Altitude: 155 m
TrinidadeÃ±os know how to enjoy the year-round balmy sunshine, and it involves whizzing around the tropical plaza and wide streets on the back of a motorbike. From a street side cafe, you could be forgiven for thinking youâ€™re watching some kind of motorcycle regatta, as every possible type of motor and quad bike whizzes by you, doing the city circuit.
Motorbikes aside, Trinidad has a welcoming, laidback vibe and daily life revolves around watching sloths in the central plaza, or sampling local ice-cream in one of the many street side stores. Trinidadâ€™s city metropolis is surrounded by rivers, tropical forest and the vast, flat pampas â€“where the areaâ€™s main activity, cattle ranching, takes place.
Often overshadowed as a tourist destination by its Amazonian neighbor, Rurrenabaque, youâ€™ll be getting off the gringo trail if you choose to explore the Amazon from Trini, and itâ€™s also the hop off destination for river trips up into the depths of the tropical forest. Situated 550 kilometers northwest of Santa Cruz on a paved road, Trinidad is the capital of the department of Beni, and de-facto capital of the Bolivian Amazon.
Founded as a Jesuit mission in 1686 under the name SantÃsima Trinidad, it was the second mission to be founded in the Moxos region, which is now part of the department of Beni. Its original position on the shores of the RÃo MamorÃ© proved too precarious, and it was moved to its current location in 1769, two years after the Jesuits were ejected from the region. The 19th century brought wealth and prosperity to the region, firstly from the quina shrub, the base product of the malaria treatment Quinine, and then from rubber, championed mainly by the infamous SuÃ¡rez family (see GuayaramerÃn for more details).
The city is divided in two by the Arroyo de San Juan, an old river which used to host large boats to and from the RÃo Ibare during the rubber boom. Today, the stream has been filled with lilies to prevent flooding, and there a few green parks dotted along its edges. The arroyo is also home to a number of capybara, the worldâ€™s largest rodent. You can often find them wallowing in the mud among the lily plants.
Triniâ€™s highlights revolve around its position in the heart of the Amazon. The RÃo Ibare is just a eight kilometers from town, and is the place to go for river trips, swimming in custom made pools on the riverbanks, fishing, walking or just relaxing. The RÃo MamorÃ©, the biggest river in Bolivia, is also easily accessible from town, and is your ticket to pink river dolphins, abundant wildlife and huge sandy beaches. Choose to cruise the rivers on the Reina de EnÃn, mixing comfort with the Amazon jungle, or choose a more rustic trip up to the Brazilian border.
The private reserve at Chuchini, 15 kilometers from town, gives you the chance to experience Amazon fauna and flora within half an hour drive from town. Find out about the fascinating Moxos culture at the Museo Etno-ArqueolÃ³gico del Beni â€˜Kenneth Leeâ€™ and see the wealth of aquatic life that lives in the rivers around Trinidad at the Museo IctÃcola del Beni.
Fish is an obvious specialty, head to one of the restaurants by the river or any one of the specialty fish restaurants in town. With cattle ranches on the townâ€™s doorstep, prime steak is fresh and succulent. There are a number of good restaurants on and around the main plaza, but many of the more specialized restaurants can be found to the south of the city centre, on the other side of the arroyo.
Trinidad has a full range of hotels, most of which can be found in the city centre. There are also a number of accommodation options out of town, if you want to be out in the campo.