South America > Bolivia > Santa Cruz (department, Bolivia) > San José de Chiquitos
San José de Chiquitos is best known as one of the Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It lies at the junction of important roads: the one of Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro and the one to the missions north. San José is close to two important nature sites: Santa Cruz la Vieja historical park and the vast Kaa-Iya national park.
You can come by Red Oriental (http://www.ferroviariaoriental.com/) train (aka "death train") both from Santa Cruz and Puerto Quijarro.
Up to two buses daily come from San Ignacio passing San Miguel and San Rafael on the way (all dirt road), Bs50. There are bus connections from Santa Cruz (paved road) as well.
San José is small enough to walk on foot.
Mototaxis are available.
- The church complex (church, belltower, museum) (At the main square). In contrast to other missions with a lot of wood constructions, the church complex of San José is made from adobe bricks, stones and plaster. The complex is nicely restored.
- Visit Santa Cruz la Vieja historical national park (An entrance to the park is 2 km south of the town). Being a mix of nature and history this is where the city of Santa Cruz was first founded. The foundation site is marked with some crosses on a hill and still has some remains of ancient urban planning (i.e. streets). You can continue up the hill for the viewpoint (mirador) over San José and rock formation place. The walk can be tiring on a sunny day, because of much exposure to the sun - take enough water with you. It may be a good idea to call a mototaxi (i.e. Adam Mototaxi, tel. 73981271, or Alex Mototaxi, tel. 77388714) in San José to come and take you back into town (Bs20). The nature in the park is at its most beautiful during the wet season.
- Climb Cerro Turubó (Some km east of the town, accessible by exiting the town on the way to Puerto Quijarro and turning right to a pathway at). A magnificent hill that stands out of the plain landscape and offers excellent views (if no mist or smog). The hike is tiring on the paved road, but delighting on the pathway (partly goes through the forest).
Some small eateries around the main square.
- Sabor y Arte (At the southwestern corner of the main square). Kind of expensive (salad + 1,5 l lime drink is Bs50), bus nice service and interior.
- A guesthouse at Chiquitano-Ayoreo museum, Calle Ovidio Barbeay (A block east and half a block north from the northeastern corner of the main square), ☏ (ask for Mary). Calm place with good personnel. Single Bs40.
If you want to continue with the missions counter-clockwise, go to San Ignacio. There should be buses (ask the locals), because there are up to two buses daily going the opposite direction.
For more Chiquitania and Pantanal experiences you want to go (by quite frequent buses or not-so-frequent trains) east to Roboré (and definitely visit nearby Santiago de Chiquitos) or Puerto Quijarro (to see and cross the river Paraguai for visiting nice town Corumbá in Brasil). Try to arrange a stop at the little town of Chochís as it is a mind-boggling place.
You can as well go west to Santa Cruz by quite frequent buses or Red Oriental train.