There are some worthwhile excursions in the warm and fertile Tarija valley, which is notable for its sleepy villages, easy pace of life and beautiful countryside. Just outside Tarija itself are rich fossil deposits that attract palaeontologists from all over the world, while further afield you can visit the bodegas and vineyards of the world’s highest wine-producing region; the spring (Jan–April) is a great time to visit the latter, as this is when the vineyards come to fruit. Above the Tarija valley to the west, the Reserva Biológica Cordillera del Sama has striking high Andean scenery and an Inca trail that makes an excellent hike.Read More
The first vines in the region were planted by Franciscan monks, who found the soil and climate of the Tarija valley ideal for producing wine. During the colonial era Tarija produced much of the wine consumed in Potosí, as well as large quantities of singani, a fierce, roughly 40° proof, white-grape brandy that is extremely popular throughout Bolivia. Today, Tarija’s expanding wine industry produces well over two million litres of wine a year. Wine consumption within Bolivia is growing, and production techniques in the main bodegas have been modernized, with quality improving all the time. The main obstacle to further increases in production is the influx of contraband wine from Chile and Argentina, which is much cheaper than Bolivian wine, as no duty is paid on it.