This historically-focused tour explores Bolivia's ancient restored missions. Visit the center for the mission restoration project, Concepcion. While you are there walk through the restored Catedral de Concepcion and the museum that highlights the restoration project. The capital of the Jesuit missions is San Ignacio, where you learn about the largest and most elaborate mission church. This region is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural accomplishment and history!
Day 1 : Arrive in Santa Cruz Day 2 : Samaipata Day 3 : San Javier and Concepcion Jesuit Missions Day 4 : Jesuit Missions of San Miguel, San Rafael, Santa Ana, and San Ignacio Day 5 : Return to Santa Cruz
Explore the capital of the Jesuit missions, San Ignacio
Visit the oldest mission town in the region, San Javier
Learn about the history of the mission church restoration project
Travel southwest from Santa Cruz into the Cordillera Oriental and pass the volcanic crater lakes as you make your way with your guide to Samaipata for a full day excursion. Samaipata's Quechua name means "rest in the Highlands" and is home to El Fuerte, a hilltop pre-Inca site that inspires much-debated theories. With its giant, carved rock slabs, it is considered to have once been a ceremonial center for an ancient urban settlement, and there have been New Age claims that it was a landing zone for ancient, alien spacecraft.
This morning, depart with your guide on a four hour drive to San Javier, the oldest mission town in the region. After visiting the city and enjoying lunch, continue for one hour to Concepcion, center for the mission restoration projects. Visit the restored Catedral de Concepcion and the museum that highlights the restoration of the various churches in the region.
Day 4 Jesuit Missions of San Miguel, San Rafael, Santa Ana, and San Ignacio
After breakfast, transfer for three hours to San Ignacio, the current "capital" of the Jesuit missions of the region. Learn the story of how the largest and most elaborate of the original mission churches was demolished and replaced by a modern structure that was destroyed after some hindsight and replaced with a reproduction of the original structure.
After lunch, continue to San Miguel to visit one of the most beautiful of Bolivia's Jesuit missions before going to San Rafael, home of the first mission church to be completed among the villages in the circuit.
On the way back to San Ignacio where you overnight and have dinner, stop in Santa Ana. The church in this village is more rustic than the others and provides a good depiction of the original missions with its earthen floor and palm-frond roof.
Day 5 Return to Santa Cruz
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Return to Santa Cruz with a stop en route in Concepcion for lunch. Connect to an evening international flight, spend extra time in Santa Cruz, visit Noel Kempff Mercado Park, or fly to La Paz to explore the highlands and Lake Titicaca.
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.