Arroyo Concepción
Where to Go
Places to Eat
Places to Stay
When to Visit
Amenities

Puerto Quijarro

History and Background
This town - invariably shortened to "Quijarro" - was established in 1900 by a British explorer, Captain Henry Bolland, who was commissioned by the Bolivian government to explore the feasibility of navigating the Río Paraguay. The expedition started from Buenos Aires and sailed upstream. One of its primary benefactors, Antonio Quijarro, passed away during the trip and the area was named by Bolland in his honour. (Some Bolivian textbooks erroneously give the honour of the town's founding to Quijarro himself.)

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.

Arroyo Concepción
Arroyo Concepción is not so much a specific municipality as it is a 1,483-acre (600-hectare) enclave of beauty sandwiched between Puerto Suárez and Quijarro. Technically it is part of Puerto Quijarro, but you'd never guess based on appearances.

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.

In the middle of nowhere: the Puerto Aguirre Free Trade Zone

Where to Go
Quijarro has, well...a zona franca and not much else. If you want to stock up on some imported electronics, black label - that's "label", not "market" - liquor, and the like, head to the Puerto Aguirre Free Trade Zone. Founded by a successful Bolivian businessman (who made his money in Colombia and Ecuador) and former senator (no coincidence there, of course) the zone is rather non-descript, but it does have something everyone appreciates in this climate - air conditioned shops.

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.)

Río Paraguay near Puerto Quijarro

Places to Eat in Puerto Quijarro
The following establishments are listed alphabetically, and are not in any other particular order. Most hotels and other accommodations have their own restaurants. Room service is generally not offered, except in luxury-class establishments.

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.

Name
Location
Telephone
Pescadería Ceará    


Places to Stay in Puerto Quijarro
First, the obvious choice: the El Pantanal Hotel resort. Of course, there is its location. It has dawned upon its absentee owners that it is ideally suited to offer tours to the Pantanal. You begin to sense this when visiting its Web site, which used to offer all sorts of reasons to visit (e.g., karaoke, disco, indoor(!) tropical gardens, the obligatory never-used jogging trail, money laundering - just kidding) but barely mentioned the fact that the complex sits in the middle of one of the world's most important ecosystems. Now the site may as well be an online portal to the Pantanal.

Name
Location
Telephone
Luxury & Special Use (e.g., eco-tourism)
Carretera Puerto Suárez - Corumbá
978.2020;
3.3559583
(from Santa Cruz)
Tamengo Hostal-Resort Calle Costa Rica 57
978.3356
Hotels/Hostales
Gran Hotel Colonial Av Brasil y Panamá
978.2037
Hotel Arroyo  
978.2333
Hotel Jardín del Bibosi Avs Luís Salazar de la Vega esq, Naval
978.2113;
3.3348887
(from Santa Cruz)
Hotel Don Miguel Av Guatemala
978.2038
Hotel Oasis Av Argentina 4 
978.2159
Hotel San Silvestre Av Naval
978.2088
Hotel Yonni Av Brasil
978.2109
Residenciales
Residencial Ariane Av Luís Salazar de la Vega
978.2129
Residencial Las Palmas Av Luís Salazar de la Vega
978.2388
Residencial Paratí Calle Guatemala 
978.2101
Alojamientos
Alojamiento Cochabamba Av Luís Salazar de la Vega
978.2158
Alojamiento La Cascada Calle Sucre
978.2099
Alojamiento La Frontera Calle Rómulo Gómez 
978.2010
Alojamiento Nicolas Rojas Av Brasil
Alojamiento Seis Hermanos Calle Guatemala
978.2473


When to Visit Puerto Quijarro

Event
Date(s)
intense displays of wildlife at every turn
the rainy season and beyond
Holy Week (Semana Santa)
varies (early to mid-spring)
Departmental Foundation Day and Auto Race
24 September


But Does Puerto Quijarro Have A...?

ATM (Cajero Automático) Yes

Bank/Money-changing House (Banco/Casa de Cambio)

Yes (Banco de la Unión)

Handicrafts Store (Artesanía)

Yes
Hospital (Hospital)
Yes

Internet Café (Café Internet)

Yes
Mayor's Office (Alcaldía) Yes - call 978.2078

Petrol Station (Surtidor)

Yes

Post Office (Correos)

Yes

Public Telephone Office (COTAS and ENTEL)

Yes

Tourism Office (Oficina de Información Turística)

No