Have you ever seen dinosaur footprints? Well, only 5 km from Sucre, Bolivia, the largest collection of dinosaurs’ footprints in the world was discovered by a local cement company in 1985. At the Sucre dinosaur park or Cal Orck’o, there are more than 5,000 footprints visible, which includes the worlds longest recorded baby T-Rex tracks, measuring 350 meters. The Cretacico park, which opened to the public in 2006, offers an opportunity to learn more about these giants and runs daily tours into the quarry to approach the huge limestone wall covered in footprints.
68 million years ago, dinosaurs were living in South America along a vast ocean entering from the Atlantic in what are now the countries of Argentina and Bolivia. During the Mesozoic Era, dinosaurs walked on the shore of this ocean, leaving footprints that, once dried, were covered by sediment. As the tectonic plates shifted, creating the Andes, the once flat beach where dinosaurs set foot, rose to 2,600 masl and compressed into a now near-vertical limestone wall.
As the Francesa cement company drilled and mined the area for concrete production, the layers of sediments appeared, revealing thousands of footprints belonging to about 15 species of dinosaurs; from Tyrannosaurus Rex to Sauropods and Titanosaurus. The mining of this wall halted and after years of excavation and studies, a museum was built and guided tours into the quarry were organised.
Being able to approach these footprints will probably be the closest you will ever be. It is such a unique place… The wall is more than 80° inclined, which makes the whole experience even more spectacular. But let’s be honest, what we loved the most was obviously putting on our helmet and goggles to enter the quarry.
The tour of the museum and quarry
Tours of the dinosaur-themed park are organised in English and Spanish every day of the week (except Mondays) at 10 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm. In the museum, you can see life-size reconstitutions of the dinosaurs that once lived on these lands. It is very impressive, mainly when reaching the Titanosaurus. During the tour you learn about the drifting plates and the creation of the Andes. There is also a lot of information about the formation of the wall and the 15 types of dinosaurs which have been identified here.
The tours into the quarry are only at noon and 1 pm. We recommend going at these times for two reasons. Firstly, they coincide with the best time of day to see the footprints, as the sun is at its highest and there are no bad shadows. Secondly, in our honest opinion, it is not really worth going to the park if you don’t enter the quarry. There is a mirador from the museum but the footprints are not as easy to see. However, the mirador gives a good sense of the size of the place.
How to get to the Cretacico Park/Cal Orck’o from Sucre
The public bus #4 goes from town to the Francesa Cement Factory (last stop). From there you need to walk for a few minutes up to the entrance of the park. It should be noted that the buses in Sucre are not reliable at times which is why you need to leave very early to make sure you’ll be on time for your tour.
The better option is to take the “shuttle bus” that leaves at 11 am and 3 pm (Tuesday to Sunday) from Sucre’s main square on the cathedral side. It’s impossible to miss this double-decker red bus. The bus drives tourists to the park just on time for the quarry tours (only 11 am bus). Usually we try to avoid tourist shuttles and take the local, cheaper, buses, but in this case, it is worth spending a couple of Euro extra to make sure you make it on time for the tour.
Costs and Useful Information
Exchange rate (avg. June-August 2017) : €1 = 7.82 Bs
Bus to Cretacico Park (return): 15 Bs (€1.92) – at 11 am
Local bus to Cetacico park (one-way): 4 Bs
Entrance to Cretacico Park: 30 Bs (€3.84) – foreigner price
Right to take photographs: 5 Bs (€0.32) – crazy that they make you pay extra but there isn’t much chance to sneakily avoid this.
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