Santa Cruz is the main transport hub for people visiting Bolivia, and many travelers will fly into the city before heading out to journey to the salt flats or to spend a few days in La Paz. This is of benefit to travelers, as it will allow them to begin their acclimatization to Bolivia’s high altitude, which can often be problematic for some people when they reach the altiplano, or high plain, of La Paz and the Uyuni salt flats. Given its location close to the Andes, there is also a wealth of outdoor activities to partake in if you are a nature lover or adventure sport enthusiast. There is plenty of wildlife watching to be done in the surrounding area, and there are many tours that will take you to the outskirts to spot some animals, especially in the Amboró National Park, just 150km away from Santa Cruz. Sand boarding is also a favorite with adrenaline junkies, as well as white water rafting and horse riding. There is certainly something for everyone in Santa Cruz, whether you want to indulge in some urban fun or prefer to hang out in the wild and get your blood pumping.
We depart from Santa Cruz in the morning hours crossing giant railway bridge at the Mamoré River, passing through San Ramon to San Javier where we break for lunch. Then we continue through an area full of rock formations while en route to Concepcion where we see many beautiful species of birds along the way including parrots, and other birds of prey such as vultures and toucans. Depending on duration of this experience you will have the opportunity to visit the three small villages of San Miguel, San Rafael and Santa Ana and their churches. The church of Santa Ana is different from all the others we have seen so far. In San Miguel we visit a workshop where we can see men working on religious statues and ornaments. In the afternoon, we return to San Ignacio de Velasco, where you can spend some time around the plaza and enjoy the pace of life in the streets of these remote towns of eastern Bolivia.
Santa Cruz’s tropical desert climate makes it pleasant to visit all year round. Winters are short but can be extremely cold, with the surazos winds from Argentina dropping the temperature sharply as night falls. It can also be quite wet during the rainy season, which runs from September to May. If you plan on visiting in the South American summer months of December, January and February, be advised that it can be quite hot and humid, but the nights during this time remain warm.
The best way to get to Santa Cruz is by plane. It is one of the country’s main tourist hubs, and its Viru Viru International Airport, situated 15km from the city centre, receives both domestic, regional and international flights from North America, Europe and other countries in South America. Alternatively you can reach Santa Cruz by bus, but Bolivian buses are notoriously unreliable, long and uncomfortable. However, they are very much a part of the true Bolivian experience, and you might want to take a bus once just to see what its like. We can arrange all internal flights and transfers for you as part of your itinerary, so just speak to one of our travel experts about your travel goals. Getting around Santa Cruz is easy, and marked taxis are cheap and safe.
Given Santa Cruz’s status as one of the wealthier and most glamourous of Bolivia’s large cities, it is no wonder that there is no shortage of high-end places to eat, drink and stay. From the upscale restaurants and cafes of the Monseñor Rivero neighbourhood, to the street vendors and food trucks that are scattered all around the city, you are sure to find something to tickle your palette. Santa Cruz is also a great place to pick up some artisanal crafts, shop in independent boutiques or grab some souvenirs for your friends at home. The city is also well connected with WiFi, and many cafes will allow you to log on.