Characteristics

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 and English).

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.

Services
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.

Architecture
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.



History
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.