Chojlla Aquaduct Trail

Lawrence Rubeyand A. Bennett Hennessey

Chojlla is an old mining town, the terminus of the Takesitrail, which has fallen on hard times. Mining cooperatives still try to eke out a living and dilapidated buildings speak to a better past. Hydropower arrived to Chojllanear the town of the century to provide electricity for the mines. For birders, the ground-level aqueduct that carries water to the small power plant doubles as an excellent birding trail through the surrounding yungasforest More like a sidewalk, only the faint thundering sound will remind you of rushing water below. Although Chojllais a bit difficult to reach (most people visit in their own vehicle or end up there after hiking the TakesiTrail), once there the birding is easy. In fact, the concrete covered aqueduct means that it is one of the few trails that use of a wheelchair or baby stroller is possible. The altitude is about 1900 meters.

From the starting point, the trail parallels the riverbank to 2 or 3 kilometers. The best strategy is to stroll along, trying to pick up foraging flocks. The light is actually quite poor in the morning, as the views of the canopy sloping down to river are to the east. Chojllais only two drainages over from Cotapata, but at a lower altitude. Versicolored Barbet, a spectacular bird, is actually fairly easy to see here. White-eared Solitaire calls frequently.

The watershed near Chojllais also the site of a recent hydroelectric project. Hidroeléctrica Boliviana,has constructed two power plants with 85 megawatt capacity. While the project has helped ensure that the road to Chojllais well-maintained, the road to the power plant (not accessible to the public) and new aqueducts have caused some environmental degradation in the watershed.

Logistics: With your own vehicle: Assuming you have re-set your odometer at zero at the start of the South Yungasroad, the turn for Chojllais at 31.7 km on the South Yungasroad. The turn is easy to miss: Look for a narrow road forking uphill to the right. Re-set odometer to zero (0.0) at the turn.Pass through the small town of Yanachachi, bearing right at the T junction. At 10.3 km, just before the mining town of Chojlla, turn left and followthe narrow track downhill to the river. (If you reach the mining town of Chojlla you have missed the turn and need to back-track. The narrow track down to the river can be difficult to find, but you can always ask a local person ("Dondeestael caminoal rio?"). At 11.4 km, still descending, pass a small gold mine. At 12.4 km, cross a small stream and arrive at the trail head. The road pretty much dead-ends here for vehicle traffic.

Using public transportation: a bus leaves Chojllatwice a day at 5:30 AM and 1:00 PM and passes through Yanacachiat 6:00 AM and 1:30 PM, stopping in front of the Hotel San Carlos. Tickets can be purchased in advance in Chojllathough there is generally space available. A minibus leaves from Yanachachion Fridays and Sundays at 2:30 PM and Mondays at 5:00 AM. Check with DoñaYollaon the plaza for space and tickets. If you are unable to get a space on the departing busses there is a trail (not following the road) that brings you to the Chulumaniroad in 30 minutes. From here it is easy to get a ride to La Paz or Chulumanifrom a passing bus or truck.

Don't bother trying to spend the night in Chojlla. Instead, the nearby town of Yanacachi has a hotel and a number of alojamientos located along the main road into town and around the plaza. Recommended are Alojamiento Don Tomas ($3 per person) with a pool and gardens and Hotel San Carlos ($6 per person). Both of these hotels serve food, as do other small restaurants near plaza.
GPS reading at right turn for Chojlla on the South Yungas Road: S 16 21.701' W 67 45.140'
GPS reading at left turn for narrow track down to river: S 16 24.064' W 67 46.107'
GPS reading at start of aqueduct trail: S 16 24.571' W 67 46.596'