When I first arrived in Sucre, I was so excited to visit all the interesting local sites. Unfortunately, time flew by, and I still haven’t visited many of the famous tourist attractions that the area is known for! Since I’m only here for another month, I’ve decided to make the most of my remaining afternoons and weekends. A few weeks ago, Steve and I decided to combine two excursions into one. In the morning we went to visit the famous dino park, and in the afternoon we hiked up to the seven waterfalls.
We booked the whole day as part of a tour with Condor Trekkers, because we were a bit worried about finding the waterfalls on our own. Our guide was really nice, and I’d recommend them to others. So, we met in the morning at 9 at Condor, and walked over to Calle Junin to catch a public bus. There is a “dino bus” that you can take from the main plaza if you’re worried about public transit, but it only comes every hour or so, and costs quite a bit more than a public bus. The public bus took us about 30-minutes to reach the park. Once you see the big cement factory on the left and start seeing dinosaur sculptures on the roadside, you’re there!
Parque Cretacico (Dinosaur Park) is technically a part of the cement factory! While digging at the rocks in the cliff, they discovered some footprints in limestone in the 90s. After digging away more, they found even more. It’s estimated that the layers underneath may also have other footprints. Unfortunately, the wall is not protected, and it’s estimated that all the steps will be eroded in the next 5 years (so visit now!). They’re trying to seek UNESCO funding to preserve the wall, but it’s still in the process. It’s estimated that the prints are over 68 millions years old and that the steps come from them walking in soft clay beach near an inlet, and then eventually hardened into rock over the years.
After you get off the bus, you walk up a hill to the parking lot, and you’ll see this big beige constructions. You walk up a ramp to the main entrance, and there are interesting historical dates/facts on the wall along the way (in English and Spanish). The whole park is pretty much ramps, so it’s usable by people with strollers or mobility devices. Since we arrive early, we had to wait at the top for about 20 minutes (since the park wasn’t opening until 10pm). It did have really nice views and flowers though, plus benches. At 10am, they start selling tickets, and the first tour started about 10 minutes later.
Even though it was once a flat beach, the cliff is now at quite a steep angle and over 3,000m about sea-level, due to tectonic shifts. Normally, people don’t actually think Bolivia has “the best” of something, but in this case, they do! There are over 5,000 individual footprints which come from 15 different species of dinosaurs that once lived here. There’s even a trail by “Johnny Walker” the T-Rex that’s over 300 metres in length (a world-record setter!).
The biggest draw for tourists is the sculptures of various dinosaurs. It’s especially fun for kids, as they’re pretty large and fun for taking pictures (as they’re all very close to the paths). Apparently the giant Titanosaurus is one of the largest’s sculptures/dinosaur replicas in the world, at 36 m long and 18 m tall. There are also speakers all around the park making “dinosaur noises”, which are pretty funny.
Even if you don’t want to pay the entrance fee, you should come to the top of the hill for the great views over the city. You can see the footprints through the fence from the road, plus get a nice view of the surrounding hills.
The first thing we did was watch some of the movie, but it was interrupted for the tour. We did the general tour, which took about 45 minutes. You pass a museum but the guide doesn’t really give you time to see it. Don’t worry, you can go back and look later. Our guide was in Spanish (which was fine) but I think English is also available. I wish we would have come a little later so we could have done the second tour which goes closer to the wall – oh well! Then we wandered around to look at the sculptures, and the nice view, before returning to the exit where our guide was waiting. In total, we only spent about an hour in the park (minus transport and waiting for tickets).
If you’ve been to other major dinosaur parks, you might not be impressed by this one, but it was a fun activity. We actually learned lots about dinosaurs, and got to see some impressive views. I think it’s especially fun if you go with kids, since I’m sure they’d be amazed by the sculptures (a lot more so than a portrait of Simon Bolivar anyway, which can’t hold anyone’s attention for very long….)
The park is really nicely landscaped. Once you’re inside, you’ll have a chance to watch a movie (English/Spanish); visit two different museums with bones, eggs, maps, etc.; eat at the cafe; take silly pics with the sculptures; enjoy a tour (or 2); and buy a souvenir in the gift shop. There’s also a children’ play area (dinosaur themed of course!).
After leaving the dinosaur park, we continued the day by hiking to the seven waterfalls! Since there were too many pictures for one post, I’ve divided it into two! Tune in later this week for the remainder of the tour:
Planning your Trip
- Getting there: Take your own car/taxi, grab a public bus (#4) on Calle Junin (only 1.50 Bs – $0.30), or catch the “Dino Bus” from the central plaza (comes about 3 – 6 times per day – every 1/1.5 hours).
- Hours (as of April 2017): Monday to Friday – 9am to 5pm, Saturday – 10am to 8pm, Sunday and Holidays – 10am to 5pm
- Some websites say otherwise, but the park is NOT open on Mondays
- Try to go around lunch time, so you can catch the up-close tour of the footprints (included in your ticket price) which only runs at noon and 1pm
- Price: 30 Bs ($6) for foreigners, and an extra 5 bs ($1) to use your camera. Tour (about 30-40 minutes) is included in the ticket price.
- Technically you can easily see the dinosaur footprint on the cliff before you enter the park. So if you just want a quick view, you don’t need to pay. However, if you want to see sculptures/bones, and learn about the history then it’s worth a tour.
P.S. We booked this tour with Condor Trekkers, which is located in Condor Cafe (a wonderful, affordable, vegetarian cafe on Calle Calvo in Sucre). You could probably do a similar tour with other agencies in town, but I found that they have the best prices. They also have longer tours to places like the Maragua Crater, cave paintings, etc. in the area. You could easily visit the dinosaur park on your own, but getting to the waterfalls would be a lot more challenging!