Bolivia has many a vast landscape, ranging from the altitudinous Andes to the lush Amazon rainforest. The ‘capital’ city itself sits at roughly 4,000m above the sea!
Naturally, when you travel through Bolivia, most of the time it’s cold
Luckily, there is one place on the beaten track for refuge from the freeze – Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz, like many South American cities, has a lovely colonial plaza, established by the Spanish roughly 500 years ago. Other than this, and a zoo with animals I had never seen before, there is not a lot happening there.
The real action, or blissful lack of, is the nearby Samaipata – a hippie village full of married expats and their beautiful Bolivian-European children. There is an alternative school, a local food market, hippies, horseback trekking, camping grounds, hammocks, inefficient gas cookers, a slow way of life and of course – some Inca ruins.
Chilled out? Absolutely.
The highlight of Samaipata for me is a place called Las Cuevas. Why it is called ‘The Caves’ I never quite figured out, as they are infact a chain of waterfalls where you can laze in the sun, climb, watch the giant butterflies and swim until the sunsets. The one pictured below is the second, although you can easily follow the track up to a couple more magnificent ones. They’re easily accessible, just a short walk. We easily carried all of our backbaking luggage up.
My personal experience in this town was a bit mixed.We encountered some of the nicest Bolivians in our trip here, but also some of the rudest.
The best day I had in Bolivia was visiting these waterfalls, but it was simultaneously the worst, when we ended up being interrogated in a Bolivian police station with a disgruntled local who waited for four hours outside the park gate and then stalked us in his taxi. We ended up paying to clean someone’s kitchen. We even went hiking with the most talkative, strange American we had ever met.
But, we had the BEST nights sitting around the campfire, reading in hammocks, soaking up the fresh air, making bracelets, taking walks to the markets, watching the electric storms in our thermals, listening to birds and swimming under waterfalls. We cooked eggplant and rice each day and had THE BEST granola from the hippie stores for breakfast each morning. The fresh fruits, the snakes and frogs, the sweet songs of nature.
Aaaand, just for the hell of it:
Yes, you’re in the jungle.
Yes, there are bugs.
But, aren’t the some of the prettiest bugs you’ve ever seen? 🙂