Santa Cruz de la Sierra Travel Guide

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Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Santa Cruz de la Sierra © Patrick Furlong
Founded by Spanish conquistador, Nuflo de Chavez in 1561, Santa Cruz is Bolivia's largest city. In contrast with many of the country's cities, it lies a mere 1,365 feet (416m) above sea level and enjoys a tropical feel. Its conditions can be a welcome break from the harshness of the Bolivian Andes.

Many travellers visit Santa Cruz as a transit destination, given that planes have an easier time landing at Santa Cruz than navigating the mountains around La Paz. That said, Santa Cruz is a fascinating travel destination in its own right, and worth at least a day or two of exploration.

Strolling through town is a great way to take in the beautiful colonial architecture. Tourists can enjoy the many shops and restaurants, or join locals in the Plaza 24 de Septiembre, where people gather to play chess, feed the pigeons, or sip wine at outdoor cafes. Santa Cruz is also known as the fashion capital of Bolivia, and locally made clothing is a popular souvenir. The city's cosmopolitan ambience extends to discos, museums and art galleries.

Santa Cruz's comfort and convenience make it an ideal base from which to explore some of Bolivia's most popular attractions. These include Park Amboro, and the historical Jesuit missions. There are also daily flights to La Paz, and buses to many other destinations.








Attractions

Amboro National Park, Bolivia © Ángel M. Felicísimo

Amboro National Park

Amboro National Park is a nature reserve in central Bolivia. Its wildlife population includes more than 800 species of birds, and many endangered animals such as the puma, jaguar and spectacled bear. Hikers will encounter a diverse terrain, which covers the northern Chaco, Andes...  see full details



Jesuit Missions © Bamse

Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos

The Jesuit Church sent missionaries to a number of Bolivia's rural areas in the 16th century, with instructions to 'civilise' and convert indigenous tribes. Today, travellers can visit the churches they built and cultivated. Many vibrant villages lie around these beautiful colonial structures, which...  see full details



Samaipata, Bolivia © Patrick Furlong

Samaipata

The tiny village of Samaipata lies two hours' drive southwest of Santa Cruz. Its home to an array of local tribes and some beautiful examples of Spanish colonial architecture. Visitors will encounter several important attractions, including El Fuerte, which is a set of pre-Incan...  see full details


Tour operator G.A.P Adventures has for the past 14 years specialised in unique, small group, grassroots adventure travel experiences in the world's most wild places, going off the beaten track into the heart of the destination to meet the locals who call it home. G.A.P. Adventures offers several expeditions to the Bolivian Amazon and Andes.
Intrepid Travel, one of the world's leading suppliers of small group adventures, focuses on getting off the beaten track, interacting with the locals and having real life experiences throughout Bolivia.