Updated February 3rd, 2020.
Samaipata was by far most naturally beautiful place I visited in the whole of Bolivia! The town doesn’t have much more to offer than a few small streets with cafes, restaurants, hostels and tour agencies but just outside you will discover national parks and scenery that will take your breath away!
Spend a few days here, take a break from the hectic life of a backpacker and enjoy the tranquillity of nature in all its glory! Read more about backpacking Bolivia here!
Where to Stay in Samaipata
Samaipata is a traveller favourite so expect prices to be a little higher. However, accommodation options are generally much nicer than you can expect from your average Bolivian destination. Be aware that Samaipata is a popular holiday destination for Bolivians so if you are visiting during Easter, Christmas or any other holiday, make sure to book in advance!
- Top Pick! – Casa Lynda
For a little slice of heaven, head to Casa Lynda. Offering just five rooms, this cosy cottage offers a warm and friendly feel. Host Lynda is a traveller and expat herself and can provide loads of information about the local area. There are budget options right up to a private cabaña that is ideal for couples looking to treat themselves or small groups. Prices begin at 110 bolivianos for one person staying in a twin. A healthy breakfast can be arranged for an extra 30 bolivianos.
For one of the most budget-friendly options in town, head to Hostal Vagabundo. The accommodation is very basic and the place is in drastic need of a revamp, but hey, it’s cheap. The staff are friendly and the property offers a decent, complimentary breakfast. It is possible to rent tents here too. A single bed in a mixed dorm starts from 48 bolivianos per person.
Expect to pay around 75 Bolivianos for a dorm bed with very good breakfast included here. It is a little more expensive than some of the options around town but definitely worth it! There is a nice atmosphere as well as a communal kitchen for cooking your own food. The resident cat is a cutie too! Head to the rooftop for some incredible views.
A peaceful option for backpackers looking to chill in Samaipata. They have both private options as well as dorm rooms for backpackers wanting a more economical choice. Dorm beds begin at 76 bolivianos for the night, including breakfast. Hostel Serena also offers some of the best views around!
Things to do in Samaipata, Bolivia
Explore Parque Nacional Amboró
This park is nature at it’s finest! Just 40 minutes away from Samaipata you will find the park entrance where you have to pay 15 Bolivianos to enter. You can only enter with a guide, but the tours are definitely worth it, as private transport would be very expensive and the guide can give you useful information about nature and animals in the park.
All of the tour agencies in Samaipata are rated highly and the guides are freelance so many of them work for numerous companies. Prices are fixed but you can try to bargain, as there is a lot of competition between the tour agencies in Samaipata.
All tours are conducted on the basis of the more people, the less you pay. Therefore, it is best to book tours a day in advance by visiting all of the agencies and seeing who already has people signed up. Prices for a day tour can range from 350 bolivianos for two people, to 150 bolivianos for five so it is definitely worth seeking out a group if the tour agency doesn’t have people already booked.
Once in the park, there is a 10-kilometre walk through a thick forest. In wet weather, this can be very demanding. Twice along the way, the forest opens and you will have an amazing panoramic view from above the mountains! Keep your eyes and ears out along the path for many interesting plants and trees, listen to rare birds and if you are lucky you may spot a spectacled bear!
The part of Amboró that you can visit from Samaipata is the southern one. The northern part you can only visit from Santa Cruz. Expect to see different things depending on which side of the park you visit. Many Sant Cruz agencies offer day trips but as it is further away, the tours start at 6am and are more expensive. In Samaipata, the tours start around 9am and are better value for money in terms of adventure and time spent in the park.
Take in the views of Samaipata
Samaipata is a stunning example of Bolivia’s beauty and there is no better way to take in the views than via a hike. There are a couple of miradors over the town which can be reached by asking a local for directions or by using the routes on Maps.me. Don’t forget your suncream as the rays in Samaipata are relentless!
Check out the ruins at El Fuerte
These Inca ruins are 9 kilometres outside of Samaipata. You can take a tour to El Fuerte or visit independently. Either take a shared taxi or if you’re feeling energetic, you can walk there. After 2 kilometres walking along the main street in the direction of Santa Cruz, you will see a sign on the right side. Take the road up the mountain and enjoy the beautiful views!
At the entrance, they will charge you 50 Bolivianos to get in. This price includes your entrance into the ruins and also to the museum located in Samaipata. This is a must-do if you go without a guide as it will provide you with some basic information regarding the site.
Get to know the local wildlife at Refugio de Fauna Silvestre
Just a forty-minute walk from the centre of town, you can find Refugio de Fauna Silvestre. This sanctuary ran solely by volunteers, is home to a whole range of rescued animals. At only 20 bolivianos each, it is a cheap activity and the walk which takes you there is beautiful. The sanctuary allows free roaming of a number of animals, including spider monkeys and even a peccary.
Swim at Las Cuevas
Don’t be fooled by the name because there is not a cave in sight! 20 kilometres away from Samaipata (in the same direction as El Fuerte) you will find some beautiful waterfalls, where you can swim and sunbathe.
To get there take a taxi from outside the church in the main square. It will cost 100 bolivianos for a return journey plus two hour wait time at the waterfalls. This is the base rate for a taxi so it is advisable going in a group so that you are able to split the cost. The entrance fee is 15 bolivianos per person.
Where to Eat and Drink in Samaipata
Samaipata is blessed with a whole host of great eateries and watering holes. Here are some of the best:
- La Cocina
This burger joint may well be the best one in the whole of Bolivia! Prices are reasonable and very friendly on a backpacker budget. A blue cheese burger and chips will set you back around 40 bolivianos. Chips come in three ways with either oregano, coriander or a spicy option. La Cocina is closed on Mondays.
- La Boheme
Everybody’s favourite place to sink a drink (or three) in town. Happy hour is from 5pm – 7pm when selected cocktails are two for 30 bolivianos. If you’re feeling peckish, this is also a great place to get food. They have an arrangement with the popular burger restaurant La Cocina, so food is delivered directly from their location across the road.
- La Chakana
This restaurant sits comfortably on the main square and is all day, every day. It is a great option for vegetarians and vegans as it offers a menu del dia tailored to their needs. Boasting an extensive variety of food including both international and local options, you are sure to find something to satisfy your cravings here!
How to Get to Samaipata
- By Collectivo: From Santa Cruz (30 Bolivianos (40 during holidays), they leave at Av. Omar Chavez Ortiz/ Soliz de Olguin and take you directly to the central plaza in Samaipata.
- By bus: From Sucre (around 100 Bolivianos). Take a bus (only night buses available) from the terminal that goes to Santa Cruz. They all stop and let you out on the main road, 5 minutes walking distance from Samaipata. Be aware that you will arrive very early, at around 4am. Some places will not provide you a bed prior to check-in unless you have made prior arrangements with them.
Where to go Next
- Santa Cruz: There is loads of stuff to do in and around Santa Cruz. For example, you can visit the Urban or Arenal park, the botanical garden or the Güembé biocentre.
- Sucre: It is said that Sucre is the most beautiful city in the whole of Bolivia. Walk around the central plaza, scenic churches and green parks or even walk the route of 7 waterfalls. Take the red bus number 12 for about 1 hour outside of the city.