Putre - Pitacane Hike
Contact: Cindy Schlicke
Duration: 1 Day
Starting point: Putre
Recomended website http://www.la-chakana.com
How to get there:
From Arica, there is a daily bus (bus company La Paloma) leaving 7 o´clock in the morning from Arica, arriving around 10.30 in Putre.
From La Paz, there are several buses going to Putre, leaving 7 o´clock in the morning or at 1 pm from La Paz.
The tour starts at the main square, the plaza of Putre. Going down the street to the school, you take the dirt road that leads downwards, passing the military and school. At a crossing of two roads, you follow the left one to Puquios. Going straight ahead, we pass a small creek and pasture that is fenced in by old stone walls, called pirkas in Aymara. After 4 km of hiking, we reach a crossing of two paths – one going upwards (left), the other one downwards (right). We go left, downwards, to cross the river valley to the north-west end of the valley. After having passed the canyon, we go up again and go along a small path that meanders along the canyon and through a beautiful landscape of Altiplano terrace cultivation. Along the way, we see meadow foxtail, a number of cascades in the canyon and a paradise of cactuses. After 4,5 km of hiking, we encounter an abandoned shepherd hut to our left (it’s difficult to see it from the path since it is well hidden in the sticks). Constantly, we see green terrace cultivations on steep slopes. After 5 km (there is signal for mobile phones here), we leave the canyon with its beautiful cascades and see a prehispanic settlement ahead of us. 200 m more and we see the petroglyphs from afar – red on a white background. Regrettably, the military had been performing shooting exercises on the site of the prehispanic petroghlyphs. Today, it serves as a testimony of how ignorant people of our times can be. This is a good place for a picknick.
Continuing our tour, we go North-East, passing a small shepherd hut and entering a big canyon, called Quebrada Laitane. After 7 km, we reach a parting of the ways – the left one crossing the valley to Puquios (the former train station on the way Arica – La Paz). We stay on our side of the valley, always following the right path, going higher and higher. On the other side of the valley, we see ancient terrace cultivations, and on our right there is a huge rock face covered by giant cactuses that seem to get bigger and bigger the higher we go. After 7,30 km of hiking, we see on the left side of the valley three to four water pools that are fed by a blustering waterfall. This could be called the “7 tazas of Putre” :) We are near a parting of the paths – the left one leading downwards to the river and a dead end. We take the right one up, crossing a ridge, leaving Quebrada Laitane and entering a new valley that offers spectacular views to giant rock formations and a paradise of a huge cactus population. The further we go, the more changes the vegetation alongside the path. Cactus is replaced by bush and the bristly altiplano grass. After 9 km, we have a beautiful view to Putre in the middle of green terrace cultivations and at the foot of the snowy Taapaca. Our tour leads us to the mountain peak of Cerro Pitacane. From afar we see a nicely decorated cross. To get to the top of Pitacane, we keep right but cannot miss the way since we always see the huge and colorful cross. Having reached Pitacane with 3.534 m the beautiful panoramic view to Putre, the Lluta-Valley and the snowy Andean mountain tops is the best reward. From here, it takes one more hour to get back to Putre. We follow the footpath, Putre always to our right.
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