A Personal Update and Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Since this blog has gone away from the personal travelogue side of things it once covered, and has now started to focus much more on the photography side of travel, I try to keep the personal side of things short.  But, I think an update is necessary.

A lot of you read my article over on PetaPixel.com about how I make a living as a travel photographer.  Most people who read that article got the sense that the finances are the hardest thing about the job.  But the truth is, that’s really the easy part.  The hard part is establishing, and maintaining, relationships.  If you remember my trip down Africa on Anne Murray, you remember how much I talked about being alone. How much I hated being alone. And how much I wanted to have someone with me who shared the road, the joys, the trials, and those moments that just wow us.  I had that for a while.  But alas, once more I’m back on the road alone.  Sometimes, you just need a change.  It’s not easy, but it’s just something that becomes necessary.  And, yeah, it’s hard no matter how right a decision it may be.  So, well I’m not going to turn this into a monologue on how life on the road is hard, nor will I dwell on the fact that right now travel feels pretty empty to me, I think it needed mentioning. The goal of this blog has always been to give you guys an insight into life on the road.  And well it isn’t always rosy, and can wear you down sometimes, it is what I want; and that I know.

OK, so after the brief life update in both the video below and this article, I’m going to get back to travel and photography.

Santa Cruz Botanical Gardens

So, I’m in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and it’s actually far different than anywhere I’ve ever been in Bolivia before.  There’s oxygen, for one.  But, it’s also much more developed.  It feels far more like Brazil than it does Bolivia.  And, speaking of Brazil, that’s why I’m here, to get my visa! However, since it was meant to take a couple days to get my visa for Brazil in Santa Cruz, I wanted to do some exploring.  Unfortunately, the weather had other plans and it rained for 4 days straight.  However, on the day before I left, I managed to get a nice sunny day and went to the Botanical Gardens.
Jardin Botanico, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
The gardens themselves do have a “botanical” section to them, but most people come here for the chunk of wild forest.  In said forest, there’s plenty of wildlife.  Lots of birds, monkeys, and even some sloths.  Unfortunately, I struck out pretty hard on the wildlife front.  I did manage to see a Red-Foot Tortoise though, so the trip wasn’t for nothing.  I actually really enjoyed the park.  It was fantastic getting out, wandering, and searching for animals. There’s also a pond in the gardens that’s home to the brand of lily pad that’s the largest in the world. They are amazing.

Red Foot Tortoise

A beautiful red foot tortoise.

Jardin Botanico, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The botanical gardens.

Jardin Botanico, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Wild mushrooms. Red ones. I don’t think I’ve ever seen mushrooms that colour before.

Getting my Visa for Brazil in Santa Cruz

Easy as pie.  Well, not really that easy.  I found a website for the Brazilian Consulate in Santa Cruz and all the info for getting a visa is there.  What you need to do is go and find the online upload section as you actually have to provide digital files for a number of things before actually going to the consulate.  Once you upload them all, you can go to the consulate and they’ll likely have the visa to you in 5 days. Because I asked politely, I actually got mine in 2 days.  There is a fee, which you pay at the Banco do Brasil, for Canadians it was $65usd. I believe it was the same for Australians and Brits – Americans pay double.

Taking the Death Train to Brazil

Right after getting my visa for Brazil, I jumped on “The Death Train” leaving Santa Cruz to the Brazilian border.  I took a fancy variety of the train called FerroBus which was actually beyond pleasant.  I paid the equivalent of about $35usd and the train had cama seats.  Not only was it comfortable, but it felt very safe – despite the name.  Apparently, the name comes from the days of a Yellow Fever epidemic in which the train was used to transport bodies. Death Train, Bolivia

What’s Next on the Travel Photography Blog?

I’m into Brazil, and I’m done moping around.  I’ve been spending far too much time stuck in my hotel room when I should be out shooting photos and enjoying the world.  In Brazil, I’ll be visiting The Pantanal for some wildlife, Brasilia for the architecture, Rio for, well, Rio, and then to Sao Paulo before flying back to La Paz.  I’m looking forward to a hectic travel month full of photography.  So, I hope you stay tuned for it!

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. The life of a travel photographer looks pretty idyllic through the lens of someone who doesn’t live it. I appreciate the honesty. Thanks for keeping it real!

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  2. Word dude. This is why I haven’t moved around as much the past couple of years. Of course, always a tradeoff, and you’ve been doing this long enough to know how to keep the balance.

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