Cochabamba, Bolivia
(by Vincent)

The fourth largest city in Bolivia, Cochabamba takes its name from the Quechan words gucha and pampa, meaning "lake" and "plain".  The beautiful city is situated in the Andean valley of the same name and is known as the land of eternal spring, with balmy temperatures in the high 60's and low 70's year round.  This temperate, semi-arid climate means that it offers an ideal growing season.

In fact, the valley is known as the granary of Bolivia.  Agricultural production in the region includes grains, potatoes, coffee, sugar cane, cocoa beans, tobacco and fruit.  And of course, Cochabamba's location in the center of an idyllic means that natural beauty abounds.  It's a prime spot for outdoor activities like rafting, hiking, and trekking.  All in all, it's a beautiful place offering much to see and do.  So you don't miss anything be sure to take these valuable tips into consideration while you're planning your trip.

What to Do

Cochabamba is a region rich in history.  It has been continuously inhabited for well over one thousand years now, its temperate climate and fertile soil making it an ideal agricultural site.  The initial inhabitants of the valley were of indigenous ethnic groups, including Inca, Tupuraya, Mojocoya, Omereque, and Tiwanaku.  For a glimpse into it's fascinating ancient past be sure to pay a visit to the Museo Arqueologico, which offers trememdous insight into these fascinating ancient cultures.

The city also offers numerous remnants of Spanish colonial life.  The beautiful Convento de Santa Teresa is noteworthy, as is the Villa Albina, a historic colonial mansion built by tin baron Simon Patino for his wife Albina.  The historic white villa includes elegant French décor, a marble mausoleum, and a formal garden.  You will also not want to miss their Cathedral or the Inglesia & Convento de San Francisco, the oldest standing structures built in 1576 and 1581 respectively.

Where to Go

This city is without a doubt Bolivia's biggest market town.  Mercado Cancha Calatayud is the city's most notable market and you can literally find absolutely everything here.  Be sure to keep an eye out for pickpockets, however.  If you're looking to head out farther afield into the area pay a visit to Lake Alalay.  Keep in mind that it's also a great jumping off point for trekking, canyoning, climbing, and rafting excursions.

Where to Stay

For something on the luxurious end, try the hotel Aranjuez in the wealthy Recoleta district.  If you're looking for budget accommodations try the down to earth Hostal Buenos Aires.  All in all, you're best off staying somewhere north of Calle Sucre.  Areas around the bus station and in market areas can be a bit dangerous after dark. 

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