It was just a quick 30 minute airplane ride from Sucre to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, probably the shortest airplane ride in my life. It felt like we were traveling in luxury compared to windy roads on a bus! The roads were flooded out and it didn’t seem like a good idea to take the buses, so we decided to upgrade. Best idea ever. We only had a short time, but there was so much to see and do in Santa Cruz – it’s a HUGE city! There are parks, museums, and zoos all over the place. Here’s a run-down of our route through the city of Santa Cruz in one full day.
What to See in Santa Cruz in One Day
We took a bus from the airport (VVI) into the city and found a place to stay near the inner ring of the city just before dusk. Our hostel actually charged to use the kitchen, so we found a busy fried-chicken restaurant nearby and hoped for the best! Alyssa’s stomach wasn’t feeling too hot since she got a parasite on our Uyuni Salt Flat tour, but all the food we ate in Santa Cruz was fine.
Santa Cruz City Zoo
We got up bright and early and found our way to the first bus of the day. Off to see the Santa Cruz zoo (Zoológico Municipal Noel Kempff if you’re asking in Spanish)!
Click here to see it on Google Maps.
The city is full of these little minibus/oversized-vans that zip around town like they are rushing to a fire! There are a hundred different routes, so we asked our hostel what number to look for. It came along the street right next to our hostel after 5 minutes and we were on our way! The driver and other passengers were helpful and told us where to get off. It took less than a half hour and cost less than a dollar.
The zoo was incredible! It had a lot of animals but was surprisingly spacious and peaceful. It had tall trees and was more like a park with really cool animals than a busy zoo. There was plenty of motivation for the name of our travel blog – uneven sidewalks!
We sat and watched the mischievous monkeys for a half hour. There was a mom scampering around with a baby on her back. The adolescents were playing tricks on each other in their treehouse. The word travieso in Spanish fits monkeys perfectly!
They had a PILE of turtles! I’ve never seen so many turtles stacked up in my life!
The emus were as cocky and cool as I’ve seen anywhere. They had a pretty sweet home to run around in.
This sloth must have wanted to get some practice rock climbing. He was posing for us as he tried to figure out where his climbing tree went.
This is the first zoo that I’ve seen an animal loose, much less a snake! I didn’t believe it at first when other people were looking up and pointing! Maybe it had escaped, or maybe it was a free agent just stopping by to check out how his buddies were doing. I mentioned it to the guards at the front gate and they only seemed mildly interested. In the US they would probably evacuate the whole zoo if a snake escaped from its cage!
These bright orange fish looked like they were painted! They were boiling the water fighting for the food people were tossing at them.
I would have loved this HUGE slide if I was a kid!
Pond w/ Fountain
From the zoo we took another bus to the Parque de Arenal, back towards the center of town. Click here for the Google Map. It was a pretty park with a pond and a big fountain in the middle and trees all around. There was a big group of locals taking selfies, but not many tourists. It is probably more exciting if they have an event or fair there, but it wasn’t the most exciting thing to see in the city. We shared a lemonade smoothie and headed out on foot to the main Central Park, just a few blocks to the south.
Central Park and Church
Another beautiful park with tall trees and park benches! (Google Map) There’s a good ice cream shop right next to the park that had like 40 flavors! It’s a shame to let those go without trying all the flavors… It must have been a day off because all the benches were filled up with people just hanging out. So, we walked around and window shopped in the nearby stores as we ate our ice cream.
Right next to the park was beautiful cathedral that was constructed in 1605! It had ornate woodwork on the ceiling inside that gave it a unique feel.
We climbed up the bell tower (for a small fee of less than a dollar) to get a panorama view of the city.
There was one more place we wanted to visit that had a few geocaches, so we hopped on the bus and headed south.
The Urbano Park was another huge park with sports fields, running and biking lanes, and loads of picnic tables. (Google Map) There was a huge fountain that made designs with water jets too! When we arrived, we were greeted with a big souvenir vendor fair. It was a big place with a lot going on, but we didn’t have any room to carry anything extra.
We headed off to look for two geocaches, but both were missing. Bummer. Anyways, it brought us to a little piece of calm and quietness in the heart of a busy city.
One last bus to take us back to the center.
Fruit Market in Santa Cruz
The bus didn’t pass right by our hostel, so we walked through a colorful fruit and flower market on our way back. They had so many different kinds of fruit all stacked up in little pyramids, it was incredible!
Finally Made it Back!
After a whole day of running around the city we were spent! We saw most of the attractions in the center of the city and really enjoyed our time exploring on the buses.
If we had more time, we would have liked to check out a water theme park we saw on the way from the airport. Maybe next time.
The roads were still flooded, so the next day it was back to the airport and on to Cochabamba.
Back to Bolivia