Last stop in Bolivia: Samaipata
31.01.2013 - 29.01.2013
Tucked away in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental, this sleepy little town is the perfect place to kick back and relax, or even head off for the more adventurous options, such as trekking, biking or horse-riding. Due to its unique location in close proximity to sights such as El Fuerte, a pre-inca site, Parque National Amboró, and the site of Ché Guevara’s last stand outside Vallegrande, the village actually attracts many gringos seeking tours, along with being popular amongst locals as a weekend getaway.
The name Samaipata literally means “Rest in the Highlands” in Quechua, and rest I did. Whilst waiting for my Brazilian visa to process in Santa Cruz three hours away, I bedded down in a comfortable hostel close to the little plaza, and reaped not only the benefits of a quiet nights’ sleep, but also was able to enjoy the full moon weekend amongst nature, a much welcomed change from the bustling sights and sounds of big cities.
I spent my two day weekend passing most of my time at the nearby animal refuge, where rescued wildlife were cared for, and most of the monkeys were allowed to roam free. Amongst these, three caught my attention. A sweet howler called Cheetah, an affectionate spider monkey by the name of Simón, and a curious capuchin thief Kiki. The refuge had a very tranquil atmosphere, and on another plus point they rented out horses by the hour.
At first I thought it would be a tourist trap, rent a horse and walk the countryside, however I was wrong. The horses were leased out for a mere 30 Bolivianos an hour (just over US$4), and once confident that you could control and look after your horses, you were simply pointed in the direction of the path and left alone. It was one of the best mornings I’d had, galloping the countryside without a care in the world, with fresh air, a fast horse, and no specific time to be back.
I think sometimes when you concentrate too much on activities you have to do, and sights you have to see, on a schedule that’s pre-planned, you miss out on the little things life has to offer. In my time in Bolivia, I’ve visited the Amazon basin, biked down the death road in La Paz, and witnessed the famous Salar of Uyuni, and yet I feel that looking back at the things I’ve done and places I’ve seen, this one simple day might still be one of the most memorable experiences.
Tip of the day: A memorable experience may not always be something you read about in the guide books, or seen pictures of online. More often than not, the most memorable experiences you’ll get from your travels happen when you least expect it, when you remember to take time out for yourself.
This is me signing off for now… Until Brazil, land of sun, sand and beaches… and Carnaval Carnaval Carnaval!!! See you soon…