Located just beyond the last Andean foothills in the tropical lowlands, is Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s economic powerhouse. What was an isolated frontier town until the middle of the 20th century has now become the country’s biggest city.
Rapid growth has meant residential districts and commercial developments have boomed, but the old colonial city centre is still dominated by cobbled streets and whitewashed houses with pretty tiled roofs. At the heart of the city is the central plaza, Plaza 24 de Septiembre. Its name refers to the date of the uprising that led to Santa Cruz’s independence from Spain. It is a popular meeting point for locals and you’ll find people of all ages drinking, chatting and socialising.
Santa Cruz offers travellers an insight into a more modern Bolivia and with the greatest population diversity in the country, it makes an interesting stopover. And, being such a transport hub, it’s the perfect base for exploring the epic surroundings.