Worth a Trip: Candelaria & Icla

To experience Central Highlands culture in an environment unmediated by tourism, head to the more off-the-beaten-path villages of Candelaria or Icla, both to the south of Tarabuco.

The former, around 88km southeast of Sucre, produces some of the highest quality hand weavings – blankets, rugs, ponchos and bags – in the local style. The community has established a weaving association, which owns a museum and textile store that explain the meaning and significance of their intricate designs. The store has a large selection of the same high-quality weaving found in Sucre, but at lower prices, with 100% of the profits going back into the small fair-trade association.

Some Sucre operators run tours leaving for Candelaria on Saturday, staying the night and proceeding to Tarabuco’s market on Sunday morning. The weaving association can also arrange stays in private homes, but this is best arranged in advance through an agency in Sucre. Do not arrive in town without an arrangement for accommodations, as there are no formal hotels.

Icla, another 13km south, is set in an imposing canyon dripping with waterfalls and riddled with caves, some with interesting geological formations and cave paintings. It's remote and extremely beautiful, with scores of dinosaur footprints in the surrounding area. The local government is trying to promote trekking in the region. Homestays are available; try asking for Doña Nora or Doña Rosa.

Bus company 12 de Marzo has a daily departure at 4pm from Sucre to Candelaria (B$15) and Icla (B$20, four hours); buses leave from Bustillos near the bus terminal. Return trips to Sucre leave from Icla at around 1pm.