Get Up Close and Personal with Ancient Dinosaur Footprints at Cal Orck'o
As I planned our recent trip to the birthplace of Bolivia, I was determined to keep the nearby Cal Orck'o dinosaur park off our itinerary. History and pre-Columbian art museums was what I was after, not tourist traps and fantasy parks. Regardless of my plans, my cruceño husband (from Santa Cruz, Bolivia) was adamant on checking out the tracks and in retrospect, I'm glad to have obliged!
It's a two-hour visit admittedly worth your time (even if you aren't a dino-fanatic) and NOW is definitely the time to go. Over 5,000 footprints from eight different dinosaur species of the Cretaceous period are visible, and unfortunately since their first discovery in 1985, many of the prints are victim to rain erosion and other natural elements (not to mention human elements from the continuous sandstone extraction in the area and a lack of enclosing the site to prevent visitors from damaging the prints). Sure it's touristy, but the museum is full of valuable info, the life-size replicas are impressive and the chance to nearly touch the tracks from the largest collection of 68-million-year-old dinosaur footprints in the world is incredible.
TIPS: The best photo ops occur while the sun is high and hitting the tracks head on. Catch one of the only two tours that walk down to the wall at noon and 1p.m., otherwise you're left peering through binoculars from afar. Closed-toe shoes are required, bring plenty of sunscreen.