Oruro is a department and city in Bolivia that almost kisses the sky on the Altiplano, at more than 3700 meters above sea level. It has a legendary mining past and a rich culture that is manifested in its traditions, among which the carnival stands out.

When you go to the Altiplano you will have many interesting things to do in Oruro and this is our proposal so that you do not miss anything.

1. Get to know the Sanctuary of the Virgen del Socavón

The miners from Oruro venerate their patron saint, the Virgen del Socavón, the local name for the Virgen de la Candelaria, and celebrate their festivity in style, on Carnival Saturday.

In 2001 this festival was declared by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The temple is located at the foot of the central mountain range, in the west of the city, and was built in 1884.

The venerated image is a painting from the 18th century and the most emotional moment of the festivities, which mark the beginning of the carnival, is the parade of more than 40,000 dancers dressed in colorful costumes and masks.

After a journey of about 5 km dancing with devotion, the dancers end up posing on their knees in front of the virgin.

2. Explore Oruro’s past at the Socavón Mining Museum

This Oruro museum is divided into five sections. It is located below the Cerro Pie de Gallo and shows what the mining task was like in a silver mine.

In the first section you can see one of the hanging carts that were used to transport the material in colonial times, as well as samples of minerals and old mining implements.

In the second section are the typical safety boards of the mines, as well as drills from the 19th century, mining clothing and implements.

In the third section there is a plan of the mining concessions in the year 1900, machinery and artifacts from the beginning of the 20th century.

In the fourth section there is a clock that belonged to the Tin Baron, Mauricio Hochschild, and a cargo mailbox with a metal car on rails.

The fifth section is a grandstand where you leave the museum, leading to the Plaza del Folklore.

3. Visit the Monument to the Virgen de la Candelaria

The Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of miners and the Patron Saint of Bolivian National Folklore, being venerated in Oruro under the patronage of the Virgen del Socavón. Among the things to do in Oruro, you cannot miss a visit to this monument located on Cerro Santa Bárbara, to the west of the city.

It is a beautiful sculpture 45.4 meters high, made in a contemporary style in concrete and steel, with aluminum and glass in the crown, inaugurated in 2013.

It weighs 1,500 tons and has eight internal floors, and the crown has lightning rods and safety lighting for air navigation. It was made by the artist Jorge Azeñas Zúñiga.

4. Tour the Andean Municipal Zoo of Oruro

This zoo was opened in the 1960s as the first in Bolivia. It is a space to admire rare animals in other latitudes, such as the Andean quirquincho (Andean armadillo), an animal in danger of extinction because the traditional sounding board of the charango (a typical string instrument from the Altiplano, also called quirquincho) is a shell of the little animal

Other species present in the zoo are the vicuña (an animal that, according to Inca mythology, belongs to the goddess Pachamama), the llama (an Andean camelid derived from the wild guanaco), the alkamari (Andean caracará, a beautiful black-faced bird orange) and the majestic Andean condor.

This visit allows a moment of contact with nature and the knowledge of unique animals, learning about interesting facets of their behavior. The zoo is located on Tomás Frías and Capitan Barriga streets.

5. Admire the Conchupata Lighthouse

The current flag of Bolivia is made up of three horizontal stripes, red at the top; yellow, in the middle and green, at the bottom.

The flag was hoisted for the first time on November 7, 1851, by President Manuel Isidoro Belzu Humérez at the Conchupata Lighthouse. The flag was inspired by a rainbow that the president saw shine over the city of Oruro when he arrived on horseback from La Paz.

The Conchupata Lighthouse is a historic place in Oruro located in the center of the city, next to Plaza Avaroa, at the intersection of Herrera and La Plata streets.

Every day, the elevation where the monument is is climbed by people who want to enjoy moments of tranquility and good views to take photos.

6. Walk through the Plaza 10 de Febrero

Plaza 10 de Febrero is of historical importance for several reasons. It was the place where the conqueror and judge of the Royal Court of Charcas (Upper Peru), Manuel de Castro del Castillo y Padilla, founded the Villa de San Felipe de Austria (Oruro’s original name) on November 1, 1606.

It was also the first Plaza de Armas in Bolivia and the scene of events such as the Manifesto of Grievances (1739) and the Oruro Rebellion (February 10, 1781).

Similarly, it witnessed the arrival of the railway in Bolivia, when Oruro was the economic engine of the country, as well as episodes of the Federal War at the end of the 19th century.

Likewise, it is the central point of the celebrations of the famous Oruro Carnival, declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Among its attractions are the kiosk, the fountain and the bronze sculptures of animals.

7. Bathe in the Obrajes Tourist Center and the Capachos Spa

Obrajes is a hot springs tourist center located 25 km from Oruro, on the road to Cochabamba. The waters flow at 65 °C, constituting a warm caress in an environment located at more than 3700 meters above sea level.

The waters are rich in mineral salts of sulfur, magnesium, potassium and iron, and have therapeutic and relaxing properties. In the spa there is a hostel.

The Balneario de Capachos is 12 km northeast of Oruro and its thermal waters are from the same current that flows in Obrajes. It opens daily, between 6 am and 5 pm, and access costs 3.5 bolivianos (10.1 MXN, 0.51 USD). The pools are cleaned and disinfected every day.

8. Tour the San José Mine

The department of Oruro is bordered on the east by the Azanaques and Negro Pabellón mountain ranges, which are home to several mining centers.

The Oruro mines were major producers of tin, lead, and silver in Bolivia from colonial times until the 1980s. Among these were Píe de Gallo, La Colorada, San Cristóbal, and San José.

The San José mine is open to tourism and in it you can see what the work was like, from colonial times to the present, through mining cooperatives.

The mine is located in the Barrio de San José, located northeast, 1.5 km from the center of Oruro. Units depart from the city bus terminal that stop in San José and the tour of the mining center lasts approximately 4 hours.

9. Admire the exhibition of the Mineralogical and Geological Museum of the Technical University of Oruro

This museum exhibits nearly 7,800 samples of minerals from Bolivia and the rest of the planet and is cataloged as one of the most complete in the world.

It was founded in 1906, shortly after the opening of the School of Mines of the University of Oruro. It is located on the UTO campus, south of the city, and the sample is classified according to criteria of Mineralogy, Petrography and Paleontology.

The exhibit includes rocks, crystallizations, fossils from various eras, surveying instruments such as a cannon-type theodolite, and slide rules that were used by students in the early 20th century.

Among the most interesting pieces are the pyrargyrites (dark red sulfides) from Colquechaca, the pseudomorphic copper from Corocoro, rare tin sulfosalts and magnificent crystallizations of augelites (phosphates).

10. Photograph the Casco del Minero Monument

Oruro was founded in 1606 and immediately began the intensive exploitation of its rich silver seams. The production of tin began later and for a time, the La Salvadora mine was the main world supplier of this essential metal to make bronze.

One of the main artistic symbols of Oruro is a 6 meter diameter miner’s helmet, located north of the city.

It is made of metal and welcomes the people of Oruro and visitors who enter the city through the double route. Over time, it has become an iconic place in the departmental capital.

It has an image of the Virgen del Socavón, garden areas and water fountains and among the things to do in Oruro is a must stop for a photo.

11. Walk through the Parque de la Unión Nacional

Before the construction of the park, its space was occupied by a field where the boys from Oruro used to meet to play soccer on Sundays.

When the Chaco War broke out against Paraguay in 1932, it became a patriotic place where the “godmothers of the war” and the girls who enlisted as volunteer nurses converged. This was the most important war of the 20th century on the continent.

The park was built in the 1940s in the open garden Victorian architectural style, with wide accesses, stone parapets, flower pots, columns with pergolas and a picturesque bandstand for musical band retreats.

The hierarchical colonnade that extends for almost 100 meters was erected with bluestone extracted from Cerro San Pedro. The park is one of the main outdoor recreation centers in Oruro, as well as one of its relevant points in the celebration of the carnival.

12. Relax in the P’esco Ujyana Ecological Park

It is located in the northwest of Oruro, in the Rummy Campana sector of Barrio San José and is one of the most beautiful parks in the city.

Its first small trees were planted in the early 1980s and it welcomes visitors with an image of the Virgen del Socavón, near the artificial lagoon.

This park contains plant species that are not found in the rest of Oruro, which offers different views, and has several sectors of grass and areas for recreational games.

It has a moving bridge, a wooden lookout and an artificial waterfall. On weekends, barbecues are allowed, which increases the number of people.

13. Tour the Simón Patiño Museum

Simón Iturri Patiño (1860-1947), nicknamed the King of Tin, was a Bolivian mining magnate, the country’s first businessman in the international arena and one of the richest men in the world at the time.

The museum is located in Patiño’s old house in Oruro and is a sample of the period that houses Louis XV, Louis XVI and Louis XVII style furniture, French crockery, lamps, mirrors with gold leaf frames, dolls and the first refrigerators that were used in Bolivia.

In the mansion’s chapel there is a gold-plated Christ, rugs and robes made of precious metal threads, and an ancient Latin Bible. In the garage there are some beautiful French carriages with convertible tops and a splendidly preserved motor car, one of the first to circulate in the country.

The Simón Patiño Museum is located on Calle Soria Galvarro, between Ayacucho and Cochabamba.

14. Delight yourself with the gastronomy of Oruro

Located at 3,735 meters above sea level, Oruro’s gastronomy has lamb as its main representative and emblematic dishes are roasted face, brazuelo, tail, mecheado and lamb tostaditas.

The orureño api (a preparation based on purple and yellow corn, cinnamon, cloves and sugar) is an iconic dish of the city, which is eaten hot and cold.

The charquekan is an ancient dish of the Urus that consists of dehydrated llama meat, fried in a very hot oil to make it crispy, accompanied by mote (cooked corn grains), potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and a spicy rocoto and tomato sauce. . The roasted face is the baked head of the lamb and the steward is a fry of various meats and sausages.

15. Be dazzled by the beauty of the Coipasa Lake and Salar

The lake is a tectonic body of water with an average depth of 3.5 meters, located in the Department of Oruro, 174 km southwest of the departmental capital. It is surrounded by the Salar de Coipasa and its main source of water is the Desaguadero or Laica River, which comes from the Chilean Altiplano region.

The lake and the salt flat are at 3,657 meters above sea level and it has an area of ​​2,218 km 2 , making it the fifth largest in the world.

The salt flat is shared by Chile and Bolivia, although its largest extension is in this country. It is the second largest Bolivian salt flat after the Uyuni salt flat and both are connected by the Negrojahuira ravine, about 20 km long.

16. Admire the Sajama National Park and the Nevado Sajama

The Nevado Sajama, located in the Department of Oruro, 190 km west of the city of Oruro, is the highest peak in Bolivia, with its peak at 6,542 meters above sea level.

It is part of the Western Cordillera and is a stratovolcano considered inactive, since there is no historical record of eruptions. The queñua forests, located on its slopes, are among the highest in the world.

The mountain is located in the Sajama National Park, a protected area of ​​more than 100,000 hectares and decreed in 1939 as the first in Bolivia.

It has groves, grasslands and lagoons and a fauna in which taruca (Andean deer), quirquincho, suri (Darwin’s rhea, threatened flightless bird) stand out; parina grande (Andean flamingo, another threatened bird), vicuña, Andean marmoset, and Andean fox.

17. Get to know Lake Poopó

This lake in the Department of Oruro is 2,337 km 2 , making it the second largest in the country after Titicaca, with which it communicates through the Desaguadero River.

It is the largest lake in Bolivia counting only those that are entirely in national territory. It was declared a Ramsar site due to its importance for the preservation of high-altitude biodiversity.

It has a large amount of metals, including silver, cobalt, cadmium, copper, tin, nickel, chromium, iron, antimony, manganese, zinc and an unusually high concentration of lead, 300 times higher than the average in world lake waters. .

In December 2015 it almost completely disappeared as a result of desertification, but it has been recovering with the rains.

18. Stroll through the Plaza Sebastián Pagador

Sebastián Pagador Miranda was an 18th century hero born and died in the Villa Real de San Felipe de Austria.

He led the so-called Oruro Rebellion, an uprising against the Spanish that occurred on February 10, 1781, which is considered by several historians as the first cry for emancipation in Hispanic America.

One of the activities to do in Oruro is a visit to the Plaza Sebastián Pagador, located north of the city. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century under the name of Plaza 6 de Agosto and changed to its current name in 1978.

It is French style, in the manner of the Arc de Triomphe, and has trees, gardens and green areas. It is circular in shape and the avenues Busch, Capitán Ustáriz, Barrientos and Gran Chaco converge on it.

19. Take an interest in their legends

In Oruro mythology there is a legend of when the Incas tried to impose the Huari god on the Urus, the ancestral people of the Oruro region.

To punish the Urus for their reluctance to adopt the new god, he sent them various punishments, consisting of thousands of destructive ants, a large toad and a huge viper to exterminate them.

Apparently, the Urus gods were more powerful, since they turned the legion of ants into the reddish sandbanks that guard Oruro from north to south.

The viper was petrified by a celestial lightning bolt sent by an Uru deity, transforming it into the serpent-like rock formation found in a ridge southwest of the city. El Sapo, located in the extreme north, was also neutralized.

You can meet these and other legends of Bolivian mythology in Oruro.

20. Enjoy the Oruro Carnival

The Oruro Carnival, famous worldwide, is one of the most important cultural events in South America. It was declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity and the celebration begins before the dates reserved for the carnival itself, with a series of preparatory festive events called convites.

It is a multicultural expression that mixes pre-Hispanic traditions with colonial customs, presenting a varied assortment of dances and parades (musical compositions with lively rhythms), such as diablada, caporales, morenada, kullawada, negritos, tinkus, tobas and pujilay.

If you want to enjoy the Oruro carnival, book accommodation well in advance because, for the occasion, all hotel and private beds are occupied.

Things to do in Oruro: immerse yourself in the culture of the Urus Yassoni

The origins of the Urus date back 4,000 years and most of the communities of this ethnic group settled in the Altiplano of Bolivia. The main current community is that of the Urus Yassoni, settled near the town of Santa Ana de Chipaya, 190 km from Oruro. They live in conical houses, whose shape helps retain heat in the icy environment, and they wear picturesque typical clothing. They form musical bands made up of ceramic ocarinas, horn trumpets, reed flutes, cactus slat drums, and vibrating leather membranes. The musical ensemble is called wayco.


We hope that this list of things to do in Oruro will be useful to you when you travel to Bolivia and it only remains for us to ask you to share the post with your friends on social networks so that they also know what to do in this department and city of the Bolivian Altiplano.


See also:

  • Meet the 30 best tourist places to visit in Bolivia
  • Click here to know the 10 typical drinks of Oruro that you should drink
  • We leave you our guide with the 15 typical dishes of Oruro, Bolivia, that you must try


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