South America Living

Oruro, Bolivia Travel Information

Outside the Train Station at Oruro

Oruro is the capital of the Department of Oruro in central west Bolivia and just three hours by bus from La Paz. In its previous glory it was a center for tin mining with the now defunct La Salvadora tin mine one of the largest extractors of the metal in the world.

The mines were nationalized following the Bolivian National Revolution of 1952 and eventually abandoned when the natural resource became depleted.

Now Oruro relys partly on tourism, with the granddaddy tourist event and largest annual party in Oruro – the Carnaval de Oruro. Carnival festivities begin on the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday and it is noted for being one of the rowdiest parties Bolivia has to offer.

If like me, when you saw the word “Diablada” and thought it referred to some type of female devil diety… you’d be wrong. La Diablada means “Dance of the Devils” and this primitive folkloric dance is the central focus of carnival celebrations in Oruro.

Pink Flamingos Flying Away From the Train Just Outside of Oruro

Virgin of the Tunnel’s Shrine (Santuario de la Virgen del Socavon) is a very popular tourist attraction in Oruro. In 1789 a mural of the Virgin Mary appeared in a mineshaft and was deemed a miracle. The legend is now firmly integrated into Oruro culture with many events of Carnival taking place at the Sanctuaria del Socavon (The Church of the Mineshaft) in honor of the Virgin.

Similar to the miner’s devil Tio, the Virgin of Tunnel’s Shrine is worshipped by miner’s throughout Bolivia and many travel to Oruro to pay homage.

Tourist Attractions In and Around Oruro

  • Museo Mineralógico (Mining Museum in English) – befitting an ex-mining hub, this museum has an extensive collection of precious stones, minerals, crystals and fossils.
  • Museo Nacional Antropológico (National Anthropological Museum in English) – artifacts (maskes, tool, etc.) of indigenous Chipayas and Urus tribes that were original settlers in the area.
  • Enjoying an Ice Cream at the Bus Station in Oruro

  • Lago Poopo (Poopo Lake in English) – only 55 km (34 miles) from Oruro is the second largest lake in Bolivia and is a saltwater lake covering an approximate 2,530 square km (977 square miles). If you are a fan of pink flamingos, this is the place to go visit. Three species of flamingo are found here: Chilean, Andean and James. There are a few indigenous villages near the lake: Poopo, Pazña and Aullagas and an island in the middle – Panza Island – that is popular for fishing. In the rainy season (December to March) the larger Lake Titcaca often overflows into Lake Poopo which in turn then floods both the Salar de Coipasa and Salar de Uyuni.
  • Uru Uru Lake (Lago de Uru Uru in Spanish) – formed in the same manner as Lago Poopo i.e. when prehistoric Lake Coipasa dried up. Lago de Uru Uru is popular for fishing and boating.
  • Salar de Coipasa (Coipasa’s Salar in English) –
    if not able to visit the Salar de Uyuni, the Coipasa Salar may be the next best thing. Both were formed when prehistoric Lake Coipasa dried up. Located 225 km (140 miles) from Oruro the salt flat has an area of 2,218 km2.

More Articles You May Enjoy
Tarabuco Market Near Sucre
Silver Mine Tours in Potosi, Bolivia
The Town of Colchani, Bolivia & Salt Production

Photographs – except of Pink Flamingos – by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.
Photograph of Pink Flamingos by Blake McHugh, all rights reserved.

Logo Header Menu