Interesting sites and excursions outside and around Cochabamba: Fun day trips, tours and outings
There are a lot of hiking and camping spots located outside Cochabamba of which some are given below:
Villa Tunari is one great location that is known for adventurous outdoor activities like rafting and is at a few hours driving distance from Cochabamba. There are beautiful scenic views along the way and one can also board a bus to get there.
Isiboro Sécure National Park
Isiboro Sécure National Park has excursions that are organized by Fundacion Delpia which is a non-profit organization operating in the Chapare Region. They organize excursions to the Isiboro Sécure National Park as well as visits to the local indigenous communities. Visitors can either choose to spend time with the local families to gain an insight into their day-to-day life and enjoy activities like fishing, cooking, hunting and sleeping in a traditional hut or visit the park either on foot or by canoe with an indigenous guide and sleep in tents.
Amboró National Park
Amboró National Park is just next to the Carrasco National Park in central Bolivia. It is a natural reserve where there are approximately 912 bird species, 177 mammal species including puma, ocelot and the rare spectacled bear. It is a protected area where human settlements, hunting, mining and deforestation are prohibited.
Torotoro National Park
Torotoro National Park. is a beautiful national park that is located in Toro Toro where one can visit the caves, the canyons and can also see the footprints of the dinosaurs.
The Carrasco National Park
The Carrasco National Park is located towards the east of the Cochabamba Department and is spread along the provinces of Carrasco, Tiraque and Chapare. It has more than 5,000 plant species and is a protected area with a mountainous landscape that has rivers, waterfalls, gentle valleys, deep canyons and dense vegetation that is a protective habitat for several endangered species of plants and animals.
There are some towns around Cochabamba worth visiting:
Tarata,is a beautiful picturesque little town that can be visited on a day trip from Cochabamba. It is the capital of the Esteban Arze Province and is surrounded by the towns of Arbieto, Santa Rosa, and Tiataco, The place is known for its home-made cheese and sausages.
Quillacollo is connected to Cochabamba by Avenida Blanco Galindo which is a very busy route on the main national highway. It is a market town with Sunday being the main market day. There is a blend of post-colonial and contemporary architecture to be seen in the regions as contemporary architecture has been used in the modern houses and buildings that have been built in the recent years. There are cheap electronic artifacts that can be purchased as the rates are quite competitive as compared to Cochabamba. There are several restaurants on the streets with a variety of menus that one can enjoy.
Quillacollo is known for the Virgen de Urqupiña festival which is a popular pilgrimage that is held on the 15th of August every year. It is considered to be the Festival of National Integration with a number of activities including a folklore spectacle conducted after a central Mass that is generally attended by the Bolivian president and other authorities.
The festival is attended by a large number of faithful national as well as international pilgrims and it is one of the biggest religious events in South America. Although the 14th to the 16 of August are the main days of the festival, the whole month of August is vibrant with a festive mood continuing even after the festival is over.
Punata is located towards the southwest in the Upper Valley of the Cochabamba department. It is also known as the Pearl of the Valley and it takes about an hour’s drive to reach Punata from the Cercado.
San Juan Bautista temple was declared a National Monument in order to conserve its religious treasures and colonial history. There is a classic Andean Baroque as well as three huge, magnificent altarpieces made of gold which have been preserved apart from carved cedar artwork.
There is an old 1740 hacienda named Sivingani which is a majestic two-story building that is approximately 20 meters high.
Other attractions in the vicinity are the Elephant Valley that is located at a distance of 10 minutes from the city with a stunning mountain in the background, the Sulti lagoon, lagoon Carmen and Villa Rivero. Some of the houses in the area still have dome-shaped rooms. The market is a great place to admire and buy poly-chromatic thick sheep wool rugs and designer fabrics that are truly beautiful. On Tuesdays, there are a lot of indigenous people selling animals in the market.
Punata has a variety of corn based dishes as there is an abundance of corn cultivation in the valley. Another classic preparation of Punata is the Criollo which consists of meat, chicken or lamb that is prepared with yellow pepper, ground dried queer and dry cheese and is served with white potatoes and potato filling called achojcha. P'utachhanqa is another typical dish that is prepared from rabbit or guinea pigs and is accompanied by peas, beans, rice, potato flour, white potatoes and seasoned with chilly.
A crisp sweet made using flour, egg, butter and sugar by the bakers of the region is quite famous and has five varieties which include the regular one as well as the cinnamon based, the white colored, the special variety and the super special one which is quite large.
Chicha is an alcoholic beverage made based from ground corn grain and is sometimes served with cinnamon ice cream and grated coconut.
The feast of the Deity along with San Severino of Tarata and the Virgin Bella Arani are the main celebrations of the Alto Valley and the celebration lasts for three consecutive days. Another important festival is Todosantos where tables are filled with food for the souls who come to visit their relatives for one night as per the belief of the local people of the valley.