Apparently Bolivia has one of the largest collections of dinosaur footprints in the world. Just outside Sucre you can find the Cretaceous Park, which is at the site of a cement quarry. Workers accidently uncovered an entire mountain wall of dinousaur footprints embedded into the ground after they exploded the side of the mountain. Part of the wall fell down recently (you can see a triangle shape in the photo below), and although a significant amount of the footprints were lost, interestingly enough, another layer below was exposed. These were even older still.
The footprints were once horizontal of course, but the collision of tectonic plates that lifted up the Andes also pushed up smaller mountains containing the fosillised footprints. The Cretaceous Park has replicated all the dinosaurs whose footprints have been found at the site. We weren't sure what to expect, but it was really interesting and the replicas were incredibly realistic!
While we were in Sucre Mark went on a three day hike through the local hills. The hike visited the villages of Maragua and Potolo and featured dramatic, buckled landscapes with near vertical tilts of old sedimentary layers.
The hike is notable for the dinosaur prints set in lava. The ground is currently used for agriculture and only partially uncovered, so who knows how many more are in the area.
The footprint of what is likely to be a large predator.
Mark tried to match the stride. The step almost split him in two.
Likely to be a type of titanosauros.
During the hike local kids would come running down to sell bracelets and fossils they had dug up. Mark bought a fossilised sea shell (below), which was found at around 3,500 metres above sea level. A good demonstration of the changes the land has gone through in South America!
Mark went hiking with Condor Trekkers, a non-profit organisation that helps to support village economies. The guides were great and the accommodation was surprisingly good. Highly recommended! Condor Trekkers also recently opened a café not far from the main plaza in Sucre. Its all non-profit and the money they make goes back into training local staff. The food is all really cheap, good quality vegetarian food, which is a nice change from the standard South American fare!
The large, four room huts (plus a bathroom) are run by the community.