Sorata is a most popular destination for Bolivians who want to escape the chaos of La Paz for a couple of days – a typical weekend getaway. It is located at some 3/4 hours from La Paz in a paradisaical valley at the foot of the Illampu-Ankhoma massif, therefore being a must-go for all climbers interested in attempting to reach the peak of these sacred mountains. The main attraction close by to Sorata (aside from the trekking and climbing) is San Pedro’s cave (“la Gruta de San Pedro”), a place that, just like many other places in Bolivia, is surrounded by mystery and incredible stories.
Getting to the cave is quite easy – you might rent a taxi for some 40 Bs or 10 if shared, or you can just walk there enjoying the wonderful nature around you. Walking takes about two hours. The entrance to the cave is quite hidden, and upon entering you need to mind your head, but once inside it then opens up all of a sudden.
The cave is beautiful and creepy at the same time. There is a dead lagoon in the middle of it and a walking path surrounding it. Humidity is strong and feels like being at the very beginning of hell, literally (albeit a damp and cold one). When I went there, there was nobody but an old, hunched man that welcomed me with a mischievous toothless smile and invited me to join him on a small oar boat ride till the other side of the lagoon. The whole thing looked like crossing the Styx river with Charon from Dante’s Comedy – it cost 5 Bs, I didn’t expect Hell to be that cheap. It was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had. I then got out of the cave and started speaking to near by locals. They are really friendly people and revealed uexpected sides about the cave. Rumors say that it used to be a secret Inca path connecting Sorata Valley directly with Cusco and the Machu Picchu. The path is not the one you see now though (it eventually gets to a dead end), but, according to what they say, it is under the water. Apparently, three not-so-cautious explorers tried to get through it, and never resurfaced. More recently another explorer, an Asian scuba-diver, managed to get some 100 meters deep into water and recorded what he saw – he eventually got out but didn’t show his video to anyone: he said there was something too valuable and precious and that Man’s ambition would ruin it. So he returned to his country and what he actually saw is still untold.
I don’t know whether to believe or not these stories, but I do know I can definitely recommend you to have a think about visiting this area while in Bolivia.