Staying true to its name, on this tour we set out to see 5 of the best sites that this region of Santa Cruz has to offer. We’ll spend the first couple of days riding dirt roads and crossing numerous streams and rivers near our base in Santa Cruz, not to mention exploring some breathtaking waterfalls. From there we venture out even further as we ascend into the mountains via the old highway, as we go we’ll stop to check out an old (read inactive) volcano as well some impressive indigenous ruins. In Santa Cruz’s backcountry we’ll reach elevations of more than 2,400 meters (8,000 feet). We then pick up the trail of famous rebel, Ernesto “El Che” Guevara and visit the school house where he breathed his last breath. Then we’ll loop back around towards our staring point via some of nicest (read curviest) roads that Bolivia has to offer.
5 Wonders of Santa Cruz tour route
We’ll personally pick everyone up at the airport and settle you into a hotel in Santa Cruz. After dinner we have an informal orientation & prep session and a good night’s sleep.
To start our tour off with a bang, we’ll take the bikes on a 50 km. (30 mile) roundtrip journey to one of the most unique attractions in this region of Santa Cruz, a place known to locals as “Espellijos.” After fording the Pirai River, it’s all off-road as we weave our way through the countryside to our destination. The main attraction is a beautiful waterfall followed by numerous natural pools that are perfect for swimming or just relaxing as we shake off what’s left of the jet lag.
We take the bikes on a 70km. (43 mile) round-trip practice run up to the “Jardin de las Delicias,” where we’ll encounter a series of breathtaking waterfalls on the edge of Amboró National Park. Hanging bridge, dirt roads, stream crossings, hiking, swimming, and a picnic lunch are just part of todays adventure. We’ll cap off the riding portion of the day with a ride up some curvy new slab to the mountain village of Samaipata where we’ll spend the night.
Departing Samaipata the adventure continues as soon as the kickstands are up. We’ll start with a leisurely ride up to “El Fuerte,” the site of Bolivia’s 2nd most important ruins. After touring the ruins we’re back on the bikes, this time fixing our sights on the town of Vallegrande. After an early lunch we’ll take the backroads, passing through a few quaint villages tucked away in the valleys along with an incredible waterfall. We’ll arrive in Vallegrande in the late afternoon, in time to freshen up and take a walk around the town before dinner.
After only a couple of kilometers of riding on the pavement today, we’ll transition to off-road riding as we make the trek to La Higuera, the lonely village where the Cuban revolutionary war hero Che Guevara was executed in 1967. The road to La Higuera is a pilgrimage of sorts for the more adventuresome historians. Before setting out, we’ll spend a couple hours in the morning on a guided tour of Vallegrande, getting to know the historical sites made famous by El Che’s time in Bolivia. Reaching La Higuera in the late afternoon we stay at the rustic Casa del Telegrafista, once home to the telegraph operator that informed the authorities of el Che’s presence in the area. The village of La Higuera only consists of a few houses and a small school, however the peace and tranquility that this place offers is second to none, not to mention the incredible dinner that the inn’s owner will prepare us.
After a wonderful breakfast we visit the memorial room in the schoolhouse where el Che was executed. The days route takes us through the mountains of Vallegrande and down the old highway. By late afternoon we’ll arrive once again back to our base in El Torno where our journey began. After a short trip to our hotel in Santa Cruz we’ll cap off the day and the tour with a “farewell” dinner in the evening.
Today’s a decompress day before returning to life as usual, so we’ll relax the pace as we do some site seeing around the city —last minute souvenir shopping, open markets and good food are a few of the options. We’ll treat you to a lip-smacking lunch before taking you to the airport to catch your flight back home. You’ll want to stretch out your sore backside before you board your flight and flip through your pics as you grin (and groan) thinking of all the fun that was had. From here it’s time to start planning your next adventure!