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The Trek and the Home Stay

To our devoted and eager followers:

After an amazing week of treking in the stunning Andes Mountains and homestays in the small community of Santiago de Okola along the shores of Lake Titicaca, this trip has been nothing short of amazing. Before our trek,we spent a few days in a small village called Corocio at a beautiful eco-lodge and then a few days exploring in one of Bolivia´s capitals, La Paz.

We began our trek at about 17,000 ft, the highest most of the group had been. The landscape was bare and snowy with a temperature of 35 degrees fahrenheit. We hiked down steep switchbacks overlooking a grassy valley and ate lunch at ancient ruins. Along the course of the day, we ran into packs of llamas, sheep, cows, and even a wild horse and her colt. We camped on a soccer field near a local school at about 12,000 feet, overlooking a river and rocky  hills. Those of us who had enough energy to move were able to play a great game of soccer against the locals,which, though exhausting, was a great experience. One of the native Bolivians that accompianed us along our trek through the Andes, Donna Yosephina (excuse my spelling), cooked one of the most amazing soup that we had ever tasted- a great end to a beautiful day.

Our next day of the trek was long and tiring, though beautiful. We saw an impressive change of climate: from a cold, bare, and treeless backdrop to an almost rainforest type climate. We stumbled our way down trails of muddy and slippery rocks, finishing our day with a steep and grueling climb to our next spot, a grassy patch overlooking a vast canyon dotted with waterfalls and deep brush, the tops of the mountains dusted with light clouds. We were delighted by the local cat family living upon the hill. They warmed our laps and our hearts, as did Donna Yosephina´s soup that night.

Our third day marked our climb of the accurately named “El Diablo” (The Devil), a series of slippery stair guiding us up to our lunch spot en route to our final camp, all at about the elevation of 7000 feet. Sore, we finally made it to our final camp.  There, we played a little bit of soccer and relaxed after a taxing hike.

Our final day of the trek started at 5:40 a.m.  We packed up, ate a quick breakfast and made our way down to a small town near Corocio. We drove from there back up to La Paz to clean up. After a much needed shower we drove to Santiago de Okola, the lakeside community where we stayed for two days in local homes. The families we stayed with were incredibley friendly, even making me tea from local medicinal plants in the middle of the night as I struggled with altitude sickness, as we were above 12,500 feet. We spent our few days learning about the community´s agricultural diversity, medicinal plants, and weaving techniques. In addition, we climbed the local “Sleeping Dragon” which was a rocky series of hills which like the name, looked like a sleeping dragon. The climb was beautiful, overlooking the farming community and the seemingly never ending lake. We could even see Peru! We also encountered numerous dogs that were loyal to our group throughout our stay, who even came with us to the soccer pitch, watching us breath heavily during our numerous scrimmages.

Overall,we have had an amazing trip with incredible meals, experiences, and unforgettable memories.

-Luca Pieretti