Arriving safely in Tarija after a hair raising minivan ride over muddy, rocky and steep terrain with a driver who seemed to think he was taking part in a grandprix, we looked for a hike to stretch our legs, as we had been sitting for almost 7 hours the previous day. We went to the local tourist office and they described two hikes that were in the vicinity. We picked the first of the two ‘Coimata’ , as we had already read about it in the Lonely planet.
We found the local micro (small mini bus) to the start of the hike. The micro drove us a short distance outside the city and through farmlands and took around 20 minutes to reach Coimata, for only 3 Bolivianos each (60cents).
The path started alongside a river on pebbled road for the first km until we reached a picnic area, where there were a few French people eating lunch. We snooped around looking for the start of the trail. There were two to choose from and we decided to take the steps leading up instead of down (note the lack of signs and our pure guess work).
The path remained alongside the river, snaking its way along the impressive gorge, with several small waterfalls and small swimming holes.
We kept on going, wanting to do as much exercise as possible. The path was varied and we crossed the river several times, climbed rocks in some areas and walked on the somewhat overgrown path (especially towards the end).
We reached the 60 metre high waterfall some 40 minutes later, having covered a further 2km approx. and took a few pictures to capture the moment. The sun was shining hard and the water was ever so tempting however the water at the waterfall was used for the town’s water supply, therefore no swimming was allowed. We decided to head back downstream a little and take a dip at one of the lower swimming holes, as this was not used for the town’s water supply. Jon got a little carried away and took his clothes off, walked around the edge of the waterhole and plunged in, whilst Vanessa felt the water and decided to give this one a miss (chilly is the only way to describe the temperature, a hotty at 10 degrees or maybe a little less).
Jon got a little worried as Vanessa proceeded to get her camera out and decided to quickly climb out, grabbing all of his clothing (previous experience has told Jon that leaving your clothes can be risky with Vanessa around as they may suddenly disappear). Anyway, as he attempted to jump from rock to rock, one very good Moreno wool sock plummeted into the stream. Jon did not panic at first as he thought the sock was resting on a rock, but then it floated over a small waterfall. In distress Jon quickly threw his shoes to safety along with the rest of his clothing and went searching. However he could not find anything at the top of the nect tier. He then got dressed and went hunting (with Vanessa’s help) for his sock at the bottom of the next cascade. After 15 minutes of searching, no sock had been found and Jon reluctantly said goodbye to his only warm hiking sock.
We headed back downstream and Jon spotted a bright green snake which Vanessa had walked past and luckily did not stand on. We saw two other day hikers walking upstream, who had followed the other route. We decided to test this out. It led us back to the same area where we had started. We however hadn’t noticed the large swimming hole at the beginning, where some locals were already giving the chilly water a go.
Instead of catching the local bus back to Tarija, we decided to walk back past the farmlands, which was a great decision, as it proved to be a warm and scenic walk passing through several little villages.
It took, all up, 1 hour 30 minutes to walk back into town. An excellent day’s exploring had.