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Just over 60 kilometers from Sucre, along an asphalt road with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, you’ll find the small town of Tarabuco. In pre-colonial times, different ethnic groups were settled in the area by the Incas, and over time exchanged and mixed cultural traditions. Today the tarabuqueños are the residents of different communities across several provinces, who share the same rituals, dress, music, dance and language. The textiles from the region are world famous and are made using techniques that are centuries old. The weavings come in vibrant colors and display flowers, birds and animals as well as being inspired by traditions and daily life.

Tarabuco also plays host to one of the most interesting folk celebrations in the country. The Pujllay, which means game in Quechua, is celebrated on the third Sunday in March and involves dance groups from around 50 different communities around Tarabuco participating in a traditional tarabuqueño and jalq’a celebrations.

The festival has an interesting heritage. During Bolivia’s fight for independence, a battle broke out near the town of Tarabuco. The indigenous fighters managed to defeat the Spanish troops and the annual festival now commemorates those that died in the battle. It is said that the victors went onto extract and eat the hearts of the fallen crown troops, earning them the moniker of sonq’o mik’hus (heart eaters!)

The Sunday Market

Tarabuco’s biggest draw is its Sunday market, where people from local communities come to exchange good and sell their unique tejidos. Many start off on foot in the early hours and you’ll see many sellers making their way along the main road with donkey in tow as you travel along the windy road to Tarabuco.

The Sunday market has become a popular spot for tourists and can be an interesting insight into this unique culture. If you take this popular excursion from Sucre, it’s important to remain respectful to the locals. The communities have become increasingly frustrated in recent years with relatively wealthy tourists visiting the market without giving anything back to the communities.

A scheme was touted recently to charge a small fee for tourists to visit the market (less than a dollar), with the money going direct to the communities. The project never got off the ground, but if enough visitors show their support for such a scheme, anything is possible – mention it to your tour operator when you buy your transport to Tarbuco. It goes without saying that walking around with an expensive camera around your neck snapping photos without asking permission will not help the situation – be discreet.

Places to eat and stay and other attractions

On market days there are plenty of local restaurants selling set menu almuerzos. Café Mallki has a lovely open courtyard and good quality food. There is a HI hostel a block from the main plaza, HI-CEJ-Tarabuco (Tel: 4-644-0471,,, which has basic room and serves food. It’s also possible to work as a volunteer in local communities and stay at the hostel, contact Señor Ballvino Méndez Flores for more details (Cel: 7115-5252).

There is a small museum run by Inca Pallay, next to the market, which displays Jalq’a and Tarabuco weavings, and also does food.


Other places nearby Tarabuco: Cochabamba, Tarapaya, Potosí, Quillacolo, Parque Nacional Torotoro, Sucre, Around Cochabamba and Cordillera de los Frailes.

23 Nov 2009

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