The folklore festival’s roots in Christian traditions and indigenous myths and deities makes this a unique cultural experience. Spend two nights in Oruro during the weekend prior to Ash Wednesday to witness the triumph of good over evil displayed in the form of dances and music. Each costume, each gesture, each character, color, and movement have a symbolism and meaning in this carnival.
Day 1 : Arrive Oruro Day 2 : Parade of Dancers Day 3 : San Jose Mine. Return to La Paz
Watch the parade from reserved seats along the main route
Enter the San Jose silver mine, in production since 1589
Listen as your guide recounts the traditions of the festival
Early this morning, we depart by private vehicle for a 4 hour drive to Oruro. Upon arriving, transfer to your hotel and check-in. With your private guide, explore Oruro, a mining town whose name means “where the sun is born”. Visit the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavon, the site believed to be the inspiration for one of the main stories told during the Oruro Carnival. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary’s image appeared before miners in a mine shaft. The mine is know as the Socavon de la Virgen (Grotto of the Virgin), and the church has been built on this site with the Virgin of Socavon becoming the patron saint of Oruro’s miners.
Today is the main parade with dance groups coming from all over the country and regaled in colorful, ornate costumes that compete in splendor with those found in Rio’s Carnaval. These costumes, the rythym of the music, and the choreography all tell stories based on Christian symbols and stories as well as Uru and Inca legends from the pre-Columbian times. The most famous is La Diablada, or Dance of the Devils, a story of the underworld that originated among Bolivian miners and is now quite famous throughout the world.
The day is spent with your private guide to witness this spectacle and to learn the stories, both traditional and modern, involved with a festival described by UNESCO as “a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” You will have a reserved seats along the main parade route as you watch the procession of an estimated 30,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians over the course of a twenty hour celebration. Travelers have the flexibility to go back to the hotel at any point to relax and return energized to the parade.
Day 3 San Jose Mine. Return to La Paz
To take into consideration a long night of watching the parade, breakfast will be late, followed by a visit to the San Jose silver mine that has been working since 1589. Walk around the mine property and hear about its history and witness the continued cultural and economic importance of this active mine. Travelers have the chance to enter the mine and “visit” Tio Supay, the deity who owns the mines and rules the underworld. The miners seek to pacify him through offerings in order to prevent accidents from occurring underground.
This afternoon, say goodbye to Oruro and return to La Paz..
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.