Overview

Eastern Bolivia is little visited by tourists but it is brimming with variety, vitality and living history. Prosperous Santa Cruz, the dynamic, rapidly expanding capital of the region, can seem a bit more like Brazil (just a few hours away by road) than the Bolivia of the altiplano. Riches have been accrued from oil, cattle farming, agriculture, logging and, historically  drugs. You may see the wealthy élite's SUVs with darkened windows cruising round the sultry streets.

Outside the city, highlights are legion: the ecosystems of multi-altitude Amboró and Noel Kempff Mercado National Parks are among the most biodiverse on the planet. In the rugged hills, unspoilt, red-roofed Spanish colonial-style villages abound. The the Ruta del Che (Che Guevara Trail) takes you through wild mountain ranges and canyons to the places which feature in the narrative of the last days of the revolutionary's campaign.

Aside from Che's exploits, the region has been the theatre for other huge chapters of human drama, the vestiges of which remain. Wild tribes – fabled to have founded a sophisticated civilisation - repelled the conquistadores only to be subdued by Jesuit missionaries; there's a circuit of stupendously ornate restored Jesuit churches deep in the countryside. The rubber boom brought immense riches and sophisticated towns. Following the decline in the rubber industry abandoned missions, railways, mansions and mills lie alongside vast cattle ranches; but now eco-tourism has spurred a revival.

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Holidays Santa Cruz and the Oriente

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Uyuni Salt Flats

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Signature Bolivia: The final frontier

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Bolivia

Zampullin: Vistas of Bolivia

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Where to go when - our guide to Santa Cruz and the Oriente

Amboro National Park Bolivia

The weather in Santa Cruz and the Oriente is wide and varied

The dynamic city of Santa Cruz and the surrounding eastern lowlands enjoy a hot, semi-tropical climate year round, with lows of 15°C and highs of 31°C. You can visit stunningly bio-diverse national parks, follow in the footsteps of Che Guevara or explore historic Jesuit missions at any time of year, but for the driest and most pleasant weather aim for April - November.

View our Santa Cruz and the Oriente weather guide

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Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Maggie
    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

  • Kathryn
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Alex
    Alex Walker - Travel Expert

    A globetrotter since her childhood, Alex spent a year studying abroad in Guadalajara and has returned to Latin America countless times since then.

  • Carrie
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Sallly
    Sally Dodge - Travel Expert

    A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.

  • Sophie
    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

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