Coming down … to tropical Bolivia!

Sleepy Samaipata.

We were umming and ahhing about where to go to next.  I had done much of the Andean side of Bolivia all those years ago and wanted to also see some things that I had not seen before. A tip off on Samaipata; sub-tropical climate, not that far from Sucre and set in the stunning wilderness in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental (parallel mountain range to the Bolivian Andes). And at 1650 metres above sea level. I repeat 1650 metres above sea level!!! That may not seem like a big deal, but considering that we had spent the last several weeks in very high altitude (equals cold and hard to breathe) this was a more than appealing option. Next destination SOLD!  Buses being buses in Bolivia, we arrived at our destination at 4am.  Luckily it was a small and safe enough place for us to hang around in until dawn broke and the hour was reasonable enough for us to go and look for some accommodation.

We finally settled on La Posada del Sol.  We only stayed a night as we felt that it was overpriced for what it offered.  A gringo(foreigner)/local partnership, perhaps they had gotten a little too comfortable and forgotten about what really mattered.  You couldn’t do this and you couldn’t do that; it was totally geared at money, money. And don’t, I repeat don’t do your own laundry! Having said that, we did meet a wonderful couple at the cafe there; Roy and Raquel from Cochabamba.  Roy was a professor and specialist in Andean rock art and Raquel a batik artist.  Really lovely people whom we spent hours chatting to.

We ended up spending the next few days at the friendly, family-run Residencial Kim. Basic and clean rooms with a lovely courtyard and kitchen (always a deal-clincher for me) with lovely and helpful staff.

Fresh fruit at Residencial Kim.



The place to see in Samaipata is the mystical pre-Inca site of El Fuerte, or the Fort. Just an uphill from the village but most easily accessed by public transport. We had also made some new English friends at La Posada, so we decided to go along together.
With Cat and John on the way to El Fuerte.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1998, it is not actually a military fortification, but is generally considered a PreColumbian religious site built by the Chane people, a pre-Inca culture of Arawak origin. The sculptured rock is known as one of the most impressive examples of rock art in the world. Extremely well kept it took us a couple of hours to walk around and take it all in.
Sweeping views of Samaipata.
El Fuerte.

El Fuerte.

Up close and personal.
A Room with a View.

El Fuerte.

El Fuerte.
Perspective, El Fuerte.

Samaipata flora.

Beautiful Samaipata.

Next stop, a couple of days in tropical Santa Cruz. Many years back we met a Bolivian/ English couple in Melbourne, who now live back in England (love to you both Raquel and Bodhi); Raquel’s family hail from Santa Cruz.  We told Raquel we’d go visit them, but she insisted that we go stay.  All I can say is that her parents, Emma and Angel, have got to be two of the most hospitable people I have ever met, and that goes for all of Raquel’s family, who simply could not do enough for us in the few days that we were there.  Angel went out of his way to cook for us, and various family members to show us around.  And the mangoes from the tree in the backyard … OMG! These are the ‘travelling magic moments’!
Climate wise, what a difference from the Bolivia we had seen thus far, it was both hot and humid. And so we spent the next few days just hanging out with the family; a relaxing difference from the usual sight to sight that we have been doing over the last few months.

Plaza 24 de Septiembre.
Plaza 24 de Septiembre by night, with the cathedral in the background.
With Raquel’s mum Emma, sister Lorena and little niece Mishell.

Thanks for cooking for us Master Chef Angel.

Showing us around Santa Cruz.

A day trip to  Porongo with the family.
Yucca pancakes (tortillas) in Pongo.
Alex getting ready to eat sonsos, made of yucca.
In Rio Pirai.
Angel with little Mishell.

Saying goodbye to the family.
With the emblem of Bolivia, painted by Angel.

At the Santa Cruz bus terminal … baby it’s hot inside!

And so another adventure had come to an end.  To see and experience new and different things is great, but it’s really the people that you meet that make that experience extra special. With a smile on our faces, off we went to our next destination. Cochabamba and Toro Toro here we come.

Next: National Park Toro Toro (one of Bolivia’s hidden secrets) and Cochabamba. 

Dedication: To the wonderful, wonderful Burgos family who let us into their home and treated us like their family. You went out of your way to feed us and show us as much as you could in the few days that we were in Santa Cruz.  We want you to know how much we appreciate your kind, warm and loving gestures.  You will always occupy a very special place in our hearts.  Angel and Emma your family should be honoured to have you!
Dedicacion: Para la linda, linda familia Burgos, que nos permitieron entrar su hogar nos trataron como su propia familia. Hicieron de todo , darnos de comer y mostrarnos la ciudad y alrededor en los pocos días que pasamos en Santa Cruz. Queremos que sepan que apreciamos muchísimo sus buenos, calurosos y amorosos gestos.  Siempre ocuparan un lugar muy especial en nuestros corazones. Angel y Emma su familia deben estar honrados de tenerlos en sus vidas.

Don’t count the things you do, do the things that count.” – Zig Ziglar

Follow logo

We passionately share more than 30 years of travel know-how, exploration and detours with you. We want to motivate you to experience this amazingly diverse world we live in and show you how to do it! You can subscribe to our blog as well as follow us on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram. Check out our Travel Resources to help you on your amazing journey.

One Life! Live It!
Alex & Ombi

Alex & Ombi

Ombretta (Ombi) Zanetti is a co-founder of She has been travelling the world since 1989 and since 1999 with her partner, Alex, who hails from Ecuador. They both like to venture to the lesser known places. Ombi shares her passion for different cultures through her travel stories and Alex through his lens. Come take a detour or two with them!

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe for updates, blogs and travel tips.

No spam, notifications, blog post only, updates.

Select a Country