The Other Bolivia
When most people think of Bolivia, they imagine the Andean Altiplano, Lake Titicaca, the seemingly endless Salt Flats and the country's famously rich indigenous culture. But there's another side of Bolivia that many travelers don't know about, with untamed rainforests, dusty wilderness, endless savannahs and a cosmopolitan city with a very tropical vibe. We're talking, of course, about Santa Cruz and The Eastern Lowlands.
To start, one cannot visit the Eastern Lowlands without making a stop in the city of Santa Cruz, a city unlike any other in Bolivia. Given the predominantly tropical aura of the city, visitors to Santa Cruz may forget that they're in Bolivia and not neighboring Brazil. While the city is bustling, the weather is warm and the mood is relaxed. Ultimately, Santa Cruz is a great place from which to explore the beautiful natural surroundings of the Eastern Lowlands.
The region known as the Eastern Lowlands spans from the foothills of the Andes and extends onward to Bolivia's borders with Brazil (to the East), and Argentina and Paraguay (to the South). Dense, untamed rainforestsâ€”protected under the Parque Nacional Noel Kempff Mercadoâ€”cover the northeastern edge of the lowlands near the border with Brazil. The park is known for being one of the most beautiful and undisturbed protected rainforests in the world. To the West, are more rainforests, these encompassed by the Parque Nacional AmborĂł, another reserve famous for its plethora of wildlife. While the center of the region is blanketed by open grassy savannahs and dry tropical rainforests, vast marshy wetlands cover the eastern edge of the lowlands. If you really want to get off the beaten path, find a way to explore the barren, sparsely populated Gran Chaco region to the South, the site of the Chaco War (1932-1935) between Bolivia and Paraguay.