Welcome to the Jungle

Just over three hours outside of Santa Cruz, the sleepy little town of Samaipata is one of Bolivia’s best hidden gems. With few amenities, no bank machines and a handful of hostels, the subtropic climate of Samaipata is what lures travelers away from the bustling city of Santa Cruz for some relaxation and a taste of the jungle.

Quechan for “The Height to Rest,” Samaipata is nestled between the foothills of the Andes and the lush jungle of the Amazon. Taking a walk through the jungle just 20 minutes outside of town is the best way to appreciate the lush foliage, cool waterfalls and natural pools of Las Cuevas.

The two lovebirds at Las Cuevas, soaking up some good jungle vibes

The waterfalls at Las Cuevas

Besides an abundance of nature, travelers flock to Samaipata for El Fuerte, the largest pre-Inca site in Bolivia. At first, discoverers thought the site was a fortress because of its location high in the hills. But after further research, El Fuerte is in fact a temple.

Bolivia's oldest pre-Inca ruins, El Fuerte

The boys enjoying a mirador at El Fuerte and some climbing time

If waterfalls and pre-Inca ruins don’t float your boat, fear not – Samaipata is also home to Zoo El Refugio, a wild animal refuge just two kilometers outside of town. Spider monkeys, howler monkeys, wild cats, macaws, funny-looking jungle pigs and koatis are just a few of the local inhabitants at the refuge and they are all more than happy to crawl, climb, cuddle and hang with or on you.

Will and his new little buddy, Kiki, bonded at Zoo el Refugio

One of the most friendly faces at Zoo El Refugio was a sweet little spider monkey

Oh and for all those foodies out there, Samaipata serves up some of Bolivia’s finest culinary delights – french fries, topped with steak, green peppers, onions, cheese and eggs. Almost as good as a poutine.

Some lovely pique, a Bolivian delicacy and car racing