Cochabamba

Cochabamba, or simply Cocha, the fourth largest city in Bolivia, is located some 240 km southeast of La Paz. The city, set on a plain surrounded by mountains, is known for its moderate climate and is often called Bolivia's "resort city". Other nicknames for Cochabamba include the "Garden City" and the "City of Eternal Spring".

Plaza 14 de Septiembre and the cathedral

Understand

Orientation

The main thoroughfare in Cochabamba is Avenida de las Heroinas, which runs east-west, with its north-south counterpart Avenida Ayacucho. The intersection of these two is known as El Correo (the post office is located on that intersection). Plaza 14 de Septiembre is considered the center of the city. Avenida Ballivian, commonly called El Prado, is a tree-lined boulevard running north from Plaza Colon, with many of the city's better restaurants and hotels nearby. Generally, neighborhoods get more affluent towards the north, and poorer to the south. Avenida América north of La Recoleta runs east to west is also a major avenue with many restaurants and shopping.

Get in

By plane

Cochabamba's Jórge Wilstermann International Airport (IATA: CBB) connects well to other large cities in the country. If flying from La Paz, sit on the left side to get a stunning view of Mt. Illimani just off the wingtip. A taxi to the center of town from the airport ranges between Bs. 25-35 (approx. US$3.50-5.00) depending on the distance. When exiting the airport, there is a sign with the fixed costs depending on the boundaries. There is also a public bus "B" line that eventually makes it way to the center of town.

Principal Airlines

Boliviana de Aviación

Boliviana de Aviación, often referred to simply as BoA, is Bolivia's flag carrier and largest airline. Prices for domestic flights are typically relatively inexpensive. From Cochabamba, BoA flies domestically to La Paz, Santa Cruz, Tarija, Cobija, Sucre. International destinations include Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Miami, Madrid. Many have difficulties purchasing tickets online from outside of Bolivia.

Amaszonas

Amaszonas is an emerging airline in Bolivia. Previously restricted to flying to tourist destinations like Rurrenabaque and Uyuni, Amaszonas is expanding into more commonly transited routes. Newer planes, good prices and a pleasant customer service experience. Amaszonas flies domestically to La Paz, Cochabamba, Sucre, Tarija, Trinidad, Uyuni, Rurrenabaque, Yacuiba, Guayamerín, Oruro, Trinidad, Riberalta. They also fly internationally to: Iquique, Cusco, Arequipa, Salta, Asunción, Montevideo, Campo Grande.

TAM

TAM is the cheapest of the three largest airlines in Bolivia, with no online booking, planes from the 70s, and less frequent services. Yet, the service still gets you there, and offers destinations typically not offered by the above areas, particularly in the jungle.

Smaller Airlines

Ecojet

Ecojet is a brand new Bolivian airline, that offers a few flights in-between Bolivia's major cities. Sometimes they offer promotions with great-value reduced fares.

By bus

The terminal is some 10 blocks south of the center, just north of the market called Cancha. From the north, you can catch several trufi lines to get to the bus terminal. For example, the green 101, the 102, the 103, the 109, all travel along Av. Ayacucho, passing the bus terminal. At the north end of the terminal, there are radio taxis associate with the terminal. These are much more convenient to get to your destination. If traveling with a lot of luggage, it is not recommended that you exit the main terminal to catch a bus. It's quite hectic making you an easier target for pickpocketing. It is also not recommended walking from the terminal especially late at night.

Most bus companies will charge around the same amount for a ticket, so it always makes sense to start at the more reliable companies and work your way down. For most trips from Cochabamba, that will be Bolivar or Trans Copacabana. Between the two, they travel to La Paz, Oruro, Potosí, Sucre and Santa Cruz.

The time of day you travel will influence the price of your ticket, as will the type of seat that you choose. Keep in mind, the announced departure time rarely coincides with the actual departure time. Be prepared to wait around until the bus arrives to the departure dock or for the bus to fill up with more passengers.

Always me aware of roadblocks while traveling in Bolivia. If companies know of existing roadblocks, many of them will halt their services, while others will take you as far as the roadblock, and you'll have to pay again after crossing the roadblock. It's always recommended to wait for a roadblock to be lifted before traveling, even if a bus will take you that far.

Destinations

If you're planning to go to any other cities not listed, it's typically advisable to not go directly from Cocha. Rather, first travel to one of the intermediary cities above and take another service once you arrive.

Get around

By bus

Cochabamba has buses (micros), mini-vans (trufis) and shared cabs (taxi-trufis) that run along fixed routes. There are no set stops and in order to get off, you must say "me bajo" (I want to get off) or "esquina" (for stop at the corner). Fares are Bs. 1.90. (Many drivers do not have adequate change, so do not be surprised if you do not receive change or you may receive 20 cents back).

By taxi

Most cars honking at you are cabs. Ask and negotiate the fare before entering a cab. The price should be Bs. 6-7 for one person within the city center (inside the boundaries of the river). Adding additional passengers should cost between Bs. 1 and Bs. 2/person. Downtown to Quillacollo is 25-30 Bs. There is no standard fare, and most taxi drivers will try to overcharge tourists.

It's recommended to take radio taxis in the evenings. There is no additional charge to call a taxi to come pick you up.

Radio Taxi Companies

See

Christo de la Concordia

Do

The biggest cinema in town, Cinecenter, features a handful of showrooms mostly flashing the latest Hollywood fare, and a food court. Just north of Plaza Quintanilla.

There are some towns around Cochabamba worth visiting:

Volunteer

Some organizations charge a fee for volunteer or intern to cover logistical and organizational costs. Please ask each organization for their policy.

Miscellaneous

The city is Bolivia`s paragliding capital. Several agencies offer tandem flights (300 Bs) and courses. A typical beginner´s course will take minimum 10 days (2 hours theory and 4 hours practice every day, 12 solo flights) and cost about 3000 Bs. Among the cheapest on the continent.

Cochabamba is also a good point for excursions into the Chapare Region:

Buy

One of the city's biggest attractions is La Cancha, the city market on the south side of town and the largest open-air market in South America. Clothing, food, souvenirs, or books, the Cancha has it all. The Cancha is generally bound in the area bound by: Av. Aroma, Av. Ayacucho, Av. 6 de Agosto, Av. República, and Av. Oquendo.

The best day to visit the market is on Saturday, on other days not all the shops are open. Pickpockets are fairly common in this area.

If you don't want to get knee-deep into the sprawling Cancha for your souvenirs, there is also a small pasaje behind the Post Office. You can enter from Av. Heroínas Avenue or Esteban Arze. Prices are comparable to La Cancha and you can pick up typical Cochabamba goods.

Eat

Thanks to the city's origin as an agricultural center for mining communities, Cochabamba claims to have the best food in Bolivia.

Fast Food

Vegetarian

Drink

The best chicha, fermented corn (or peach) based beverage, is said to come from the Cochabamba region. The small town of Punata, some distance to the southwest, is especially well-known. Please note that not all chicherías have the same hygienic standards.

Most small bars are on 25 de Mayo and España close to Plaza Colon. Av. Ballivian (Prado) has bigger and noisier stuff. The joints grow fancier and more expensive has you head north into Recoleta, centred on Calle Pando.

Sleep

Budget

There are dozens and dozens of hotels and hostales between the bus terminal and the center (Plaza 14 de Septiembre). This area is not very safe late at night, however, and these options should only really be considered if none of the above are available. Always take a cab back to these locations after dark.

Mid-Range

The upper end hotels are mostly concentrated within a block or two from Plaza Colon. Expect to pay upwards of Bs 200 for a single. Also many classy hotels in Recoleta.

Stay safe

A recent twist in the above scam is the involvement of accomplices where they try to befriend you on a bus or a street and when the 'plain clothes' policeman approaches the accomplice claims that the same thing happened to them and that you should cooperate with them. This is a trap and the same scam as described above. (Tried on me 1st march 2012, 3 blocks from the main square, 6AM)

Connect

Cope

Consulates

The Consulate of Paraguay is located at Calle Ismael Céspedes #007 between Tadeo Haenke and Mejillones, parallel to Avenida Beijing. The phone number is 442-5902, and has been confirmed as of August 2, 2010. Keep in mind that visa applications at this consulate take a week to get filled, because the forms must be sent off to La Paz.

Go next

There are direct buses to Iquique and some buses with atransfer in Oruro. Keep in mind that the border to Chile opens at 8AM. So it makes little sense to leave at 4PM from Cochabamba. Waiting time at the border can extend this trip up to 23 hours! From Iquique you will have several connections to Santiago.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.