It may be famed for its salt flats and Lake Titicaca, but the unsung hero of Bolivia is an experience like no other. Just over 5km from the city of Sucre, on the Altiplano’s eastern edge, you can walk among dinosaurs without the aid of CGI or a celebrity voiceover. Here, on a near-vertical wall in an old limestone quarry, sits the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the world: five thousand footprints from scores of different species dating back almost seventy million years.
It is thought dinosaurs, chased by predators or in search of food, paused at nearby watering holes. During the rainy season the area would have flooded, creating a layer of mud and sediment that acted to preserve the footprints. Across the years the tectonic plates moved and pushed the ground upwards, creating the 100m-high limestone wall that exists today, peppered with footprints and stretching for over a kilometre.
Discovered by local cement quarry workers in 1994, the site has evolved from an informal attraction to a fully-fledged dinosaur park, replete with towering, life-size models of different dinosaurs (including the iconic tyrannosaurus), an audio-visual display and a restaurant.
But the footprints are the key to the site’s appeal. They’re viewed from a platform a safe distance away, and while you miss out on touching the markings you do get to take in the size of the prints and imagine how frightening it would have been to stand surrounded by these awesome creatures. Once your eyes have worked out what is rock face texture and what are footprints you can pick out the different shapes and sizes of footprints, follow the baby dinosaur walking alongside its parent or try and spot the trackway of the young Tyrannosaurus rex (nicknamed Johnnie Walker by the archeologists studying the site) – at more than half-a-kilometre it is the longest ever track recorded. Happy hunting.