Dinosaur footprints!

Sauropods and titanosaurs and ceratops, oh my!

One of the more unique attractions near Sucre is Parque de Cretacico, a museum for dinosaur footprints.  They also have some pretty cool, life-size models of dinosaurs that lived in this area during the Cretaceous period.

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Back in 1998 a cement company, Francesa, which operates primarily on the edge of town, discovered a wall of dinosaur footprints in their quarry. So they left that area of the quarry and built a museum. When you arrive to visit the museum, the first thing you see is the cement plant and their trucks, then the entrance to the museum. The park is still owned by Francesa, which was kind of interesting. I had never visited a museum owned by an industrial company before.

Prices for extranjeros are 30 bolivianos apiece, with 5 extra bolivianos if you want to take photos. If you plan to visit, we strongly suggest arriving between 11:50 am and 1:15 pm. And to wear close-toed shoes. I wore sandals and almost did not get to walk down to the wall. At noon and at 1 pm there is a guided English/Spanish tour down into the quarry by the wall, but only at those times. If you miss the tour, you are relegated to an obersavtion deck with binoculars, and the price to enter the park remains the same. Our backpacker friends who arrived too late for the tour were not pleased with their visit to the museum, but those of us that went on the tour were moderately excited about the trip.

IMG_3824We were able to within an arm‘s length of the wall, which was kinda cool. I’m not a huge dinosaur person, but the 5,055 footprints up the wall were interesting.

Many, many years ago this area was flat and muddy, due to being next to a lake, and a few animals tracked through the mud while getting to the lake. As the Andes mountains formed (due to the shifting tetonic plates and such) the land bunched up like an accordion, so now the flat land is a vertical slab of rock.

Other attractions as the museum include a BBC documentary on dinosaurs, the models, a children‘s play area, a replica of a skeleton, and information about ancient geological sites and tetonic plates. They also have a cafe on a viewing platform. The drinks were fairly priced, but the portions were quite small for the prices they charged.

We bumped into a Norwegian couple that was staying at the same hostel. Vegard and Caroline also enjoyed the park, but had a few unmet expectations, like us. All in all, the four of us agreed that it was interesting and worth our money, but not quite as exciting as we had anticipated. We did just look at a rock wall in a quarry for an hour. At the cafe, though, they told us about Norway, Norwegian food, and how difficult it is to learn English when a Scandinavian language is your native tongue. The grammar, it seems, is similar, and due to the fact that Norway never dubs American movies, English is present throughout Norway, making it easier to learn.

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We thought that if we brought children along, they would‘ve loved the experience of the models and play area. The wall, for kids, probably not so much. It involved hiking up and down a steep hill, which is a little hard in high-ish altitude (9,000 ft or 2,800 m). 

Last tips:

  • To get to the museum you can catch the dinosaur bus at plaza 25 de Mayo, which is designed for tourists. Or you can get the local city bus, #4 or #12 work just as well. It is about a 40 drive from city center, depending on traffic. The city bus is 1,50 bolivianos per person (so a total of 3 for a couple)
  • The city bus dumps you off outside the Francesa plant, which was confusing for us because we did not know about the ownership. Just go into the white gates and walk toward any signs you find regarding the park/museum, and you should be fine
  • Wear closed-toed shoes
  • The earlier in the day you return, the less likely you will be stuck in traffic for an hour (like we were)
  • Enjoy the view of Sucre as you travel along the hills at the edge of town!

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Morgan S Hazelwood

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