Lagunillas, Bolivia: Following in the Footsteps of Che Guevara
(Lagunillas, Santa Cruz, Bolivia)
The tiny town of Lagunillas, 2 hours from Camiri, Bolivia
The Chaco region is very arid
Lagunillas is named for the lagoons found nearby
The Che Guevara Trail will take you through some of his forest hide-outs
Lagunillas is one of the small towns where Che Guevara hid out with his guerrilla fighters during his time in Bolivia, so named for the small lagoons found in this normally arid region. Lagunillas is very tiny and remote, and is located about 2 hours from Camiri, in the Chaco, where many of Bolivia’s oil and gas fields are found. This small town is now a part of the Ruta del Che (Che Guevara Trail), a trek over several days that takes you through some of the towns and forested areas the Che went through including Samaipata, Camiri, Charagua, Camargo, Pucará, La Higuera, Lagunillas, and Vallegrande. You can read the biography of Che Guevara here.
I spent the day yesterday trekking through the forest for work-related reasons. It is really rough terrain. We had to have a guide who cut a path through the forest with a machete. The forest itself was extremely dry this time of year and we saw almost no wildlife. The brooks and rivers have very little water, most of which is stagnant, the plants are thorny and you have to be careful so you don’t get too many cuts. The forest floor is soft and thick. Often your feet will sink in to the rotting organic matter, which you can smell as you walk. There were places where we had to climb and the earth slipped away under our feet. The vines, tree branches and roots are rotting and grabbing them is useless as they pull out of the soft soil.
I kept thinking to myself "No wonder Che was able to avoid the authorities for so long." The forest is very dense and without a guide you would get lost. Again, I was in this particular part of the forest for work-related reasons and was not following the exact Che Trail that tourists are taken through. Exhausted and filthy, on our way back to Santa Cruz we stopped in the small town of Lagunillas for water. It was an interesting experience. I've put together a slideshow of Lagunillas here. Read more about the Ruta del Che here.