I spent the last few days looking at the Samaipata region in Bolivia to build a three-day camping trip. Samaipata is in between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba and is known for its pre-Inca fort and the largest rock carving in South America. It’s an interesting historical site but there is much more to this region than just that.
Getting to Samaipata takes about three hours. It’s a nice drive once you get out of the city of Santa Cruz and start climbing towards the hills. You follow the route of the river Pirai for most of the way and there are stops where you can have a break and go for a swim/ paddle (it’s not very deep). The town of Samaipata is quaint and has some excellent restaurants. It is made for tourists and the hotels are mostly clean and comfortable. The cost of a meal is about £5 and the hotel I checked out was £11 including breakfast.
A good clean hotel with a great garden with a view of the mountains.
Two hours from here heading on a mud track is the waterfall of La Pajcha. This is an impressive sight with a fall of 50 mtrs or so. The water is cold but on a hot day it’s a refreshing bathing spot. The small beach is high enough for pitching tents on and its pretty much deserted. If trippers do come, they stay an hour before the tour heads back home. We saw two tourists during the day we stayed. You can all but drive to the waterfall and so it is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.
From here you can hike to see condors. This is a good region for these magnificent birds and up to 100 in a day have been claimed to have been spotted.
The hike is challenging and takes two hours. The terrain is rough and you will need a machete and maybe a rope for the steeper bits. Condors like the morning sun as it causes thermals and so an early start will get you a better photo.
Wildlife is interesting here and there are plenty of the northern vizcacha to see. These (Lagidium peruanum) are a species of rodent in the family Chinchillidae They basically look like a giant rabbit with a bushy tail. They can be seen at the waterfall and like to sunbathe in the afternoon.
There are three more waterfalls in this area that I have been told about. Apparently, all are as good as the first, but I ran out of time to find them all. Perhaps you can join me to hunt them out next time.