The South-East Chiquitano (Chochis, Santiago de Chiquitos, Aguas Calientes)
This region is still one of the hidden secrets on the travellers map, located in the south-east of the Santa Cruz department. The transport hub for this region is Roboré or San Jose de Chiquitos, but most travellers passing through this spectacular landscape on the night train from Santa Cruz de la Sierra to Puerto Quijarro and the Brasilian border, or vise versa. There are magnificent places to visit in this region, some are them are listed below:
In the Chiquitania, 360 kilometers from Santa Cruz of la Sierra and 80 kilometers to the east of San José de Chiquitos, at the highway that leads to Puerto Suárez, you will find the village of El Chochis, a small village that has taken on some importance thanks to a history of miracles. And you won't get close to Chochís without hearing of its sanctuary. The building of the santuary “Santuario Mariano de la Torre - Virgen de la Asunta", was constructed by the late Hans Roth - who also restored the seven major Jesuit mission churches - in 1988 and dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption in 1991. (This is one of the few major edifices Roth constructed in the Chiquitania that is not in some way either a reconstruction or restoration of a colonial-era work)
The village is bordered by the rocky formations of the Serrania de Chochis, and its landmark the bizarre “La Torre de David”, which is a formation, as the name indicates, that looks like a tower.
There are walks to be taken in the nearby Serrania Chochis, that with the waterfall called the “Cascada Velo de la Novia” and Valle de Turuquapá, a stunningly beautiful hidden valley with mesas and canyons, make the area ideal for a wonderful nature-lover’s vacation.
Thanks to Brother Cesar’s hard work a community-owned tourism enterprise (Ecoalbergue Comunitario) has been founded, having bought land that now belongs to the community and built a pahuichi or palm hut that serves as a common room, they have built a small kitchen and recently two rooms, one with a double bed, and another with twin beds. There is also shared shower and bathrooms, as well as a Camping area! Local guides can be arranged through the Albergue. The El Chochis Ecoalbergue also offer meals, which can be arranged with the administrator family.
Santiago de Chiquitos
Santiago de Chiquitos, one of the last founded Jesuit Missions, is located at the foot of the beautiful Serranía de Santiago range, about 22 kms east of Roboré. It was founded as Santiago Apóstol in 1754 by the jesuit missionaries Gaspar Troncoso and Gaspar Campos.
Santiago has a reputation for having a very healthy climate as it is sheltered from the heat by the Serranía.
Santiago de Chiquitos is a mandatory side trip along the Santa Cruz-Brazil railway line (or the San José de Chiquitos-Puerto Suárez new paved motorway, if driving). Strange as it may seem for a town the size of Santiago (with scarcely 1,000 inhabitants), it also boasts a Tourist Guides Association (Asociación de Guías de Turismo), and with good reason as it offers great hiking and trekking options in the area. The area around the town is fascinating territory. In fact, it is the only municipality located in the Reserva Departmental Valle Tucavaca (conserves the threatened and ecologically unique Chiquitano dry forest).
In the Serranía de Santiago, a great hiking terrain, you'll find interesting wind-carved rock formations (as at “El Mirador” with wonderful views of the Valle Tucavaca – aprox. 8km roundtrip), natural stone bridges (as “El Arco” and “Puente del Mono”), rock and cave paintings (as Motacú and Cueva de Miserendino). Horseback riding can be organised to any of these places. Santiago also has a number of crystal-clear pools (as “Las Pozas” – 15km roundtrip), waterfalls, and small rivers.
Santiago, as with several other Jesuit mission towns, also plays host every second year in April/May for the prestigious International Renaissance and Baroque Music Festival "Misiones de Chiquitos".
The thermal waters of volcanic origin with medicinal properties gave this place its name. At a distance of 32 Km, only 45 minutes by paved road from Robore (at the San Jose – Puerto Quijarro motorway), and 19 Km (by foot or horseback) from Santiago de Chiquitos, you will find the village of Aguas Calientes. Thermal water rises from the shallow and sandy river bed at several parts of the river. The river banks are lined by exotic and exuberant vegetation. The thermal waters reach an average of 40º degree and contain sulfur. Its effectiveness to heal rheumatic and skin diseases has been proved. It is a paradisiacal place and frequently visited by locals at weekends and during holidays. It makes a great day trip from either Santiago de Chiquitos or Robore. There is a camping area
For information about tours to the South East Chiquitano, please visit our tours section.