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Quechua for a “rest in a higher place”-- is a jumping off point for a visit to El Fuerte, the easternmost of several pre-Inca fortifications. From here you can head to Las Cuevas, where natural swimming holes flanked by gorgeous waterfalls give way to a variety of walking trails. The area is perfect for short and long hikes and horseback riding, or just having a pleasant break to poke around and explore the old Spanish Colonial route from Santa Cruz to Sucre and Cochabamba.

The area is a great launching point for treks into the Amboró National Park and –further on eastern route- to the Noel Kempff National Park and the Jesuit Missions. Hardy hikers and trekkers can also use this as a starting point for a four day trip retracing the old trade route to Sucre via Vallegrande, Río Grande, Villa Serrano, Zudañez and Tarabuco.

Hiking boots aside, this place houses the enigmatic El Fuerte ruins. Despite years of investigation and excavation, little is known about this World Heritage site. It is thought to have first served as a lookout and ceremonial center for Amazonian tribes, before a brief stint as an Inca fortification. Carved from a solid slab of sandstone, El Fuerte is sadly suffering from erosion. At one time, the stones carried distinct images of jaguar and puma, but the serpentine marks near the water canal are quickly fading.

Until 1998, visitors were free to walk around the carvings up-close, but in the name of preservation, they must now view the structure from walkways built above and around the site. Erosion notwithstanding, the site is striking due to its unexplained animal and geometric markings, and its mummy and icon niches. The chikana (Quechua for labyrinth) located nearby is also a visitor magnet. This maze-like structure winds underground, and begins at the foot of a deep hole, where excavators located a tunnel entrance.

Vultures and condors may also be spotted from the walkways. Described as having a Never-Never Land feel (minus Peter Pan), Amboró Park also features cloud covered fern forest seemingly pulled right from a fairytale. The whole region is a bird watchers’ paradise. Whether you choose to hike and trek, bird watch, or visit La Fuerte, this place is sure to keep you busy.


Other places nearby Samaipata: Yacuiba, Parque Nacional Kaa-lya del Gran Chaco, Santa Ana de Velasco , Roboré, Santiago de Chiquitos and Chochís, Amboro National Park, Camiri, Villamontes, Concepción, San Miguel de Velasco and San Javier.

05 Apr 2010

Things to do in Samaipata

Visiting the site

El Fuerte is situated about 10 kilometers from Samaipata, just off the road to Santa Cruz on the top of a hill. It’s possible to walk to the site, or get a taxi from the center. You can buy entry ...
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Samaipata, Bolivia

Las Cascades de Cuevas

Twenty kilometers (12 mi) from Samaipata, next to the road to Santa Cruz, are the waterfalls of Las Cuevas. The site consists of three falls with natural pools, which are perfect for swimming, and ...
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Samaipata, Bolivia

Laguna Volcán and Serranía Volcanes

Just less than 50 kilometers from Samaipata, about one and half hours drive along the road to Santa Cruz, is Laguna Volcán and Serranía Volcanes, a large lagoon surrounded by dramatic red ...
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Samaipata, Bolivia

Centro de Investigaciones ArqueolĂłgicas de Samaipata

This small museum has descriptions of Bolivia’s historic cultures and displays artifacts. Most of the pieces were found in the region and include decorative urns, pots, drinking vessels and incense ...
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Samaipata, Bolivia

Bella Vista and El Codo de Los Andes

The scenery around Bella Vista (55km from Samaipata) is pretty spectacular, with mountains covered in vegetation, waterfalls and lots of wildlife. There are a number of good hikes in this area. You ...
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Samaipata, Bolivia

Cascada La Pajcha and Mirador Los CĂłndores

Forty-three kilometers southeast of Samaipata is the Cascada La Pajcha, a beautiful multi-tiered waterfall with a natural pool and sandy beaches. The scenery is spectacular around here, will great ...
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Samaipata, Bolivia

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