One of the best day trips that you can take from Sucre is a visit to Tarabuco’s indigenous market. Bolivia is home to dozens of indigenous ethnic groups, and you’ll be able to see quite a few of these groups at the Tarabuco market.
Is Tarabuco’s Sunday Market Worth Visiting?
To keep it simple, the market itself was not all that impressive. If you plan on visiting Tarabuco to go on a touristic shopping spree, you will likely be disappointed. The main attraction of Tarabuco is that it is one of Bolivia’s largest indigenous markets. Indigenous people come from all over once a week to buy and sell anything and everything. Most of those things won’t be of any interest to the average tourist.
However, if you want to visit to have a unique cultural experience, then Tarabuco is one of the most authentic that you can get. With Sucre being extremely quiet on Sundays anyway, you can’t really go wrong with a quick getaway from the lazy city. The scenery around town is beautiful and it is always nice to be out in the mountains and countryside.
How To Get To Tarabuco Sunday Market
From Sucre, you can catch a colectivo to Tarabuco for 10 Bolivianos, or about $1.50 US. It costs the same amount to get back to Sucre from Tarabuco, making this $3 round trip a very affordable adventure. I’ve seen tour agencies offer trips to Tarabuco for as much as 130 Bolivianos, which is quite ridiculous. Just do it on your own.
The colectivo stop is a bit of a walk from the center of town. It took me about 15-20 minutes to walk there from my hostel, but you can also take a taxi if you’ve got a big group and don’t feel like making the walk. Considering that you’ll likely be up early on a Sunday after a big Saturday night party at KulturBerlin, a taxi might seem significantly more appealing.
If you have Maps.Me or Google Maps, you can look up “Parada a Tarabuco” to find where the colectivos stop. It’s on Calle Tupaj Yupanqui and you will have a hard time missing the long line of mini-vans. Hop in and enjoy the 90-minute ride to Tarabuco. It’s long but it is scenic and the road is thankfully paved the entire way. Once you arrive in Tarabuco, just walk towards the main square and the sprawling market begins there.
How Much Time Do You Need For Tarabuco?
Accounting for the three hours transportation, a trip to Tarabuco should take about five hours in total. Walking through the market, even at a leisurely pace should not take that long. While the market is large, you likely won’t be stopping all too often since most of the items being sold are not catering to tourist fancies. Two hours should be more than enough to get your fill of the cultural experience and maybe have a quick break for lunch. The food here is some of the cheapest I’ve ever found in the world, and I had a dish of fried chicken, potatoes, and choclo for 5 Bolivianos. That’s less than a dollar.
What You Can Buy At Tarabuco Sunday Market
The cool thing about Tarabuco’s Sunday market is that it is very much a local market. Aside from the few shops that have began to cater to the trickle of tourists coming in, the vast majority of the massive market is as local as it gets. This can go one of two ways. I didn’t come here to shop, although I did walk away with an alpaca man-purse. I bought it mostly so I could break my 100 Boliviano bill and get something to eat but it’s definitely grown on me. But back to my non-man-purse-related point.
If you come to Tarabuco to shop, you might leave disappointed. If you came here for a unique cultural experience, then approaching Tarabuco Sunday market with open eyes can be very exciting. The people will be selling everything from fruits and vegetables to shovels and used baby clothes. I’d estimate that you don’t care about 99% of what is actually being sold, but I guarantee it’s much more exciting than a trip to Wal-Mart. The indigenous people of Bolivia come out in full force and you can see various traditional outfits and garbs. Seriously, there’s so much more than just the Quechua and their iconic bowler hats.
A visit to Tarabuco’s Sunday market can be a very fascinating way to spend the day. It’s hard to capture the hustle and bustle of the market with a blog post and a few pictures, so it’s best to experience it yourself. Visiting local markets across the world is always a unique adventure, and Tarabuco’s is no different.