Valle de las Animas, Bol

     On July 25th, 2019;  I trekked into the Valles de Las Animas from La Paz, Bolivia.  The Valle de las Ánimas is a municipal protected area and geological formation of the city of La Paz, it is located a few kilometers southeast from the urban area and at a elevation height of 3965 m.

Bolivia’s area map

     The city of La Paz is located in west-central Bolivia 68 km southeast of Lake Titicaca and is set in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River. It is located in a bowl-like depression surrounded by the high mountains of the Altiplano.  In this case, the poorer you are, the higher altitude you lived.  Pictured below is an image taken outside of my Hotel window.  I stayed two blocks from the infamous “Witches Market”.

The Urban Center of La Paz, Looking west at El Alto out of my hotel room. 

     Pictured below, at the “Witches Market”, dozens of vendors line the streets to sell a number of strange and fascinating products and the raw ingredients used in rituals to call on the spirits that populate the Aymara world.  Among the many items sold at the market are dried llama fetuses that are said to bring both prosperity and good luck, dried frogs used for Aymara rituals, soapstone figurines, aphrodisiac formulas, owl feathers, dried turtles and snakes, herbs, and folk remedies.

One of the many shops found at the Witches Market in La Paz

          Pictured below, the Valle de las Animas, or Valley of the Souls is a densely packed forest of rock formations, each stabbing toward the sky in great clusters.

I’m standing within the “Valle de las Animas” in Bolivia near La Paz

         Formed out of a coarse conglomerate or mud-rock and erosion over hundreds of years, the visually-stunning valley has drawn in visitors for thousands of years. 

The coarse conglomerate or mud-rock that make up the Valle de las Animas

     The name of the valley has two possible explanations, the first is that referred by the local community members who affirm that in the sector the wind produces pitiful sounds when passing between formations, the second is that the elongated forms of the formations suggest the spirits silhouettes.

Looking back towards La Paz in the Valle de las Animas, Bolivia 2019

     Geologists affirm that these formations that are close to Palca canyon. It is crossed by a river with a variable channel that is the product of the melting glaciers at the end of the tertiary age. Pictured below, the place has the appearance of a stalagmite field and has similarities with another area of ​​La Paz, known as the Valley of the Moon.

The pinnacle-like formations of the Valle de las Animas, Bolivia

     A steady stream of hikers have visited the valley to marvel at the thousands of rugged peaks, which form deep gorges and many side passages and sub-valleys. Adding to the mystique and beauty of the site is the 5,000 m Illimani, Bolivia’s highest mountain that towers above the valley in the background, (pictured above).

Looking up the Valle de las Animas at Illimani, (snow field).

     the Valle de las Animas is one of the natural attractions that has very tall obelisks up to 200 meters, with an extension of 2538 hectares, so the geological formations of Ánimas valley are the glacial desert that was in the Tertiary age. Its composition of these formations is of lima, clay and gravel.

The Valle de las Animas side canyons.

     Mountains areas, canyon, temporary rivers, pampas and valleys, a very particular ecosystem of the Andean region is protected here. For many people, the valley of the souls is a natural and important sanctuary for the La Paz, (pictured below).

The Valle de las Animas, Bolivia 2019

    Personally, I struggled with the high altitude.  Trekking up the canyon was a struggle and exhausting.  I suspect this is why hikers are scant. Especially hiking uphill.  Below is a quick video I took from a smart phone.

Valle de las Animas, Bolivia; July 23rd of 2019

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