Santa Cruz de la Sierra, not a typical Bolivian cityMarla Martin ▼ | January 25, 2020
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is not a typical city in Bolivia with its tropical climate and low altitude. Beautiful wildlife around it and unique culture make it one of the most interesting cities in Latin America.
Bolivia If you are coming to Bolivia, the chance is your flight will land in Santa Cruz
For some reason, every city in Latin America settled after Europeans came, has two main characteristics: A cathedral and parks. And those two things are always nicely fit into local environment. Catedral de Santa Cruz is a beautiful 400 year old cathedral worth to see inside too because from the top of its clock tower you may enjoy panoramic views of the city. Also inside, the Museo de Arte Sacro contains old relics and one of the world’s smallest books, the Lord’s Prayer in several languages.
Museo Etno-Folklórico with artifacts from Bolivia’s ethnic groups and Museo Guaraní with 150 pieces from Guaraní indigenous sites throughout the Department of Santa Cruz are places you don't wanna miss if you are into history even just a little bit. And now, go green! Parque El Arenal is one of the oldest parks in Santa Cruz and a favorite among local people. A place of nature, a scenic lagoon, and a wonderful setting to take a stroll.
After El Arenal, La Rinconada is simply calling you to visit it. This is a beautifully designed eco resort and restaurant with swimming pools, gardens and a river where you can find the Victoria Amazonica the world’s largest water lily. If you want even more fun, Playland Water Park is your next stop. This water park with large wave pools, water slides, restaurants, playgrounds and everything water related will make you day pass in a second.
Now, after all that fun, it's time to find some interesting place with cafés and restaurants. Monseñor Rivero is your target. This is the street you could find in any big western city, the place for parties, good food and good drinks. You will recognize the street easily: Cristo, a large cement statue of Christ, is watching you from above stretching his arms to protect the city and its citizens. It also protects Urubo, a part of the town where million dollar houses reside. You will think you're in Hollywood.
What's Equipetrol? No, it's not anything related to oil, that's one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. High restaurants, spa, up-scale speciality shops, and luxury hotels, that's Equipetrol. Avenida San Martin is it's main street with god knows how many bars and clubs for partying all night long. Santa Cruz de la Sierra is also the home of the first large shopping center of its kind in Bolivia, Ventura Mall. From Hard Rock Café to huge cinema to bowling alley, this is typical large scale mall.
Now, outside Santa Cruz de la Sierra, beautiful nature just calls to visit it. Start as locals will do with Samaipata. A small town in the foothills of Santa Cruz is a weekend retreat for Bolivia’s wealthier residents. Ruins from the past, stunning landscapes that call for an easy walk, Samaipata is an ideal escape from the town's faster life. A bit further, you will find Gúembé Biocentro Resort with three lagoons where you can enjoy in kayaking, swimming and fishing.
The home of an butterfly dome, a huge soccer field, and all kinds of outdoor activities, a hotel, bungalows and camping facilities are ideal for families. Even more nature you will find in Jardin Botanico with 186 hectares of gardens and a nature trail where you can see large groups of monkeys and lazy sloths to everything in between. And when you get back, go to 7 Calles Market. This is the place to grab some good local food and buy beautiful local fabrics or tailor made piece. ■