ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Day 21 to 30

DAY 30 (2 OF 2) – STARRY NIGHT, SAMAIPATA, BOLIVIA

Accompanied by the sound of cicadas, the light of fireflies, and the faint shadows of agave plants, seeing the southern sky at a clear spring night in Samaipata was a real treat for us.
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Read other posts on Samaipata & Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Day 27.2 – Night Arrival, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.1 – El Fuerte, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.2 – Town, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.1 – Finca la Vispera, Sampaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.2 – Garden Cafe at Finca la Vispera, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.1 – Cloud Forest at Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.2 – Starry Night, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.1 – Goodbye, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.2 – Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 30 (1 OF 2) – CLOUD FOREST AT AMBORO NATIONAL PARK, SAMAIPATA, BOLIVIA

Other than El Fuerte, Amboro National Park is the other big draw for visitors coming to Samaipata.  Located roughly 40 minutes of drive from Samaipata, Amboro is relatively easy to access comparing to other national parks in Bolivia.  Amboro is famous for its diverse landscapes and terrains, offering a large variety of vegetation from Amazonian rainforest, Chaco plains of cactus and palms, to cloud forest of ferns and trees.  We chose the cloud forest as our destination to check out its prehistoric vegetation.  Situated from 1800m to 3500m above sea level, the cloud forests of Amboro serves as a major water source supporting cities and towns at the lowlands, including Santa Cruz.  The cloud forest acts like a sponge, capturing the moisture in the air and gradually releasing the water to streams and rivers.  For us, the biggest highlight of Amboro’s cloud forest is the giant ferns.  They are the rare survivors from the prehistoric eras.  According to our guide, one species of the ferns even predates the dinosaurs, while the other major species originates from the Jurassic Period.  Since ferns reproduce by spores instead of flowers and seeds, there are little resources in the fern forest to support a large population of animals.  We did see a few interesting birds during the trek.  With steep and muddy ascends and descends, the trek turned out to be tougher than what we imagined, but we were glad that we made it to see the giant ferns, some reaching more than 10m tall.  Given that some grow only 1 to 2cm per year, some of the ferns we saw are hundreds and even over a thousand years of age.
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Read other posts on Samaipata & Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Day 27.2 – Night Arrival, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.1 – El Fuerte, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.2 – Town, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.1 – Finca la Vispera, Sampaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.2 – Garden Cafe at Finca la Vispera, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.1 – Cloud Forest at Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.2 – Starry Night, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.1 – Goodbye, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.2 – Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 29 (2 OF 2) – GARDEN CAFE AT FINCA LA VISPERA, SAMAIPATA, BOLIVIA

Every morning of our stay, we would head for Vispera’s Garden Café for breakfast.  Labeled as serving “slow food”, the staff would pick the herbs and vegetables from the farm terraces adjacent to the café after they took our order.  We particularly liked the floral tea, aloe juice, and fruit crepes.  

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Read other posts on Samaipata & Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Day 27.2 – Night Arrival, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.1 – El Fuerte, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.2 – Town, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.1 – Finca la Vispera, Sampaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.2 – Garden Cafe at Finca la Vispera, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.1 – Cloud Forest at Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.2 – Starry Night, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.1 – Goodbye, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.2 – Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 29 (1 OF 2) – FINCA LA VISPERA, SAMAIPATA, BOLIVIA

For the weather, lush green vegetation and colourful flower blossoms, many outsiders see Samaipata as a paradise. Some foreigners even decided to stay and settle here. As a result, quite a number of guesthouses, cafes and villas are foreign-owned, including Finca La Vispera, the organic farm where we stay. At Vispera, there are farm terraces, native gardens, guesthouses, communal kitchens, and a garden café. Everyone – the owners, local staff, two horses, three dogs, and a cat – share this little piece of paradise in harmony.
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Read other posts on Samaipata & Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Day 27.2 – Night Arrival, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.1 – El Fuerte, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.2 – Town, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.1 – Finca la Vispera, Sampaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.2 – Garden Cafe at Finca la Vispera, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.1 – Cloud Forest at Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.2 – Starry Night, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.1 – Goodbye, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.2 – Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 28 (2 OF 2) – TOWN, SAMAIPATA, BOLIVIA

Singing birds, blooming flowers, mountain breeze, and the layback atmosphere are the main reasons why the town of Samaipata, 2.5-hour drive from the dusty city of Santa Cruz, has become a popular destination for foreign and local visitors. We picked Samaipata as a pleasant introduction to this mountainous country before heading to the highlands. Situated at roughly 1600m above sea level, Samaipata lies at a transitional zone among various landscapes, including the Amazonian lowlands, Chaco plains and Andean highlands. Without the heat and humidity of the lowlands, Samaipata is a lovely place to chill out under the tropical sun. The town is particularly charming in late afternoon when the sun casts a golden glow onto the painted walls and red mud roads. Under the peaceful ambience, even the sleepy dogs under shaded doorways seem contented and relaxed.
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Read other posts on Samaipata & Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Day 27.2 – Night Arrival, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.1 – El Fuerte, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.2 – Town, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.1 – Finca la Vispera, Sampaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.2 – Garden Cafe at Finca la Vispera, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.1 – Cloud Forest at Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.2 – Starry Night, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.1 – Goodbye, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.2 – Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 28 (1 OF 2) – EL FUERTE, SAMAIPATA, BOLIVIA

El Fuerte, a pre-Inca archaeological site at a hilltop overlooking the town of Samaipata, is the main draw for foreigners to this sleepy hill town.  Listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, El Fuerte contains one of the world’s biggest stone carving.  On a gigantic rock surface at the hilltop, pictorial and geometric carvings were made by pre-Inca cultures.  The carving began at around AD300 and continued over generations for various purposes, from ritual services to astronomic and weather observations.  The Incas added two wall structures with mummy burial niches and a sun gate when they conquered the area and named Samaipata as a provincial capital.  The Spaniards then came to occupy the site as a military fort and built a few Andalusian houses on the site.  Apart from the sheer gigantic size of the stone carvings, the superimposing of symbols and architecture from various cultures offers a unique character to the site.  In recent decades, there were numerous rumours about some sort of mystical energy of the site.  Some even imagine the site being used by extraterrestrial to land their spaceship.
Following a raised boardwalk and a loop trail, we spent about 2 hours at El Fuerte to contemplate its unique history and take in the glorious views from the site.
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Read other posts on Samaipata & Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Day 27.2 – Night Arrival, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.1 – El Fuerte, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.2 – Town, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.1 – Finca la Vispera, Sampaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.2 – Garden Cafe at Finca la Vispera, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.1 – Cloud Forest at Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.2 – Starry Night, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.1 – Goodbye, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.2 – Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 27 (2 OF 2) – NIGHT ARRIVAL, SAMAIPATA, BOLIVIA

We’ll spend the next 3 days in Samaipata, Bolivia, a rural hill town 120km southwest of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the biggest city in the country.  We flew with BOA (Boliviana de Aviacion), a rather new airline 6-year in business, from Sao Paulo to Santa Cruz.  The flight took 3 hours.  The drive from Santa Cruz International Airport to Samaipata took us another 3 hours by taxi.  The drive took us on a bumpy winding road into the mountainous countryside.  We arrived at Samaipata at around 8pm at night.  Crickets were loud, air was a little chilly, and the sky was not as clear as we wanted but at least we could see some stars.  We checked in at Finca La Vispera, a rural retreat of organic farms, indigenous plants and flowers, several domestic animals and many birds.  We were delighted to find our pleasant little room on the upper floor of a timber house overlooking the valley of Samaipata.

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Previous Destination: Sao Paulo, Brazil, reading from post Day 25.1

Read other posts on Samaipata & Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Day 27.2 – Night Arrival, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.1 – El Fuerte, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.2 – Town, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.1 – Finca la Vispera, Sampaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.2 – Garden Cafe at Finca la Vispera, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.1 – Cloud Forest at Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.2 – Starry Night, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.1 – Goodbye, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.2 – Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought