Noel Kempff Mercado National Park
It is a spectacular biological reserve of 1.5 million hectares located in the northeastern corner of Bolivia, with more than, in the Department of Santa Cruz. Due to its unique bio-geographical location and the rich and extraordinary diversity of species and habitats found in the park, Noel Kempff attained status as a World Heritage Site in 2000.
With an evolutionary history dating back a billion years to the pre-Cambrian period, Noel Kempff Park provides ideal conditions for the study of evolutionary processes. Its Cerrado habitats have been isolated for millions of years, enabling a rich investigation of the evolution of this ecosystem.
Nowhere else in South America can you see such a wide variety of habitat with so little effort - humid tropical rainforests, seasonally flooded savannah, Brazilian Cerrado, gallery forests, thorn scrub, dry forests, and large expanses of wetlands similar to the Pantanal areas found in Brazil. The landscapes within the park are spectacular - numerous beautiful waterfalls cascade from the Huanchaca Plateau to the humid rainforests below.
Noel Kempff is believed to contain some of the highest levels of biological diversity in the world. For example, the park currently has a bird list of over 630 species, and about 130 mammals have been identified, including abundant populations of the giant otter, river dolphins, jaguars, giant anteater, and the very rare and endangered manned wolf.
Flor de Oro
The "Flor de Oro" lodge is the canter of ecotourism in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. It is easily accessed, and offers comfortable accommodations. There are large expanses of cerrado vegetation, periodically inundated savannas, riverine forests, terra firme and igapo rainforests, oxbow lakes, semi-deciduous woodlands, and the majestic Arco Iris and Ahlfeld waterfalls of the Paucerna River.
"Los Fierros" is the name given to the gateway for the large expanses of cerrado, periodically inundated savannas, terra firme and periodically flooded rainforests, semi-deciduous woodland, the savannas and gallery forests found on top of the Huanchaca Plateau, and the spectacular waterfall, El Encanto. Here you have another lodge, which gives access to the southern parts of the park.
Day 1: Santa Cruz - Flor de Oro (Noel Kempff Mercado National Park)
In the morning, you will be transferred from your hotel to Km. 7, Carretera a Samaipata for your charter flight (2.5 hrs) to Flor de Oro, the center of ecotourism in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. Flor de Oro is located on the bank of Itenez River in the extreme north-central section of the park. You will fly over hundreds of miles of pristine rainforest, as well as the magnificent Huanchaca Plateau with its red cliffs and two very impressive waterfalls, Ahlfeld and Arco Iris. This plateau, along with the surrounding rainforests make Noel Kempff Mercado National Park what it is - a large, diverse and well-protected area encompassing more than 3.8 million acres of wilderness. The afternoon will be spent exploring gallery forests found along the Itenez River offering the opportunity to see toco toucan, white woodpecker, and a variety of insects and mammal species. An optional night hike will be offered. Overnight - Flor de Oro. (L,D)
Day 2: Flor de Oro and Las Torres
Oxbow Lakes, Gallery Forests, and Periodically Inundated Savannah. Your first full day in Noel Kempff will be spent exploring some of the oxbow lakes, gallery forests, and periodically inundated savannas located near Flor de Oro. During the morning you will walk through Savannah and some pristine riverine forests en route to one of the bays located close to Flor de Oro where motorized boats will be waiting to take you on an expedition. During the trip you will have the opportunity to see the rufescent tiger-heron, both scarlet and blue and yellow macaws, the white-faced whistling duck, the sunbittern, and if you are lucky you may also spot a family of giant otters. The giant otter is just one example of the many endangered mammal species that thrive in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. Following a return to Flor de Oro you will be served lunch and have a siesta to relax. The afternoon will be spent traveling to Las Torres, a park protection station that gives access to a rocky outcrop, providing amazing views of the Huanchaca Plateau and the humid tropical rainforests found in the northern section of the park. Jaguars have been spotted more than five times along the river to Las Torres so you will have to keep alert! Overnight - Flor de Oro.
Day 3: Noel Kempff Mercado National Park
Your third day in Noel Kempff will be dedicated to further exploring the periodically inundated savannas and tall humid tropical rainforest that lie between Flor de Oro and the Campamento Lago Caiman which is located further to the east. More than 300 bird species have been recorded within walking distance of Flor de Oro, and your transfer by tractor to the trail leading to Lago Caiman will provide you with numerous opportunities to see many exciting bird species such as the horned sungem, black and tawny seedeater, red-necked aracari, and the snow-capped manakin. The opportunity to see all of these species, combined with the chance to see spider monkeys, tapir, both white-lipped and collared peccaries, and jaguars will definitely make this an unforgettable hike. There are two options for this day: (1) exploring the trails during the early morning hrs and then returning to Flor de Oro in time for lunch or (2) hiking all the way to Lago Caiman. Following your hike back down the plateau and through the tall humid tropical forest, you will be taken back to Flor de Oro by tractor. The late afternoon may be spent once again on the rivers looking for fresh water dolphins, families of giant otters, or the endangered black caiman. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Noel Kempff Mercado National Park - Santa Cruz
Your final morning in Noel Kempff will take you in search of some of the species that may have eluded you during the previous three days. That means you could be visiting any of the bays or trails located around Flor de Oro before your flight back to Santa Cruz. Following a late breakfast, you will depart for Santa Cruz city with the rest of the day for relaxing or preparing for departures later in the evening or the following day. Transfer to your hotel. (B,L).
Departures: All year
2016 Prices per person: Prices are available upon request.
Tour includes: transfers in/out from hotel to FAN's airport in Santa Cruz, 4d/3n in Flor de Oro Ecolodge, meals, local guide, accommodation and boat transport.
Not included: entrance fee to Noel Kempff National Park (US$ 20.00 per person), alcoholic beverages, sodas, insurance laundry and personal expenses.
- 1 backpack or dufflebag
- small day pack
- 2 pairs of long pants (loose, fast-drying, cotton is ideal)
- 1 light, long-sleeved cotton shirt
- 4 short-sleeve cotton shirts
- 1 pair of walking/swimming shorts
- 4 sets of underwear (cotton is best; avoid heavy synthetics)
- 6 pairs of socks (avoid heavy synthetics)
- 1 pair of sneakers or thongs for use around the lodge
- 1 waterproof folding sun hat with brim (very important for travel along the river and on top of the plateau)
- 1 rain poncho (if desired)
- 1 bandanna or handkerchief
- Others items:
- 1 pair of binoculars (these will prove to be one of your most important pieces of equipment)
- 1 camera, flash and film (400 speed is recommended for use under the canopy, 100 in the savanna or on top of the plateau)
- 1 flashlight for night hikes and canoe rides (plus several sets of batteries)
- 1 pocket knife
- 1 cigarette lighter (even if you don’t smoke it will come in handy - candles, etc.)
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- a photocopy of your passport
- 1 bottle of insect repellent (those with 90-100% DEET will be the most effective)
- 1 bottle of Sun block (the sun near the equator is VERY strong
- 1 water bottle (it is important to drink plenty of fluids)
- 6 large plastic bags (to protect equipment)
- 1 garbage bag (to transport wet clothes)
- Bottle of aspirin and any other medications and vitamins you normally use