We’ve said this a few times before, but the main advantage of “overlanding” is that we can travel slow; we have no fixed schedule that we have to meet, which allows us to stay longer at a particular location, which in turn allows us to pick up more of the flavor, and to visit sites that may get a word or two, at best, in our Lonely Planet guide.
Such was the case with the Incamachay rock paintings outside Sucre. Our guide-book says:”… Home to the Quechua speaking Jalq’a people it has a string of sites worth visiting, including the rock paintings of Pumamachay and Incamachay, the weaving village of Potolo, the dramatic Maragua Crater, and the Talua hot springs. …”
In one of the tourist guides we picked up at the University student tourist information in Sucre, there was a beautiful picture of Incamachay, so we decided it was worth a day. And we’re glad we did, it turned out to be one of our best days in South America.
We had hired a guide, Jorge, who is a multi-talented student at the University – law, theology, and tourism – and set off at 6.00 am.
And yes, you need a guide, there are no maps that we could find that detail where the trail starts, nor are there trail head markers along the road. After a two hour drive, with a few interesting stops along the way, we started our hike.
It was a beautiful day: the sun was out but there was enough cloud cover to keep the temperatures reasonable. We started at an altitude of 3,800m, 12,500ft; for the first two and a half hours the hike was level, and then it was a steady decent down to the rock paintings.
We’re in Bolivia, we hiking above 12,000 ft, so of course the coca leaves come out. I am somewhat disappointed to say that this, legal, drug did very little for me. A strong cup of coffee and a Swedish snus would have had more effect. Karen felt the same way.
The rock paintings are worthy of much more traffic, and a better presentation than what is currently there; hopefully the small museum they are building close to the site will be finished. We were the first visitors in three days…
The paintings were very pretty and rather mysterious; no one knows what they actually mean.
After a 2.5 hr hike back, we headed down a dirt road to the village of Chaunaca, where Jorge wanted to introduce us to Augustina, a 94 (ninety four) year old woman who lives by herself on her small farm, and also runs the local “super market” out of her house..
Not only was she adorable, she served us a late lunch. Delicious. (And Mignon, it doesn’t get any more local food than this…)
To wrap up the day, we drove to a very pretty little canyon, sat on top of a large rock and had a cold beer.
What a superb day. Beautiful hike. Mysterious rock paintings. Great lunch experience. Perhaps we should travel even more slowly.