Being bedridden with altitude sickness in La Paz, I knew I had to escape to a lower altitude. My chosen destination was Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia’s second largest metropolitan area and home to the country’s largest international airport. Viru Viru International Airport lies away from city centre and on the taxi ride in, I saw several rhea, large flightless birds related to the emu and ostrich.
Santa Cruz is in Bolivia’s tropical lowlands and shares the same climate classification as Darwin, Australia. Although Bolivia is famous for its high altitude, two-thirds of Bolivia’s land mass is actually lowland.
The city of Santa Cruz as seen from my approaching plane
As soon as I landed in Santa Cruz I felt better. Although less than an hour by air from La Paz, Santa Cruz’s lower altitude, tropical weather, flat terrain and reduced congestion contrasted greatly. For one week I did very little except relaxing and enjoying the relative peace.
In Santa Cruz I tasted the achachairu fruit for the first time. It was delicious, as anything related to the mangosteen has to be!
Not far from my hostel in Santa Cruz was a street market featuring fresh fruit stalls
My hostel welcomed a giant moth
Loro Loco Hostel’s giant avocado tree
Loro Loco Hostel featured a giant avocado tree. Every day, 1-3 huge avocados would land on the ground, ready to be eaten by whoever found them first.
Viru Viru International Airport’s butcher
The departure terminal of Santa Cruz’s main airport features a butcher selling beef. I guess it was aimed at people flying to the Bolivian highlands where beef was likely rarer, more expensive and of poorer quality.
After one week of recuperation in Santa Cruz, I had recovered and was ready for my next destination: Sucre.