Travel Tarija: Coimata Waterfalls

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Coimata is a little town about 1/2 hour from the city of Tarija Bolivia. Here you'll find one of the nicest hotels and a set of beautiful waterfalls.

This is a day trip with spectacular views of the valleys and mountains. Very few tour operators include Coimata in their offerings. It's one of those natural places people usually go to on their own. You can either take a taxi or a micro bus. A taxi will cost about Bs. 50 (roughly $8 dollars) one way.

Getting to Coimata is not a problem if you choose to take a micro. It'll just take a little longer and involves changing transport in the nearby town of Tomatitas. However, at under Bs. 30 round trip, it's a much cheaper way to go. The problem is getting back (more on that below.) Here's how you get there:

Walk four blocks from the central plaza (Plaza Luis de Fuentes) up Campero Street until you get to the corner of Domingo Paz Avenue. There you will see a blue bus stop sign. Here you will take the letter "A" micro to Tomatitas. Be careful!! There are TWO letter "A" micros. One goes to Tomatitas and one does not so before you get on the bus, ask the driver "Tomatitas?" and they'll tell you yes or no. Usually the bus has a small Tomatitas sign on the front but sometimes it doesn't.

This video, by the Vice Ministry of Tourism of the Government of Tarija shows the waterfalls at Coimata.

You will leave the city and when you arrive in Tomatitas, you'll see a bridge that goes across the river. At the corner of the bridge, there are several red candy and soda selling kiosks and across the street is a small adobe shed that says "Policia Nacional Tomatitas". This is where you get off. The micros don't go to Coimata.

Tomatitas itself is only one or two streets of houses and a couple of little stores and that's it. Stock up here on bottled water, soda and snacks if you haven't already done so in Tarija. You don't have to walk across the bridge. Right on the corner where you get off, small vans pass by. These go to Coimata. Flag one down. I found it hard to distinguish them from other vehicles so I crossed the bridge and flagged one down on the other side. When you stop a vehicle, ask "Coimata?" and they'll tell you yes or no. Usually they are white, grey, or dark blue and have a tiny sign but some don't.

Before getting on a mini van to Coimata, you may want to walk across the bridge to see the new eucalyptus forest park that is being built. It's enclosed by a wall and arched entrances. When it's finished people will be able to go have picnics and spend the day here. It's big.

The Coimata mini-bus will drive you through the hills and upward until arriving at Coimata. It will make several stops before you get to the final stop (parada final). It's a little red tin roofed bus stop in the middle of pretty much nowhere. The minivan stops, turns around, and heads back to the city so you can't go wrong.

Once you're off the bus you'll see there is a little stream and a house and a cobblestone path that goes into the woods. Following this path, you'll come to a set of 2 colorful buildings. One is a tiny store that doesn't have much other than sodas and toilet paper, and the other is a bathroom. Past them there are some private properties (really pretty mountain houses) and just past them is the first waterfall, where you will also see an open picnic area with a tin roof. From the bus stop to the waterfalls is under 1 kilometer. Kids can walk this easily. It's more of a walk than a hike.

Once you are up at the waterfalls, you can hike up the hill to get a better look at them. This first waterfall is small. You have to hike up behind the hill and walk almost 1/2 hour before you come to the second waterfall which is larger. Spend some time here enjoying the views of the valleys and mountains, trees and water. There is a deep open hole by the grilling area so be careful of that.

The only problem we encountered with this little day trip was how to get back to Tarija. We were told that the little minivans from Tomatitas to Coimata ran once an hour but it turns out they run every 3-4 hours so if you don't happen upon one on the road, you can be stuck up there for a very long time. It turns out they run about once an hour early in the morning between 6 and 10 or so and late in the afternoon starting at about 4 but in between hours can go by with not a car in sight. We were hungry at lunch time and wished we had planned better and brought more food.

Still, it's really a worthwhile day trip. The drive between Tomatitas and Coimata itself is very pretty with extensive sunflower and other fields and gorgeous views. Coimata is a great place for fresh air and some hiking. For more tourist attractions in Tarija click on the 'Tours' button below.

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