There’s one wild wonderland in Bolivia that hardly any travelers venture to due to its remoteness and inaccessibility, and that’s Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. This hidden gem boasts lush rainforests, rugged canyons and exotic wildlife – creating a paradise of Mother Nature. Situated in the heart of South America, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is spread out over 1.5 million hectares and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Imagine towering waterfalls cascading into pristine rivers, mystical caves begging to be explored and canyons so deep you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a lost world. It’s like a page ripped out of a Jurassic Park screenplay, minus the dinosaurs. Of course, the stars of the show are the animals that call the park home. Jaguars, spider monkeys, maned wolves, green anacondas, giant otters and pink dolphins can all be found here.
If you’re a birdwatching enthusiast, you’re in for a real treat. More than 600 species of feathered friends – including macaws and harpy eagles – will have your binoculars working overtime. As you head deeper into the park, you’ll learn the secrets of indigenous cultures that have lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years. Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is a place where ancient traditions meet modern conservation efforts – producing a tapestry of cultural richness and splendid biodiversity.
For adrenaline junkies there are opportunities to hike through the Amazon, stand under impressive waterfalls like Arco Iris and Ahfeld, spot giant anteaters and maned wolves in the savannahs, take exhilarating boat trips through winding rivers and marvel at some of the most intact Cerrado dry forests on the planet. But perhaps the biggest thrill of all is the simple pleasure of camping under the star-studded Bolivian sky, where the serene sounds of the jungle help you drift off to a peaceful sleep at night.
Since it’s an isolated wilderness area, visits should only be arranged by a licensed tour guide. With this in mind, we recommend booking with Nick’s Adventures – an award-winning Bolivian tour operator that knows this unique destination inside and out. They have just launched an exciting new tour to Noel Kempff Mercado National Park that takes you there via a Cessna flight. It showcases the park’s northern regions, while working with indigenous communities and park staff to provide employment in this rarely visited area. Below we outline some of the tour’s highlights.
Noel Kempff Mercado National Park Tour
This 6 day expedition into Noel Kempff Mercado National Park will allow you to unleash your authentic intrepid spirit. Nick’s Adventures welcomes you to explore the untamed beauty of the national park – an experience that promises exciting wildlife encounters, breathtaking landscapes and memories to last a lifetime. Your experienced tour guides will lead you through the forests and river banks to see black caimans, pink dolphins, green anacondas, jaguars, tapirs, giant otters and a variety of birds.
Day 1: The Adventure Begins
Your trip kicks off with a Santa Cruz hotel pick-up and transfer to the airport, followed by a 2.5 hour Cessna flight and then a 4 hour boat ride to a small hotel located on the Brazilian border of Pimenteiras. After a long but captivating journey, you will be ready for an early night’s sleep at the comfortable hotel to prepare yourself for the adventures to come. All meals are included on the first day to ensure you stay fueled throughout.
Day 2: Boat Trippin’ to Spot Wildlife
In the morning you’ll wake up to a delicious breakfast, before setting off on a 3-5 hour boat trip on the Pausana and Itinez rivers. Along the way all sorts of creatures can be captured with both your eyes and camera lens – including jaguars, giant otters, caimans and spider monkeys. Once you arrive at the Ahfeld Campsite, in the late afternoon, there will be just enough time in the schedule to visit the incredible Ahfeld Waterfalls – a place that’ll take your breath away by its immaculate condition. Again, all meals are included on this day as well as camping accommodation.
Day 3: Soaking Up a Waterfall Wonder
The third day is all about Arco Iris Waterfalls to find the best views and feel its raw power. Some regard this waterfall as the most beautiful in the Amazonia region and when visiting you might agree with that. With Nick’s Adventures you will be able to locate iconic photo-ops, and get stunning pictures taken of you and your traveling companions. They’ll also set up a picnic lunch in a relaxing spot by the waterfalls. If that wasn’t enough, the day ends with a night walk to search for nocturnal species and to go stargazing. All meals are included as is the overnight stay at the campsite.
Day 4 & 5: Exploring All of the Sights
These two days give you the opportunity to go hiking, wildlife watching and explore waterfalls to your heart’s content. If you want to see a specific sight or hunt for a certain species, then Nick’s Adventures will be more than happy to organize it. The night of day 4 will be spent at a campsite while the fifth night will be spent at a hotel called Don Carlos in El Cafetal. Reaching El Cafetal requires taking a boat trip but it’s incredibly scenic.
Day 6: The Journey Ends
On the final day, you’ll wake up to another breakfast and afterwards drive an hour to the airstrip to catch the flight back to Santa Cruz. Lunch is also included. Your journey concludes with a transfer to your accommodation in Santa Cruz, hopefully leaving you with a heart full of adventure and a camera roll bursting with memories. Not many people visit Noel Kempff Mercado National Park but you’ll be part of this exclusive group.
Tips for Visiting Noel Kempff Mercado National Park
It’s important to note that Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is located in a remote part of Bolivia and access to the park can be challenging, involving long journeys by air and river. Visitors should also be prepared for a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity. Nonetheless, the effort to reach this wilderness area is rewarded with an unforgettable natural experience that few other places on earth can match. Here are some final tips to help you have a safe, stress-free and enjoyable trip.
- Book an All-Inclusive Tour: Reaching this remote destination is unthinkable without the expertise of an experienced local guide. Organizing all of the accommodation and transport logistics is almost impossible on your own – plus it’s just a better overall experience to have a tour guide with you as they can help you navigate the park, and you can tap into their knowledge about the flora and fauna on offer. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of the biodiversity.
- Pack Appropriate Gear: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing in layers to adapt to the changing conditions. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. The Amazon can be mosquito-heavy, so pack insect repellent with a high DEET concentration to ward off bites. Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants during the evening when mosquitoes are active. Bring binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens to capture wildlife. A tripod can help stabilize your shots. Lastly, pack a swimsuit and a quick-drying towel for the waterfall dips.
- Respect the Environment: Follow all of the usual Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all your trash, and avoid picking plants or disturbing any of the wildlife. Stay on the designated trails to minimize impact. Additionally, try to keep your noise levels down – and avoid using bright lights at night to maintain the natural tranquility of the national park and not disrupt nocturnal animals. Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is pristine and visitors should do their part in the conservation effort.
- Take a Digital Detox: Embrace a digital detox by leaving all of your electronic devices behind or using them sparingly. Focus on immersing yourself in the park’s beauty and connecting with nature. You won’t find much of a WiFi signal or cell phone coverage out here anyway – but just take this opportunity to disconnect from the worries of the world. Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is your chance to rejuvenate yourself.