Tour: Noel Kempff Mercado National Park (5 days, from Santa Cruz)
Located a staggering 700 kilometers from the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, this park lies in the far northeast corner of the Santa Cruz department and borders Brazil. The Park contains an amazing array of wildlife and plants, some are them unique to Bolivia. This incredibly remote and inaccessible park offers visitors the chance to see what may be the most pristine Amazonian jungle left in the world. The camp "Flor de Oro", located in the northern section of the park along the Iténez river, is only accessible by small aircraft, and is the place where visitors can launch off for incredible jungle tours. It is a perfect place to linger and enjoy birdwatching or take a river trips to see the remarkable pink river dolphins. In the rainy season (November to May) the magnificent Ahlfeld and Arco Iris waterfalls make a stunning visit.
At 7:30 a.m. you will be picked up from your hotel to be taken to the air field or airport. There we will board a small single-engine airplane which will take us to Noel Kempff National Park - northern side. We will arrive to "Flor de Oro" in about 3 hours flight. (We recommend you to use the toilette before boarding) During this time we will have the opportunity to appreciate from up-high the city of Santa Cruz. And after flying for the first 30 minutes towards the north-east we will be able to appreciate the devastation inflicted to the forest by the agriculture fields, meanly of Soy Beans and Sunflower. Later we will be flying over the town of Concepcion which is part of the Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitania. Flying for some more time we start seeing how the exuberant green carpet gets thicker, to soon enter the virgin jungle of the park. Some more time on the way and will start watching the awesome Caparu plateau. On our way to Flor De Oro and flying on the plateau we appreciate from the plane the impressing waved landscape and the different vegetations of this flat mountain while we get closer to the waterfalls “Arcoiris” y “Ahlfeld”. Once at the Arcoiris waterfall we will fly a loop to have better views of the waterfall, so pictures can be taken easier. And in about two minutes we will be at the Anlfeld waterfall here the pilot will do the same.
Lunch at Flor de Oro and after a short rest we will take a approximately 1 ½ hour walk on one of the camp’s paths. At night, after dinner we will have the opportunity of taking a night excursion on motor boat with a spotlight for about an hour in the Itenez River and some of its bays. During this boat ride we will have the opportunity to see up close different kinds of birds while they sleep in the lower parts of the trees in the river banks. During this ride we will also have the opportunity to see caimans and nocturnal snakes on tree branches. (There is NO guarantee of finding and watching animals!).
Overnight in Flor de Oro Camp
After breakfast we leave Flor de Oro and set out to Ahlfeld Camp. We begin a beautiful day navigating the Itenez River waters. For the first two hours approximately, then on the Pauserna River. The total time of this boat ride is approximately 5 hours. On this ride we will have the opportunity of seeing and watching a great variety of birds like Kingfishers and different mammals such as the Capybaras and if we are lucky enough - it is even possible to spot ajaguar on the beaches of the river (There is NO guarantee of finding and watching mammals!).. This will certainly turn our journey into an unforgettable experience. But any experience on this trip will make us enjoy the infinite wonders of nature...
Arrival to Ahlfeld camp. Settle in cabins or in campinng. This will be our sub base camp for all our excursions. After lunch we cross the Pauserna river to start a walk through a path which leads us parallel to the River. The path is covered by a very relaxing canopy forest. This walk is approximately 30 minutes and goes towards a natural pool formed by the Ahlfeld Falls. Here we will have a special and spectacular view of this famous waterfalls. From the botton we have a spectacular view of the waterfall from different angles. We will enjoy this place and take a swim but NOT to close to the falls. We must take notice and pay attention to all existing signs and indications of caution. We must be aware of the presence of Sting Rays in the water as well as the presence of other animals which are not very probable but surely possible. After this, we return to Ahfled camp for dinner and rest to be ready for the next day. Tonight a ahort nocturnal walk is possible if the guests desire to do so.
Overnight in Ahlfeld Camp-site
After breakfast, we will set out on a path parallel to the Pauserna River towards the top part of the Ahlfeld Fall. Here is where the waterfall begins. The view from here is more impressive. Even though the view is not as extensive as the one from the botton it is somehow creepy. CAUTION: Do not get too close to the edges since the rocks are very SLIPPERY.
This first part of the walk is 40 minutes, and we will stop to enjoy the place and surroundings for about 30 minutes.
After this point, we will keep on our way up to have a close look at Arcoiris Waterfall.
We keep getting further away from the camp-site on a path through different types of forests. The path will go slightly uphill towards the Arcoiris fall view point.
There are parts where the path turns narrow with a rocky wall on one side and an edge that falls several meters down to
the Pauserna River... We must walk very carefully. We will keep going upward on the path through the jungle whose vegetation keeps changing until at the top we reach the Caparú Plateau where the forest’s vegetation becomes low. We walk for approximately 30 more minutes on the plateau until we get to the point where we get a magnificent view of Arcoiris Falls. It is here where we stop for refreshments and lunch sandwiches, meanwhile we watch the immense place. The action of the water falling down creates a notable evaporation of liquids, part of the natural cycle which must be watched, appreciated and meditated upon. Depending on the rain season, some streams become rivers which turn into other impressive waterfalls; smaller but yet closer and accessible to the visitor who may swim and get a massage by the fall of the water.
Total trekking time (one way) from the Ahlfeld camp-site to the Arco iris Falls observation point is approximately 3 hours. (Sometimes Arcoiris Fall may be visited from below. Though this is not very frequent. The visits to the bottom of Arcoiris depends largely on the CONDITIONS of the Pauserna River and availability of time. The Pauserna River must be crossed swimming with much caution with the animals of the place as well as caution with the “tenant” residing on the bottom part of the Arcoiris Falls who is the Anaconda “Iris”!!!!!!! She has been spotted on several occasions from the top of the plateau (with binoculars) basking in the sun on the rocks.)
After we are done appreciating the waterfall and its surroundings. We should return to the Ahlfeld Camp-site to rest and have dinner.
Overnight in Ahlfeld Camp-site
Breakfast and if the guests prefer we can cross the Pauserna River on boat to enjoy the site of a approximately 30 meters high waterfall which forms other smaller falls and from which you can get some wonderful massages for the whole body.
Something exhilarating before beginning the return to the Flor de Oro Camp.
The return trip to Flor de Oro is somewhat shorter than the way up stream. Once in Flor de Oro we have lunch and rest. In the afeter noon it is possible to have some more trekking along Itenez river.
Overnight in Flor de Oro-Camp
Before breakfast is the time to be more in tune with the wildlife’s movements and have more possibilities of observing some mammals or birds that we have not seen yet. We would have an early walk on one of the trails close to Flor de Oro. This walk will last approximately 1 ½ hours and will go through some paths near the airstrip. Or if the conditions allow it, We could have an early boat ride to visit the first bay close to Flor de Oro. Or we could have a combination of both, a boat ride and a short walk. Return to Flor de Oro for breakfast and we get ready to return to Santa Cruz.
Lunch and short rest, return to Santa Cruz where someone from the company will met you to take you to your hotel. End of our services.
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