Fodor's Expert Review El Fuerte
Lurking in the valleys 200 km (124 miles) from the city of Santa Cruz, El Fuerte (the fort) of Samaipata was once the center of a huge pre-Columbian civilization and is estimated to have been started around 300 AD. There is now some doubt that it had any military purpose, but it still impresses. The massive sculptured rock at the heart of the site, best seen from a distance, is a unique monument to Andean culture and development, and one of the largest carved stones in the world. The best way to get to the site is by road from Santa Cruz to the town of Samaipata (about two hours), then hire a taxi to the fort itself, which is 9 km (5.5 miles) away. It is a worthwhile half-day trip if you are in Samaipata, or if you have more time, it makes for a pleasant walk in good weather. A bilingual guide at the site is worth it, and will cost around (Bs)75 for a group of 6 people.