Santa Cruz (city, Bolivia)

Santa Cruz (or Santa Cruz de la Sierra) is the most populous city and heart of the second most populous metropolitan area in Bolivia, and is the capital of the department of Santa Cruz. It is considered the most economically prosperous city in the country.

Understand

In contrast to La Paz and the other major Bolivian cities located high in the Andes, Santa Cruz lies at an altitude of 416 meters, and its climate is distinctly tropical.

Get in

If you arrive during carnival (during Feburary, sometimes March) it is almost impossible to change money as everything except markets, restaurants and internet cafes are closed. Traders will accept U.S. dollars but at half the going rate. Also be prepared to be pelted with ink filled water balloons, soaked with water bombs and covered in string spray. Wear clothes you don`t mind having permanently stained.

The bus station listed in the Santa Cruz web site is no longer in use. The new one is a 20 Bs taxi fare from the centre of town. Of the three hostels listed with 24 hour reception, the only one that does is on tres pasos, a couple of km out of the city center.

By train

The "death train" (so named because of its history in transporting Yellow Fever victims) runs on bumpy tracks from Puerto Quijarro, close to Corumbá on the Brazilian side. There is a variety of different trains offering different classes and prices. The journey takes 24 hours. The most comfortable option, with cama seats, is the "Ferrobus" (Tues, Thurs, Sat) which at time of writing (April 2010) cost 250Bs per person. Contrary to what is written in many guidebooks, tickets can be purchased days in advance at the station (Terminal Bimodal). Biting insects are plentiful, so get repellent before you go.

The railway between Santa Cruz and Puerto Quijarro is operated by Ferroviaria Oriental S.A. .

From Corumbá the bus-ride to Sao Paulo takes about 24 hours more.

By plane

Viru Viru International Airport (IATA: VVI) is Bolivia's largest and most modern airport, and a hub for BoA. International flights on BoA travel to Madrid, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires with other destinations on the horizon. AeroSur is no longer operational.

American Airlines flies direct to Miami. Other options include a variety of destinations via Panama, and LAN and Avianca also fly to Santa Cruz. Gol Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas also offer flights to São Paulo and Buenos Aires, respectively.

To get into downtown Santa Cruz from the airport you have two options. The first is to take a taxi that will charge you approximately Bs. 60 (~$9). This is probably the easiest and most comfortable way to get into town, but if you are on a tight budget the second option is a "micro" or mini-bus that waits outside the front doors of the airport that leaves every 20 minutes, the fare for the bus is only 6bs (~$.90). This bus follows the Cristo Redentor Avenue and then along the First Ring. To get to the main plaza, ask the driver to let you off at Libertad and Primer Anillo (First Ring). From there, it is about a seven block walk.

El Trompillo Airport (IATA: SRZ) is the city's older airport, and is used by military operated TAM airlines for internal flights (to Cochabamba and Sucre, for example) and Aerocon (to Tarija and Trinidad for example). Trompillo very close to the city center, and is thus a cheaper taxi ride. Micros also pass by the airport, exit the departure hall and walk down the road to the right until you reach an intersection. Cross the street and wait for Micro 40 or 42. The information counter in the airport provides helpful information and distributes free maps.

Major airlines have daily flights to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, mainly from La Paz (about 4 flights per day: early in the morning, in the afternoon, early in the evening and late in the night). From Cochabamba (about 2 flights per day). Flights to international cities is also daily, (Sao Paulo, Brasil - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Lima, Peru - etc. there are daily flights). American Airlines has daily service to and from Miami.

About Bolivian airlines and flying within Bolivia: Bolivia#Get_around

By Bus

There are many bus companies from another cities, like Cochabamba, La Paz, Sucre, Trinidad, that go to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. You can arrive from La Paz in about 18 hours, and it takes about 10 hours from Cochabamba. The Bolivia Vice-Ministry of Tourisum has a bus schedules on their website: . Look under Destinations and the area you are interested in traveling. To and from the brasilian Border in Corumba / Puerto Quijarro is cheaper and faster (11 hours and tickets from 80 Bs.) than the famous death train.

A Taxi from the bus terminal to the center will cost about 12 BOL.

Get around

By Bus

Micros 17 and 18 circulate the first ring, Micros 72 and 73 circualate the second ring. To get to the center from Parque Urbano take Micro 69 or 100. You can pick up a map of all the bus routes from many "librerias" or bookstores downtown. The fare for most micros is Bs. 2, but some of the ones that go further charge more, and the one that goes to the airport charges 6bs.

Shared Taxis circulate the rings as well, they are called "trufis". Look for the signs on the roof. Faster than Micros and more comfortable because you can actually sit down. The fare for most trufis is 2bs.

See

In Santa Cruz you can book some great excursions, like a trekking in Park Amboro, Noel Kempff, a river boat trip in the Amazon region, cultural excursions to the Jesuit Missions etc.

A good and reliable tour agency is Dutch owned Ruta Verde. They are located 3 blocks from the plaza, Calle 21 de Mayo 332.

Santa Cruz hosts one of the most famous soccer academy in the world. "Academia de Futbol Tahuichi Aguilera". Their unique and original way of training young soccer players to become professionals in the future. They train in rivers and ran through mountains of sand. Young players from all over the world come to this academy to experience its training method.

Do

Eat

There are several good restaurants in the north of the city. One of the main clusters of restaurants is spread around Avenida Monseñor Rivero.

Inside the mall, you can also found several stores of famous brands: Calvin Klein, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch...

Drink

Avenida Busch is a good place to start a longer night. There are several Pubs there and you are still close to the center. If you want some classic italian cappuccino, espresso, frappuccino or croissant there is the "Espresso del Oriente" Cafe-Pub on Bolivar Street 272 located two and a half blocks far from the main Plaza. A during-the-week runner is the Irish Pub at the main Plaza.

Equipetrol is the party place, try any club or disco there.

Av. Monseñor Rivero is a popular boulevard if you want a coffee or a drink.

Buy

Sleep

Budget

There are some hotels close to the bus terminal which is a bit further away from the center. A large Bolivia Hotels and Hostels Directory is www.boliviahostels.com , they offer accommodation all over the country and you can make reservations for free.

Midrange

If you have a layover in Viru Viru, you can rent a room in the airport if you want to take a nap or if you get in late and have an early flight the next morning. It's called en-kma and is a small dorm style room with wi-fi, bed, mini-fridge, tv, and air conditioning. Its 10 US dollars/hour but if you stay longer, they will give you a discount. Its surprisingly very clean and more comfortable than expected.

Cope

Consulates

United States (Consular Agency), Avenida Roque Aguilera #146 (3er Anillo),  +591-3-351-3477, fax: +591-3-351-3478.

Connect

A good internet cafe is at the corner of Avenida Cañoto and Buenos Aires. Its hyperfast, air conditioned and cheap.

Cheap call centers can be found everywhere in the city. Tel Viva use communication over the internet and carge therefore only 0.50 bolivianos/minute.

Go next

There is a bus to Cochabamba, takes 10 hours, for 30 or 40 Bolivianos. (Or pay a bit more, 60Bs, for a nice (semi-)cama bus at night.)

Shared Taxis to Samaipata leave from :

There are buses to Asunción, Paraguay. The trip takes around 23hrs. Daily departures in the evening from the Nuevo Terminal. Around $40-50 for a bus including food (bargain as much as you can). The travel agencies will not hesitate to lie to sell you a ticket and an old seat will become a "cama". Expect 15 to 18 police checks on the way, especially in Paraguay. The road through the Chaco is quite good, but the trip is very long.

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