Jesuit Missions Transportation Options


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If you want to travel to the Jesuit Missions transportation options are pretty limited. Most of the towns in the Chiquitania region are fairly remote, although some are actually located right on paved highways. None of them have large airports. The ones you can fly to have small airstrips and flights to and from these towns are limited to very small aircraft. The best way to get to the Jesuit Missions is to drive on your own in some cases, or take a bus in others:


By Car

If you don't live here and don't own a car, you can rent one. There are some of the more reliable car rental agencies in Santa Cruz. However, be aware that renting a car is fairly expensive here, roads have very little signage, and you need a driver's license to drive in Bolivia where an international driver's license may or may not be accepted by the police (depends on their mood really). You also need to purchase insurance in case you have an accident and be aware of road and weather conditions before you go. In the US you can get an international driver's license from AAA. There is also an AAA representative office here in Santa Cruz that will extend you one.

Car rental agencies in Santa Cruz Read the warnings on this page about car rental agencies, the reliability and safety of their cars, and how to ensure you get the best options. They've improved a lot over time, but...read it.

Be sure you get a map that shows where the petrol stations are (gas stations for Americans). In Bolivia they're called "gasolineras" and in these remote regions there aren't many so take an extra "bidón" (big plastic jug) of gasoline with you.

Get a driver's license in Santa Cruz This page was written for those of you who plan to live in Bolivia and maybe do some touring while you're here. Find out how to get a Bolivian driver's license (extended only to residents).

Get an international driver's license from AAA in Santa Cruz This page has the contact information for the AAA office in Santa Cruz. Take their phone numbers with you, by the way: they also offer towing! They saved me once when I was 400 kilometers away stuck in a massive rainstorm on the highway to Cochabamba at 1:00 in the freaking morning!

Get insurance in Santa Cruz If you live here you'll need car insurance (health and travel too). If you're touring Bolivia you probably already have this (don't you???) and if you rent a car you'll pay the daily insurance rate to the car lender. So this page is mostly for residents.

By Bus

To Urubichá and Guarayos

Urubichá and Ascención de Guarayos are located in the Guarayos region North of Santa Cruz. They are not chiquitano towns. However the Jesuits did have some influence here and there is a baroque music school and choir (internationally renowned) in Urubichá.

From Santa Cruz you take highway 4 to highway 9, then route 785 if you drive. This is the highway to Trinidad, in the northern state of Beni. It is paved all the way to Ascención and Urubichá is only 35 miles off the highway from there along a dirt road. The road to Ascención de Guarayos and Urubichá passes first through San Ramón and then through El Puente, then Ascención and on to Beni.

Or take the following buses from Santa Cruz:

Trans Guarayos - Terminal Bimodal
To San Ramón every day at 8:00, 13:30, 16:30, and 19:30
To El Puente and Urubichá every day at 12:30

20 de Enero - from Calle Sutó and Isabel la Católica
Only to San Ramón every day at 7:00, 8:00, 10:00, 15:00, and 18:00

Trans Oriente - Terminal Bimodal
To San Ramón every day at 12:00, 15:00, and 16:00
To El Puente and Urubichá every day at 6:40 and 9:00

To San Javier, Concepción and Santa Rosa de la Mina

You start off on the say highway as to Urubichá and even pass through San Ramón (Santa Rosa de la Mina is only 10 kilometers from San Ramón). The highway is paved all the way to Concepción and it's a gorgeous hilly drive. Take highway 4 to highway 9 then turn up on route 780. San Javier and Concepción are about 4-6 hours drive from Santa Cruz. A lovely drive!

Or take the following buses from Santa Cruz:

Jenecherú - Terminal Bimodal
Only to San Javier and Concepción every day at 20:00

Trans Guarayos - Terminal Bimodal
Only to San Javier and Concepción every day at 8:00, 13:30, 16:30, and 19:30

31 del Este - Calle Suárez Arana Esq. Barrón
To San Javier and Concepción every day at 7:30, 8:00, 11:00, 14:00, 17:00, and 19:30
To San Antonio de Lomería every day at 7:00 and only on Saturdays at 19:30

20 de Enero - Terminal Bimodal
To San Javier and Concepción every day at 8:30 and 14:30
To San Antonio de Lomerío every day at 7:45 and only on Saturdays at 18:30

To San Ignacio de Velasco, San Miguel, San Rafael, and San Matías

San Ignacio de Velasco is located northeast of Concepción. Santa Ana, San Rafael and San Miguel are each about an hour's drive from San Ignacio. Most people stay in San Ignacio and do a day tour of the other three towns. San Matías is the most remote town although you'd have to drive across the entire vast Chiquitania to get there, it is actually located right on the border with Brazil (near Cuiabá) in the Pantanal (wetlands). Still, if you drive you have to go through San Ignacio to get there.

Take highway 4 to 9 then highway 10 and then highway 17. It's a 15-18 hour drive from Santa Cruz to San Matías (800 kilometers away), and about 7-8 hours to San Ignacio. Whichever of these towns is your ultimate destination, you will pass through San Javier and Concepción on your way there.

Or take the following buses from Santa Cruz:

Línea 31 del Este - Calle Suárez Arana Esq. Barrón
Only to San Ignacio de Velasco every day at 11:30

Transical B - Terminal Bimodal
Only to San Ignacio de Velasco every day at 20:00

Gusmar - Terminal Bimodal
Only to San Ignacio de Velasco every day at 20:00

Jenecherú - Terminal Bimodal
To San Ignacio every day at 20:00

Trans Velasco - Terminal Bimodal
To San Ignacio every day at 20:00

Trans Bolivia - Avenida Melchor Pinto
To San Ignacio every day at 20:00

Trans Carretón - Avenida Brasil diagonally across from the Terminal Bimodal
To San Ignacio every day at 19:30

Expreso San Ignacio - Terminal Bimodal
To San Ignacio every day at 20:00

To San José de Chiquitos, Santiago, Roboré, Puerto Suárez and Puerto Quijarro

These are the only towns you can also arrive at by train but we'll get to that in a minute. This is a long but beautiful drive. The road is paved but isn't good in some places and is a dirt road for some stretches. You would leave Santa Cruz almost due East on highway 4 passing through the town in this order: Pailón, San José de Chiquitos, Roboré (Santiago de Chiquitos is 25 kilometers off the highway from here), El Carmen, Puerto Suárez, and ending in Puerto Quijarro at which point you've left the Chiquitania and have entered the Bolivia Pantanal.

The two ports are on the border of Bolivia and Brazil. From Santa Cruz to San José de Chiquitos is 226 kilometers, to Roboré is 364 Kms. and to Puerto Suárez is 591 Kms. This trip, which might take 5-6 hours by American or European highways will take 8-15 hours in Bolivia, depending on your final stop. The road runs parallel to the railway almost the entire way across to Brazil.

Or take the following buses from Santa Cruz:

Trans Carretón - Avenida Brasil diagonally across from the Terminal Bimodal
To San José de Chiquitos and Roboré every day at 17:00

31 del Este Microbus - Avenida Suárez Arana Esq. Barrón
To San José de Chiquitos and Roboré every day at 16:00

Trans Carretón - from the Terminal Bimodal
To Puerto Suárez and Puerto Quijarro every day at 16:00

31 del Este - from the Terminal Bimodal
To Puerto Suárez and Puerto Quijarro every day at 16:00

By Train

You can take the train to San José de Chiquitos, Roboré, Puerto Suárez and Puerto Quijarro, all of which are situated along the railway the goes due East from Santa Cruz to Brazil. There are no trains to any of the other mission towns in Northern Santa Cruz.

You have to be careful when you take the train. Not all trains go all the way to Puerto Suárez and Puerto Quijarro. The train company is called the Empresa Ferrocarril Oriental and it is located on the same property as the bus station - that's why our combination bus/train station is called the BI-MODAL terminal (Terminal Bimodal).

To San José de Chiquitos and Roboré:

Ferrobús (bus train) - Terminal Bimodal
Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 19:00

Expreso Oriental (express train) - Terminal Bimodal
Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 16:30

Tren Regional (regional train) - Terminal Bimodal
Monday through Saturday at 12:00 noon

To Puerto Suárez and Puerto Quijarro:

Ferrobus (bus train) - Terminal Bimodal
Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 19:00

Expreso Oriental (express train) - Terminal Bimodal
Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 18:00

By Air


To Puerto Suárez

TAM (Transportes Aereos Militares) leaving Santa Cruz from the El Trompillo airport on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10:00

Aerosur leaving Santa Cruz on Mondays and Fridays from the Viru Viru airport at 8:30 am

To other towns

Some of the other towns have small air strips such as Concepción and San Matías and others. However, these are not used by the main airlines and to access these towns by air you have to pay for a private or charter flight on very small aircraft (usually Cessna-type planes). It can be very expensive but is an option if you'd rather pay for comfort and speed. It's also an AMAZING way to get an aerial view of the Chiquitanía (you should see it when the tajibo trees are in bloom).



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