We start out by maneuvering our way around the city of Santa Cruz and then head straight east on a beautifully paved highway on the way to our days destination, the town Santiago de Chiquitos located just a couple of hours from the boarder with Brazil. In Santiago we hike up to one of the best vantage points in eastern Bolivia allowing us to look out over the valley as far as the eye can see, before relaxing in natural hot springs in the late afternoon. Next we begin our tour of the old Jesuit mission churches and the original site of the city of Santa Cruz. We leave the pavement and head off-road on a beautifully maintained dirt road to continue our explorations, spending the night at a beautiful hotel in San Ignacio de Velasco. Crossing through cattle country, we visit two more old mission towns and even drop in on some woodcarvers at work. The tour wraps up after crossing the flood plains of the Rio Grande River on our way back home.
Jesuit mission church in Concepcion, Bolivia
We’ll personally pick everyone up at the airport and settle you into a hotel in El Torno. After dinner we have an informal orientation & prep session and a good night´s sleep.
We take the bikes on a 70km. (43 mile) roundtrip practice run up to the Jardin de las Delicias, a waterfall on the edge of Amboró National Park. Hanging bridge, dirt roads, stream crossings, photo ops galore and a picnic lunch are just part of todays adventure. Back in town we’ll head to our hotel where we can freshen up or take a dip in the pool before dinner, then it's time for a good night's sleep before a long ride tomorrow.
Leaving El Torno we take the new highway straight east, passing through the old mission town of San José de Chiquitos, situated in the plains and then continue on to our days final destination, the quaint town of Santiago de Chiquitos in the red hills of the Sunsas range. We sleep at a rustic hostal that used to serve as an indigenous school.
A moderate hike up to the Cerro de Santiago reveals one of the best views in Eastern Bolivia, overlooking the still-virgen Tucavaca valley. Then we go down to Aguas Calientes for a relaxing soak in the hot springs.
The hiway back to San Jose winds through the red hills down to San Jose, where we visit Santa Cruz la Vieja (the remains of the first city of Santa Cruz) and the lovely 17th century church, the only one in Eastern Bolivia built of stone.
Forget the pavement, we head north to San Ignacio de Velasco on a beautiful dirt road through farm communities recently carved out of the forest. We stop along the way to take a swim and then upon arrival we’ll head out to the reservoir to see the communities water source before taking a peak at the church on the corner of the plaza. We stay at an upscale hotel just off the plaza.
We slip out of San Ignacio and follow the recently paved road through cattle country to Concepcion and San Javier, two sleepy mission towns boasting beautifully restored Jesuit churches from the 1600s, both on UNESCO´s World Heritage list. We visit the native Chiquitano woodcarvers at work and tour the churches.
We enjoy the last curves between San Javier and San Ramon before hitting the flats on our way accross the broad flood plains of the Rio Grande, before skirting the urban sprawl of Santa Cruz to reach “home” once again back at our base in El Torno where our journey began.
It’s a decompress day before returning to life as usual, so we relax the pace, we’ll pack our bags and say goodbye to El Torno and head into the city for a day of sight-seeing —last minute souvenir shopping, open markets and good food are a few of the options. To cap off the day and the tour we’ll celebrate with a “farewell” dinner in the evening.
We’ll take you from the hotel to catch your flight home at the airport. 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!