Built in 1945 with the cooperation of Mexico, Angostura was the biggest irrigation project yet attempted in Bolivia, and still provides over 75 million cubic meters of water to the region, and is a gorgeous place to take a short boat ride.
We were a bit disappointed about the lack of touristy things to do inside the city of Cochabamba. A few interesting buildings and churches, but you would expect more for a city of its size. Luckily, the surrounding areas definitely picked up the slack. Beautiful small towns, mountains for trekking and areas of incredible natural beauty, such as Pairumani Park.
One of the most impressive buildings in Cochabamba is the Convent of Santa Teresa, on the corner of Ecuador and Aguirre. This still-active convent of Carmelite nuns was established in 1726, and is now open to the public for tours. The nuns live separated from the rest of humanity, hidden away from prying eyes in sections of the temple which are strictly off-limits.
The charming village of Tarata makes a perfect day trip from Cochabamba. It's a quick 45-minute trip in a minibus, which costs just five Bolivianos, or about $0.70. Only about 8000 people live in Tarata, but this town boasts a disproportionate amount of importance in Bolivia's history.
Cochabamba is perhaps most well-known around the world for its water protests of 2000, which shut down the city for days. The "Water Wars" pitted farmers and the working poor against a government-backed multinational consortium, who had taken control of the city's water supply. Cochabamba's struggle was unusually successful, and has become an inspiration for those who rail against against corporate greed and injustice.
Cochabamba, with its wide streets and western-style restaurants, feels like a city awash in money. Although that's not the case at all, at least one spot in town does exude wealth and genteel living: the palace of Simon I. Patiño, alternately known as the Tin Baron, or The Andean Rockefeller.
Completed in 1994 to commemorate the 1988 visit of Pope John Paul II, Cochabamba's mighty Christ towers over the city from the top of San Pedro hill. With his arms open toward the city, it seems as though Cochabamba is about to get a bear hug from the big guy. Rio's Jesus measures exactly 33 meters in height: one meter for each year of the savior's life. Cochabamba's is 33 meters and 20 centimeters, which locals attribute to the fact that Jesus lived for 33 years and a bit.
Cochabamba lays in the middle of Bolivia, both in terms of latitude and altitude. The biggest city of the country's extensive valley range, it boasts Bolivia's best climate and is known as its "breadbasket". Surrounded by mountains and in easy reach of national parks and the jungle, there are plenty of things to see. All of which makes the lack of tourism in Cochabamba nothing less than astounding.