Tour: Pantanal (Otuquis & Rio Negro National Park) (5 days, from Santa Cruz)

The Pantanal is one of the most interesting landscapes on earth in terms of wildlife. It is also one of the largest flooded areas in the world and was declared a Ramsar Reserve in 2001. The vast swampy landscape of the Pantanal(496,000 km2) is divided between three countries: Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.
The Bolivian part of the Pantanal is considered the best preserved. It is located in the southeast corner of Santa Cruz department and is bordered by the two dry forest regions of the Bosque Seco Chiquitano and Bosque Seco Chaqueño. The interaction of these three biological-geographical regions is the reason for the extraordinary biodiversity of the Bolivian Pantanal. There are two clearly defined seasons in the Pantanal. From October to March is the rainy season and from April to September the dry season.
In 1997, two large regions in the Bolivian Pantanal were declared protected areas. The Otuquis National Park with the adjacent Integrated Land Use Zone in the southeast of the Department of Santa Cruz and the Region of Integrated Land Use San Matías in the northeast of the Department.

Fauna and Flora

1,700 plant species have already been identified in the Brazilian Pantanal. Corresponding research is still ongoing on the Bolivian side, but various plant species have already been found that are not found on the Brazilian side.
The Pantanal is populated by 20 species of amphibians, numerous species of reptiles, including land and water turtles, caimans, iguanas, snakes, etc., to name just a few. Many species of birds also live in the Pantanal - more than 300 species have been identified in the area of Puerto Suárez and in the Otuquis National Park alone.


First day: Drive from Santa Cruz to San José de Chiquitos

In the morning, drive in private transport over the now paved main road to the East and arrive to the Jesuit mission town of San José de Chiquitos around noon (260km). You check in to your hotel and have time for lunch. In the afternoon, you leave San Jose for an excursion to the nearby historic town of Santa Cruz la Vieja. Archaeological remains testify to the founding of the first Spanish settlement by Ñuflo de Chavez in 1561, named Santa Cruz de la Sierra. On a nature trail, you will walk through the so-called "Valle de la Luna" before heading to the Laguna Leteï where you take a small path to the edge of the Meseta to enjoy a fantastic panoramic view of the area during sunset. Overnight in San Jose de Chiquitos (B/-/-)

Second day: San José de Chiquitos to Santiago de Chiquitos

In the morning you visit the UNESCO World Heritage Jesuit Church of San Jose de Chiquitos. Built in 1748, it is the only mission church in the Chiquitania region built of stone. Then you leave San José towards the East. On the way you stop in the small town of Chochís. Translated as "fury of the wind", the place lies at the foot of a towering rocky plateau with its landmark: a red rock monolith called "Cerro La Torre", which stands almost 600 meters high in the tropical landscape. At its foot, parishioners built the church "Santuario Mariano de la Torre”, decorated with impressive wood carvings. Around noon, you arrive at the picturesque little town of Santiago de Chiquitos, one of the last Jesuit missions to be founded, lying at the foot of the beautiful "Serrania de Santiago" hills. In the afternoon, a short hike takes you into the Serranía de Santiago. The 6 km long nature trail leads you to the viewpoint "Antesala del Cielo", translated: "Anteroom of the sky". From the edge of a plateau you can enjoy an impressive panoramic view of the regional nature reserve "Valle de Tucavaca", a protected area that harbors the endangered and ecologically unique Chiquitano dry forest ecosystem. Up here, 6-8 meters high rock pillars eroded by wind and water and called the "guards" of the village, tower over the valley. You have time to enjoy the impressive view. Overnight in Santiago de Chiquitos (B/-/-)

Third day: Santiago de Chiquitos – Puerto Suarez – Rio Negro National Park

The morning is dedicated to the journey from Santiago de Chiquitos to Puerto Suarez, just before the Brazilian border. From here you drive south to Puerto Bush (140km) on the Rio Paraguay inside Otuquis National Park. A raised dirt road leads us past one of the world's largest iron ore deposits - the "El Mutun" mountain range - and into the Otuquis National Park in the southern part of the Bolivian Pantanal. Many animals, various species of birds such as toucans, but also larger mammals, such as caimans and anacondas, can be observed along the way. Depending on your needs, we can stop and take time for photos and wildlife viewing. The raised road goes right through the typical pampas landscape and vegetation of the Pantanal. After 2-4 hours we reach Puerto Bush on the Rio Paraguay, a remote outpost of the Bolivian Military. Here we take a small motorboat for a one-hour trip along the Rio Paraguay and the Rio Negro in the border triangle of Bolivia / Brazil / Paraguay. Our goal is the biological research station "Tres Gigantes" on the banks of the Rio Negro, in the national park of the same name on Paraguayan Territory. The evening presents the first opportunity to explore and observe the animals on the paths around the lodge. Dinner and overnight at Tres Gigantes Lodge / Rio Negro National Park. (B/-/D)

Fourth day: "Activities around Tres Gigantes Lodge / Rio Negro National Park

Bird watching around the lodge before breakfast. During the day, there are opportunities for various activities around the lodge, such as a kayak trip for wildlife viewing. Jaguars, pumas, armadillos, tapirs and giant river otters can often be seen. Overnight at Tres Gigantes Lodge / Rio Negro. (B/L/D)

Fifth day: Tres Gigantes Lodge – Puerto Quijarro

After breakfast there is time for a short hike to observe animals around the lodge. Then return by motorboat to Puerto Bush. From Puerto Bush back to Puerto Suarez with time for wildlife viewing along the way. In the late afternoon, board the comfortable night train of the Ferrocarril Oriental to Santa Cruz. Overnight on the night train. (F/-/-) (approx. 150 km, approx. 3.5 pure travel time, approx. 12 hours on the train)

Sixth day: Arrival in Santa Cruz

Arrival in Santa Cruz in the morning. - END OF OUR SERVICES

Included in the package:

- Private transport in a 4WD vehicle with air conditioning from Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro
- Local English-speaking guide from Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro
- Tickets for the overnight train from Puerto Quijarro to Santa Cruz
- 4x overnight stay in DBL room with private bathroom
- 1x overnight in the train from Puerto Quijarro to Santa Cruz
- Meals according to program (B= breakfast; L= lunch; D= Dinner)
- All entrance fees and visitor permits


Please do not hesitate to contact us for price requests, reservation, general question, and individual tour inquiries, at: contact(at)


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