Visiting Bolivia is a unique, unforgettable and authentic experience. Bolivia is one of the most diverse countries in the world, both in cultural and ethnic terms as well as in bio-diversity. The human richness of its inhabitants is made up of more than thirty native ethnic groups (Guarani, Ayoreo, Moxeño, Aymara, Quechua) , mestizos, Europeans, Japanese, Mennonites, Afro-Bolivians and some other minorities. And if additionally, you wish to see the diversity of cultural expressions, dances, costumes or culinary variety, the list is interminable.
If you are interested in nature at its wildest, most diverse, harsh, solitary and surprising, throughout the country you will find fascinating places. More than 16% of Bolivia 's territory is classed as protected, whether as national parks, or in other categories of protected areas.
Bolivia ranks sixth as the country with greatest diversity in birds, eighth in reptiles, tenth in mammals and eleventh in higher plants. Even without coastal scenery, Bolivia is a member of a select club of countries which offer a sampling of most of the natural riches of the entire world. In fact, the country is blessed with a great variety of ecosystems such as tropical forests, Andean mountains, valleys, pampas, Chaco , Pantanal etc.
The authenticity of the folklore, the untouched scenery, the many national parks, the tranquillity one feels while travelling, are some of the many advantages of travelling in Bolivia, in the heart of South America, the summary of the continent.
Do you need a VISA to enter Bolivia?
Most nationalities need only a passport and do not require a visa to enter the country.
US citizens must have a visa to enter Bolivia. A visa is obtainable for a fee of US$135, along with a visa application form, hotel reservation or letter of invitation and International yellow fever vaccination certificate.
You can apply for a Bolivian tourist visa by mail or in person at Bolivian consulates in the U.S., as well as at Bolivian ports of entry, such as at Bolivia’s international airports and at land border crossings. We can send a letter of invitation to US citizens that book a trip with us.
Before or after doing a tour in the beautiful surroundings of Santa Cruz , you might want to hang out a bit in Santa Cruz . Santa Cruz de la Sierra is the capital of the Department of Santa Cruz and is located in the eastern part of the country. Santa Cruz is a young, growing, commercial, modern and dynamic city. Within the last decade the happy and prosperous Santa Cruz has become a big city of more than a 1,5 million inhabitants and the economic capital of the country. The city has been designed in concentric circles with the old part of the town, known as the Casco Viejo, located within the first ring.
In general, the tropical lowlands are hot and humid year round, the temperature range for the city of Santa Cruz is between 26 and 35 degrees Celsius, but during the winter months (May - August), the temperature can go down to 12 degrees Celsius (but never for more than a few days).
Spanish is the official language of Bolivia , however, being such a diverse country ethnically and culturally, there are various languages and dialects spoken throughout the country. In the department of Santa Cruz , the main ethnic groups (with their own dialect) are Chiquitano, Guarani and Ayoreo. People from Santa Cruz (known as cruceños) have an intonation different from those of La Paz or other Bolivian regions.
The official currency is the Boliviano. However, most establishments will accept U.S. dollars. The safest way to change foreign currency into Bolivianos is through a bank. We do not recommend changing money on the street corners. Do not accept U.S. currency that is in the least bit torn because it will be rejected if you try to use it. Most of the banking facilities have ATM´s where you can withdraw money (Bolivianos or U.S. dollars) any time of the day.
The official time for the whole Bolivia is -04:00 in relation to the Greenwich Meridian (GMT)
Electricity throughout the country is 220V. Most five star hotels offer 110V as well.
The city of Santa Cruz has two airports: ¨El Trompillo¨, servicing local light aircrafts and ¨Viru Viru¨ International Airport, the most important one and one of the most modern of the country, connecting Santa Cruz to the other Departments of Bolivia, neighbouring countries and the world. The approximated taxi fare from the airport to the city is Bs. 45-60.- depending on your destination. You can also take a bus from the airport to the bus station for Bs 4.50.-
Santa Cruz has excellent places to go out, evening entertainment with a diverse choice of clubs, bars, discos, restaurants, grills, pastry, ice cream bars and pubs with live music. Around the main square "24 de Septiembre" you will also find several bar/restaurants. A good index of hotels and restaurants can be found at: www.indiceurbano.com
A popular hangout place full of bars, cafés and restaurants is Avenida Monseñor Rivero (also called Boulevard). The Boulevard is a popular destination all day long. It has a row of nice restaurants, bars and cafés serving excellent diverse specialties. Pick one, sit outside and enjoy the ambience.
Santa Cruz has numerous events all year round. Worth visiting is carnival (February), Theatre Festival (April-May, odd years), Baroque Music Festival (April-May, even years), Iberoamerican Film Festival (August), Expogourmet and the Wine and Cheese Festival (July-August), International Fair Exhibition Expocruz (September), etc.
Are you visiting us in the summer? Aqualand is a big summer Aquatic Park with diversion for the whole day. It has many attractions, water slides and a gigantic pool with artificial waves. Playland is another nice Aquatic Park , with pools and aquatic attractions, mini zoo and electronic games. Both are close during winter time (from June until August)
Aqualand. Source: Panoramio.
The Cine Center Complex is a very modern cinema surrounded by some hip bars, trendy restaurants and a shopping ¨Design Centre¨. It's a very popular hangout place for locals. In the same area of the city there is also "Bella Vista Cines". Another really nice option is the movie theater located in a beautiful and recently restaured colonial building is "Cine Palace", on the Western side of the main square. It also has a lovely cafe/bar terrace with a nice view to the main plaza. Movies are usually shown in their original language with Spanish subtitles.
Cine Palace, Santa Cruz. Source: Cine Palace.
Depending on your interests, the following museums can be worth visiting:
Museum of religious art. The museum is inside of cathedral at the main plaza and the worlds smallest book can be found here;
Regional History Museum (located in front of the post office neat the main square);
Contemporaneous Art Museum
Contact us for the exact location of each museum.
Butterfly Farm & Orchid Exhibition
Only 25 minutes from the centre of Santa Cruz , there is a butterfly farm and a gigantic bird dome. Part of the park is also a spectacular orchid exhibition and natural pools and lagoons. Tours can be booked in our office.
Biocentro Guembe, Santa Cruz. Source: Biocentro Guembe.
A great way to get to know more about Santa Cruz´ history is to take a city tour by bus. The bus leaves twice a day, at 09.00 AM and at 14.30 PM. The tour takes approximately 3 hours. Tours can be booked in our office.
Plaza 24 de Septiembre
The main plaza of Santa Cruz (Plaza 24 de Septiembre) is a nice place to sit down, read a book, watch people or play a game of chess with the locals. Around the plaza there are some interesting buildings. First of all there is Cathedral. Inside the cathedral there is a museum of religious art, where you can find the world's smallest book.
Manzano Uno, located besides the cathedral, is the newest place for the exhibition of the local artists work. La Casa de la Cultura -located at the main square- has permanent exhibitions of paintings and sculptures.
The renewed Santa Cruz zoo is the only zoo on the continent specialized in South American fauna. It is 15 minutes by taxi from the main plaza and open very day.
Choosing one of the places on the RUTA VERDE in the tropical area of Bolivia means you need to be prepared with some few different things you may not need in the Highlands of Bolivia.
We recommend you to bring the following:
Light summer clothes covering both arms and legs, preferably beige or green (especially for jungle trekking and Amazon boat trips).
Repellent, sun block, sun glasses, hat and bathing suit.
A pair of sneakers, walking shoes (boots) or any other kind of shoes for walking in the mud for the jungle trekking.
Warm clothes for the winter months (between May and September) in case of cold wind from south.
To minimize the risk of tropical diseases or insect bites we strongly recommend the use of long sleeved shirts and pants during both day and night, and the use of repellent.
Mental Preparation : When touring in Bolivia , particularly on eco tour trips to truly remote areas, keep in mind that you are travelling in sparsely populated areas where few people go. In these parts of the country, transportation, communication and other facilities are sometimes strained and delays can occur. Poor weather conditions or unforeseen events can also cause delays in the schedule.
We suggest the best mental approach is to relax, keep an open mind and concentrate in all the beauty surrounding you, this way you will enjoy your trip even more. You will find that the sights are worth any delays we may experience.
While you're traveling:
Ruta Verde is careful to construct the itineraries in an eco-friendly way. We travel in small groups, train our guides in "Leave no trace" ethics, we seek out excursions where the local and indigenous people get involved. Each trip you take is an opportunity to make a difference.