Samaipata has evolved into one of the top Gringo Trail spots in east Bolivia, but don’t let that put you off. This dozy town in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental has held on to its peaceful vibe, and since it’s now growing with restaurants and well-run hostels, you can savor a decent coffee as well as beautiful views of the flourishing landscape.
Samaipata is a favorite with tourists for its mild climate, distinct landscapes, small-town atmosphere and pretty houses, and proximity to the ‘Fuerte de Samaipata’ world heritage site.
Top Attractions in Samaipata
The site of El Fuerte emits such pulling power that travelers from all over the world come to Samaipata to scale the hill and observe the remains of this pre-Inca site. A Unesco World Heritage Site since 1998 CE, El Fuerte occupies a peak about 10km from Samaipata and offers exciting views across the canyons.
This series of three stunning waterfalls on a muddy mountain river plunge 45m into a romantic tropical lagoon. La Pajcha has a clean sandy beach for swimming and welcoming campsites. It’s 42km south of Samaipata, toward San Juan, where there is a turnoff that commences 7km to the falls.
Zoo El Refugio
This responsible and charming little zoo is a refuge for lucky rescued animals. The zoo allows volunteers who can lodge for free in exchange for their work, and there is a beautiful wooded campsite if you favor spending a night among the animals.
Samaipata’s archaeological museum exhibits pieces unearthed from El Fuerte and presents information about the site. It’s worth coming here before exploring the ruins. There are around five well-arranged rooms with artifacts from different periods and people, with excellent and friendly explanations.
Things to do in Samaipata
- Camping: La Pajcha is an excellent place for night adventures. If you are around, get close to the condor mountain and camp there. Numerous agencies combine the condor hike on the same day of camping. It is safe.
- Condor Mountain Sight Seeing and Hiking. The hike will take a day with 4 hours driving and 5 to 6:30 hours of hiking. It’s deemed a suitable alternative to the Colca Canyon in Peru, though the probability of seeing condors is somewhat lower here. Don’t let it discourage you, though. The place is excellent for wannabe photographers and hikers.
- Amboro Park Hiking: Numerous agencies offer hikes in the cloud forest at Amboro Park. Hiring a guide is a must because there are no updated trails, and it is incredibly challenging to hike by yourself.
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