A 5 day trip to Tarija

Trip Start Dec 06, 2010
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Trip End Mar 31, 2011


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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Our volunteer work in Sucre was done and we had 5 days to see whatever we wanted to see before heading home. So many interesting places in Bolivia to choose from.

We had heard wonderful stories about travelers' trips to the amazing Salar de Unyuni, the largest salt flat in the world; Tupiza, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid died; Potosi, the highest city in the world and in its heyday, the wealthiest city in the Americas; Medidi Park; the Jesuit Missions, close to Brazil (remember the movie The Mission?); and biking The World's Most Dangerous Road. So many great places and we had only 5 days and a lot of rain.

We headed to a travel agency to confirm what we already knew. Many of these places were flooded or too dangerous to visit so we decided that we would go to a little city that was warm, dry and friendly near the Argentinian border, called Tarija. The flight on T.A.M., the military airline, was inexpensive and quick - only 50 minutes - and in no time we were at 1866 m/6122 ft
compared to Sucre's 2750m/9000 ft.  The change in altitude meant no more double breaths and warmer weather.

Tarija is a quiet city located in an isolated part of Bolivia. It sits in a fertile and temperate valley that is supposed to be in a perfect location for growing grapes. This has made the Tarija area famous as the wine producing region of Bolivia.

On our first day there, we went for a walk close to the big river that flanks the city. We stopped in at a swimming pool where kids were taking part in doing timed 
laps. Moving on, we saw the local little zoological park and decided to go in. They had several small cages with condors and big wildcats. It was a little sad to see these animals in such tiny cages. There were also monkeys on little islands in the river. Continuing on, we passed through the Park of Flowers and past the cemetery. It was pretty tranquil. Lunches, followed by a siesta, are long here and stores are not open from about 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The following day, we took a van to visit the Art and Wine Festival that was on in the tiny village of El Valle de Concepcion. Art, music, dance, theatre and even puppet show in the town square! Our kind of day in the sunshine. Later that day Pat and Gail arrived from Sucre.

On Sunday, we decided to go for a 5 km walk to a little town called Tomatitas where we heard that three rivers converge and it is a place that the people from Tarija go for a picnic or a swim in the river. Several people were also washing their cars in the river there. We had heard about the 2 cm long, river crabs that are fried and eaten whole so we sampled a couple.Crunchy, not delicious, but not bad. We had to watch that their little legs or antennas didn't get stuck in our teeth. 

It was Pat and Gail's turn to visi the Grape Festival in El Valle and here's their blog with some wonderful photos of the displays:

http://web.me.com/pngmac2/Bolivia_Site/Blog/Entries/2011/3/19_Charangos_and_wine.html 
 

Earlier, we booked a 9 hour private "Tarija in a Day" Tour, and on Monday morning, were driven around the town and countryside seeing what Tarija had to offer. Our morning was spent touring the city and then visiting and tasting wines in three different wineries - Campos de Solana, Casa Vieja and another new winery. By lunch, we were ready for a nap!

After lunch and a coffee, we traveled on to visit the historic town of San Lorenzo, a lovely waterfall, and the local dam. We had a pleasant, full day and didn't really feel like eating or drinking anything for dinner that night.

The next day, we had a fabulous steak lunch in an Argentinian restaurant called El Rodeo and after a siesta, caught a plane to La Paz. The trip home was in progress.

 

 
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