How to Make a Memorable Trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia

Traveling to the city of Cochabamba in Bolivia provides you with many different opportunities to explore the heart of this fascinating country. There are many different sites that should be seen when visiting Cochabamba, so planning in advance is worth the effort. We truly enjoyed our time there and we hired a guide to take us to see some of the locations that are outside of the city. Getting around in Bolivia is not always easy as the roads are often in a constant state of repair and the heavy rains often create landslides that take out portions of the roads. Although you don’t have to do everything on this list to enjoy your time in Cochabamba, we’d certainly recommend at least getting out and doing at least one that is not located in the city itself.

Standing in the Temple Ruins
  1. The Ruins of Incallatja – One of the tours that took while we were in Cochabamba, Bolivia, was to the ruins at Incallajta. They are some of the most well-preserved ruins in Bolivia and it really gives you a sense of how great the Incan civilization was. Sadly, not a lot is known for sure about the site and it seems that it is not often visited by tourists. The main temple building is massive and is probably an indication as to how important the site was to the Incan empire. In addition to being a ceremonial site, it was also the easternmost defensive fortification for the Inca, with a large wall to protect them from the rival tribes in the Amazon.

  2. Entrance to Polacio Portales
  3. Polacio Portales – We would definitely recommend taking a tour of the Palacio Portales. Not only is the building architecturally interesting, but the gardens, which were modeled after those at Versailles, are quite beautiful as well. Built by the wealthy millionaire Simon Patino, the palace was completed in 1927. Patino’s fortune was built by owning the majority of the tin industry in Bolivia, which earned the nicknames of “The Tin Baron” and “The Andean Rockefeller”. At one point, he was considered to be one of the five wealthiest people in the world.

  4. Just Before Our First Hike in the Amazon Jungle
  5. Carrasco National Park – One of the most interesting places that we visited during our time in Bolivia was to the Carrasco National Park. It is in the Amazon Rainforest and is most famous for having a cave with Guacharo birds. These birds are virtually blind and are nocturnal feeders that eat the fruit of the oil palm trees. They are also known as “blind birds” or “oil birds” because of their unique eating habits as they are the only nocturnal fruit eating birds in the world that fly. Needless to say, there are a lot of other animals that can be found in the park and hiking through the park provides a variety of unique experiences. In addition to hiking in the park, we also stayed in an ecolodge as well as ziplined through the canopy.

  6. Steps Leading Up to Cristo de la Concordia
  7. Cristo de la Concordia – One of the first things that we did upon our arrival in Cochabamba was to visit the Cristo de la Concordia, which is a statue of Jesus Christ. The statue sits on top of San Pedro Hill and is accessible by a cable car or you can walk the 2,000 steps to the statue if you prefer. The statue is quite interesting, but since San Pedro Hill is almost 900 feet (265 meters) above the city of Cochabamba, the views are worth the visit as well.

  8. High Altitude Trekking
  9. Pico Tunari – Although we didn’t do this hike during our visit, our guide Remy shared the information with us and it would definitely be on our list when we visit again. Hiking to the summit of Pico Tunari, the highest point in Cochabamba, is certainly something that will provide striking views of the area. Bolivia has one of the most stable mountain outdoor weather in the world, making it a great place for mountain trekking.

Parrots Outside of Our Hotel

Visiting Cochabamba provides the opportunity to see so many amazing places. Just walking around the city is wonderful, the people are extremely friendly, and the food is quite delicious. We stayed at a very nice hotel during our visit and enjoyed waking up to several families of parrots in the trees on the grounds. From Cochabamba, we traveled to La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, to continue our exploration of the country.

Cochabamba in the Heart of Bolivia

Located in the center of Bolivia, Cochabamba is a wonderful city to start an adventure in this diverse country. Like many cities in South America, Cochabamba has a history that was dominated by the Spanish and many of the buildings and churches date back to 1500’s. In addition to the city itself, Cochabamba is also an excellent location to launch several different short trips, including going to Carrasco National Park. Cochabamba is considered the gastronomical heart of Bolivia as well and was where we had our first taste of Pique Macho.

Fountain in Downtown Cochabamba

Templo de la Recoleta

Dome in the Santa Teresa Convent

Parrots Outside of Our Hotel

Church Tower

There are several churches in Cochabamba, including the Metropolitan Cathedral, Iglesia Santa Teresa with its accompanying convent, and the colorful Templo de la Recoleta. The Santa Teresa Convent has been converted into a museum and is definitely worth taking the time to tour. In addition the churches, another noteworthy site to visit is the Palacio Portales, which is a mansion that was built by a local tin baron who actually never lived in the beautiful building. The palace also offers tours in both English and Spanish and is worth spending the time to visit and to walk around the beautiful garden.

Courtyard at the Convent

Walking the Hallways

Metropolitan Cathedral

The Main Square of Cochabamba

Beautiful Church

One of the things that makes Cochabamba such a wonderful city to visit is that the temperatures remain spring-like all year long. There are several parks and squares in Cochabamba with beautiful flowers that take advantage of the moderate temperatures. Families come out to these common areas to play, relax, and walk through the open air markets that are located nearby. As is typical, these parks and squares feature fountains and monuments at their centers. To get better views of the city, you can take the cable car to top of San Pedro Hill where the Cristo de la Concordia overlooks the city.

Colorful Flowers in the City

Families in the Main Square


Cristo de la Concordia

Beautiful Park Downtown

Colorful Building in Cochabamba

One of the day trips that we took out of Cochabamba was to visit the ancient ruins at Incallajta. Walking around these amazing ruins was truly amazing, especially due to the fact that we were able to walk all around this historic site without any other visitors. Making our day even more interesting was the discovery of an old Spanish church on the road to Incallajta that our guide had never seen before. At the end of the day, we went to the “ghost village” of Chimboata where we saw how truly difficult life can be for the rural people of Bolivia.

The Ruins of Incallajta

Ghost Village of Chimboata

Ancient Spanish Church

Santa Teresa Convent

Walking Among the Ruins of Incallajta

We also took a two-day trip into the Amazon Jungle where we stayed at an ecolodge and had our first taste of the rainforest. We took what was called a canopy tour, which was really an afternoon of ziplining from the tops of trees across rivers and canyons. The following day we took a tour in Carrasco National Park that had us hiking through the jungle, climbing into caves with rare birds and bats, and seeing cocoa fields that were intruding onto the park lands. Driving from Cochabamba to our ecolodge was probably as interesting of an experience as seeing the park itself and would prepare us for our trip down “Death Road” later during our trip.

Soaring Through the Jungle

An Interesting Drive

Getting Into Carrasco National Park

Looking Out of the Convent

Palacio Portales

With so many opportunities for adventure, Cochabamba is a wonderful city to visit in the beautiful country of Bolivia. The people are extremely friendly, although you will not find too many people who speak anything other than Spanish or Quechua. We spent about five days in Cochabamba, which was about the minimum amount of time if you want to take advantage of doing some day trips from the city.

Unique Architecture in Cochabamba

Condors are an Important Symbol in Bolivia

Statue Outside of a Church

View from San Pedro Hill


Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba, Bolivia

One of the first things that we did upon our arrival in Cochabamba was to visit the Cristo de la Concordia, which is a statue of Jesus Christ. The statue sits on top of San Pedro Hill and is accessible by a cable car or you can walk the 2,000 steps to the statue if you prefer. The statue is quite interesting, but since San Pedro Hill is almost 900 feet (265 meters) above the city of Cochabamba, the views are worth the visit as well.

Steps Leading Up to the Statue

View of Cochabamba

Riding the Cable Car

Views of the City are Amazing

The Cristo de la Concordia statue was modeled after the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. The similarities are obvious, but the statue in Cochabamba is actually slightly larger. The statue is position such that the left hand points south and the right hand points north. Visiting the statue and seeing the views of the city should certainly be part of any visit to Cochabamba.

Close-Up of the Statue

View from the Cable Car

Cochabamba Sits at the Base of the Mountains

Definitely Worth Taking the Cable Car Instead of Walking