Samaipata is an ideal
destination for those who are looking for a tranquil place, where
one can dream and relax. Meet the friendly people or go off in search
of adventure in the surrounding area of incomparable natural beauty.
Climate and Geographical Location
Samaipata enjoys a great number of sunshine hours. Because of its
geographical location it is climatically privileged. It is situated
at an altitude of 1,650 metres in a valley on the eastern slopes of
the Bolivian Andes. This is where tropical heat gives way to cooler
invigorating mountain air with a mean temperature of 23° C.
What to see
The Plaza, the picturesque main square with its shady trees, its sculptures
and flower borders invites both visitors and locals to rest on one
of the benches and watch as others go about their business. A church,
a school, a guesthouse, an internet café, an information office
and inviting bars, cafés and restaurants surround the Plaza.
There are several shops, which stock anything from fresh bread to
suntan lotion. Young backpackers selling self-made jewellery give
the Plaza an international touch.
At a distance of about 150 metres from the centre on the main street
the archaeological museum should be visited. About one hundred enthusiastic
players meet regularly in the chess academy next door. In front of
it is Don Guillermo´s arts and crafts shop and also on this
street Vladi sells local wines and jams.
There are several tour operators, who will be pleased to accompany
visitors on fascinating tours, usually in four wheel drive vehicles,
but they will also arrange riding and rambles. Contact any of the
following: Amboró Tours (Spanish and English speaking), Don
Gilberto (Spanish), Don Gustavo (German, Spanish and English), Eco
Turismo (Spanish, English), Nature Tours of Michael Blendinger (Spanish,
English and German), The Roadrunners of Frank and Olaf (German, Spanish
Samaipata is located in a wide valley. From the gently rolling hills
surrounding it the view is impressive. On one of the two vantage points
in the town itself there is an old fighter aircraft of the Bolivian
Air Force. From here visitors like to take photos of the idyllic panorama.
Samaipata´s infrastructure is excellent. There are public telephones
for local and international calls as well as internet connections,
physicians, pharmacies, a dentist, a hospital, and a veterinarian.
There are two kindergartens, a filling station and motor mechanics.
As for entertainment, La Disco is open on weekends, and
El Mosquito, a rock café particularly popular with
foreign visitors, opens every night at 9:00 p.m. except on Sundays.
Various nurseries sell ornamental plants and aromatic herbs, and there
is a traditional market, where a wide variety of regionally grown
vegetables can be found. The market is particularly colourful at weekends.
On Thursdays two shops offer organically grown products. Popular,
too, are Gerlinde´s bread, rolls and biscuits. She also sells
a variety of locally made teas and cheeses from Vallegrande.
In Samaipata many of the quaint one-storey houses retain the traditional
style of its Spanish colonial past. The older ones have adobe brick
walls and colonial roof tiles. Nowadays some red brick and modern
building materials can also be found, but a leisurely walk along the
romantic cobbled or gravelled streets still conveys the ambience of
times gone by.
Samaipata was founded in 1623 by Spaniards and can today be considered
the cultural, archaeological and tourist centre of the East Bolivian
Andes. Archaeological findings of the University of Bonn (Germany)
established that this was the main settlement of the Inca who arrived
in eastern Bolivia in the 13th century.
The Inca empire was centred on Cuzco (Peru) and comprised what are
now Peru as well as part of Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia.
The Inca culture and their language, Quechua, spread over the entire
empire. Samaipata is a Quechua word meaning Resting
place in the mountains.
The Inca society was based on the ayllú, a tribal institution
of religious, political and military character, in charge of organizing
productive activities and compulsive works for the community or the
state. The ayllús used to be self-sufficient, and in spite
of the existence of an important highways and bridges network along
the whole empire, its use was not for the barely existing commerce,
but for troops´ and royal employees´ traffic. The most
important Inca cultural achievements were in astronomy, architecture
and engineering. Outstanding examples are fortified cities such as
Sacsahuamán and Machu-Picchu, aqueducts, bridges and the amazing
ceremonial centre of El Fuerte near Samaipata.
In spite of the political and military strength of the Inca empire
the Spaniards easily conquered it.