Flamingo in Santa Cruz de la Sierra

10 reasons why you should travel to Santa Cruz De la Sierra instead of La Paz

Kamran Abbasov Kamran Abbasov 15 October 2020
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Bolivia is one of the amazing destinations in South America, offering a lot to explore. Nature in the country is varied, and you can see everything from the Andes Mountains to Amazon rainforests and the Atacama desert. Bolivia is a landlocked country located in Central South America, bordering Peru to the north-west, Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay to the south-east, Argentina to the south, and Chile to the south-west. Bolivia's territory is 1.099 million square kilometres, with more than 11.35 million people living on it. Its administrative capital, La Paz, is the world's highest administrative capital, with an altitude of 3,640 meters.

In this article, I will write about why you should travel to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, during your travel to Bolivia. Where is Santa Cruz de la Sierra? Being located 416 meters above sea level, Santa Cruz de la Sierra is Bolivia's commercial center. The Spanish founded the city in the 16th century. It is located in the eastern part of Bolivia, on the Pirai River in the lowlands of the Andes Mountains. What to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra? Well, there is a plethora of things to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, from enjoying the city life to hiking in the surrounding mountains.

Most travelers to Bolivia prefer staying and spending time in La Paz. But in this article, I will write about 10 reasons why you should travel to Santa Cruz De la Sierra instead of La Paz, as well as the question – how safe is it to travel to Santa Cruz de la Sierra?

1. Lower altitude

Santa Cruz de la Sierra

As I mentioned above, La Paz has an altitude of 3,640 meters. It is, of course, not so easy for everyone to get accustomed to higher altitudes. Some people may have problems with breathing due to a relatively lower amount of oxygen. Mostly, older people may have difficulties adapting. According to medical reports, lower oxygen in La Paz affects most of the visitors, leading to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Unlike La Paz, Santa Cruz de la Sierra is only 416 meters above sea level, making its air and weather more compatible with the human health system.

2. Santa Cruz de la Sierra Weather

Echinopsis lageniformis

The higher altitude of La Paz affects not only the amount of oxygen available but also the weather around the city. Unlike Santa Cruz De la Sierra, La Paz’s weather through the year is relatively colder. Also, the temperature difference in La Paz is higher, meaning that it is warmer during the day and colder at night. That is why even if you travel to Bolivia to spend time in La Paz, don't forget to bring warm clothes. There is about a 10-degree Celsius difference between the average temperatures in La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, with the latter being much warmer.

3. More modern city

City in Bolivia

Even though La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, the commercial center of the country, namely, Santa Cruz De la Sierra, beats it with its modernity and westernization. Santa Cruz de la Sierra is home to many amazing hotels, cafes, and restaurants. Compared to La Paz, there are more international chain restaurants and stores. Where is Santa Cruz de la Sierra? Beautiful hotels in Santa Cruz De la Sierra include Marriott Santa Cruz de la Sierra Hotel, Radisson Hotel Santa Cruz, and so on. You will enjoy amazing food in luxurious restaurants in the city, such as Momentos Dulces de Mariu and El Bulevar Bar Restaurante.

4. More action going on

Bolivian woman

Due to its more population and business opportunities, Santa Cruz de la Sierra is a more dynamic and active city than La Paz. It is arguably the fastest-growing city in the country, where traditions and cultural norms are combined with modernity and westernization. Santa Cruz de la Sierra is an amazing place to experience Bolivian culture and how the local people and the modern lifestyle are embedded. There are many international companies, including American franchises, creating workplaces for local people.

5. Many amazing museums

museum

If you are a history buff, there are some amazing museums for you to explore in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Being located in an old colonial building, the Museum of Modern Art offers only temporary collections of modern art exhibits. You will find gorgeous paintings and sculptures made by both local and international artists and sculptors. The Museo Etno-Folklorico is another excellent place for observing different tools of Bolivia's ethnic groups, as well as their old weapons. Museo Guarani is a place for you to enjoy fascinating objects from Guaraní indigenous sites, cultural and musical events, etc.

6. Nicely built churches

church in Bolivia

Tourists find nicely built churches around the city, which prompts them to take a photograph there. Dating back to the 19th century, the Cathedral de Santa Cruz, aka the Cathedral Basilica of St. Lawrence, will attract you thanks to its ornate exterior design. It is the main catholic church in the city. If you go inside to the top of the clock tower, you will be fascinated by the panoramic view of the surrounding areas. You can also see the ancient gold and silver relics, as well as the world's one of the smallest books in the Cathedral. Other churches worthy of a visit include Trinity International Church, Ministerio Internacional Jesús Rey de Gloria, etc.

7. Amazing entertainment options

Bolivian architecture

What to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra? One of the favorite options of visitors is to explore the 7 Calles Market to buy amazing fabrics and other traditional products. For the movie fans, there is the city’s largest cinema operates at the heart of Santa Cruz; that is the CineCener. Estadio Ramon Tahuichi Aguilera is a special place for football (soccer) lovers. If you are lucky enough, you can watch Oriente Petrolero and Blooming, two main rivals, play.

8. Fabulous Cultural landmarks

flags

You will find many fabulous cultural landmarks and historical places to visit in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. One prime example is the ruins of El Fuerte, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Other historical and cultural places are the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, Iglesias de la Chiquitania, Parroquia de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Pabellon Sandoval, and many other amazing sites.

9. Beautiful nature

Amazing nature

As I mentioned above, nature in Bolivia is so varied and beautiful. In Santa Cruz, tourists can go to Guembe Biocentro Resort, where they will get the best out of their visit to the city. It has a phenomenal park, where you can see a massive butterfly dome and do some fishing in the lagoons. Lomas de Arena is another fascinating place allowing visitors to enjoy sandboarding. Other must-visit places in Santa Cruz De la Sierra include Jardin Botanico, Amboro National Park, Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park, etc.

10. Beautiful parks

park in Bolivia

The city is blessed with gorgeous parks and gardens. Parque El Arenal is, for example, one of the oldest parks in Santa Cruz. It is an amazing place to peacefully stroll among trees and all the greenery, or even go paddling in the lake. Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park is a breathtaking place for those who like observing wild animals, such as Jaguar. It is the biggest national park in the country. In Jardin de las Delicias, you will find peaceful greenery and a waterfall.

How safe is it to travel to Santa Cruz de la Sierra?

Overall, tourists should be very cautious during their travel to Bolivia, as political and social tensions are still prevalent in the country. Due to upcoming elections, there are demonstrations happening throughout the country. Considering that La Paz is the administrative capital, you can expect more violent demonstrations, such as roadblocks, there than in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Most cities in Bolivia have a medium level of threat of crime and robbery. But it is Santa Cruz de la Sierra that more crimes are happening. It is due to the fact that Santa Cruz de la Sierra is the commercial capital and has relatively more population than other cities like La Paz. Kidnapping, drug trafficking, carjacking, poor road safety, robberies, petty crime, and taxi thieves are still prevalent in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and La Paz.

A quick recap

All in all, Bolivia is an amazing place to visit and enjoy the beautiful nature and culture. It is mostly a mountainous place, but you can also find Amazon basin rainforests there. Most visitors to Bolivia consider residing in La Paz and plan their activities there. However, I tried to show you how you can get more satisfaction out of your travel to Bolivia if you choose to travel to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Where is Santa Cruz de la Sierra? What to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra? How safe is it to travel to Santa Cruz de la Sierra? – these are the questions I have tried to answer in this blog. I also wrote about things to do in Santa Cruz and ten reasons why one should visit Santa Cruz De la Sierra instead of La Paz, which are as follows: lower altitude, the weather, more modernity, more action going on, many museums, gorgeous buildings of churches, amazing entertainment places, cultural landmarks, amazing nature, and beautiful parks.

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Kamran Abbasov

Kamran was born in Ganja, one of the ancient cities of Azerbaijan. Since his childhood, he has had a special interest in photography and traveling. As a recent graduate majoring in International Relations, Kamran has a relish to learn more about worldwide culture, art, and history of other nations. He also has more than one and a half year of experience in hospitality and tourism industry in Azerbaijan. He is a participant of the Summer Work & Travel program sponsored by the U.S. government. Kamran currently studies Master of Sustainability at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

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