Since being in Bolivia we have discovered it’s pretty easy to go ‘off the beaten track’. Something that seems so popular for travellers and backpackers. Well, if you want that then come to Bolivia.
We are currently staying on a small farm on the outskirts of the city Cochabamba, it’s a very rural area, about an hours drive away from the city. So we are already ‘off the beaten track’ just by being here. It is another workaway and our host is an incredible woman who has shown us a lot of this area, and is the one who first told us about Toro Toro National Park.
All we heard to start with was that there was a cave and some dinosaur footprints, which I had already knew existed here in Bolivia but in another part of the country. We didn’t know very much about the place, but we were intrigued and that was enough to make us want to go.
The journey was already an incredible start to our little adventure. The landscape is something out of this world, driving through mountains and valleys, one side looking like it has shot straight up from the ground. The area sits on the meeting point of tectonic plates (hence the sticky up mountains) making it already feel like an ancient and interesting place.
The town of Toro Toro sits next to the National Park which is only accessible by a long twisty and turny dirt track road that leads into the mountains. Once you arrive it feels isolating as you are surrounded entirely by mountains. The landscape adds to the mysterious, ‘undiscovered’ feeling of the place.
So we arrive in this tiny town, get dropped off near the main plaza which has a few dinosaur ‘statues’ – something you would expect to see in a Jurassic park theme park. As we walked around the few blocks of the town to look for a place to stay, we saw more giant dinosaur heads sticking out of buildings. It’s safe to say that Toro Toro is mainly known for dinosaurs.
But! The most incredible thing is that it seems to be hardly known about. The National Park is only around 25 years old and is still fairly undiscovered. When we asked one of our tour guides about the research done at the Park and he said that they don’t get many scientists and researchers.
A huge expanse of wild national park. Still inhabited partly by some local farmers who continue to go about their business without the disruption of tourism. It makes for an incredible ‘off the beaten track’ experience.
Day 1 we took a full day tour, half the time walking in the park exploring small caves and incredible rock formations. All seeming so ancient and some in animal shapes! It was beautiful and you will just have to believe me and look at the pictures.
The next half of the day we spent exploring a cave system. Helmets and head torches were on – the crawling and ducking under small spaces were underway. Literally some of the gaps we were laying flat down on our tummies, squeezing through very tight spaces. Not for people with claustrophobia, be warned.
The dinosaurs came mainly on day 2, although casually walking back from the cave on the first day we came across a sign board with some Dino information and some rocks on the floor outlining part of the ground. Which is where I saw my first ever Dino prints! It was so exciting.
That was the first time we really saw them, you could have touched the prints or walked over them if you hadn’t seen the rocks. Toro Toro is a very unexplored place.
Day 2 we saw the big boys. Multiple different species of dinosaurs, right outside of the town, there were hundreds of individual dinosaur footprints! They are very well preserved, and a few sections were fenced off which was impressive to see. These things should be so well taken care of and researched, I mean these are dinosaurs we’re talking about.
The prints were truly amazing. Some we were told belonged to whole families, mum and baby dinosaurs walking together and you can see exactly where. I’m sure dinosaur footprints do actually exist all over the world. But for me, seeing these for the first time was very exciting. It wasn’t only the prints that made Toro Toro a special place. Truly the whole surrounding area of the national park is a stunning mountainous landscape. A place where you would almost expect to see real life dinosaurs walking the Earth.
I hope it stays preserved and undisturbed in the future but as it is so beautiful and filled with history, I’m not sure that will happen. So if you are reading this and thinking about a trip to Bolivia – pop to Toro Toro National Park while you are there, you won’t regret it.