A Trip To Lomas De Arena, Bolivia

By , 19 June 2011

A Trip To Lomas De Arena, Bolivia
A Trip To Lomas De Arena, Bolivia

As a traveler, I have long since learnt that local advice is to be taken with a grain of salt. From Tokyo to Cape Town To Rio de Janeiro, locals have sent me in all sorts of directions and landed me in all sorts of bizarre situations.

Like the one shown in the photo here.

Lomas de Arena (literally sand dunes) is a national park just south of Santa Cruz in Bolivia. I was quite keen to go, but I couldn't find any information on the Internet on how to get there (not all that surprising since the Internet hasn't really caught on in Bolivia yet). Such a small hurdle seemed easily surmountable however, and as you can see from the photo, my persistence paid off. I therefore feel more than qualified to write this partially humourous yet very official guide for getting to Lomas de Arena from Santa Cruz.

We begin.

A Trip To Lomas De Arena, Bolivia

Lomas De Arena Sand Dunes, Bolivia

  1. Ask your hotel reception how to get there. They will agree that Lomas de Arena is very beautiful and you have to go, however as they have never been themselves (it is 12km from their hometown after all), they won't be able to help you. They will suggest taking a taxi.
  2. Search the Internet for directions. You'll find some great photos and a few blogs from nerds who like watching birds (the avian type), but alas... nada mas.
  3. Try to find a local travel agent who you could ask.
  4. Go to step 3.
  5. Give up on finding a travel agency and ask at the bus terminal instead. All the paid staff will say they don't know, but you will find a local who will suggest you take a taxi. You will still wonder how you could take a taxi through the sand dunes but you won't want trouble your new friend for the details.
  6. Mention to your Cruceño friends that you want to go to Lomas de Arena. They'll be really excited and want to take you and will arrange a group to go together and everything, AND they have a 4x4!
  7. Your friends will flake. They were busy anyway.

Lomas De Arena, Bolivia Sand Dunes

  1. By now, the taxi sounds like a good idea. Ask a few more locals, and no one will think it is strange that you are taking a taxi to see some sand dunes. Get your reception to call a taxi, and you're away!
  2. Don't be disconcerted by the occasional loud bang from under the car.
  3. Don't be disconcerted when the taxi driver gets out of the car at every red light to check the engine.
  4. After 10 or 20 minutes, the taxi driver will start looking around curiously and makes last minute turns into side streets. Don't be disconcerted, it's normal.
  5. It's also normal to drive next to other motorists at the same speed and ask for directions through the window. It doesn't mean you're lost.
  6. When the taxi driver is near his friend's place, he'll call to say has a foreign passenger traveling alone with him. Don't worry. He's not going to rob you. Bolivians are just friendly like that and this is big news.
  7. Eventually you will arrive on a dirt road to the entrance to the national park. The dunes are 7km from the entrance so it's better to drive than walk. Entrance is 10 bolivianos each for you and the driver.

Lomas De Arena, Bolivia Sand Dunes

  1. The dirt road will turn into a sand road. Your driver won't seem to even notice this.
  2. The taxi will at some point start to emit a squeeling noise which changes in pitch with the speed of the vehicle. This is normal.
  3. The sand will get softer.
  4. You will get stuck in the soft sand.
  5. After digging, pushing and willing the taxi out of the soft sand you will somehow manage to get it out. Right about now you should suggest that you need a 4x4 to continue (cuatro por cuatro in spanish).
  6. The driver will disagree and continue through the soft sand without you. Remarkably he will make it through, but finally agree that his supercab can't go any further.
  7. Walk the rest of the way.

lomas de arena, taxi, bolivia

That's all there is to it chicitos!

About Roger Keays

A Trip To Lomas De Arena, Bolivia

Roger Keays is an artist, an engineer, and a student of life. He has no fixed address and has left footprints on 40-something different countries around the world. Roger is addicted to surfing. His other interests are music, psychology, languages, the proper use of semicolons, and finding good food.

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