Introduction

Oruro's Carnaval celebrations are famous throughout South America for their riotous parties, lavish costumes and elaborate parades. The culmination of the city's rich dance and musical heritage, the festivities attract bands, dance troupes and revelers from across Bolivia and beyond. Outside Carnaval season, there are some worthwhile museums to visit in the city and plenty to see in the surrounding area.

At first glance Oruro is a sprawl of sun-baked buildings in shades of terracotta and dusty tan, but there's something about this gritty miners' city that endears it to visitors. In many ways Oruro (which means 'where the sun is born') is an intriguing place, where 90% of the inhabitants are of indigenous heritage. Orureños (Oruro locals) refer to themselves as quirquinchos (armadillos), after the carapaces of their charangos (traditional Bolivian ukulele-like instruments). The city makes for an oddly atavistic experience that some may find intoxicating.