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
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 and the large expanse of savanna located close to Flor de Oro, offering the opportunity to see toco toucan, white woodpecker, and a variety of insects and mammal species including South American coatimundis and the beautiful silvery marmoset. An optional night hike will be offered. Overnight - Flor de Oro (L,D)
Day 2: The Waterfalls of the Paucerna River
Today will be dedicated entirely to getting to the Ahlfeld Waterfall, the first of two magnificent waterfalls found along the Paucerna River. The trip by motorized canoe will be long (sometimes up to 5 hrs), but the time spent on the river will increase your chances of getting excellent views of some incredible wildlife. Along the way to the camp you can hope to see capybaras, tapir, jaguar, and an unbelievable variety of birds including blue and yellow macaws, the rare zigzag heron, and a variety of kingfishers. It is guaranteed that the wildlife and wilderness scenery during this trip will be spectacular, however, we want to make sure that all interested persons understand that the accommodations are rustic and may include camping (depending on the number of participants). Taking into consideration the accessibility of the waterfalls and the logistics of getting food and staff to them, we hope that all who contemplate this trip will do so in a spirit of adventure and exploration. Following arrival to the Ahlfeld Camp, you will spend the rest of the afternoon hiking along the river to a breathtaking 35 meter high waterfall, Ahlfeld, where you will be able to swim in the large pool of water that has formed around the base of the waterfall. An optional night hike will be offered. Overnight: Ahlfeld Camp (B,L,D)
Day 3: Ahlfeld Camp and the Arco Iris Waterfalls
We will leave early in the morning. Throughout the 4 hour hike to Arco Iris, you will be provided with great opportunities to see one of the eleven monkeys that inhabit the park. Great views of the waterfalls. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Ahlfeld Camp - Flor de Oro; the Bays of the Itenez River
This day of travel will signify the end of the heart of your trip to Noel Kempff; however, the wildlife, which may present itself throughout the day, will undoubtedly provide you with the opportunity to view some of the additional exciting bird and mammal species that make Noel Kempff their home. The early morning and afternoon will be spent traveling back to Flor de Oro, and you should be on the look out for giant otters, black howler monkeys, and spectacled caiman - all of which are often seen while traveling along the Paucerna River. Then, following a late lunch and afternoon siesta you will depart on a voyage to some of the bays located close to Flor de Oro in search of the freshwater dolphins and caiman that inhabit the bays found close to Flor de Oro. An optional night hike will be offered. Overnight: Flor de Oro. (B,L,D)
Day 5: 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 four 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 the city of Santa Cruz with the balance of the day for relaxing or preparing for departures later in the evening or the following day. Transfer to your hotel. (B,L)
Departures: Only available from late November through early May
2017 Prices per person: Prices are available upon request.
Tour includes: transfers in/out from hotel to FAN's airport in Santa Cruz, 5d/4n 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), airport taxes, 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