The Chapare stretches out beyond the last peaks of the Andes into the dramatically different landscape of the upper Amazon Basin, where lush, moist rainforest replaces the dry, barren mountains. The contrast is breathtaking on the spectacular road between Cochabamba and Villa Tunari, where twists around the high peaks and mountain lakes drop steeply into deep, steaming tropical valleys.
The Chapare region is heavily populated with highland campesinos (subsistence farmers) who emigrated here in the 1970s and turned the region into Bolivia’s main source of coca grown for the manufacture of cocaine. (Yungas coca, on the other hand, makes up the bulk of what Bolivians themselves chew, make into tea etc.) Subsequent eradication attempts by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the region unstable, and Morales' government expelled the DEA in 2008.