After La Paz, with its quirky chaotic sprawl, Cochabamba almost felt like a whole new country. It was definitely the most developed city that we visited in Bolivia, dotted with modern apartment blocks, upmarket restaurants, cute cafes and a plethora of clothes shops. This combined with the wide walkways, sunny central plaza and super friendly locals meant that we took a liking to Cochabamba almost immediately.
We booked an Airbnb staying in a private room of a new and modern apartment, which turned out to be one of the best Airbnbs we have ever stayed in. Our flatmate Ernesto was a fantastic host who chatted to us in extremely proficient English, and gave us lots of recommendations for things to do both in Cochabamba and in Bolivia as a whole. We also had an incredible set of memory foam pillows which, after an alarming number of pillows we have encountered on this trip that seem to be stuffed with nothing more than cotton wool balls, were absolutely amazing. It was very difficult not to take them with us when we left!
Cochabamba has a reputation as a top foodie destination in Bolivia, so naturally we had a lot of eating to get through during our stay! One of our top meals was at a restaurant called Paprika, where we got an absolutely delicious steak fondue to share – followed by some equally delicious cheesecake! Another favourite was a restaurant in the central plaza called D’Fakus, where we went one day for lunch. Like most local restaurants in Latin America D’Fakus offers a set lunch menu, but this was one of the best we have tried on the entire trip – for just £2.50 each we got a four course lunch including a salad, soup, bread, a delicious lomo saltado style dish with chips, a dessert and unlimited refills of fresh fruit juice. We almost regretted not giving ourselves more time in Cochabamba to go back and eat at D’Fakus again!
As well as loads of great places to eat, Cochabamba is also home to its very own Jesus Christ statue, called Cristo de la Concordia (Christ of Peace). Sitting on top of San Pedro Hill towards the outskirts of the town, Cochabamba’s statue was modeled after – and is actually slightly larger than – the famous Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. At 34m tall it is now the second largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world, coming just behind the Christ the King statue in Poland which stands at 36m. It is possible to access the statue by climbing a 2,000 step staircase, but we decided to take the simpler and lazier option of the cable car. Standing at the base of the statue gives you an incredible panoramic view of the whole of Cochabamba and the statue itself is very impressive to see up close, so we think it is well worth a visit. Plus we imagine the crowds were not nearly so bad as at the statue in Rio!
With all the amazing food and great places to wander around, it felt like our stay in Cochabamba absolutely flew by. Before we knew it we were packing up for our final stop in Bolivia: Uyuni and the Salt Flats.