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Bolivia: Santa Cruz and the Oriente

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Eastern Bolivia is little visited by tourists but it is brimming with variety, vitality and living history. Prosperous Santa Cruz, the dynamic, rapidly expanding capital of the region, can seem a bit more like Brazil (just a few hours away by road) than the Bolivia of the altiplano. Wealth comes from oil, cattle farming, agriculture, logging and drugs. You may see SUVs with darkened windows cruising round the sultry streets.

Outside the city, highlights are legion: the ecosystems of multi-altitude Amboró and Noel Kempff Mercado National Parks are among the most biodiverse on the planet. In the rugged hills, unspoilt, red-roofed Spanish colonial-style villages abound. There's a circuit of stupendously ornate restored Jesuit churches deep in the countryside and the Ruta del Che (Che Guevara Trail) takes you through wild mountain ranges and canyons to the places which feature in the narrative of the last days of the revolutionary's campaign.    
  

Our holidays to Santa Cruz and the Oriente

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Market life in Bolivia

Signature Bolivia: The final frontier

Private journey

14 days from £3,935pp

Laguna Colorada

Zampullin: Vistas of Bolivia

Group tour

13 days from £2,950pp

Things to do in Santa Cruz and the Oriente

Jesuit Mission Circuit

Visit the historic Jesuit missions

La Higuera

Follow the Ruta del Che: Guevara Trail


Bolivian orchid

Samaipata, El Fuerte and Amboro National Park

Our insider tips for Santa Cruz and the Oriente

Isabelle

Isabelle Mazille

If you are wandering around Santa Cruz, I recommend you explore the vast street market just a few blocks from the plaza, Mercado los Pozos. Chokka with pawn shops, jewellers, electrical retailers, fruit and vegetable stalls  and rails heaving with clothing, it is an authentic Bolivian ales experience: no genuflection to tourists here.

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Nelson

Keep an eye out for Mennonites as you drive through the eastern lowlands. This conservative  Russo-German community of religious and political refugees keeps itself to itself but individuals appear in market towns to trade, identified by their clothing: dungarees and straw hats for men, voluminous skirts aprons and bonnets for women. 

Chris Parrott

Chris Parrott

Don't be put off by the hours of travelling on the route from Santa Cruz to Sucre via the Ruta del Che (Che (Guevara) Trail). The mountain scenery is so varied and stunning the time just slips away. You realise you are somewhere remote and special.  If making an overnight stop in the mountain town of Samaipata, include a visit to Amboró National Park, with its ancient giant palms.     

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