.
After lunch, we started the hour walk back uphill to the bus stop, needing to get back to town in time for our Spanish lessons. The scenery just outside of Sucre – sweeping green hills and farmland – was spectacular and, with the sun finally shining, the walk was really nice.
Take the Q bus outside the Mercado Central, to the very last stop. You’ll need to ask directions when you arrive, but basically there is a dirt track running parallel to the road where the bus stops (on your right) which you need to follow through the town and downhill to the riverbed. From here follow the river and you’ll reach the falls.
Where sensible shoes: you will need to climb, so no flip flops.
I wouldn’t recommend the walk alone. Some of the climbing bits require a boost or a pull (especially if you’re small and/or weak, like me). A group is best.