October 27 - November 6, 2012
Nestled in a fruitful valley and surrounded by a patchwork of mountains and fields producing potatoes, wheat, maize, barley and citrus, Cochabamba is Bolivia's fourth largest city and where we begin our Andean ag-venture. Referred to locally as the city of eternal spring, it is also the site of, Los Portales, the palatial estate completed in 1927 by Simon Patino, the "King of Tin" then considered among the world's richest men. Patino also constructed Pairumani, a large country estate that today houses an organic, biodynamic dairy farm and seed-saving center that specializes in Andean grains and tubers..........we'll see it all. Before setting off to explore Cochabamba's farming communities we will be briefed on Andean agricultural systems by the PROINPA Foundation, a local NGO that provides organizational and technical support to small farmers throughout Bolivia and has built up a seed bank of over 2000 varieties of potatoes, as well as other lesser known Andean crops such as Oca, Quinoa and Canawa.
From Cochabamba we move on upward to La Paz, Bolivia's capital city at 3600 meters above sea level. La Paz will keep you spellbound by its incredible views, hilly, narrow streets, small shops and plethora of native crafts and woolens. Enjoy a (downhill!) escorted "Urban Trek" to experience the markets, foods and culture of this unique city and a mobile tour through the spectacular valley of La Paz to a small cheese factory where we will sample local cheeses and Bolivian wines.
AfterLaPaz,itisontoLakeTiticaca,oneoftheworld'slargest and highest freshwater lakes that Bolivia shares with Peru. We travel along the stark high plain (altiplano) route to the lakeside town of Copacabana and walk along the lakeshore through farms and fields on the J'iska Q'ota trail. Next after crossing Titicaca by boat, we arrive at the traditional Aymara village of Santiago de Okola, located at the base of Sleeping Dragon mountain. Enjoy a traditional lunch as the local families explain how they have farmed the Andean Altiplano for centuries. Learn their ancient weaving techniques and local history before returning to La Paz.
Then on for a day-trip to the steamy cloud forests on the eastern slopes of the Andes in the Yungas region. The village of Coroico is our destination where we will visit coffee and coca plantations. The coca leaf has been a traditional crop of the Bolivian people for thousands of years and has many medicinal and spiritual purposes, as well as its more notorious uses.
With two short flights and comfortable overland travel by van, this ag-venture is designed for a small group who yearn to learn more of the agro-biodiversity and culture of the Andean people. A possible Peru Add-On to the Inca capital of Cusco and Macchu Picchu is available where you will stay in the Sacred Valley and daytrip to Inca heritage ruins.