Tarija

Overview

Introduction

This beautiful colonial city in the isolated southern highlands has a distinctive Mediterranean flavor. Not without reason is it called the Andalucia of Bolivia. It has festivals and special events year-round, including a lively Carnival and a rodeo (mid-April). Its central plaza is a good place to people-watch and spend an evening, and the Mirador Loma de San Juan (a park on the slopes overlooking the city) is a favorite afternoon hangout. The nearby pueblo of San Lorenzo is a pleasant place to spend a Sunday afternoon, where you can soak up tradition and singani, a locally produced alcoholic beverage made from grapes. Much of the region north of Tarija has given over to viniculture. If you fancy a wine-sampling tour—with plenty of samples—head to the Concepcion or Kohlberg wineries. You won't be disappointed.

From Tarija, you can visit the scenic desert town of Tupiza and the nearby village of San Vicente, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are said to have died. (The famous U.S. outlaws "retired" to South America in 1902 but were still robbing banks when the Bolivian Army caught up with them six years later at San Vincente. Cornered in a local inn and vastly outnumbered, Butch and Sundance died fighting the Bolivian soldiers.)

If you're in Tarija in late October, you'll want to visit the village of Entre Rios (a three- or four-hour drive), which holds a traditional festival celebrating the Guarani people of the region. Tarija is 160 mi/255 km southeast of Potosi.

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