After my experience in Santa Cruz, I wasn’t looking forward to another Bolivian City. I spent some time looking for quiet and peaceful places instead of party hostels in La Paz, and was thrilled when I found Colibri Camping! Just outside the city it was perfect place to escape the crowds and relax in Bolivia.
From Sucre I cheated again and took a flight from to La Paz – saving precious time. I also overheard someone say that the road to La Paz was blocked with one of the frequent demonstrations on Bolivian roads, so I couldn’t help but feel that I made the right decision.
I had arranged a taxi pick-up through the campsite, as it was around 8pm when I landed, and arriving to a new place in the dark can be an unpleasant experience. The altitude in La Paz hit me straight away. The airport in La Paz is in El Alto, which sits a higher altitude than the rest of the city, so it really does make a difference. The driver was waiting for me with my name on a sign, and I felt better as we descended around a thousand metres to a more reasonable 3150m above sea level to Jupapina, where Colibri Camping & Eco-lodge is located.
It was dark when I arrived of course, and the site owner Rolando showed me to my tepee. There was a group of people chatting by the outdoor kitchen, and another around the campfire. Rolando kindly introduced me and I instantly felt at home. We all talked for an hour or so and then retired to our respective tents, teepees and cabins. I looked forward to seeing the site in its full glory in the morning!
I have to admit it was chilly in the teepee, but I had plenty of blankets to keep me warm. I woke up around 8am and ventured outside to see what was waiting for me. I wasn’t disappointed! The views were magnificent. Colibri Camping is perched on the edge of a valley, overlooking the bizarrely shaped La Muela del Diablo mountain (the Devil’s Molar), and you could see right down into the valley below.
I had a delicious and plentiful breakfast which was an extra cost, but well worth it, and admired the views as I ate. I loved the little details that made the campsite extra special. There were hammocks set out for relaxing, the shaded benches with electricity sockets that became our makeshift internet café. The showers were hot, and facilities kept spotlessly clean by the volunteer workers. Previous volunteers had painted bright murals all around the site, and on some of the walls outside – there were a lot of other walls painted in the little town by local school children so this was in keeping with the tradition; it was a refreshing change from the city graffiti I had grown used to. Although Colibri Camping is a short distance from the city, it felt a world away from hectic La Paz, and perfect place for glamping in Bolivia.
Rolando wandered down to the site – he & his partner Emma have their house just above the campsite, so were on hand most of the time, and their volunteers were always on site if I needed anything. We chatted for a while, I really warmed to him with his friendly demeanour, and obvious love of his country as he gave me tips on where to go and what to do while here in Bolivia. I had planned to do various hiking expeditions during my stay but I was so blown away by the relaxed atmosphere I was more than happy to spend my three nights there just relaxing. I did take a Bolivian Cookery class, taught by a local lady Ampàro, so I didn’t feel too guilty for wimping out of the trekking!
Among the other guests at the site were dynamic overlanders Shannon & Mike of S & M Boilerworks, who were driving their two old Suzuki motorbikes from their home town in Seattle to the bottom tip of Chile. It was fascinating to hear about their journey, and get some great tips for my future travels! They were fun and chatty and I really enjoyed their company, and was sad to see them go – but am following their travels through the wonder of Facebook. Take a look at their page FB page here or their full blog about their overlanding adventures here. Colibri camping is perfect for overlanders passing through La Paz, with space for tents and parking for bikes, and even space for a camper van.
The last night I was at Colibri Camping I realised I was the only guest at the site. I was preparing myself for a solitary evening with leftovers from my cooking class and perhaps a film from the comfort of my teepee bed; when Rolando popped down for an afternoon potter around the site. We chatted, the conversation flowing easily, and he invited me up to the house for tea later on with him & his wife Emma, and the volunteers they have at the site. I was very flattered to be asked, and thrilled to be welcomed so kindly into their home.
Emma was a total delight as well, a fellow Brit who had been swept off her feet by the charming Rolando, and she shared the story of how they met and fell in love. At least her version anyway! Rolando was adamant there was another version but I liked hers; a tale of a Bolivian mystery man, whose persistence and a series of coincidences (if there is such a thing) brought them together, and they now share the beautiful house overlooking the valley, have two great kids and a menagerie of pets to boot. In the end I stayed for dinner, and I loved every moment I spent in their wonderful home.
I was also interested to learn about their volunteer projects – as well as having a couple of volunteers to care for the campsite, they also run Up Close Bolivia, which organizes volunteer placements to help local communities. I felt very at home here and was sad to leave; but hope to be back in Bolivia later on in my trip, and if time allows to come back to the site & volunteer here. Thank you Rolando & Emma for being such amazing people and thoroughly inspiring. Un abrazo!!
Learn more about the campsite: http://colibricamping.com/
And the volunteer projects here https://www.facebook.com/UpCloseBolivia
See other reviews of Colibri Camping on Tripadvisor
Book Colibri Camping on Hostelworld
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