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Revision as of 20:18, 3 September 2009

Santa Cruz (or Santa Cruz de la Sierra) is the second most populous city in Bolivia, and is the capital of the department of Santa Cruz. It is considered the most economically prosperous city in the country.

Contents

Understand

In contrast to La Paz and the other major Bolivian cities located high in the Andes, Santa Cruz lies at an altitude of 416 meters, and its climate is distinctly tropical.

Get in

If you arrive during carnival it is almost impossible to change money as everything except markets, restaurants and internet cafes are closed. Traders will accept U.S. dollars but at half the going rate. Also be prepared to be pelted with ink filled water balloons, soaked with water bombs and covered in string spray. Wear clothes you don`t mind having permanently stained.

The bus station listed in the Santa Cruz web site is no longer in use. The new one (half completed) is a 15 Bs taxi fare from the centre of town. Of the three hostels listed with 24 hour reception, the only one that does is on tres pasos, a couple of km out of the city center.

By train

The "death train" runs on some of the world's most bumby tracks from Quijarro, close to Corumbá on the Brazilian side. First class is about 50 Bs, Pullman with reclining seats is 100 Bs. The journey takes 16-22 hours. There is a faster more expensive "Ferrobus", but it has not been thoroughly researched why people would want to go faster on those horrible tracks. Biting insects are plentiful, so get repellent before you go. Departure/arrival is from the combined bus and train station, "Terminal Bimodal".

Apparently a "nicer" train (with air-conditioning and a restaurant-wagon) runs 2-3 times a week, and on other days you have the worse version of the Train of Death.

The railway between Santa Cruz and Quijarro is operated by Ferroviaria Oriental S.A. [1].

From Corumbá the bus-ride to Sao Paulo takes about 24 hours more. If you're going from Santa Cruz to Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires you might want to consider flying with Gol instead. The price of the flight won't be that much more than the price of combined train- and bus ticket. -But of course traveling in awful conditions on the Train/Bus gives you more exciting stories to tell from your trip.


By plane

Viru Viru International Airport (Code: VVI) is Bolivia's largest and most modern airport, and a hub for national carrier LAB [2].

Major airlines have daily flights to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, mainly from La Paz (about 4 flights per day: early in the morning, in the afternoon, early in the evening and late in the night). From Cochabamba (about 2 flights per day). Flights to international cities is also daily (Sao Paulo, Brasil - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Lima, Peru - etc. there are daily flights).

Note February 2008: The text about LAB, Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano, needs an update. The airline suspended operations on April 1, 2007.

About Bolivian airlines and flying within Bolivia: Bolivia#Get_around

Aerosur airlines is another good option on getting to Santa Cruz. They offer direct flights from Miami to Santa Cruz a few times a week. They also offer flights from Madrid to Santa Cruz.

By Bus

There are many bus companies from another cities, like Cochabamba, La Paz, Sucre, Trinidad, that go to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. You can arrive from La Paz in about 18 hours, and it takes about 10 hours from Cochabamba. The Bolivia Vice-Ministry of Tourisum has a bus schedules on their website: [3]. Look under Destinations and the area you are interested in traveling.

Get around

By Bus

Micro 17 circulates the first ring. To get to the center from Parque Urbano take Micro 69 or 100.

Shared Taxis circulate the rings as well. Look for the signs on the roof. Faster than Micros.

Fare for both is 1.50 Bs.

See

In Santa Cruz you can book some great excursions, like a trekking in Park Amboro, Noel Kempff, a river boat trip in the Amazon region, cultural excursions to the Jesuit Missions etc.

A good and reliable tour agency is Dutch owned Ruta Verde [4]. They are located 3 blocks from the plaza, Calle 21 de Mayo 332. Also we Recomonded www.explorepantanal.com make tours in Pantanal of Brasil and Bolivia.

Santa Cruz hosts one of the most famous soccer academy in the world. "Academia de Futbol Tahuichi Aguilera". Their unique and original way of training young soccer players to become professionals in the future. They train in rivers and ran through mountains of sand. Young players from all over the world come to this academy to experience its training method. </see>

Do

Eat

There are several good restaurants in the north of the city.

  • Picolo's is one of the local favorites. There, you can get some of the best ice cream in Santa Cruz. Look for the small Jesus statute on your tourist maps, most of them are in the Avenida Monseñór Rivero.
  • Casa del Camba on the second ring, Tel: 342-7864. Excellent outdoor style restuarant with option to eat indoors as well. Has live music and dance floor with a traditional Santa Cruz atmosphere. Very good service, clean and reasonably priced. Friday and Saturdays are busy it can handle a lot of people.
  • Michelango's, Calle Warnes and Chuquisaca. Serves excellent Italian style food in a great atmosphere.
  • The Irish Pub in the main plaza is a great place for meeting other tourists, locals, watching sports on TV and enjoying good food, beer, music and a cozy atmosphere. Although service can be slow at times it is still a great place to hang out and there are balconys that have wonderful views looking onto the main plaza.
  • Pasteleria Glamour [5]is probably the BEST Cafeteria for a late afternoon tea with typical small snacks and cakes. Located some four blocks south of the "Plaza", on Calle Independencia. Phone 333-6633, may deliver to radiotaxi.
  • There are two vegetarian restaurants to be found in one single street. The service isn´t great, but hardcore veggies will be happy there.
  • Another good tip for small snacks and eating are the Cafeterias, Cake and Ice stores in the Avenida Ayacucho (more or less the corner España) - Dumbo is quite good.
  • Design Center, Second Ring between René Moreno St. and Moseñor Santiestevan St.. There are a big foud court with a lot of fast food options: from vegetarian salads to argentinian grilled steaks. Inside the mall, you can also found several stores of famous brands: Calvin Klein, Hollister, Aberchrombie & Fitch...

Drink

Avenida Busch is a good place to start a longer night. There are several Pubs there and you are still close to the center. If you want some classic italian cappuccino, espresso, frappuccino or croissant there is the "Espresso del Oriente" Cafe-Pub on Bolivar Street 272 located two and a half blocks far from the main Plaza. A during-the-week runner is the Irish Pub at the main Plaza.

Equipetrol is the party place, try any club or disco there.

Av. Monseñor Rivero is a popular boulevard if you want a coffee or a drink.

Sleep

There are some hotels close to the bus terminal, which is a bit further away from the center. A large Bolivia Hotels and Hostels Directory is www.boliviahostels.com [6], they offer accommodation in all country and you can make reservations for free.

  • Hotel Suecia - double rooms from 80 bolivianos
  • Jodanga Backpackers Hostel [7] - pool, Jacuzzi, pool table, cable TV - dorms from 55 Bs
  • Residencial 7 de Mayo - double rooms 60 bolivianos
  • Alojamiento Viajero - basic rooms with hard beds for 20 Bs. Next to the Samaipata Taxi company.
  • Ambar Hostel (Ambar Hostel), calle Mercado 554 (5 Blocks from main plaza), +591 3 3358959, [8]. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Cute and small house on Santa Cruz city center. Helpful staff, clean and large rooms, pool, 2 BBQ areas. This is the place for backpackers in Santa Cruz if you are looking for a cheap and well located hostel. single 45 BOB.


Contact

A good internet cafe is at the corner of Avenida Cañoto and Buenos Aires. Its hyperfast, air conditioned and cheap.

Cheap call centers can be found everywhere in the city. Tel Viva use communication over the internet and carge therefore only 0.50 bolivianos/minute.


Get out

There is a bus to Cochabamba, takes 10 hours, for 30 or 40 Bolivianos.

Shared Taxis to Samaipata leave from Av. Omar Chavez Ortiz and Soliz de Olguin. They leave with 4 passengers, 25Bs. Takes 3 hours.


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