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Biking in Bolivia: The Trout Trail

Starting in the Andes snowcapped mountains at 5,000 m (16,000 feet) above sea level, we began to dress for the ride of a lifetime. Elbow pads followed knee guards, gloves went on after our windproof pants and jacket, and lastly, our trusty full-face helmet…which came in incredibly handy when I took a face-first dive off my mountain bike into the ground.

Clouds flew past so close we could practically touch them as we sped through deserted paths and roads left abandoned since the 1950’s. Our adrenalin pumped as we shot through hidden valleys and over stunning high passes.

The setting was stunning, and while we passed sheep peacefully grazing, and llamas galore, there wasn’t another soul in sight.

Tourism has not yet touched the trout trail – it remains largely undiscovered and well off the beaten path.

Aptly named for the quaint village the trail runs through where trout is hatched, we enjoyed a local specialty for lunch. Fresh, fried trout was on the menu, and it was both mouthwatering and delicious!

The trail was once a railway project intended to link La Paz with the Bolivian highlands, however after the project became too expensive it was abandoned.

The scenery is outrageously beautiful, and the setting is serene: void of cars, tourists and any sign of the modern world, we had the whole trail to ourselves. Though if we were to chance upon another soul, it was more likely our encounter would have been with smugglers than tourists.

The trout trail runs through the Bolivian Yungas; a good coca growing region. And while most of it goes to traditional consumption, there will always be those who aim to use it for illegal purposes. In order to smuggle any illegal product in or out of the valley, the abandoned roads which form the mountain biking trail may be used from time to time.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Banjo Tours are the only tour operator in Bolivia currently offering this day trip. We were picked up and dropped off from our hotel in La Paz, and had a phenomenal tour with their incredibly professional guides.

Bikes were high-end, full suspension mountain bikes, and all the the safety equipment provided was in fantastic condition. Having also traveled with Banjo Tours for a kayak adventure on Lake Titicaca, we booked with them again because they truly excel in providing unique, meaningful and unforgettable adventures. They believe in taking travelers away from the regular tourist trail, and we really loved the opportunity to discover the undiscovered Bolivia.

We also booked with them to ensure the local community benefited when we opened our wallets. Recently founded by a young tourism major, Ben Montevilla, all Banjo Tours staff are 100% Bolivian, and work to connect travelers with the local community in a sustainable way.

Each and every one of their tours have a local focus, and they “firmly believe that travel and tourism is a great way for travelers to enrich themselves for life. However, the local communities and local people that inhabit those communities should always benefit from this and what is more important: be participants of tourism themselves in order to create an experience that is meaningful and fulfilling for both travelers and hosts.”

An incredibly innovative and 100% local tour company, Banjo Tours will take you off the beaten path, and away from overcrowded destinations, and we cannot recommend them more.

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    40 Comments

  1. Megan and Mike
    Amazing blog on bike ride and video from 5,000 metres, and despite the small tumble Megan you both made it safely to the end.
    Enjoy reading all your blogs, as I am an ardent follower, and trying to outdo you with number of countries visited Ha, Ha.

    • Thanks Murray! Lol I have a friendly competition running with my father as well as to see who can get to more countries than their age – thankfully I have a 25 year head start :D!

      Safe travels – looking forward to more of your phenomenal photography as you hit every country in the world!

  2. Wow! How fun! Love the video and how much fun you’re having! I’ll have to check out Banjo Tours when we get over to Bolivia!

    • Thanks Phoebe! Definitely do check out Banjo Tours – they really made our time in Bolivia memorable!

  3. Sounds like great fun! I remember seeing tours like this in Bolivia and now I regret not trying them. Oh well, another excuse to go back, I’ll make sure I remember Banjo tours!

    • Exactly – sounds like a great excuse to go back! I like your way of thinking :)

  4. Great photos and a beautiful place. This tour company sounds really special – I will have to check them out when I find myself in Bolivia!

    • Thanks Lauren! Definitely remember Banjo Tours if you end up finding yourself in Bolivia. They really made our time in the country great :)

  5. Wow what an awesome experience- love the video! Thanks for sharing the info about your guides as well- I love supporting local groups. Definitely something to keep in mind when I visit!

    • Thanks Hannah! We’re really starting to throw our full support behind local companies and voting with our wallets so to speak. Really want to promote responsible tourism as much as we can!

  6. Sounds like one hell of a great adventure! The company you went with sounds pretty trustworthy which is always very important when booking such a trip. I’d love to go to Bolivia one day, did you also bike on the most dangerous road in the world? I read a lot about that…

    • It was a pretty crazy ride! We did also bike the death road! I have photos and video from that trip coming soon – just need to edit them all up! I loved the death road, though am glad I did both trips as each had their own pros.

      Death road was fantastic to do so that I can now say I’ve biked the most dangerous road in the world! It was a great ride, all downhill, pretty much all paved, with pretty spectacular scenery. You’re in a group of 30-40 for the ride, with many other tour groups also going down at the same time.

      Trout Trail was more of a real mountain biking experience, so the roads weren’t paved, and we didn’t have the mass tourism. If you have the time I recommend doing both!

  7. Stunning scenery for an adventurous bike ride! I’m so glad you had your full face helmet for when you hit the ground face first!

    • So am I!! I had to laugh because I did the death road the day before – totally fine down the most dangerous road in the world and it’s the next day that I go head over heels! Murphy’s law right!

      The safety equipment they gave us was top notch so thankfully no injuries despite my clumsiness :D!

  8. Mountain biking in Bolivia sounds like such an amazing adventure! I love the video that you included, it really captures the imagination and inspires me to want to do this for myself. We have recently started doing quite a bit of mountain biking along with road biking at home in Arkansas so definitely would love to take this to the next level on our travels.

    It wouldn’t be a mountain bike trek without a nice fall either right :)

    It’s always nice when you can head out on a bike and see such stunning scenery and clearly you were fortunate to have an abundance of this along the Trout Trail. Thanks Meg for sharing this with us, hopefully we will get to recreate this for ourselves in the near future (minus the fall of course, LOL)!

    • I figured the same thing – that it wouldn’t be a proper bike trek without a fall to write home about!!

      Cool to know that there is a lot of opportunity for biking in Arkansas. We’re looking at the possibility of driving through for a few days, and have really developed a love for biking recently so might look into that!

      Hope you can get to Bolivia soon to try the trout trail!

  9. The biking looks quite rugged, but fun! And fresh fried trout for lunch sounds delish :-).

  10. Looking at that video the trail looks perfect, out in the country and pretty undisturbed, natural Bolivia. I would say safe too, but then there was that fall!

    I must say there is a lot of gear to put on too.

    Looks like great fun and well done Banjo.

    • It really was a pretty perfect ride – minus the only clumsy fall of course, but that’s part of biking! There is a lot of gear, but honestly when you’re hurtling down the mountain that fast with the wind in your face you don’t even realize you’re wearing it all!

  11. This looks absolutely amazing and completely up my alley! Will have to keep them in mind when we make it there!

    • Definitely do! It was such a fantastic day :)

  12. Great post! This would be such an exciting adventure :) Love reading your blog too!

    • Thanks Veera! It was one of our most exciting adventures yet :) Loved Bolivia and loved the trout trail!

  13. I would only do this for the trout haha! :) Looks like a really fun trip with a bit of adrenalin mixed in!

    • The trout was pretty fantastic! An awesome way to end a full day of biking!

  14. Fantastic photos. I love to see places from the perspective of off road and away from the apparent action. Wonderful experience!

    • Thanks Charles! Off road gave us some of the most surreal views – much better than any lookout you can hike to from the city! Highly recommend off road experiences – love them!

  15. I can’t believe how gorgeous the scenery is from your photos, what an amazing place to visit for a bike ride!

    This Girl Loves

    • The scenery was truly out of this world! It was almost too perfect it looked fake!!

  16. Holy cow! That is all I can utter at this point! Holy. Cow.

    • :D! Now to get to Bolivia and witness it for yourself!!

  17. Hello Megan,
    Seems like you enjoy lot in this Biking in Bolivia. By the way Who won the biking race Megan or Mike :P

  18. Adventure with biking is really mind touching moment for all travel lover.The scenery and the weather was outstanding for all nature lover.

    • Thanks John – glad you feel the same way! The scenery and weather really was great for us on this particular day. We had a fantastic time!

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  19. Biking in Bolivia is so amazing thanks to the stunning scenery. I did Death Road when I was there and it was mind-blowing – but also a place where you seriously don’t want to fall on your face. I hope you didn’t hurt yourself.

    • Thankfully we came out with only a few little bruises! I did do death road as well, and luckily the only time I fell I went into the cliff instead of off it :D!

      Death road is a pretty crazy ride!! Stunning scenery though – one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! So glad you got to experience it as well!

  20. What an incredibly crystal clear day. Seen a lot of travel posts on Bolivia, but none of them makes me want to visit there more than this one.

    That was a killer gash in the trail that knocked you off your bike, way to take it in stride.

    • We did get really lucky with the weather to have had such a beautiful day :) I highly recommend Bolivia – it really wasn’t a country which was on our radar until we started planning a jaunt around South America, but I’m so glad we included it in our itinerary. One of the countries which has really surprised me – I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did :)

      And yes, lol I figure there are risks with any kind of adventure travel – gotta just get back up and jump back on that bike :D Luckily it really wasn’t too bad in this case :)

      Happy travels! I hope you can get to Bolivia soon X

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