"Life’s not about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning how to ride in the rain."
Jesuit mission church in San Jose de Chiquitos, Bolivia
Jesuit mission church in Concepcion, Bolivia
We start out by maneuvering our way around the city of Santa Cruz and then head straight east on a beautifully paved highway on the way to our final destination for the day, stopping along the way to eat lunch at one of the small towns in the Chiquitania region of Bolivia. In Robore, a town which serves as a military outpost as it lies just few hours from the border with Brazil, we stop to refuel shortly before concluding our days ride. In Santiago we hike up to one of the best vantage points in eastern Bolivia allowing us to look out over the valley as far as the eye can see, before relaxing in a natural hot springs in the late afternoon. Next we begin our tour of the old Jesuit mission churches and the original site of the city of Santa Cruz. We leave the pavement and head off-road on a beautifully maintained dirt road to continue our explorations, spending the night at a beautiful hotel in San Ignacio de Velasco. Crossing through cattle country, we visit two more old mission towns and even drop in on some woodcarvers at work. The tour wraps up after crossing the flood plains of the Rio Grande River on our way back home.
Day 1 (Sunday) - Welcome to Santa Cruz!
We’ll personally pick everyone up at the airport and settle you into a hotel in the city. After dinner we have an informal orientation and prep session and a good night´s sleep.
Day 2 (Monday) - To the Garden of Eden
We take the bikes on a 70km. (40 mile) roundtrip practice run up to the Jardin de las Delicias, a waterfall on the edge of Amboró National Park. Dirt roads, stream crossings and maybe rapelling down the falls (depending on weather & group size). Back in town we’ll head up into the hills to our cabins where we’ll spend the night.
Day 3 (Tuesday) - From green hills to red: El Torno to Santiago de Chiquitos (465km./289mi.)
Leaving El Torno early we take the new highway straight east, passing through the old mission town of San José de Chiquitos, situated in the plains and then we’ll continue on to our days final destination, the quaint town of Santiago de Chiquitos in the red hills of the Sunsas range. We sleep at a rustic hostal that used to be an Indian school.
Day 4 (Wednesday) - Ridge with a view
A moderate hike up to the Cerro de Santiago reveals one of the best views in Eastern Bolivia, overlooking the still-virgen Tucavaca valley. Then we go down to Aguas Calientes for a relaxing soak in the hot springs.
Day 5 (Thursday) - Santiago to San Jose (155km./96mi.)
The highway back winds through the red hills down to San Jose, where we visit Santa Cruz la Vieja (the remains of the first city of Santa Cruz) and the lovely 17th century church, the only one in Eastern Bolivia built of stone.
Day 6 (Friday) - Making Tracks: San Jose to San Ignacio de Velasco (200km./125mi.)
Forget the pavement, we head north to San Ignacio de Velasco on a beautiful new dirt road through farm communities recently carved out of the forest. We stop along the way to take a swim and then upon arrival we’ll head out to the reservoir to see the communities water source before taking a peak at the church on the corner of the plaza. We stay at an upscale hotel just off the plaza.
Day 7 (Saturday) - Two Majestic Monuments: San Ignacio to San Javier (232km./145mi.)
From San Ignacio we follow the red dirt through cattle country to Concepcion and San Javier, two sleepy mission towns boasting beautifully restored Jesuit churches from the 1600s, both on UNESCO´s World Heritage list. We visit the native Chiquitano woodcarvers at work and tour the churches.
Day 8 (Sunday) - The Last Hurrah: San Javier to El Torno (263km./163mi.)
We enjoy the last curves between San Javier and San Ramon before hitting the flats on our way accross the broad flood plain of the Rio Grande, which we cross before skirting the urban sprawl of Santa Cruz to reach our reach “home” once again back at our hilltop cabins where our journey began.
Day 9 (Monday) - City Streets of Santa Cruz
We relax the pace today, we’ll pack our bags and say goodbye to our hilltop refuge and head into the city for a day of sight-seeing —last minute souvenir shopping, open markets, swimming and good food are a few of the options. It’s a decompress day before returning to life as usual.
Day 10 (Tuesday) - Departure Day
We’ll take you from the hotel to catch your flight home at the airport. You’ll want to stretch out your sore backside before you board your flight and flip through your pics as you grin (and groan) thinking of all the fun that was had. From here it’s time to start planning your next adventure!
old church bell & clock tower in Concepcion, Bolivia