Missions circuit from Santa Cruz
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Apr 20, 2013 5:48 PM Last Post By: JoseStevens
Mar 29, 2013 1:45 PM
Missions circuit from Santa CruzI am planning the missions circuit on our own in May. Train schedules are in the company's website www.ferroviariaoriental.com but bus schedules are not so easy to find and, globally, the missions are seldom mentioned and information, not to say practical data, is scarce. According to what I found, including searching in previous posts back to 2007 (done prior TT temporary closure), I drafted the following itinerary. I will appreciate any confirmation/correction and answers you can provide, and of course any information or opinion about the missions and practical aspects.
Day 1. Santa Cruz to San Javier (4 h, 6 buses daily, in addition to those going beyond). So many buses? Are there morning buses?
Day 2. San Javier to Concepción (1 h, 6 buses daily). At what time they leave (preferably morning, to have time in Concepción)? If difficult to find a bus, is it possible a taxi and how much may be a fair price?
• Or perhaps better bus/taxi in the afternoon of day 1 spending the whole day 2 in Concepción? In the last option, any safe place to leave the big rucksacks while visiting San Javier, e.g. bus company left luggage or a safe restaurant taking lunch there?
Day 3. Concepción to San Ignacio de Velasco (3 h, almost no bus data found). I read all buses come from Santa Cruz and leave Concepción around midnight in the dark (torch recommended!), is this true? Are there morning buses?
Day 4. San Ignacio to San Miguel, San Rafael and Santa Ana, back to San Ignacio. I read that a whole day taxi for this tour may cost 35-40 USD, is that right?
Day 5. San Ignacio de Velasco to San José de Chiquitos. (4-5 h, it seems in the afternoon and running 4 days a week only, which?). The same night train at 2-2.30 a.m. (depending on the day) to Santa Cruz. If there is no bus in the morning it will be difficult to visit San José because the bus may arrive at dark. And if possible, is there any safe place there to leave the big rucksack while visiting, e.g. a safe restaurant dining there, and also where to wait for the train until 2 a.m.?
Any recommended mid range hotel?
In view of the difficulties at San José I regretfully consider skipping it and then to take a night bus from San Ignacio de Velasco back to Santa Cruz on day 4 evening. Does anybody know San Jose, how is it, e.g. compared with the other mission churches? Does San José town justify a whole day there (it would be day 6)? And, even if holding seat or asiento-cama reservation, will our places be available or may be somebody sleeping there and we will have to seat in the floor (sorry, I do not know to what extend are train reservations honoured at intermediate stations)?
Thank you very much for any information you may provide.
Mar 29, 2013 3:00 PM
1I made such trip some five years ago taking a bus to Concepcion. In between the mission towns I travelled on local busses.They didn't run everyday, and departures were subject to number of passengers, but generally reliable if not today then tomorrow. I finished in San Jose and took train back to SC from there.
I can't recommend any accommodation, but you should be able to find something of varying standard.
A different part of Bolivia, populated by gentle and friendly people not much used to visitors.
Mar 29, 2013 4:14 PM
2I made this trip a year ago..
The buses from SC to San Javier leave from down the stairs at the Bimodal bus/train station. There are 2 or 3 companies that do this route and most seem to leave between 6.30am and 9.30am - 4.5 hours. I would go the day before and check and book. I am not sure about buses from San Javier to Conception - I was there when there were blockades all over the place and I took a collectivo. I hung around on the main road just outside the market - local people were very helpful and I got a ride quite quickly. It was 50 Bobs each as we had a full car - lovely journey - 1.5 hours. Should be possible to get to Conception by early afternoon. There are 2 or 3 evening flotas from Conception to San Ignacio around 5 - 7pm but check locally. I was told that there is a morning bus around 8am too. In San Ignacio I stayed at Parador Santa Ana - expensive at 130 Bobs but real luxury and owner Ricardo very helpful. He organised a taxi to take me to a concert in the church in Santa Ana, then on to San Rafael where the driver collected a key from a shop and found someone to give me a tour (in Spanish) same in San Miguel - brilliant day. It was 300 Bobs but would have been the same if there were 4 people so maybe try to find people to share. There are daily micros but I think it would be difficult to do all 3 little towns in a day using them. If you decide to book Parador Santa Ana Ricardo can give you all the info on buses you need by email (as he also works for a bus company). Your trip doable if no strikes or blockades but shame to gallup through as these mission towns are so peaceful and friendly. Enjoy.
Apr 1, 2013 2:34 AM
i traveled twice the mission area, arriving from caceres (Brazil). First of all i liked it a lot and the area is quite "off the beaten track".
most important for me was that its difficult to get money changed (at that time no ATM!, i only changed dollars cash), so bring enough cash...
regarding buses: there were buses every day in each direction but only few, but you have plenty of time which is good...
regarding train: i arrived from san javier to San José de Chiquitos by bus late in the evening and it was not not possible anymore to get tickets to return to SC, the train was overcrowded and the return to SC extremely uncomfortable (lying on the corridor...)
have a nice journey
Apr 1, 2013 6:34 AM
Apr 9, 2013 3:51 PM
Apr 20, 2013 5:48 PM
6You shouldn't have an issue getting buses or taxis from one mission city to another. I would recommend spending a night in Santa Ana de Velasco. The tourism office on the plaza should be able to help you. I would also add Santiago de Chiquitos to your itinerary. It is a couple of hours from San Jose and is one of the coolest mission towns. You can go to Los Pozos, a series of waterfalls that are worth the trip. There are also some really good hikes around Santiago. I lived in the area for 2 years and my favorite places are Santa Ana and Santiago.
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