CEDESOL INTERNSHIP PROGRAM GUIDE OF COCHABAMBA
CEDESOL INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
GUIDE OF COCHABAMBA
Table of contents
Welcome to Cochabamba!
General information on Bolivia
Orienting yourself – Map of Cochabamba
Avoid dangerous places
Be careful while going out at night
Let valuables at home or don’t show them
Be careful while taking money from an ATM
Don’t trust people too easily
Phone and Internet
Making phone calls
Using the Internet
Health care establishents
Places you need to know in Cochabamba
Eating in Cochabamba
Going out in Cochabamba
Touristic information on Cochabamba and Bolivia
Must see places in and around Cochabamba
Suggestions of places to visit around Bolivia
Touristic agencies at Cochabamba
1.1. Welcome to Cochabamba!
Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia is a vibrant, sprawling metropolis with a
population of approximately 600,000 (over 1 million in the metropolitan area). Located
in a fertile valley, Cochabamba enjoys a temperate climate year-round and as a result is
often referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring” or “The Garden City”.
Cochabamba is among Bolivia´s most economically and socially progressive cities. Take a
walk through the centre of the city and you will find a thriving business and commercial
district, an active nightlife and international style cafés and restaurants along the treelined boulevard “El Prado”. Cochabamba has a distinctly Mediterranean feel. In contrast,
however, many areas of Cochabamba are visibly impoverished, with adobe homes,
unpaved roads, no electricity or plumbing and a life vastly different from those living in
the plush city centre properties. These are the communities that CEDESOL seeks to reach
The main language in Cochabamba is Spanish, however, Quechua is the language most
widely spoken amongst the indigenous people. It is the villagers’ mother language in
most of the rural communities CEDESOL works with.
1.2. General information on Bolivia
Bolivia is located at the heart of South America. It has frontiers with the two biggest
South-American countries, Brazil and Argentina, as well as with Chile, Peru and
Paraguay. It’s the poorest country of South America: its HDI ranking is 117 (compared to
38 for Argentina and 70 for Brazil), its GDP per capita is $ 4,584 (compared to $ 34,092
for France, $ 15,603 for Argentina, $ 14,982 for Chile and $ 11,289 for Brazil), and 42% of
the population living in urban zones is below the poverty threshold (source: CNUD,
Together with Paraguay, Bolivia is the only country of South America that has no coast.
Indeed it lost its coast during the war of the Pacific (1879 – 1884), won by Chile. The
country has thus no way of doing commerce through the seas unlike its neighbours,
which accentuates its enclosure.
Bolivia consists of regions of extremely varied climates and types of vegetation: the
altiplano, the valleys, the Yungas, the amazonian basin, the Oriente and the Chaco.
The altiplano, at the Southwest of the country, contains the high plateau of the Andes, at
an altitude of more 3,000 m, which are covered with peaks that are more than 5,000 m
high. The Titicaca Lake, the Royal Cordillera, the Salar de Uyuni and the South Lipez can
be found in this region. The temperature at day is almost the same during the whole
year (15°C to 20°C), while it can drop sharply at night and particularly in the winter (less
than -20°C at the Salar of Uyuni). The valleys, at an altitude of less than 2,500 m, are a
transition zone between the altiplano and the tropical zones of the East. The climate
there is milder, that's why this region is more adequate for agriculture. The Chaco is
located at the Southeast: it is a hot and dry region.
In almost all of the country the southern winter (May to September) is the dry season. It
rains frequently during the rest of the year. The heaviest rains fall in tropical regions
(200 mm rain at average at Santa Cruz) and the temperature is higher than in the
altiplano and the valleys: that's why a luxurious vegetation can be found there. These
regions include the amazonian basin at the North, and the Oriente at the East. The
Yungas are a transition zone between the altiplano and Amazonia. Plantations of coca
can be found in the Yungas, as well as in Chapare, in Amazonia.
The seat of government is La Paz, located in the altiplano in the West of the country, not
far from the Titicaca Lake (at the Peruvian border). It is the biggest city of the country
(with more than 800 000 inhabitants) and the highest capital of the world (3 660 m
high). The institutional capital is actually Sucre, located in the valleys, and fourth city of
the country by its population. The second city and economic capital of Bolivia is Santa
Cruz, located at the heart of the Oriente. Finally the third city is Cochabamba, located at
2550 m high in the valleys, between La Paz and Santa Cruz.
2. Orienting yourself – Map of Cochabamba
On the next page you will find a map of Cochabamba with the main places you will have
to know about during your stay in the city, as well as landmarks that will help you orient
yourself in the city, make appointments and explain to the bus or taxi drivers where you
want to go. You can obtain a detailed touristic map at the tourism center, located at the
Plaza Colón. You will also find more detailed maps at CEDESOL office.
You will often go round the América avenue as it is where CEDESOL office is located and
the houses of the host families are close to it. The Plaza Tarija (where the Universidad
Catolica is located) is the closest place to the office that most people know (in particular
taxi drivers). The IC Norte supermarket is a good landmark on this avenue.
Here are also a few avenues and locations that can serve as landmarks to orient yourself
in the city:
Circunvalación, Libertador (Simon Bolívar), Ayacucho, Oquendo and Heroínas
Aroma avenue: this is the approximate limit between the Zona sur and Zona
norte (see the Security advice section)
Places you will go at
Accommodation: host families’ houses, Bolivia House and Casa Internacional,
house of our partner organization Sustainable Bolivia
Shopping: supermercado IC Norte, La Cancha, Correo, calle 25 de Mayo, mercado
25 de Mayo, mercado Calatayud
Places to go out: El Prado, calle España, Cinecenter, Las Islas, La Recoleta, avenida
Touristic places: Palacio Portales, Cristo de la Concordia, Plaza 14 de Septiembre
Plaza de la
Cristo de la
Calle 25 de mayo
Plaza 14 de
Mercado 25 de mayo
3. Security advice
Although Bolivia is rather safe in comparison to other countries of Latin America, you
need to be aware that there are some risks. Do not worry too much about them, if you
respect the security advice we give here nothing bad will happen.
3.1. Avoid dangerous places
Cochabamba can be roughly divided into two zones: Zona sur and Zona norte (Southern
and Nothern zones). The limit between the two is more or less the Aroma avenue (see
the map). The Zona norte is the richest part of the city. Most of the places we describe in
this section are located in this part. The Zona sur is where the impoverished
We recommend that you be careful when going to the Zona sur. At day, pay attention
to your belongings, thefts are frequent with unsuspicious and distracted foreigners (but
they also happen with locals). At night, it is better not to go there at all.
The San Sebastian hill is known to be among the most dangerous places of the
city. Junkies and street kids wander there and there is a real risk of getting
mugged. Do not go there at any time of the day.
The surroundings of the Alalay laguna aren’t safe either.
If you want to go to the Cristo de la Concordia (at the top of the San Pedro hill)
you’d rather go up using the cable car. If you go by foot, don’t take your camera
or any valuable with you.
If you travel in bus, be careful when going or arriving to the bus station (this is
true for all cities of Bolivia). This place is crowded with people, which makes it
easier for the pickpockets to steal the travelers (foreigners are especially
targeted). However, for the same reason attacks are improbable at day.
3.2. Be careful while going out at night
As a general rule, you should be careful when going out at night, even in the Zona norte.
Some places are not safe, the Prado for instance. Take only radio taxis to move around
in the city (see the section Transportation guide) and avoid walking alone.
In the night clubs, do not accept glasses from unknown people. This also concerns men.
Some girls put pills in men’s glasses, go to a hotel with them and steal them everything.
This happened to CEDESOL volunteers in the past.
3.3. Let valuables at home or don’t show them
It is recommended not to take your valuables when going out. Even if you promise
yourself that you will pay attention to your belongings, there always will be an instant
when you will get distracted, which is enough for pickpockets to steal you. They are very
well trained to do this. Even if they are not frequent, attacks may also happen.
In general let your valuables at the host family’s house, at the hotel or wherever
you are housed.
Avoid showing your valuables if you take them with you. You may take your
laptop to the office, provided you don’t show it in the public transports or taxi.
Do not wear expensive jewels visibly.
Do not put everything at the same place (cell phone, computer, wallet…). Keep
your things in different places (pocket of your jeans and jacket, bag…), it makes it
improbable that everything gets stolen at once.
Don’t go out with too much money (500Bs is too much).
Put big bank notes (100Bs or 200Bs) in a different place than the rest of your
money, so that people can’t see them when you pay small amounts (in public
transports, at lunch…)
Always let your passport at home (it is enough to take a photocopy with you).
In general let your credit card at home (pay everything with cash).
3.4. Be careful while taking money from an ATM
Go preferably to ATMs close to the place you live at, and go directly back home
to let the money and the credit card.
Try to go to ATMs accompanied by someone and avoid going there at night.
Do not forget your credit card at the ATM! This may sound stupid but it really
happens. Why? ATMs work in a different way than in other countries. Instead of
giving you back your credit card first, it gives you the money and the receipt. It
won’t give you back your credit card (and you won’t even see any light or hear
any sound reminding you about it) before you answer no to the question “Do you
want to make another transaction?” If you’re distracted you may just forget to
take your card, thinking automatically that you can leave after having taken the
money, like you do in your country.
3.5. Don’t trust people too easily
While a lot of Bolivian people are very nice, keep in your mind that people that come to
talk to you may have bad intentions.
Don’t show your passport to a policeman. Many people have reported having
been robbed by fake policemen. Say that you don’t have your passport with you
(even if you have it), and show a photocopy. True policemen shouldn’t demand
If a policeman commands you to get into a car, van or taxi to go to the police
station, do not accept under any circumstances. Say that you will go by foot.
Don’t let any alleged policeman or anyone else search through your bag or
luggage. True policemen don’t do that.
Don’t listen to people in the street who want to offer you something or say that
they have lost money.
Avoid showing your wallet when giving a coin to someone begging in the street.
Get coins ready and keep them in your pocket.
4. Transportation guide
4.1. Public transportation
The cheapest way to get around Cochabamba is to use the public transportation. This
involves squeezing into a compact car, minivan, or if you are lucky an actual real microbus. It’s a little surprising at the beginning, but you’ll get quickly used to it!
Pay when you get out
Mini Bus or Trufi
Pay when you get out
Bus or Micro
Pay when you get in
Finding the right Trufi, Taxi Trufi or Micro
These vehicles circle the city on set routes. Trufis and Taxi trufis are identified by
numbers and Micros by letters. Beware! There are a few buses which have two slightly
different routes with the same number distinguished only by the color of the number. To
know which line you have to take, ask someone at CEDESOL, in your host family or in the
street. You can also look at the destinations written behind the windshield of the
vehicles. You may even hail the bus and ask the driver if he will go by your destination
using one of the following phrases:
“¿Por dónde pasa?”
“¿Pasa por _________?”
Be warned if your destination is an obscure street, more than likely the driver will just
tell you something without really knowing. Always ask for well-known landmarks like
Plaza Colon, Avenida América.
Some Trufi, Taxi Trufi and Micro lines
Trufi 260: Get in at the Avenida América and Plaza Tarija, it goes along Avenida
América until Melchor Perez to change the direction on Melchor Perez until
Blanco Galindo road to Quillacollo.
Trufi 270: Get in at the Avenida América near CEDESOL’s door. It takes you along
Avenida América (final west) to cross the Sarcobamba sector until Av. Juan Pablo
Segundo, changing the direction on the Blanco Galindo Road with its final
destination at Quillacollo.
Trufi 207: They circulate on the España street until Comteco on the Prado, and
pass by the Plaza Tarija. Beware that there are 2 different routes: in the other
direction the Trufis 207 that pass in front of CEDESOL office go to Quillacollo
without passing by the Prado!
Trufis 211 and 233: Get in at the Avenida América near CEDESOL’s door. It takes
you near the Hospital Viedma, Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Bolivia
Sostenible, and eventually near the bus terminal and La Cancha.
Taxi Trufis 121 and 131: Get in at the Avenida América near CEDESOL’s door. It
takes you to the Prado and the Ayacucho street.
Taxi Trufi 133: Get in at the Avenida América near CEDESOL’s door. It takes you
near the Hospital Viedma, Plaza Sucre, 25 de Mayo street and La Cancha.
Taxi Trufi 132: Get in at the Avenida America and Subida al Mirador (2 blocks from
CEDESOL’s door, near the Universidad Católica). It takes you near the Hospital
Viedma, Plaza Sucre, 25 de Mayo street and La Cancha.
Micro B: Get in at the Avenida América and Plaza Tarija, it takes you near the
Hospital Viedma, Avenida Heroínas, Avenida Ayacucho, bus terminal, La Cancha,
airport (it takes a lot of time to arrive to the airport depending on the traffic).
Micro U: Get in at Avenida América and Plaza Tarija, it takes you near the Hospital
Viedma, near Plaza Colón and the Prado, 25 de Mayo street, and La Cancha.
Micros G and 35: Get in at Avenida América close to the IC Norte. They go down
the Potosí street to the Recoleta, pass by the Cinecenter, and San Martín street.
Hailing a Trufi, Taxi Trufi or Micro
There are no predetermined stops; you can take a bus anywhere on its route. Hailing a
Trufi involves steely nerves, a keen eye, and sense of adventure. Stay on the right side of
the street, at a place where the drivers can see you well. Keep your eyes to the horizon
as you scan the street for a Trufi. Look carefully at the line number or destinations of the
vehicles coming. If you see one that goes where you want, simply stick out your hand. If
you are waiting with more than one person, show the number in your group with your
fingers. Contort your body into whatever shape it takes to find a seat and enjoy the ride.
In the Trufis, the front seat is the best, but will be the worst if someone else gets in.
Stopping the Trufi, Taxi Trufi or Micro
Alright so your stop is coming, you can see the corner or destination you want to be at,
what do you do? Say any of the following phrases and the Trufi will come to a slamming
stop and allow you to get off:
“En la esquina por favor” (they will stop at the next corner)
“Voy a bajar por favor”
“Bajo por favor”
“Pare por favor”
“Aqui me quedo por favor”
If you get confused about where you are or where you have to get off, ask a fellow
passenger. You may also ask the driver to warn you when the bus arrives at your
“¿Me puede avisar por favor cuando llegaremos a _________?”
Service hours and price
You won’t find any schedule for the public transportation. However Trufis and Micros
are passing very frequently, and agents of the syndicates check the punctuality of the
drivers (otherwise they risk losing their allocated time slot). They have been spotted as
early as 6 am or as late as 11 pm.
The price is 1.70Bs unless you are going out of the city to Quillacollo or Sacaba for
example. However, it is frequent that drivers pay you only 20 cents back when you give
2Bs. Others have kept the old price of 1.50Bs. Usually you can pay with a 10 note,
sometimes a 20 if paying for more than one person. To ask if the driver has the change:
“¿Tiene cambio de diez/veinte?”
4.2. Private taxis
The most practical way to get around Cochabamba is to take a private taxi. The
advantage is that it’s very easy to find one, and although it’s a little more expensive than
public transportation, it’s very cheap in comparison to what you would pay in Western
countries. Actually it’s not much more expensive than public transportation if there are
several people travelling.
Security advice when travelling at night
While taking the taxi at day is not dangerous, you must follow some security rules if you
take a taxi at night. Aggressions have been reported and the Cochabambinos themselves
are very precautious. The general rule is to take only radio taxis. You may call on the
phone to ask that a taxi be sent to take you if you know a taxi company that operates
near the place you where are. You may also hail a radio taxi in the street. You can
recognize them by the logo of the taxi company.
A radio taxi
Has the company logo on the side
Not a radio taxi
Doesn´t have anything on the side
When calling for a radio taxi, say the following to indicate where it must take you:
“Buenas noches. Una movilidad por favor a _________.”
In case you take a taxi that is not operated by a company, respect the following rules:
When getting in, check that no one else than the driver is in the taxi.
Do not allow that anyone gets in during the ride.
If you know the route, check that the driver is passing through the right place. Do
not hesitate to ask him if you don’t recognize the places (he may have taken an
alternative route): “¿Por donde esta yendo señor? ¿No tendria que pasar por
Like some Cochabambinos, you may even ask a friend to ask you loudly (so that
the driver hears it) when you get in the taxi to call him when you arrive: “¿Me
llamas cuando llegas a tu casa?”
Finding the phone number of a radio taxi company
Taxi companies are dotted around the city and it’s best to call one that is based near
where you are. Ask people where you are living which taxi company they use. If you are
out at night, ask at the bar.
Radio taxi company
near the Prado
Negotiating the price
All taxis in Cochabamba are unmetered so you need to negotiate a price before you get
in the taxi (except for radio taxis). A short ride will cost 5Bs or 6Bs for one or two people.
A ride from CEDESOL to the Prado for instance will cost around 8Bs. It costs more if there
are more people, if you are going further or if it is late at night. It may cost as much as
20Bs or 25Bs in some cases, but rarely more except if you go out of the city. If you’re not
sure what the price should be for a certain journey you can ask a local. However, be
aware that taxi drivers don’t try to take profit as much as in other countries: they may
ask you for 25Bs instead of 20Bs for instance, but they won’t ask for the double of the
Radio taxis have fixed prices for specific routes so you don’t have to negotiate. If you
want to make sure that the driver doesn’t ask for more than he should, ask the price
Explaining your direction
Before negotiating the price, you must explain where you want to go. Taxis don’t have
any GPS, so you need to indicate a well-known landmark close to your destination, and
once arrived at this landmark explain to the driver where he has to go. However, if you
only indicate the landmark when negotiating the price, it is probable that the driver will
ask you for more when you get off the taxi, as he has taken you further than you had
indicated. Say something like:
“A la Plaza Tarija, dos cuadras al este sobre la America, ¿cuánto cuesta?” (“On the
America avenue, two blocks east of the Plaza Tarija, how much does it cost?”)
5. Phone and Internet
5.1. Making phone calls
We recommend that you get a local cellular phone number, so that you can
communicate easily with the other volunteers, your host family and CEDESOL staff. You
may bring your own mobile phone from home, however you will have to check that it
supports the GSM bands that are in use in Bolivia: GSM-850, GSM-900 and GSM-1900.
North-American dual-band cell phones should work as they cover GSM-850 and GSM1900, however European dual-band cell phones won’t work. Quad-band phones will
work, as they cover all three bands.
Alternatively you can buy a new phone for approximately 200Bs (a little less than $30).
You can find shops selling cellular phones in front of the Correo, at the crossing between
the Ayacucho and Calama streets or at the Cancha.
There are 3 mobile phone operators in Bolivia: Entel, Tigo and Viva. All three offer similar
service and the cost by minute with the prepaid service is the same: 1.60Bs (a little more
than $0.20). There are a lot of places in the city where you can buy credit for your
phone. They are identified by the logo of the operator. These can be small stands in the
street, Tiendas (corner shops) or Centros de llamada (call centers), which are most of the
time cybercafés as well and are often identified as Punto Entel, Punto Viva or Punto Tigo.
You can ask for a Tarjeta (a small card containing a number associated to a certain
amount of credit) or for a Recarga (the shopkeeper will call the operator to directly put
credit on your phone):
¿Tiene tarjetas de Entel?
¿Vende recargas de Entel?
Many of the stands and shops that sell credit also sell SIM cards (Chip). A SIM card costs
20Bs to 30Bs (sometimes with credit offered). It needs to be registered so as to be
activated. It is a little complicated for you to register a phone number at your name, as
you need to go personally to an office of the operator, wait a long time in the line and
show your passport. The easiest way is to ask a Bolivian person to register your phone
number it their name; they can do it just by giving a phone call. Ask someone in your
host family, at CEDESOL or directly at the place where you buy the SIM card. Do not wait
too long as there is a time limit of a few days to register the card!
Calling from a call center
If you don’t have any cell phone or if you want to call to another country, you can go to a
call center (Centro de llamada). The price per minute varies a lot according to the call
destination and also from a call center to another. The cheapest calls are to local
landline phones (less than 1Bs/minute). If you call to another city the price raises (more
than 1.50Bs/minute for landlines). In between are calls to cell phones. International calls
cost more than 2Bs/minute, except in call centers working with VoIP that charge only
0.50Bs/minute. In general, ask for prices before calling:
¿Cuanto cuesta para llamar a cellular a La Paz?
Besides call centers, many Tiendas or stands in the street have a phone which you can
use for national calls at a similar price. Going to these Puntos de llamada is a good
solution if you have to give a short call and don’t want to look for a call center. The
drawback is the noise in the street.
Calling with Skype from a cybercafé
Calling with Skype or similar software often proves the cheapest way to make phone
calls. You need to find a cybercafé whose computers are equipped with headphones,
microphones and Skype, or to connect to a public wireless network with your laptop (see
Using the Internet). However the quality of the call may be often bad because of the
slow Internet connection, and the noise may prevent you from making a call.
Area codes and special numbers
In this guide landline phone numbers are indicated with the area code of Cochabamba
(4). When calling from another landline phone in Cochabamba you mustn’t dial this
number, as it is a local call. When calling from Skype, a cell phone or from abroad, you
need to dial it.
If you want to call to a landline phone to another department, you will need to dial the
area code. Sometimes this is not enough, you need to call to a special number. For
instance, dial 010, the area code and the phone number.
5.2. Emergency numbers
Fire department (“bomberos”)
SAR FAB (military rescue team)
SAR BOLIVIA (volunteer rescue team)
128 / (4) 473-1313
5.3. Using the Internet
At CEDESOL office
You will have access to the Internet at the CEDESOL office. You can use CEDESOL
computers or bring your own laptop and connect to the wireless network. Internet use
at CEDESOL is restricted to CEDESOL activities and personal use that consumes little
bandwidth, such as reading emails, reading the news… It is not allowed to watch videos
or listen to music online.
Outside office hours, you can go to a cybercafé. You will find lots of them in the city.
Cybercafés are often call centers as well. The price per hour is usually between 1Bs and
2Bs. Connection is slow, so don’t expect to be able to have your normal online activities.
Public wireless networks
Some cafés, restaurants and public places have a public wireless network for their
customers. This is a good alternative to the cybercafés if you have your laptop. Although
the connection is better, don’t expect it to be very good. Examples of such places are
Casablanca at the 25 de Mayo street, Burger King and Brazilian Coffee at the Prado, and
Tuesday at the America avenue. The wireless networks of the Cinecenter and the airport
are known as the fastest in the city.
Fast Internet connection
If you really want a fast connection and are ready to pay for it, you can subscribe to an
Internet Móvil offer. You will have to buy a USB modem and will get an Internet access
through the 3G or 4G network of the mobile operators. The speed varies but can be
somewhat 256Kbps. The price for the Internet access is approximately 100Bs per month
for a quota of 1GB of download and 300Bs for a quota of 10 GB. Some operators offer
the possibility to connect using WiMax.
6. Health guide
6.1. Health recommendations
Do not drink the tap water anywhere. No exceptions. Many homes have large
jugs, otherwise it is critical that you drink bottled or boiled water (coffee or tea).
All bottle drinks like soda, juice and beer are safe. Be careful when ordering a
drink at a cheap place, they are often diluted with water.
Do not eat salads, fruits or uncooked dishes unless you are sure that they been
prepared using proper hygiene practices (in the host family for instance). As a
general rule, when you eat outside it is preferable to eat cooked salads and
dishes. If you cook yourself, wash well vegetables and peal them (e.g. tomatoes).
Only eat meat that has been cooked for a long period. At the restaurant when
you are asked for the cooking time answer “tres cuartos” or “bien cocida”
(somewhat medium and well done).
At the beginning of your stay stick to meals prepared by the host family (at least
for a week). Even that way you may get sick, which is normal. Your stomach will
progressively get used to the local food so it will become easier to eat street food.
Drink lots of water when you can.
Do not touch stray dogs. Some could be carrying a disease.
6.2. Health care establishments
San Vicente de Paúl
Address and map ID
1 calle Baptista N-0541
Contact / website
2 calle Venezuela S/N
3 avenida Republica de Suecia
N°1032 zona Huayra K’asa
4 Circuito Bolivia lado Campo
Ferial, zona Alalay Norte
(4) 421-8421 / (4) 421-8104
(4) 421-9381 / (4) 421-9383
Address and map ID
Contact / website
5 avenida Melchor Pérez de Olguín (4) 444-7558
entre Cap. Ustariz y Blanco Galindo
6 avenida Melchor Perez de
Olguin N°0175 zona Hipodromo
7 avenida Potosí N°1253 zona
(4) 424-2362 / (4) 428-1125
Santa María de los Angeles
8 avenida Papa Paulo N°1100
esquina Germán Urquidi
5 numbers from
(4) 453-5213 to
Centro Medico Quirurgico
9 calle Antezana N-0455
Dr. Silvia Pozo Claros (English speaker)
calle Pedro Blanco N°1344 esquina avenida Santa Cruz
In general the best way to find a doctor (a GP or a specialized doctor) is to go to a
hospital or private clinic.
7. Places you need to know in Cochabamba
Cochabamba is known as the city in which the best food of Bolivia can be eaten. Enjoying
a good meal is one of the favorite activities of the Cochabambinos, whether it is in a
luxurious restaurant or at a small stand in the market. Some of them take as many as
five meals a day! It is said that the Cochabambinos don’t eat to live, they live to eat.
During your stay in Cochabamba, you definitely have to try out some typical plates. At
the beginning of your stay, we don’t recommend that you go to cheap places as the
hygiene may not be good and you would risk getting sick.
CEDESOL interns have the choice of returning to their host family for lunch, grabbing
something from one of the local eateries or cook something with the other volunteers at
the office. We cook with both the solar cookers and wood-burning stoves. During
demonstration and training days lunch will be included; we will prepare a large meal as
part of the training.
The city counts with a lot of places that offer a special lunch menu (almuerzo). In some
of them a lunch costs as little as 10Bs, like the red stands at the Plaza Tarija, where you
can eat typical plates like Sillpancho or Chuleta. However the hygiene is often bad in
these cheap places. Naranja Mecanica, which is close to the office, is a good option for
lunch during the week; it costs 20Bs there. It is located at the America avenue in front of
the IC Norte. Mozart, a little farther on the America avenue (next to the Eli’s pizzeria)
serves lunches for a similar price.
Alternatively you may eat at one of the numerous Pollerías which serve mainly chicken
with French fries. There is one at the Plaza Tarija named Samia. At Las Planchitas in front
of CEDESOL office you can order a plate of meat for several people. At the America
avenue you will also find places to eat hamburgers or tacos. However all these cheap
eateries may be dangerous for your stomach. If you’re freshly arrived and want to eat
something else than an almuerzo, go to a restaurant like Sole Mia or Tuesday near the IC
Restaurants are the best way to try out typical plates without putting your stomach at
risk. There are a lot of them at the Prado: Tunari (don’t miss their Piqué macho), Buenos
Aires (Argentinian restaurant), Dumbo and Globos (which are actually ice-cream parlors
but also serve food for lunch or dinner)… Paprika, the best restaurant of the city, is
located at the corner between the Chuquisaca and Antezana streets, not far from the
Prado. You can find other restaurants at the España street, like Barbac’oa at one block
from the Prado. The Bulevar de la Recoleta, that starts at the Plaza de la Recoleta,
counts with a few restaurants, among which La Estancia is the best. Tuesday, at the
America avenue close to the IC Norte, is also a very good place. The price for a lunch or
dinner in these restaurants is between 30Bs and 50Bs.
Eating on the street
If you’re not afraid of getting sick, you can enjoy delicious food at small stands in the
street. The most famous place is Las Islas at the Villarroel avenue (very close to the
corner with the America avenue). Anticuchos, Salchipapas, hamburgers and tacos are
some of the plates you can eat there at night. Similar food can be eaten in the small
stands near the market 25 de mayo, at the crossing between the 25 de mayo and Sucre
7.2. Going out
Bars and nightclubs
Cochabamba counts with a lot of bars, many of which are located on the España street
or close to it (on the Ecuador and the Prado, and one on the 25 de Mayo, Casablanca). In
some of them you only have a drink (or several ones…) with your friends, in others you
can dance. You will also find many bars on the Recoleta boulevard, in particular karaoke
bars, as well as Escaramanga where you can dance salsa, merengue and bachata.
Night clubs are located near the America avenue. Xtremo and La Pimienta are directly
located there, while Mandarina (on the Pando avenue) and Lujos (Santa Cruz and Beni
streets) are only a couple blocks away from it.
Planchitas, quintas peñas and chicherías
If you want to have fun in a typical Bolivian way, go to a planchita, quinta, peña or
chichería. Planchitas, quintas and peñas are places where you can eat and drink from the
afternoon to the night, play cacho (a drinking game with dices) and dance cumbia. Be
careful if you stay late at night, people get drunk and you might get annoyed (especially
girls). In the chicherías you will drink chicha all night long, a very popular drink of Bolivia
(don’t worry, it does not contain much alcohol).
Cinecenter (you can also have a drink or eat there)
Bowling alley of the Pando avenue
Café Paris at the Plaza 14 de Septiembre
Take a look at the recommendations from previous volunteers (you will find a link
in your personal folder in CEDESOL server) for more ideas
The swimming pool Victoria is close to the office. From the Plaza Tarija, go one block
south, the pool is this building with blue walls to the left of the street (it starts from the
corner but the entrance is a little farther).
Most of the time it is reserved for lessons, the only time slots allowed for free swim are
between 12pm and 2pm (from Monday to Friday). You have to buy a card that gives you
the right to go swimming a certain number of times in a period of more or less one
month. You have to choose one time slot (from 12pm to 1pm or from 1pm to 2pm) but
can go any day you want. The price per hour depends on the number of times you go
swimming in a month. If you go twice a week it is 15Bs an hour.
The fitness club Premier is located on the America avenue, halfway between the Plaza
Tarija and the IC Norte supermarket. It is one of the best of the city, popular among
Cochabamba top models, and that’s why it is also one of the most expensive. It costs
200Bs (a little less than $30) a month, which gives you the right to use all the
bodybuilding and cardio machines as well as to participate in all the spinning sessions.
The market La Cancha is the most famous place to do your shopping in Cochabamba.
Spreading out over a large area, it is one of the biggest markets of South America. You
can find almost anything you want there, from food to electronic devices through
clothes and musical instruments. The market is organized in sections according to the
kinds of products sold. You may find what you need at other places of the city, but La
Cancha is where you will get the best prices.
If you go there in taxi, the driver will ask you what you want to buy to know where he
has to drop you. From the Prado, you can take a Trufi in direction of the Plaza Colón,
that says “Cancha” or “25 de Mayo” in the directions behind the windshield. Once there,
ask directions to the locals, indicating what you are looking for. Pay attention to your
belongings, thefts are common at La Cancha.
Although you can buy everything at La Cancha, you may want to go to places closer to
where you live. For food, the best solution is either to look for a small shop selling fresh
products (vegetables, fruits and meat) close to your house, or to go to another market.
This is where it will be the cheapest; supermarkets like IC Norte, Hypermaxi or Haas are
expensive. The 25 de Mayo market for instance is located on the San Martín street
(parallel to the 25 de Mayo street), between Sucre and Jordan. The Calatayud market is a
little further on the San Martín street, at the corner with the Aroma avenue (just before
the start of La Cancha). You can go there by foot from Bolivia House or the house of
Sustainable Bolivia. The G and 35 Micros can take you there, both pass by the America
avenue, the Potosí street and the Cinecenter.
For clothes, you may go to the galleries close to the market 25 de Mayo (the entrance is
on the Sucre street, between Bolívar and San Martín). You can find shops selling
handcraft close to the Correo (the entrance is on the Heroinas avenue).
8. Touristic information on Cochabamba and Bolivia
8.1. Must see places in and around Cochabamba
This chaotic, bustling, colorful market is not to be missed! Possibly South America´s
biggest open air market, you can find everything imaginable here. The market is open
seven days a week with Wednesday and Saturday being the busiest days of operation.
The market is organized and divided in areas depending on the wares being sold. It is
recommended that you go accompanied and do not take any valuable item with you, as
there are a lot of pickpockets.
The Palacio Portales
An eclectic style mansion with French Renaissance architectural influences. The mansion
was built for Simon Patino, Bolivia´s wealthiest industrialist. It is located at the cross
between Potosi and Portales streets.
Cristo de la Concordia
Perched on top of San Perdro hill overlooking the whole of Cochabamba, this 33 meter
statue of Christ is the tallest of its kind in the world and a great place to get your
bearings. Visitors can climb inside up to the arms for this panoramic view of the city.
There are two ways of getting up: taking the stairs or the cable-car. Taking the cable-car
is not only less tiring, it is also safer. It is recommended not to take the stairs when it
gets dark: many attacks have been reported.
A small town in the eastern Cochabamba rainforest which hosts an animal refuge centre
run by “Inti Wara Yassi”. The refuge is home to a menagerie of exotic birds, monkeys and
pumas. Villa Tunari is the favorite destination of the Cochabambinos. Book an hotel in
advance if you intend to go during long weekends, otherwise you may not find any
accommodation! And don’t forget to verify that the hotel rooms are equipped with
The Tunari National Park
A wonderful natural park, very close to Cochabamba. Paragliding, trekking, climbing and
bird watching tours are offered by several tourist agencies. You can also take the public
transport from Quillacollo and climb in one day to the top of the Cerro Tunari, the
highest mountain of the region. From there you’ll be able to enjoy an amazing view of
the Cochabamba valley.
The Torotoro National Park
Probably the best kept secret in Bolivia, this stunning national park is great place to
spend a weekend. It boasts a 13 kilometer long canyon, over 55 explorable caves,
waterfalls to abseil down, fossilized dinosaur footprints and professional guides.
8.2. Suggestions of places to visit around Bolivia
Cochabamba´s central location makes it a great base from which to explore the rest of
Bolivia. La Paz and the Cordillera Real for trekking and mountain climbing, Lake Titicaca,
the highest navigable lake in the world, Rurrenabaque for excursions into the jungle and
the pampa, the salt flats at the Salar De Uyuni and the deserts of Sud-Lipez are the most
popular touristic destinations. But Bolivia has much more to offer: Potosi and the mines
of the Cerro Rico, Sucre and the Cordillera de los Frailes, the Amboro Park between
Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, the Jesuit Missions at the east of Santa Cruz…
Bolivia is not as touristic as Peru for example, yet it is with no doubt one of the most
beautiful countries in the world, and the relative low touristic affluence will allow you to
fully enjoy its wonders.
8.3. Touristic agencies at Cochabamba
Calle Antezana N°751 between La Paz and Chuquisaca
(4) 452-0421 / 7179-2858 / (emergency) 7275-7325
[email protected] / [email protected]
The Spitting Llama
Calle España 615 between Plazuela Barba de Padilla and El Prado
(4) 7489-4540 / 7039-8720 / 7977-0312
Calle Tumusla 245 between Ecuador and Colombia
Villa Etelvina (for Torotoro)
Avenida Juan de la Rosa 908
707-37807 / 732-86862
http://www.cochabamba.gob.bo/Turismo (mayor’s office)