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Tropical Lowlands (Bolivia) : Santa Cruz (department, Bolivia) : Samaipata
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Samaipata main square

Samaipata is a small town in the Santa Cruz Department Bolivia at an altitude of 1600m.

Get in

By car

  • From Santa Cruz it takes about 2.5 to 3 hours. Shared taxis at : 30bs per person, whole taxi will cost 120bs or 130 with pick up, taking private option is recommended if your a budget traveler as Bolivians can fit an incredible amount of people in to the small car. Be aware though, the smell they emit when in close proximity is equivalent to something between rotting vegetables and grass clippings, which is accented with a light whiff of horse manure. Enjoy your ride :0)
  • Expresso Samaipata (Av. Omar Chavez Ortiz 1147 esquina Soliz de Olguin - Telf. 333-5067). From the terminal, take bus number 8 for 1.5B to get there, or a taxi for 10B. They leave with at least 4 passengers. Takes between 2 hours in most cases, but can be as much as 4 with a landslide or some road works.
  • El Fuerte (2do Anillo Av. Grgota esq. Aruma - Telf. 359-8958)

Get around

Walk The easiest way to get around the pueblo is on foot. It's still difficult given how many people will simply be in your way at all times. Bolivians think messing with Gringos is hilarious.

Taxi Most day excursions require a taxi. Agree fare before departing, a local ride costs 10bs or so per person. Almost everything is a set price, but if there's only one driver you may be able to get him down a bit lower.

Motorbike Martin - the Dutch guy rents motorbikes, he lives in direction of Zoo, ask around for his number or pay him a visit. Easy to drive and fun for a day trip to Cuevas or El Fuerte.


Walk 2km out of town from near the mercado municipal to the animal refugio. (Signposted along the way). There are some birds and monkeys and other animals which like to play and say hello. 7 BOL.


Basically you have to hire a guide to see everything except for the Cuevas waterfalls and the ruins, so if you aren't into the whole guided tour thing your options may be limited here. Although, to be fair, Samaipata is still a good place to relax for a few days even if your a true independent traveler.

  • Cafes. Hang out in one of the nice little Cafes on the square. Drink some coffee, eat some food, and use the WiFi.
  • Get Food Poisoning. You're in Bolivia, it's going to happen. Buy some anti diarrhea pills, you'll need them.
  • Markets and Street Vendors. Go to the market and haggle over the price of eggs. They get really mad, which is hilarious. They will try to give you awful fruit and veggies, and their 'pride' in their 'work' will make them become indignant and send you out of the Mercado. Better deals and higher quality fruits and veggies are to be had in the street, not in the covered market.
El Fuerte - Inca frontier
  • El Fuerte. This UNESCO World Heritage site is not really a fuerte but a holy place the pre-inca and Incas used to stand on ceremonies. Some traveler's refer to this mystical place as "overrated." If you can see the Incas in one's mind's eye, the place would be very impressive. However, nobody can really ever tell what anything is, so you'll be disappointed instead. Entry price is 50 Bs for foreigners. The very hike (~8 km one way) to this site from Samaipata is an experience by itself. It's pretty, but you'll breath in a lot of dust. You may be better off just catching one of the many cabs coming too and fro.
  • Amboro Park. Offering hikes in the cloud forest. You can hire a guide from one of the agencies downtown. This is more of a must, because there are no trails and you won't be able to hike by yourself. Tours are on a scale based on people going, and could be as cheap as 100 Bs. for 4 people. Normal prices are about 175 Bs. or so. The more people you get the cheaper it is.

Other tourist attractions are the following areas:

  • Bella Vista and Volcanes mountain ranges (Sandstone mountains with different types of forest, rivers and jungle in canyons and valleys)
  • Cuevas - easy to visit waterfalls with a beautiful area to discover on your own. You can swim and hang out at the little beaches, pick oranges, and go for little hikes. It's a decent little day trip. There are great views of the lush green mountains and stony cliffs surrounding the area. Pagina de Web: [7]; Website [8] Cost is 10 Bs. entrance fee plus whatever a taxi costs. Should be about 30-40 Bs.
  • Condor Mountain, to visit on clear days. The hike will take a long day with 4 hours car driving and six hours spectacular hiking. A perfect alternative to the Colca Canyon in Peru. Condors almost always appear around midday. Day tours are offered to CM and the waterfall.
  • La Pajcha waterfall, close to the condor mountain, great for camping
  • There´s some great but simple canyoning through spectaculair canyons, self guiding hikes but not in rainy season December-February
  • Other destinations are Vallegrande, Pucará and La Higuera (where Che Guevara was killed) and Laguna Quirusillas. The highway from Santa Cruz city to Samaipata is very scenic.



  • Descanso en las Alturas-Pizzeria, Calle Bolivar Final, (00591)944-6072.
  • Tierra Libre, (by the main square, just ask). Great, delicious and original bolivian dishes with a twist. Massive portions. Really friendly owner. Also has a beer garden. Perfect! Chicken Teriaki av. 40 BOB.
  • La Oveja Negra, (two blocks from main square). 6pm+. Dutch owned gringo favourite bar/rest. Substantial portions of chicken/veg curry, chilli con carne, goulash. Plus sumptuous apple crumble. Kind owners. Board games and darts too av. 30 BOB.
  • Posada del Sol restobar. Try newly open Restobar at Posada del Sol! Food is great and drinks are first class!
  • La Cocina, Calle Sucre (Close to the Plaza), [1]. Food from the world with handmade breads, tortillas and yufkas.


La Oveja Negra Owned by a Dutch couple and run by friendly youngsters, this bar has a pub feel to it.

Che Wilson Populated by teenagers and open only on the weekends, this place is still one of the only spots in the sleepy village for 'nightlife'.

  • La Boheme, Central Plaza. Just in the corner of the central plaza, you can't miss it. It's the only real bar in Samaipata, and one of the few in Bolivia. Just check tripadvisor if you doubt it!
  • La Cocina, Calle Sucre, [2]. Fast food from the world with handmade breads, tortillas and yufkas.


  • Finca "La Víspera" An Unsurpassed Paradisiacal Retreat, where the owners welcome those visitors who long for silence and nature. [9] Guesthouses, Horses, Camping, Garden Café.
  • La Posada del Sol, [3]. Three blocks from the main plaza on a hill with spectacular views. Boasts a great breakfast, and includes a made-to-order menu for guests available all day. Prices are a bargain and service is attentive. Owners can arrange tours, hikes, bus tickets, and assist with transportation.
  • Residencial Vargas - simple rooms from 20 Bs. Lovely owners.
  • Andoriña Hostal, Art & Culture, Calle Campero (2 1/2 blocks before main square), 00 591 (0) 3 944 6333 (), [5]. checkin: 24 hours; checkout: 24 hours. Great views from balconies and rooms, fresh breakfast included. Here you can meet other travelers. The owners focus on more sustainable tourism and have lots of tips for hiking and other activities. 40BOL inc breakfast.
  • El Jardin, Calle Arenales final s/n (2 cuadras del mercado), 0/73119461, [6]. Rooms for 35B per person, which is among the cheapest in town. The value you get for the money is among the best you'll find in Bolivia. The place is more like a campus, with several different buildings and a large green space separating it all. If money is tight they also have camping for 15B and can give you use of their oven and barbecue. If you are with your partner they have some clay igloo, snork house looking things for about 45B per person. There is a kitchen, it's mediocre but will do in a pinch if you're just trying to cook something simple. There is also a Café which you can get breakfast at, and a library. Rumor has it you can sleep for free if you work in the garden, but it's season dependent. Hippies love the place, and you will see them sitting around the campfire at night and lounging in the hammocks during the day wearing those ridiculous pajama pants. There are hot, propane heated showers and clean bathrooms. The owners are a friendly young couple, the staff are Australians as of May 2013. [email protected] (email address doesn't work)
  • Vivero Sarita, 2 blocks from the Village Plaza, 591-7-368-4035. checkin: 11 AM; checkout: 12 Noon. For a truly cultural experience, stay with Dona Sarita in her rustic beautiful and peaceful guesthouse which is closest to the Village Plaza, Market and Restaurants. Her lush garden showcases over 400 species of plants, flowers and ferns. The fresh coffee made from the coffee beans in her garden, her delicious dishes and welcoming warmth gives a feeling as a home away from home for a very affordable price. Hot water showers, dorm or private rooms are available and fresh breakfast is included. She also has a local contact named "Don Gilberto" who is the original hiker tour guide of the village. Call for reservations or just arrive.

Get out

Bus to Sucre is 70 bolivanos. However, road is in really bad shape and journey can easily take whole day. Flight from Santa Cruz is very cheap (less than $50) and takes only 30min! Taking a bus is not really safe, either.

Bus to Cochabamba from nearby town Mairana is ~40 BOB. Ask locals in Samaipata when does this bus leave. From Samaipata to Mairana is half an hour and 30-50 BOB (depends on the number of persons) with shared taxi.


There is no cash machine in town. Cooperativa la Merced will give cash advance on Visa or Mastercard during working hours, you can also get cash advance in nearby Mairana. Best take enough cash with you from Santa Cruz.

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