Bolivia travel blog by Mark Berman -
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The first time I came to Santa Cruz was on a long 18hr bus haul from Salta in Argentina. I knew Santa Cruz was known as the 'city of rings' and that it would
be quite warm, but that's about all. I also didn't realise that it was the weekend of the Bolivian vote of confidence referendum 2008 for the
President Evo Morales and that all shops, bars and clubs would be closed. I stayed at a great hostel away from the center of town that had a pool
and nice areas to hang out and relax. They also had in-house Spanish lessons for which I signed up for 6hrs worth for $200 Bolivianos. There were
a couple of professional photographers staying at the hostel who were going out and taking pictures of the political activity that was going on
around the central city. The main plaza was full of tents, activists and protests, but it was still safe to wander around the area and have a
There is the Irish bar and restaurant in the plaza and other good restaurants. The streets surrounding the plaza are not really that
attractive and Santa Cruz in general is not what I would call a beautiful city. But never mind Santa Cruz happens to be the pretty girl capital of
Bolivia! Over the weekend I went out with some people from the hostel. We went to this strip where the Bolivians park their cars and utes and all
compete to have the loudest music and they party on the street. There were beer bottles everywhere on the ground and a lot of crazyness.
City Airport (Aeropuerto El Trompillo)
In 2008 on my first time in Santa Cruz I booked a flight with the military airline TAM
which left from Aeropuerto El Trompillo, near the city center.
Fake Yellow Fever Certificate
The 2nd time in Santa Cruz in 2009 was just for one night to take the so-called Death Train (Ferroviaria
Oriental) to Quijarro
on the border of Brazil enroute to Corumba
and the Pantanal
. But first I needed a yellow fever vaccination.
I went to the main plaza and on one side is the tourist office. I needed to ask where I could get the vaccination. They told me to go to the
hospital by taxi, so off I went. When I got there I tried to work out which of the 3 or 4 desks I was supposed to go to. I managed to work
things out and handed over my passport and sat waiting for my injection. After a little while the girl at the desk called me over and gave me
my yellow fever certificate and passport. I said, but what about the injection? She said I didn't need that, I just needed the certificate.
So I asked again about the injection and she said again that all I needed was the approved and stamped certificate, which is what I now had!
The Brazilian border control never questioned it but later the Peruvian border police laughed and required a bribe of $10 Soles to stamp it when
I presented it to them when crossing into Ecuador.
Bus from Paraguay / Flight to La Paz
In 2012 I passed through Santa Cruz again. I had come up by bus from the Gran Chaco
an 18hr trip. I stayed the night in a budget hotel across the road from the bus terminal. I took a taxi to El Trompillo Airport to again buy a
plane ticket with TAM for early the next morning to La Paz
. El Trompillo Airport has no ATM machine, you need to take cash to buy a
In 2015 I flew into Santa Cruz from Cochabamba and spent 5 nights in the city. I enjoyed most of my time at a great hostel with a pool. I did
explore the city somewhat but it really is not a great city for sights. Here's a warning to all! I was contacted via my Facebook page a few weeks
before arriving in Santa Cruz by a guy who lived there and wanted to meet me and show me around. He said he loved my photography! He came to the
hostel and we talked for a while out on the street and he bought me an ice-cream. That night he took myself and my girlfriend out to a show that
turned out to be on the next night, so we went to the mall for food instead. He was so friendly and helpful and invited me to his cousins house
the next day to play guitars, he said bring your camera. After getting back to the hostel that night after the mall I realised it was just too
much too soon, too helpful and too friendly. Something was just not right! In the morning when he made contact to go to his cousins I secretly
tested him to see if he was legit. He had said he loved my website and photos. I asked him which places he liked my photos of the best. He named a
couple of places so I checked my web stats and saw that nobody from Santa Cruz had visited these pages in months. Got him! Liar! I made an excuse
not to go out with him and never heard from or saw him again. Watch out for people who are overly helpful and friendly, don't trust them! Santa Cruz is not that safe.
South to Tarija
From Santa Cruz I flew southward to Tarija