History and Background
Until 1940, Quijarro was a humid, insect-infested outpost of negligible value. All that changed when it became the eastern terminus of the railway, although it is still humid and insect-infested. Quijarro now has about 13,050 inhabitants and was formally incorporated in 1991. For most people (unless doing the trip in reverse), this is the end of the line - the railway line, that is - on the wonderful journey through the Sureste Cruceño and Pantanal. It won't seem so wonderful when your train lurches to a halt in front of a ramshackle collection of cinderblock and concrete bunkers on a sweltering morning (all trains arrive in the early morning hours), but you won't be spending much time at the railway depôt anyway, unless depressing urban landscapes appeal to you.
There are plans afoot to make Quijarro (and by extension, its neighbour Puerto Suárez) a centre for regional agribusiness, energy, mineral extraction, and river transport, but the only thing that seems likely to come of this ambitious scheme is a paving of the road to Puerto Busch, Bolivia's final outpost on the Río Paraguay. Puerto Suárez already is the regional center for the rest of these endeavours, and it isn't likely to surrender the revenue that comes with this anytime soon.
Almost everyone arriving in town is immediately heading out, either to Puerto Suárez to take in the Pantanal, to engage in some illicit economic activity, or to head out to the staging post of Arroyo Concepción if heading to Brazil. It's worth remembering that although the railway ends in Quijarro proper, you'll need to go back to its Arroyo Concepción neighbourhood (backtracking a mile or so) to cross into Brazil. If you're at the railhead, it's best to ask for directions to la frontera and go by cab.
The advantage here is that Bolivian taxis have permits that allow them to enter the Brazilian city of Corumbá, which can save you much time in formalities at the crossing. The same holds for train passengers: Debark here (you have to, anyway), taxi back to Arroyo Concepción and straight across the border. Once in Corumbá, fill out the paperwork at the bus station and catch the train again. If you're objective is Corumbá and not onward travel, it's still the same procedure except that you don't head to the railway station in Corumbá. Want more details? Check the Getting There page for the Pantanal.
The Bolivian Navy's fifth district has its headquarters here (visitors are not particularly welcome), but Arroyo Concepción is dominated by one and only one thing: a five-star hotel resort complex, the eponymously named El Pantanal Hotel Resort. It sits on a bluff and holds a commanding view of the beautiful, slow-moving Río Paraguay, and in the distance the Brazilian border and the pretty, old, white-roofed city of Corumbá. There aren't too many places in the Chiquitania where you can live in unbridled luxury, but this is one of them, and less than US$150/day at that. Besides, by the time you make it this far you'll want a bit of easy living no matter how intrepid a traveller you are, even if it means rubbing shoulders with big game hunters (yes, they stay here, too).
In its short existence, the hotel is already famous as having been a meeting place between the presidents of Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay upon opening. It also is famous for once having had a casino, but all those bolivianos disappearing into the hands of Brazilians soon put a stop to that.
Where to Go
Quijarro also has two balnearios, which are equally good at combating the heat. Oasis and Tamarinero are both located just outside of town. Entrance is free to both.
As it sits on the border with Brazil, it also has direct access to the lovely Río Paraguay (the entire country's lowest point in elevation), Bolivia's sole link to the Atlantic Ocean, via a long trip through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. This gives the Bolivian Navy - I am not joking; It exists - a reason to have its fifth district headquarters here. A primary reason for the Chaco War was Bolivia's desire to obtain permanent access to this waterway (a demand that was granted although Bolivia was defeated), and some eighty years on, Bolivia apparently feels it needs to defend its hard-awarded treaty port against bloodthirsty Paraguayans.
Although it is one of the continent's truly epic journeys,
few travellers have made the trip from Quijarro
to Buenos Aires via the Río Paraguay. (One of the few who
did was the late Tristan Jones, who devotes portions of his book The
Incredible Voyage to this odyssey.)
Places to Eat
in Puerto Quijarro
All towns in the Chiquitania invariably have additional eateries, especially in or near the market or railway station (ideal for travellers with cast-iron stomachs), but this list incorporates only those that one reasonably can expect to locate without trouble.