On our recent stop in Sucre, Bolivia, we decided to visit Cal Orcko, a dinosaur park located a few kilometers outside the city. The park has a collection of life-sized dinosaur sculptures, but unless you’re a kid (or a kid at heart), the real draw is this: a massive rock wall over one kilometer long and 80 meters tall that contains thousands of dinosaur tracks.
In the past the only way to view the wall was from the park, 150 meters away, leading to many mediocre reviews of the attraction. However, we got extremely lucky on our visit: just a few days before we went, the park started the very first guided tours that go down into the valley and allow you to get within meters of the wall! (Don’t worry, this region is not nearly as active as the mine in Potosi!)
This awesome addition turned a mediocre day into something spectacular!
One of the First Tours Into the Valley
As we descended down into the valley, we learned from our English-speaking guide about the history of the area and how the shifting of tectonic plates pushed the ground containing the footprints up to the nearly vertical position it occupies today. We also learned, thanks to our guide’s dinosaur models and drawing in the dust, which footprints belonged to which dinosaurs.
By reflecting the sunlight from a mirror onto the wall, our guide pointed out the tracks from different dinosaurs. It was amazing to see how far a single set of footprints stretched across the wall while still being preserved until today!
Almost Able to Touch Them
Once on the valley floor, we craned our necks to see the very top of the wall- it’s really that huge! We walked along the wall for a distance and got to see the largest footprints, over 1.5 m in diameter. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to go right up to the wall, even though we donned hard hats. Layers of rock are constantly falling off of the wall, making standing right next to it unsafe. We still got to walk within a few meters of the footprints, though, which was spectacular!
More Footprints Yet To Be Revealed?
This constant falling of rock layers makes for some interesting results. When one of the first major layers fell off, many footprints fell off and were destroyed in the process. However, to everyone’s surprise, there was another layer of different footprints underneath! Scientists speculate that there are many layers of footprints and possibly even dinosaur fossils that stretch many meters into the wall. This means that the face of the wall is constantly changing and hopefully scientists can continue to learn even more about the behavior and characteristics of the dinosaurs that lived here millions of years ago.
If you want to catch a tour to the wall, they are given every day at noon and 1pm and are included in your ticket (times as of April 2014). These times do not seem to be published anywhere just yet, so many visitors are still missing out! Note that the Cal Orcko is closed on Sundays. To get to the park by public transportation, catch Micro 4 and get off at the last stop (about an hour’s ride from Sucre). A taxi is a faster and more convenient option and should only cost a few dollars.
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