BOLIVIA – FROM SANTA CRUZ TO SAMAIPATA

Now it was time to discover more places in Bolivia! Early in the morning we took a flight to Santa Cruz with the airline Amaszonas. After an hour seeing impressing landscapes from the sky, we landed and actually were a little disappointed because the climate was not as nice as we had been promised but at least it was not raining. All the locals we met were actually talking about the weather because normally there are spring temperatures in this region but  the so-called “Surazo” was bringing the cold breeze from Argentina and Chile! Our driverguide Javier picked us up and we drove through the different rings “anillos” to get an impression of the city Santa Cruz.

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Afterwards we started our journey to the little town Samaipata. We passed by many plantations of mandarinas, yuca and mango trees. On the way of the 4-hours ride we made different stops. First we took a steep ride offroad to the “Refugio de Volcanes”. It is a nice route also for mountain bikers (a group of bikers actually passed us). And if you have an additional 1-2 nights I would definitely recommend to stay in the ecolodge of the refugio to go for some great hikes and explore the beautiful surroundings. I must say that this landscape of the “Refugio de los Volcanoes” has actually been one of the most impressing and beautiful ones during my trip in Bolivia. We were very lucky as we were able to observe condors at this amazing place!

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Our next stop were the waterfalls “Las Cuevas”. It is just a short nice ecological walk of about half an hour to see the three waterfalls. Another attraction in this surrounding is the “Laguna Volcanes”. Here you can go for a hike around the lagoon and walk through subtropical forests with palm trees and bamboo. Furthermore there is a hotel resort with a golf course for people that look for more luxury vacation.

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Our next visit was to “El Fuerte” which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. It is said that it is the last place where the Incas arrived. There they have held many ceremonies and it was a place for political, religious, spiritual and cultural encounters. It is the only and biggest stone in the world with this carving and a size of 220m to 66m.

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Afterwards we arrived in Samaipata. This small town lies in a valley and has about 4.000 inhabitants. Its name is Quechua and means “rest in the high altitude / descanso en las alturas”. And it definitely is a charming town to rest – we loved this little colonial town!

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Near there is the Amboró National Park which is perfect to go for a great hike through the cloud forest and take a deep breath of the pure fresh air and just enjoy the beautiful nature by walking through dense woods of fern.  Surrounded by these plants, we felt like in Jurassic Park. It is a wonderful place to observe a variety of flora and fauna.

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Unfortunately we were not able to do all the activities that are possible in this region. For example, you can also go on a tour to see condors where you go for a car ride of about 2 hours and then 2 hours of walking up the mountain. It can also be combined with a visit to the waterfalls. Another possibility is to do a 6-7 hours hike to Bellavista where you can observe beautiful flora and fauna.

Furthermore you can visit the colonial town Totora and take a ride to the city of Cochabamba where you can visit the ruins of Incallajta on the way. Actually it is also recommendable to start your trip through Bolivia arriving in Santa Cruz as it lies at an altitude of only 416m and this way you can travel your way up to higher altitude places crossing the whole country until La Paz.

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