Samaipata; Bolivia’s hidden treasure

Samaipata is one of the best kept secrets of the Bolivian low-lands. This little town two hours away from the city of Santa Cruz has become very popular in the last years among both national and international tourists due to its warm climate year-round, diversity of  landscapes and restaurants, with an array of cultural and tourist activities to choose from. One of its main attractions is how close it is to the Samaipata Fort, a pre-colonial arqueological site where different cultures, such as the Chané and Inca come together, declared Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. In this blog, we’ll tell you all about:

  • What makes Samaipata an amazing tourist destination
  • How to travel to Samaipata easily from any part of Bolivia

You can travel to Samaipata by bus easily from Bolivia’s main cities (Santa Cruz, Sucre, Cochabamba and La Paz) though mostly paved highways and different degrees of confort; from confortable lie-flat buses to shared cabs and vans. The prices vary, as well, and there is an option for every budget. 

View of the town

Traveling by bus from La Paz to Samaipata

The most direct wat to travel to Samaipata from La Paz is to take a bus to Sucre, and from there, take another bus that leaves you in Samaipata. The buses from La Paz to Sucre leave every day from the Bus terminal of La Paz

The trip from La Paz to Sucre takes between 10 and 12 hours, depending on wether the bus travels via Potosi or Ravelo (the trip via Ravelo is shorter). Either way, the buses leave at 19:30 and arrive in Sucre early the next morning at the Bus terminal of Sucre

Once in Sucre, you can enjoy the city, its colonial architecture, places of interest and unique cuisine, until your bus leaves for Samaipata at 18:30.

Sunset in Sucre

Travel by bus from Sucre to Samaipata

The bus from Sucre to Samaipata leave at 18:30 and the trip takes around 10 hours, traveling through an almost completelly paved highway. The bus company that works this route is El Mexicano, a transportation company that has modern buses and certified drivers.  

The buses from Sucre to Samaipata leave at 18:30 and arrive in Samaipata at 4:30 am. They park on Main Street, since the town does not have a proper bus terminal. The passengers can walk from there to the main square or to their hotel. The town is perfectly safe at all hours.  

Exploring the Fort of Samaipata

Travel by bus from Cochabamba to Samaipata

The most direct way to travel by bus from Cochabamba to Samaipata is to take a bus to Santa Cruz, traveling through the old highway which crosses Samaipata. These buses don’t leave from the Cochabamba Bus Terminal, but rather from the corner of 6 de Agosto St and República St.

Information about the trip:

  • Departure: 7:30 am
  • Duration: 11.5 horas
  • Arrival: 19:00.

Another way of making this trip is to take a bus from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz  and, from there, travel to Samaipata. The buses leave from the Bus Terminal of Cochabamba, located on the corner of Ayacucho and Tarata St. (see map). 

Travel by bus from Santa Cruz to Samaipata

There are two options to travel by bus from Santa Cruz to Samaipata: 

Option 1:

Shared cabs (5 passengers) with the company Expreso Samaipata. Cars leave from Omar Chavez Ortiz Av, #1147. The trip takes 2- hours and the price is 30 Bs per person. 

Option 2:

Shared vans (minibuses), with the company Cooperativa de Transporte El Fuerte. The vans leave from Sgundo Anillo Av Grigota. The trip takes between 2 and 4 hours and the price is 30 Bs. per passenger. 


Take into account that the cabs and vans wait to fill up before leaving, so there are no fixed departure times. The duration of the trip varies according to the state of the roads, and can take longer during rain season (November-February). 

Treehouse offered as lodging in Samaipata.

Tourist information about Samaipata

Located at 120 km southwest of Santa Cruz, Samaipata has an average temperature of 23 degrees and the town has a sunny climate most of the year. The town lies at 1650 m above sea level, and there are many tourist agencies that offer visits and tours  for the following destinations:

  • Amboro National Park. This is one of the most diverse national parks in Bolivia, with an impressive array of wildlife including jaguars, mears and pumas. The park is the home of more than 900 bird species. In order to visit, you must hire a tour, which can be arranged with one of the tour agencies in town. The cost is between 100 and 320 Bs, depending on the agency and group size. 
  • El Fuerte: The fort of Samaipata is an archeological site located on top of a mountain at 1950 meters above sea level. The site had ceremonial, religious, bellic and residencial uses during the Inca Empire and is the second most popular archeological site in Bolivia, after the Tihuanacu ruins. This enormous complez includes a square, places for the observation of stars, residencies and a gigantic engraved stone which bears religious figures and symbols. This site this site was pronounced Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.  
The gigantic engraved stone of Samaipata
  • The caves: Not actually caves, but a series of sascades in a beautiful area of exuberant nature and a cool natural pool surrounded by a white-sanded beach where you can spend the afternoon bathing, picking oranges, enjoying the view and hiking to the nearby mountain forests
  • Condors nest: The hike to Condors Nest takes all day; traveling by car, to the nearest point, then the spectacular hike up the mountain, which is considered an alternative to Colca Canion in Peru. The condors appear around mid day. It’s best to schedule this tour in clear/sky days, to increase chances of seeing condors.   

We hope this information is useful so you can plan your trip by bus to Samaipata from any city in Bolivia. Have a nice trip!

Bolivia for foodies; street-food

Bolivia is a country of incredible diversity: from highlands and salt flats at 4000 meters above sea level, the only place where Royal Quinoa can be grown and potato species are counted in the hundreds, to the tropics where hundreds of species of fruits and vegetables thrive; from the traditions of indigenous ingredients and preparations to the influence of French, Spanish and German immigrants.      

Despite its rich culinary heritage, Bolivia has been slow in standing out as a culinary tourist destination. The truth is, industries such as wine, beer, coffee and chocolate have shown incredible development in the last decades, with many brands winning several international awards. Gourmet restaurants have also flourished in the main cities, such as La Paz and Santa Cruz, complementing the vibrant street-food scene across the country. The best part? Eating in Bolivia is cheaper than anywhere else in the region, so you can really have a foodie feast on a budget.  


In this post, we imagine a Bolivia street food tour around the country´s best cities to eat, telling you about the street-foods you can´t miss and how to eat them safely. Check out next week’s posts in this series for a full report about gourmet food and restaurants in Bolivia. Let´s get started!

Street food in Bolivia is delicious, varied and easy on the wallet. Nevertheless, as a tourist, you should be careful to eat only in places where cleanliness and food safety is guaranteed. Also, some dishes are spicy and others come with spicy sauces, so be careful if you can’t hold your chili. 

Any self-respecting foodie in a Bolivia street-food tour should start in La Paz, the seat of government in Bolivia, a city located at 3,600 meters above sea level where you can taste the following dishes:



These baked pockets of goodness are originally from Argentina and became very popular first in Sucre and Potosi, since their size and shape made them perfect for taking to the mines as a hearty lunch. But it was in La Paz that their current recipe was perfected, making them the juicy, meaty, somewhat spicy, golden-crusted dish they are today. Here is the practical info you need to know:

  • Although the original salteña is stuffed with red meat, salteñas now come with a variety of stuffings, like pork and chicken. 
  • As opposed to many other street-foods in Bolivia, some salteñerías offer vegetarian salteñas, so you can enjoy them even if meats are not part of your diet.
  • You can always spot a person eating salteñas for the first time, from the way the juice splatters all over their clothes. If you don’t want half your food to end up on your shirt, check out this demonstrative video
  • Though the best are in La Paz, you can also find salteñas in Sucre, Cochabamba and Potosi, in the mornings, between 10:00 and 14:00. 
  • If you want to avoid getting sick, don’t buy them from food carts on the street. Stick to salteñerias (special restaurants that sell salteñas). The price should be between 6.5 and 8.0 Bolivianos (around one US Dollar)
  • The best restaurants are Salteñas Chuquisaqueñas (La Paz), La Paceña (La Paz), El Patio (Sucre), and Los Castores (Cochabamba)  

Other Bolivian street foods you must try in La Paz are:

Sandwich de chola

  • Sandwich de Chola: a traditional sandwich made from pork. Though you can get it at many street-cars around the city, go to the Las Cholas park for the freshest sandwich.


  • Tucumanas: Similar to Salteñas, these are fried, not baked, and come with a variety of sauces to garnish. Remember to never eat them from street cars, only restaurants. Tucumanas del Prado are the most popular and tasty.  

From La Paz, you can take a bus to Cochabamba for the next stop in your foodie Bolivia street food tour. Cochabamba is a city in the heart of Bolivian valleys, located at an altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level. The city is the third largest in Bolivia, but the unchallenged capital of eating, with many traditional dishes and a culture of eating abundantly. Here are the street foods you must try:

Grilling anticuchos


Anticuchos are a very traditional street-food in Bolivia and Peru, with the vendors coming out at around 7 pm to perform the spectacle of igniting their grills and starting to cook the meat and potatoes in metal skewers. In Peru, the meat can be anything from beef to seafood. In Bolivia, anticuchos are made only from thinly sliced beef heart. The meat and potatoes are first marinated in spices, then grilled in skewers and finally covered in a creamy sauce made from yellow chili and peanuts. Here is all the information you need:

  • Don´t be turned off by the heart meat. When thinly sliced and well-cooked, the meat becomes incredibly tasty and with great texture. Do make sure you ask your vendor to cook the meat well, as this improves the texture and is also safest on your stomach. 
  • There is almost no choice but to eat anticuchos from street cars, as restaurants that offer this dish are almost non-existent. For a really traditional place in La Paz go to Las Velas, a market that specializes in anticuchos. In Cochabamba, go to Las Islas. 
  • Vegan anticucho options are currently few. Some vegetarian restaurants offer anticuchos from vegetable meats, such as seitan, which taste incredibly good. In La Paz, Try La Ventanita In Cochabamba, your best bet is Nina Café Bistró Vegetariano.
  • Anticuchos are a staple of nightlife, and anticucheras are rife on the streets of Cochabamba and La Paz from 7 pm to 4 am on weekends. 
  • Expect to pay between 10 and 12 Bolivianos for a portion. The portions are not large, just the meat that fits in a mid-size skewer and two small potatoes. If you´re hungry, you will probably need two. Or three. 
  • The creamy, yellow sauce that anticuchos are covered in is spicy. Just how spicy varies, so you may want a taste of it before your food gets covered in it. Also, obviously, steer CLEAR of it if you have a peanut allergy. 

Other street-food to try in Cochabamba:

Trancapecho sandwich

  • Trancapecho: literally means “stuck in your chest”, this sandwich has rice, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoe, a fried egg and a thin piece of beef or chicken 


  • Humintas: Quite similar to tamales, humintas are a dough made from ground corn mixed with anise seed and cheese, wrapped in corn leaves and either boiled or baked to a creamy goodness.  

The next stop in our foodie Bolivia street food tour is Santa Cruz. You can easily take a bus from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz, the capital of the Bolivian lowlands. Here are the street-foods in Santa Cruz you need to try:

Sonso and cuñape

Street food in the low-lands, such as Santa Cruz, is dominated by cheesy pastries made with yucca, sold in street-cars and bakeries. They are baked (or grilled) fresh every day and offered between 3 pm and 7 pm, so you can eat them with a cup of coffee. More details coming right up:

Grilling sonso over charcoals

  • Sonso is a mixture of mashed yucca, cheese and butter, which can be baked or grilled in wood skewers over hot coals in street cars. The taste and texture are absolutely sublime

Cuñapé just out of the oven

  • Cuñape is a similar pastry, made not from mashed yucca but from yucca flour mixed with cheese and butter, and baked in special ovens
  • Happily for vegetarians, no meat goes into these!
  • You can expect to pay around 5 Bolivianos for a portion on the street. Some upscale bakeries and coffee shops offer them, as well, at a slightly higher price. 
  • Although, traditionally, these foods come from Santa Cruz, you will be able to find them at some coffee shops and bakeries in La Paz, Sucre and Cochabamba, as well. 

Other street food in Bolivia you can´t miss, by city:

  • Sucre: You can´t leave without trying the sausage. The best place is in Choricería 7 lunares. Also, you can´t miss the nation-famous Sandra´s Ice Cream you can buy at El Parque. Really, the best ice cream you will eat in Bolivia.   

Api and pastry

  • Oruro: Api with pastel is a traditional meal that is originally from Oruro, but that you can enjoy in La Paz, Sucre, Cochabamba and Potosí, as well. Api is a sweet, hot beverage made from the flour of purple corn, and it comes with a pastry made from fried wheat flour and cheese. In cold weather, nothing gets you warmer. 

We hope the information is useful. Happy traveling and tasty eating!