Samaipata - A Subtropical Paradise

Thursday, 1 March 2018

It’s no wonder why so many of the 3000 people living in Samaipata are expats, as its ideal climate and beautiful surrounding areas make it incredibly difficult to leave. This fusion of cultures in such a small village makes it all the more appealing, as you hear of no other rural area in Bolivia where it’s possible to start an evening eating brilliant Turkish food and finish it drinking G&Ts at a genuinely modern and trendy bar, before heading back to your German hostel. We’ve loved every second of the 5 nights we spent here, and here’s why...

Firstly Samaipata is the perfect place to relax, put your feet up and spend some time soaking up the sun. The climate here is desirable; hot and sunny but without the humidity of Santa Cruz, with less overcast days and more blue skies. If you get yourself some accommodation with a pool, you could happily pass many hours at your hostel and have a great time without feeling like there’s a hundred and one sights to see that you’re missing out on. We probably spent about half our time doing this as we knew that it’d be a long time before we got a similar chance to relax by a pool, heading towards La Paz after our time in Samaipata.

About 30 minutes out of town back in the direction of Santa Cruz you’ll find Las Cuevas waterfalls, which can be reached by taxi. We took a driver up on the offer of 100bs for him to take us to the waterfalls, wait a couple of hours then drive us back. Although we were pleased with our decision we think that you could actually spend the majority of a day there and so a one way taxi may be a better idea, especially if you don’t have a pool at your hostel as the waterfalls were great to swim in. There are 3 waterfalls, the highlight being the second, with sandy beaches at each of them making it a good spot to lie back and pick up a tan!

Our third recommendation for Samaipata would be to explore the surrounding hills through walking/hiking (however serious you want to take it!) I found a great walk on an app called ViewRanger, which started and finished in the main plaza in town and took us on an 10km circular route in the surrounding hills. The walk took us about 4 hours with a few stops along the way. It is quite hilly but then knowing that it is circular you always come down the height that you climb! The following pictures should help you to follow the route yourself without needing the app (although we’d totally recommend downloading it as it enables you to see and follow the route offline).

The route starts on this road! Heading away from the main plaza.

Early on, you'll come across La Vaca Fria, an ice cream place which also has a pool and nice gardens which can be used for just a few bolivianos. Despite only being about 10 minutes in, we couldn't resist taking a small break here!

Beware! There is a right hand turn about 45 minutes into the walk which takes you through a gate (which should be open). Don't think that it is private property as this areas definitely isn't! 

We came across a locked fence near the end , but luckily we didn't encounter any angry famers along the way!

Towards the end of the walk there's a mini village, aptly names 'El Pueblito', which makes a great final stop for a drink , snack, or some lunch!

Finally, before arriving back into town, you'll pass a vineyard which does free tours in the morning and afternoon!

Here's the map of our route, but I'd recommend downloading Viewfinder if you're not too good at map reading!

What else is there to do??

The list of possible activities doesn’t stop there - in fact there are a whole host of other things to do in the area - here’s a few...
  1. La Pajcha waterfall
This is another waterfall in the area, although further to get to than las Cuevas, hence the reason we chose the latter. It is supposed to be even more impressive, so if waterfalls excite you then you might fancy making the trip out here.
  1. Amboro National Park
This national park is only reachable by doing an organised trip with a travel company and it is again a little further a field. We’ve heard it’s great for exploring the diverse wildlife in Bolivia, with chances of seeing jaguars! We decided against going due to money and time restrictions but have heard great things from other travellers!
  1. Condor’s nest hike
If you’re into bird watching then this is an absolute must. Spend only a few hours in Samaipata and you’re very likely to spot condors soaring across the town, but if you want the full experience the hike is for you. We didn’t do the tour as we think we’ll be doing a similar trip in Peru at Colca Canyon in a few weeks.

Now, onto the town itself. Due to its diversity in population Samaipata has a whole range of great eating and drinking spots- here are our highlights!

La Cocina
Without a shadow of a doubt La Cocina takes first place, serving up extremely god Turkish food (for really reasonable prices). Either sit in at their small restaurant or take the option of eating at a bar down the road (La Boheme) where they’ll bring the food to you.

La Boheme
This place is pretty cool by Bolivian standards, with decent music and, all importantly, cheap drinks - especially if you head there before 7 for half price happy hour!

Cafe 1900
Although not the cheapest place in town, Cafe 1900 does a great meal of the day at lunchtime for only 30bs. The staff are great and it’s a pleasant place to go for a coffee.

Tierra Libre
This cafe/restaurant has a really pretty outdoor seating area and the food was top notch. Again, not the cheapest but whatever you order here is guaranteed to fill you up. I’ve never had something as basic as a ham and cheese sandwich made so magnificently!

Art Cafe at Landhaus
Whether you decide to stay at Landhaus (where we stayed) or not, we’d definitely recommend making a visit to their cafe which is open in the afternoons Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The owner is really sweet and she makes the best iced coffees (with ice cream!)

How to get to Samaipata??

If you’re travelling from Sucre it is possible to get a direct bus to Samaipata but after exploring this option we found it to be too stressful and not easy at all. If you decide to go for this you’ll need to speak good Spanish in order to communicate with the bus company and driver to make sure they stop for you as if not they’ll simply continue on to Santa Cruz.

The much easier option is to head to Santa Cruz from wherever you may be, before getting a 3/4hour trufi (shared taxi) to Samaipata for only 30bs each. The taxi will wait until it is full before leaving, so those of you with more money may decide to pay 200bs to go straight away.

Where we stayed

We stayed at a place called Landhaus based on a recommendation from a blog called Along Dusty Roads. We couldn’t have been happier as the staff were so friendly and helpful, the pool was great and the breakfast was brilliant. It’s probably not the cheapest option in town at 190bs for a private room / night and it may not be the best option for solo travelers as there are no dorms. Other than that though, we couldn’t recommend it more (especially if you’re German!)

Thanks so much for reading!

Hope this has been useful,

Will & Melissa

No comments

Post a Comment