Torotoro National Park

Torotoro National Park is a protected area in Bolivia that presents a range of surprises to its visitors. Anchored in the Andes mountains, this park combines astonishing biodiversity, dinosaur footprints, and an impressive geological and cultural legacy. A unique experience awaits anyone who chooses to explore it.

Introduction to Torotoro National Park

Torotoro National Park

Geographical Location

Located in the Municipality of Torotoro, in the Charcas Province, at the northern tip of the Department of Potosí, Bolivia. It is situated at a distance of 736 km from the departmental capital and only 140 km from the city of Cochabamba.

With an area of 16,570 hectares, this park stands out as Bolivia’s smallest national protected area. Despite its compact size, within its boundaries, ten rural communities coexist in harmony with the urban population of Torotoro, providing cultural authenticity and a connection to local traditions.

Geographic Coordinates

The geographic coordinates of Torotoro National Park are located in the reference quadrant between the following points:

Point 1:

  • Latitude: 18° 1’36.78″ South.
  • Longitude: 65° 53’10.51″ West.

Point 2:

  • Latitude: 18° 10’24.48″ South.
  • Longitude: 65° 37’19.9″ West.

These coordinates roughly define the park’s location on the map, covering the area between these points in the reference quadrant.

History and Conservation Status

The history of Torotoro National Park dates back to June 10, 1988, when Rodolfo Becerra de la Roca, a native of Torotoro, founded the Torotoro Conservation Association (ACT). The main objective of this association was to promote the conservation, protection, and proper management of wildlife, as well as paleontological and speleological resources, and to preserve the natural beauty of the Toro Toro area.

Under the leadership of ACT, the Study for the Creation of Torotoro National Park was carried out, and it was named "Parque Nacional Torotoro" (PNT) in Spanish. This served as the basis for managing its declaration through Supreme Decree No. 22269, issued on July 26, 1989. Later, in November 1992, during the government of Jaime Paz Zamora, the park was elevated to the rank of law through Law No. 1370. It is important to highlight that Torotoro is the only national park in Bolivia established through a private initiative, which grants special recognition to Rodolfo Becerra de la Roca as the founder of this national park.

In 2019, it received significant international recognition. The Institute of Responsible Tourism (ITR), affiliated with UNESCO, awarded the park the "Biosphere" certification in tourism. This certification confirms that the park is a sustainable tourist destination in economic, environmental, and cultural terms. It was the first tourist destination in Bolivia to obtain this certification, highlighting its commitment to responsible tourism development.

In November 2021, members of UNESCO’s World Geoparks Council visited Torotoro National Park with the aim of evaluating its potential to be nominated as a geopark. If granted this designation, Torotoro would become Bolivia’s first geopark and the ninth in Latin America. A final response about this nomination is expected by January 2022, opening new opportunities to promote conservation and tourism in the region.

National Park Objectives

It was created with a set of clear objectives that guide its conservation and management. These objectives include:

  1. Conservation of Natural Landscapes: The park aims to protect and preserve the unique natural landscapes found within its territory, such as mountains, plateaus, valleys, and canyons. These natural landscapes are an integral part of the park’s ecosystem and contribute to its scenic beauty.
  2. Conservation of Archaeological, Paleontological, and Speleological Sites: Torotoro hosts a rich cultural and paleontological history. The park is committed to preserving and protecting the valuable archaeological, paleontological, and speleological sites within its boundaries. This includes rock paintings, dinosaur footprints, caves, and other significant geological formations.
  3. Conservation of Flora and Fauna Native to Inter-Andean Valleys: It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna species adapted to inter-Andean valleys. The goal is to protect these ecosystems and ensure the survival of endemic and native species that inhabit the park.
  4. Promotion of Research, Recreation, and Tourism: The park encourages scientific research in various disciplines related to geology, paleontology, ecology, and local culture. Additionally, it seeks to provide opportunities for recreation and sustainable tourism, allowing visitors to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of the park while promoting its conservation.

Annual Visits

According to statistics from the year 2018, Torotoro National Park received approximately 25,000 visitors. This figure reflects the growing popularity of this tourist destination and its ability to attract people interested in exploring its biodiversity, natural beauty, dinosaur footprints, and unique geological formations.

The increase in the number of visitors is an indicator of the interest and recognition it has gained both nationally and internationally. The richness of its natural, cultural, and paleontological heritage has captured the attention of nature enthusiasts, adventurers, and scientists, generating a steady flow of people eager to experience everything the park has to offer.


Physiography and Geomorphology

Torotoro National Park is situated in the physiographic province of the Eastern Cordillera in Bolivia. It spans an altitude range from 1,900 meters above sea level to 3,600 meters above sea level. This geographic and altitudinal location contributes to the diversity and uniqueness of its physiography.

The park’s topography is characterized by the presence of hills and mountains, forming a mountainous complex that extends throughout its territory. These mountain formations offer impressive landscapes and captivating panoramas.

In addition to the mountains, the park features plateaus that rise above the surrounding terrain. These plateaus provide panoramic views of the surroundings and add variety to the park’s physiography.

Narrow valleys are also part of Torotoro’s physiography. These valleys, sculpted by erosion over millions of years, offer picturesque landscapes and provide the opportunity to explore canyons and rivers that flow within them.

Lastly, the park includes alluvial-colluvial terraces, which are sedimentary formations in the form of horizontal platforms. These terraces result from the deposition of sediment carried by water currents, creating flat areas that contrast with the surrounding mountains.


It is situated within the Amazon River Basin, one of the main hydrographic basins in South America. Specifically, the park is part of two hydrographic basins, the Caine River Basin and the San Pedro River Basin, which contribute to the water flow into the Amazon Basin.

Within these basins, several hydrographic sub-basins cross through Torotoro National Park. Some of these sub-basins include:

  1. Inca Corral River Sub-Basin: one of the main tributaries of the Caine River Basin. Its watercourse runs through part of the park, contributing to the water supply of the area.
  2. Rodé River Sub-Basin: also a tributary of the Caine River Basin, it crosses the park, forming picturesque river landscapes.
  3. Sucusuma River Sub-Basin: another significant tributary of the Caine River Basin. Its presence in the park adds hydrographic diversity and value to the area.
  4. Mayu Lagoon Sub-Basin: Mayu Lagoon, located within the national park, is part of this sub-basin. It is a natural body of water that enriches the park’s hydrography.
  5. Challampa Sub-Basin: another relevant sub-basin that crosses the park. Its streams and tributaries contribute to the water flow of the region.

These hydrographic sub-basins form an important river network within the protected area, providing water for the flora, fauna, and park visitors. Additionally, the characteristics of these rivers and lagoons contribute to the scenic beauty and ecosystem diversity within the protected area.

Park’s Climate

The municipality of Torotoro exhibits significant climatic variations based on altitude and proximity to the Caine River. In the lower parts near the river, the climate is characterized by limited rainfall, with precipitation amounts falling below 450 mm per year. Moreover, these areas experience a warmer climate.

In the middle parts of the municipality, precipitation is moderate, ranging from 450 to 650 mm per year. These areas fall within an intermediate range in terms of rainfall and temperature.

Conversely, the higher parts of the municipality receive more rainfall, with precipitation varying between 800 and 1000 mm per year. These zones feature a cooler and more humid climate, and during the summer, stable fog is common. Ambient humidity is higher in these high-altitude areas compared to the lower and middle parts.

Biodiversity of Torotoro Park


It hosts two distinctive ecoregions within its borders: the Northern Puna and the Inter-Andean Dry Forests.

The Northern Puna is an ecoregion characterized by its high-altitude location in the northern part of the Andes region. Within the park, the sub-ecoregion of Semi-Humid Puna is found. This sub-ecoregion is characterized by higher humidity compared to other puna areas, resulting in diverse vegetation adapted to these conditions. The presence of grasslands, shrublands, and species of flora and fauna adapted to higher altitudes is distinctive in this sub-ecoregion.

The Inter-Andean Dry Forests are an ecoregion found in inter-Andean regions, where rainfall is limited and periods of drought are frequent. Within Torotoro National Park, the sub-ecoregion of Inter-Andean Dry Forests is present. This sub-ecoregion is characterized by vegetation adapted to arid conditions, such as dry forests, shrublands, and cacti. The fauna has also adapted to these conditions, with species that can survive with limited water and food resources.


With an impressive diversity of flora, a total of 359 species of vascular and non-vascular plants have been recorded. Among these species, 20 are endemic to Bolivia, meaning they are found only in this country. Of these endemic species, 4 are locally known, making them even more exclusive and particularly important for conservation.

Data collected by BCEOM-CONICOM in 1998, as well as studies by Torrico and Lara in 2000 and García et al. in 2006, have contributed to identifying and documenting this rich diversity of flora in Torotoro National Park. These studies have provided valuable information about the species present in the park and their significance at both national and local levels.

The park’s flora encompasses a wide variety of species, including trees, shrubs, herbs, and other non-vascular plants. These species adapt to the different habitats present in the park, such as dry forests, puna areas, and inter-Andean valleys.

The presence of endemic and locally known species underscores the importance of flora conservation in the region. These unique and exclusive plants contribute to the biodiversity of the protected area and represent a significant part of Bolivia’s natural heritage. Protecting these species and their habitats is essential to ensure their long-term survival and maintain the biological diversity of the park.


The fauna of Torotoro is characterized by being a combination of different zoogeographic units. Elements from the high Andean region, as well as the inter-Andean dry valleys, and some elements from the Yungas region can be found.

In the high Andean region, species adapted to the extreme altitude conditions can be observed, such as vicuñas, llamas, and alpacas. These animals are emblematic of the Andean region and have adapted to living at high altitudes.

In the inter-Andean dry valleys, species adapted to the arid and semi-arid conditions of this area can be found. Among the animals present in the park, notable mentions include birds like the Andean condor, hawks, partridges, and various species of birds of prey.

Elements from the Yungas region can also be found, which is a transitional area between the inter-Andean valleys and the tropical rainforest. Some species of mammals and birds typical of this region may be present in specific areas of the park.

Geological and Paleontological Wonders

Dinosaur Footprints

For dinosaur enthusiasts, Torotoro is a dream come true. The park is famous for its dinosaur footprints, representing some of the largest and best-preserved footprints in South America.

It’s a captivating destination for geology and paleontology enthusiasts alike, as it houses a plethora of dinosaur footprints and karstic origin caves. Exploring these footprints and caves offers a glimpse into the past, allowing visitors to marvel at the presence of large Mesozoic reptiles.

Within the park, various dinosaur footprints can be found, showcasing some of the largest and best-preserved footprints in South America. These footprints serve as living witnesses to the existence of these ancient inhabitants of the planet and provide a unique experience for paleontology enthusiasts.

Karstic Origin Caves

There are also deep karstic origin caves that offer thrilling underground exploration. Among the notable caves is the extensive Umajalanta Cave, the Huaca Senka Cave, and others. These caves feature impressive geological formations and provide a fascinating view of the subterranean world.

Cañón del Valle de torotoro (Toro Toro Valley Canyon)

Another prominent attraction of Torotoro is the breathtaking Toro Toro Valley Canyon. This canyon offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, allowing visitors to appreciate the magnitude and beauty of nature.

With an altitudinal range varying from 3,600 to 1,900 meters above sea level, the park presents a variety of ecosystems and environmental conditions. This has fostered the presence of areas rich in fossils and paleontological remains, adding extra value for scientific research and understanding the natural history of the region.

Karst Formations and Caves

The stunning karst formations and caves are another major highlight of Torotoro. Visitors can explore the caves, discovering stalactites and stalagmites, while learning about Bolivia’s geological past.

Cañón de Torotoro (Torotoro Canyon)

The Torotoro Canyon, with its river flowing at the bottom, is a must-see. Hiking trails along the canyon provide impressive vistas of the surrounding landscape.

Cultural Heritage

Rock Paintings of the Quechua and Aymara Cultures

In addition to its rich biodiversity, the park also houses rock paintings from the Quechua and Aymara cultures. These prehistoric paintings offer a fascinating glimpse into Bolivia’s ancient history.

Contemporary Indigenous Peoples and Communities

Throughout their journey in the park, visitors will have the opportunity to interact with local indigenous communities, who continue to keep their ancestral traditions alive.

Adventure and Activities in the Park

Hiking and Trekking

With its diverse terrains, Torotoro offers a variety of hiking and trekking routes, ranging from gentle walks to more challenging trails. This makes the park a popular destination for nature and adventure enthusiasts.

Birdwatching and Wildlife Observation

For wildlife enthusiasts, Torotoro is a paradise. The diverse species of birds and other animals make the park a perfect spot for observing wildlife.

Caving and Climbing

The park also offers opportunities for caving and climbing, activities that attract adventurers from around the world.

Planning Your Visit: Practical Tips

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Torotoro National Park is during the dry season, which usually falls between May and October. During these months, conditions for hiking and other outdoor activities are ideal.

How to Prepare

It’s advisable to bring appropriate clothing for the variable climate, as well as hiking shoes, a hat, and sunscreen. Additionally, keep in mind that some areas of the park may require access permits.

Services and Accommodation

There’s a variety of accommodation and services available in and around the park, ranging from basic lodging to luxurious eco-lodges.

There are several nearby towns where visitors can find accommodation. Some of them include:

  1. Torotoro: This is the closest settlement to the park and offers various accommodation options, from basic guesthouses to more comfortable hotels and lodges. Staying here is convenient for quick and easy access to the park.
  2. Cochabamba: Although Cochabamba is approximately 140 km away from the park, it’s a larger city with a wide range of accommodation options. It’s a good choice if visitors wish to combine their park visit with an extended stay in the city.
  3. Aiquile: Aiquile is another nearby town, located about 70 km away from the park. While it’s a more distant option, it offers some accommodation choices for visitors who want to explore the area and its surroundings.

Getting There

The most convenient way to reach Torotoro is from the city of Cochabamba. There are two transportation options available: buses and "surubies" (shared vehicles).

Buses have fixed departure times and provide regular service to Torotoro. You can find them at the corner of Mairana Street and Av. República. The fare is approximately 35 Bolivianos, and the travel time is usually 4 to 5 hours.

The most practical and fast option is the "surubies." These shared vehicles depart when full and can also be found at the corner of Mairana Street and Av. República. Although the price is similar to buses, "surubies" tend to be faster on the journey to Torotoro.

When returning from Torotoro to Cochabamba, you can use the same transportation option. It’s advisable to arrive at the stop before 2 p.m. to have the possibility of reaching Cochabamba before 8 p.m. This will allow you to enjoy a light dinner and rest early to be energetic the next day.

It’s important to note that traveling in the morning is not practical, as activities in Torotoro usually start very early, and you might arrive late. In that case, you should wait until the following day to participate in the planned activities.

Keep in mind that schedules and transportation availability can vary, so it’s recommended to verify updated information before your trip.

Conservation of the Park and Sustainable Tourism

Conservation Challenges

Despite its national park status, Torotoro faces a series of challenges regarding conservation. This includes managing the influx of visitors and striking a balance between tourism and protecting the park’s unique ecosystem.

How Visitors Can Contribute to Sustainable Tourism

Visitors can contribute to the conservation of Torotoro by following park rules, such as not littering, not feeding the animals, and respecting protected areas. This way, they can ensure that the park remains a refuge for biodiversity in the years to come.

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