A week after my fingertips began to feel the effects of the high altitude on my trip through the Bolivian Altiplano, I finally touched down in semi-tropical Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Elev: 416 m or 1,365 ft).
My flight from Sucre arrived at the smaller, older El Trompillo Airport, which just so happened to be closer to the city center where I would be staying.
Later, I would fly to La Paz from Bolivia's most modern airport, Viru Viru International Airport.
The city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra (also known simply as Santa Cruz) is organized in concentric rings, with the historic center located smack dab in the middle.
Plaza 24 de Septiembre is at the heart of the historic center and was named after the anniversary of an uprising that led to the city's independence from Spain.
It was here I spent five days relaxing at an altitude as close to sea level as you'll find in Bolivia.
The oxygen-rich air aided in the healing of my fingertips, which slowly began to return to normal (despite going through a waxy-feeling phase).
Plaza 24 de Septiembre quickly became one of my favorite plazas in all of Latin America, not only because of its size and tree cover but also the wonderfully restored buildings that surrounded it.
I passed the days by soaking up the sunshine while going for walks and sampling traditional Bolivian snacks like cuñapé (delicious yuca and cheese bread).
If I hadn't been in a rush to get back to Lima for my first trip to the Amazon, I would've stayed longer to explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the region, the Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos and Fuerte de Samaipata.
Related: Escape from Uyuni, Bolivia
Dave is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Go Backpacking and Feastio. He's been to 66 countries and lived in Colombia and Peru. Read the full story of how he became a travel blogger.
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Tuesday 3rd of June 2014
Good to know that there is somewhere as beautiful as this to go in Bolivia if the altitude becomes too much to bear...!
Thursday 22nd of May 2014
Those photos are amazing! I couldn’t concentrate in anything you wrote.