San José de Chiquitos, Cerro de Chochis and Aguas Caliente

After a wet and cold weekend I’m Santa Cruz, I’ll come to this in the next post, which normally experiences tropical temperatures all year round I decided to head over to my last stop in east Bolivia before flying back to La Paz.

I was a little tired and confused and when I arrived at the bus station I realised I hadn’t done my research properly. I wanted a trufi and this time I held my resolve as various people tried to lead me around the bus station and buy tickets. Luckily I had a friend and found out where the trufis left from. I brought a ticket and then had to wait until there were enough passengers. I instantly regretted my decision but it did give me time to sort myself out and soon enough we were on our way.

The journey takes around 4 hours and this is the best road I’ve had the experience to drive on in Bolivia. The weather was warm and I was happy to enjoy the heat as I headed towards Brazil. I think I’ll always love this country and that was confounded when we stopped at a check point and a tonne of people swarmed the bus selling chicken and rice to the passengers through the windows, receiving their payment as we drove off.

The bus stopped on request and soon I was the only person on the bus heading ally he way to San Jose de Chiquitos. We arrived at a bus station and I was too tired to walk on the heat with all my things so I jumped in a cab to the Plaza and booked a room in the hotel that I had been advised. Everything on was more than £30 a night and although they looked nice it was way out of my budget. This place was still pricey but I had a room to myself for the first time since I left Upclose Bolivia and I set about washing my clothes which is not had the chance to do in too long and relaxing.

At 6pm I decided to explore a little and realised I’d missed the tourist information office as it had closed, but we will come back to that. I had a walk around the plaza and the town and took advantage of the colours the sunset created.

And after the plaza I walked around the town a little to take a look.

I returned to the hotel to do some more research and then went for dinner. As it was a Tuesday following a bank holiday, they seem to have a fair few of these in Bolivia, most of the restaurants were closed. I found a local Bolivian place and took a punt ordering some chicken. It was nice and jade a sweet and sour esq sauce although I would come to regret this as I only ate fried chicken for the next day.

I had an early night and awoke early as I wanted to visit Aguas Caliente the next day. All I knew is that I had to get to a town called Roboré, which was around 150km away. I awoke early and headed to the tourist information. Despite my lack of Spanish they seemed as if they really didn’t want to help so I went to the bus station. I was told a trufi left at 11am and as it was only 8:40 I headed back to the hotel and on the way to the hotel I was excited to see a train.

Aguas Calientes

I returned to the bus station to catch the 11am trufi and the bus didn’t leave until closer to 12pm and stopped at a few towns along the way. I arrived in Roboré around 2pm and realised I still didn’t know where Aguas Caliente was. At this point I decided it was best to find a bus back but the earliest was 9pm. My bus driver directed me to his bus company and I was told I needed to get another bus to Aguas Caliente. I soon found out it was a town another 30km away so I waited for the bus which took another hour to leave and 30mins to arrive. But I did manage to find some food at the bus station, fried chicken and rice.

I asked the driver about how to get back but he implied that there was no return and I’d need to get a taxi. I saw there was a bus due at 10pm and as it was now 3:30pm

and would be dark soon I decided to push ahead. On the map there were two locations for the springs so I headed to the closest one. It was about 1km away and although it was a beautiful location it was practically deserted other than a women who left soon after I arrived, charming, and an old man who seemed to be shouting at no one. It unnerved me a little so I decided to check out the other location.

The other location on the map was around 1.5km away and I got to follow the train tracks. Yes I love trains.

When I arrived I saw a much bigger park where I had to pay 10bs to get in. However, there were other people and facilities and I was glad that I had made the move. I asked the lady at the entrance and she told me there was a bus at 8pm, so I headed into the water and was glad I had made the trip. I had around an hour before it was too dark and enjoyed laying in the hot water. I didn’t venture too far as I had my bag with my camera that I kept in sight. I would later come to regret not exploring more but there is only so much one can do.

I left the Park and headed to the plaza to find a ticket. I was unsuccessful at flagging down a taxi and went to a shop where I was sold a ticket for the 8pm bus. I’d later find out that this is also the 9pm bus from Roboré that I’d also purchased a ticket. I wondered around town looking for a restaurant but everything listed on the map was closed or didn’t exist, so I headed back to the plaza where one restaurant was sort of open. I asked if I could sit and they said that I could until they opened which took around and hour. I cursed myself as I realised my phone battery was nearly gone and I’d brought the wrong charger. Soon the restaurant filled up and I was offered fried chicken and rice, which is what everyone else seemed to order so I went with it, and got chatting to a British family on the table next to me. They told me about the hot springs and how the water bubbled to the surface. I kicked myself a little as I hadn’t explored at all but I couldn’t just walk up the river with my bag and it would have been stupid to have left it unattended.

The bus soon showed up and drove back to San Jose, and I arrived back at the hotel at midnight. All in all it was a long day.

Cerró de Chochis

I awoke in two minds about going to visit Cerró de Chochis. I’d passed the town twice the day before and somehow hadn’t seen the rock and I didn’t want the same mission as I’d had the day before. I decided to bite the bullet, booked an extra night and this time I knew be trufi left at 11am. It doesn’t, it actually leaves at 11:30am. I was told there was a bus that returned to San Jose at 3pm so in my mind if I arrived at 1pm I’d have two hours to see the rock and get back in time for the bus. We arrived just after 1pm and the driver told me there would be a return trufi at 5pm. Luckily I could see the rock from the town and I finally found it on the map. It was 3km so easily I could get there and back in 2hours. I was torn between rushing and returning for 3pm and taking my time and arriving for 5pm as I really didn’t know who to trust. I decided to try for the two hours and snapped some shots of the plaza before I left.

As I left the plaza and walked through the town I noticed they had a very relaxed policy on animals wondering around.

My general walking pace is actually quite fast I partly thank and blame my sister Zoe for this as she used to make me walk fast as a child. In this instance I’ll thank her. I made short work of the distance and started heading up the road to the rock. Even from a low vantage point I could see the scenery was beautiful. I really wanted to find a way up to the cliff you can see but With little time, no guide, which apparently you can hire although I have no idea where, and no routes on the map I decided that would be foolhardy. It was also probably miles away even though it looked close.

I crossed the train track and took a short cut thought the jungle, which nearly backfired but I kept going and found the road again. At the top of the hill there is a really interesting church that this area is famous for but we will come to that later. Before let’s look at the rock I came to see.

To get to the mirador you have to go through the church yard, climb some steep steps and then follow a path that becomes harder to traverse as you go along. It’s quite short and well worth the effort as you can see by the beautiful views.

All of this took me less than an hour and I decided I could easily make it back by 3pm if I got a move on. I quickly had a look inside the church.

I arrived back in town at 3pm only to discover that the first bus back was at 10pm, this was the one I caught the night before. I spoke to a women on the plaza who sold me some delicious empanadas and she said there was a trufi at 5pm, so with two people telling me the same thing I hoped it was true. I had a little walk around town and took some more pictures.

As I said above they really left the animals do what they want here. So as I waited for the trufi and ras my book I was entertained by all the animals running around.

Luckily for me the trufi arrived just after 5pm. I told the driver several times that I wanted to go to San Juan, he looked confused and luckily instead of saying no he told me that the bus went to San Jose, which is the town I wanted to go to. No idea where San Juan came from. But I could have easily missed the bus. Soon o was on my way and returned at a much more sensible time.

Hike to Valle de la Luna and Parque Historical Santa Cruz la Vieja

On my last day in San Jose I was tempted to take and early bus buck to Santa Cruz but one of the reasons I had come was to look at the sites of San José. There is an archeological site about 2km south of the city and I could see on maps me that there was a mirador 6km away. I decided to walk to the archeological site and decide what to do from there. I left just before 10am and by 10:25 I spotted the sign below. It suggested that the mirador was only another 2.5km and I thought that if I walk until 11:30 then I could be back by 1pm to get the bus back to the city.

Soon after I started down the dirt track I saw the archeological site. At this point my challenge was to reach the mirador so I decided to check out the site on the way back and I marched up the hill to the view point.

It was a hard walk up the hill especially in the heat. But I made it ahead of time and these are some of the sites along the way.

Valley de la Luna

The valley was only another 1km up the road and as I had time to spare I thought I should take a look.

I didn’t stay at the valley for long. It appeared to some kind of shrine or graveyard but I didn’t have much time left to get back to town as it was 11:25 and I had already walked 8km which meant I needed to walk the same distance back to town. There were a few other groups looking at the sites but they were in cars and I seemed to be the only one hiking the distance. Some people took moto taxis and others car taxis so if you don’t want to hike I think it’s a fairly regular thing to hire transport to visit. I also believe that you can hire guides from the tourist office. I didn’t do this as I wanted to hike, my Spanish is bad and doing this kinda thing is cheaper in groups but so investigate if it’s of interest.

When I was going back I realised I was tired and my pace was slower. I decided to forgo the archeological site as I wanted to make it back to the village for 1pm so I could eat before I got the trufi. The restaurant I wanted wasn’t open and I tried another but they were just serving Bolivian food and I wanted a break after all the fried chicken. I went back to the restaurant I went to the night before but as I sat down the waiter said no. I wasn’t really sure why but I decided to call it quits and head back to Santa Cruz. The guys at the bus station were great and soon I had an ice cream and bus ticket and chatted to them a little about life. Then I was on the bus and ready to return to Santa Cruz.

2 thoughts on “San José de Chiquitos, Cerro de Chochis and Aguas Caliente

  1. Pingback: Santa Cruz and return to La Paz – Thirty Something Traveller

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