Before I got to Bolivia, I didn’t know about Santa Cruz de la Sierra (or Santa Cruz as everyone here knows it). I was also very surprised that it’s the largest city in Bolivia. Yet, it is usually off the traveler’s list of places to go in Bolivia as it is off-the-beaten-track.
People from La Paz and Sucre do not hold Santa Cruz in high regards. As the economic hub of Bolivia, many go to the city for work. It boasts the largest airport in the country and is becoming very modern.
Here are 5 reasons to give Santa Cruz a visit:
1. It’s Tropical
For those who have been missing the sun and being a sea level, Santa Cruz is for you. As it is on the plains next to the Pirai River, the average daily temperature is about 28 degrees with 74% humidity. It may be a stark contrast from the frigid mountain temperatures, it’s
2. Sloth Watch
Santa Cruz is the unofficial sloth capital of the world. Apparently, at one point in time, sloths were hanging out in Plaza 24 de Septiembre with the locals and pigeons.
Jardín Botánico is now where the sloths hang out. One of my hostel-mates had gone there and showed me a video of the sloths she saw in the garden/forest that day. So, after my journey to the Paraguay C
3. Numerous Plazas and Parks to Chill
Bolivia’s main plazas have been a pleasant surprise. They’re usually well-maintained and clean. Santa Cruz’s Plaza 24 de
My friend Miguel took me to Parque Urbano. At night, there are multiple dance groups practicing their routines from hip-hop wannabes to traditional dancers.
4. A Dose of Reality
Sometimes, after traveling for so long, it’s nice to do something “normal”. Again, thanks to my trips to the Paraguay Consulate, I was near a mall. As the rain poured outside, I took shelter in Ventura Mall and was amazed to a mall that could have easily been mistaken for someplace in the US. This mall had a Forever 21 with a sign that said: “Straight from LA”. The irony…
Watching the latest movie on a massive screen, window-shopping, and eating bad mall food helps take the rut out of traveling.
5. Surrounding National Parks
Sadly, I didn’t have too much time in Santa Cruz. And compiled with my bad luck with the weather, I didn’t get to visit several of the national parks that surrounds the city.
Amboró National Park’s varied climate is home to over 3,000 plant species, which makes it one of the most botanically diverse in the country. It’s a close 40 km (24 mi) from Santa Cruz, an easy daytrip.