The Santiago de Okola community
The community of Santiago de Okola, by the Titicaca Lake, offers to the travelers a full stay in local host families, beautiful hikes, a weaving workshop and the discovery of bio cultures and healing andean plants.
Santiago de Okola is located between Achacachi and Carabuco, on the way to the Apolobamba Cordillera, 140 km away from La Paz. This little town is hidden behind a beautiful bay, overlooked by a hill called the Sleepy dragon. The place is just magic, its pristine water beaches make is look like a paradise. Ideal for a relaxing break !
In 2008, the inhabitants of the village have created ASITURSO, an assocation dedicated to the management of sustainable ressources thanks to an agro-tourism project. This way, they preserve the traditional cultures and the varieties of vegetables. They cultivate 250 varieties of which 85 of potatoes, corn, quinoa, beans, onion and wheat.
The region is as well overflowed with healing plants, treating all kind of pains : stomac, head, fractures, breathing, altitude, cough, arthrosis, etc.
You will be warmly welcomed by one of the 12th families of the community. The inhabitants host the tourists in their houses and make them discover the beauty of the place, throught some very nice hikes. This brings an alternative to the field work, an additional salary and offers good prospects to the young of the village, avoiding exodus to urban areas. You will be lodged in local families, with basic conveniences. It’s a real cultural exchange, rich of learning and discovering. You won’t be disappointed…
The families will invite you for a typical meal : the Apthapi.
More than a meal, it´s a real bonding time, where sharing is important. All the families of the village put in common everything they have in their kitchen, a way to discover many culinary Andean specialities, essentially made of corn, potatoes and quinoa.
You will be able as well to experience weaving. Looking at it, it seems easy but as soon as you will try it, you will realize how difficult it is, and the dexterity the lady shows.
She would need for example almost 4 days to finish this blanket.
Two beautiful hikes are as well organized by the local guides :
The turtle island is now accessible on foot. Our guide explained that when he was young, it was not possible to access it on foot. The level of the Lake has decreased considerably since a few years. We enjoy the walk at the top of this little island and the view on the bay. From the island, we walk for an hour by the Lake to reach the other side of the bay and return to the village.
The sleepy dragon, offering an amazing panorama on the bay, the village and the turtle island. The climb is quite easy. You just need to find your way in the middle of the shrubs and rocks. You will make a break in a very nice cave up there, where you will listen to the legend of Tunupa (that gave the name to the volcano near the Salt flat). Once at the top (4050m), the view is very clear on the lake, a real inland sea. The place is perfect for contemplation. As well, there are some rock paintings on the rocks located at the foot of the “head of the dragon”, quite interesting to discover.