1 How to get to the Park
1.1 Traveling time
To the community of Florida and Los Fierros
The journey by road from the city of Santa Cruz to the community of Florida, traveling in a four-wheel drive vehicle, takes about 13 hours. From this community it is another hour’s journey to the facilities at Los Fierros. It is also possible to travel by public transport, which takes about 17 hours, but there is then a further 35 km to travel. Entry to the Park should therefore be arranged in advance.
There is a landing strip in the community of Florida and in the tourist facilities at Los Fierros. It is therefore possible to enter the Park by plane, preferably a single-engine light aircraft. The flight takes an hour and a half.
To Flor de Oro
Flor de Oro has a landing strip for planes that can carry up to 20 passengers. The flight takes two hours in a light aircraft.
The journey by road to the community of Piso Firme, traveling in a four-wheel drive vehicle, takes 20 hours from the city of Santa Cruz and 6 hours from the community of Florida. It is also possible to travel by public transport all the way from Santa Cruz to the community of Piso Firme, and the journey takes about 28 hours.
From Piso Firme to Flor de Oro, the journey is by boat along the Paraguá and Iténez rivers. It takes about six hours in a motor-boat that can seat five people.
1.2 Ease or difficulty of transport depending on the season
To Florida and Los Fierros
The roads are easily passable between April and November (the dry season), but from December to March (the rainy season) the roads become very difficult to travel. The journey time is therefore likely to be much longer on public transport and slightly longer in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
The landing strip in the community of Florida can be used all year round. Before flying in to the landing strip at Los Fierros, ask the Park management office whether it is currently usable.
To Flor de Oro
The landing strip in Flor de Oro can be used throughout the dry season. During the rainy season, check first with the Park management office to see whether it is usable.
1.3 Accommodation, food, fuel, vehicle repairs and other services
If you are traveling by road, you have the opportunity to stop on the way and visit the Jesuit Missions in San Javier, Concepción and San Ignacio de Velasco. There are several accommodation options in all three of these villages, ranging from 5-star hotels to the most basic hostels. Along the road there are several restaurants where you can try the local speciality: majadito, locro, picante de gallina, or roast duck with all the trimmings, as well as snacks such as cuñapé, pan de arroz and roscas de maíz.
Between Santa Rosa de Roca and the communities of Florida or Piso Firme you should take provisions for the journey.
In the community of Florida there are three places offering accommodation and food. Piso Firme also has restaurant and accommodation facilities.
At Los Fierros there are cabins where up to 15 people can stay, as well as a camping area. Food and accommodation services must be booked in advance at the Park offices or through registered tour operators.
Flor de Oro also has accommodation facilities, including food, with space for up to 25 people. Again, you should book in advance at the Park offices or through registered tour operators.
If you are traveling in a private vehicle, fuel (diesel and gasoline) is available at gas stations between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa de la Roca. There is one every 60 km on average. After that, the next gas station is in the community of Piso Firme. This is the longest leg of the journey, so you should carry spare fuel.
2 Places to visit inside the Park
2.1 Attractions and round trips
Visit to the community of Florida
Located on the banks of the River Paraguá and on the main road into the Park, this community receives direct economic benefits from ecotourism and research activities in the Park. From here, you can explore the River Paraguá and see the fresh water dolphin, large numbers of water birds, troupes of capuchin monkeys leaping from tree to tree along the river bank and even families of giant otters.
There are paths leading out from the community where you can visit old rubber plantations. This is where the raw material was collected to make rubber products such as ponchos and bags.
Tours starting in Los Fierros
The Los Fierros campsite is surrounded by tall tropical Amazon rainforest with an incredible diversity of wildlife, including more than 350 recorded species of birds.
Trip to the seasonally flooded savanna
One of the most unusual attractions in the Park is the seasonally flooded savanna, just a ten-minute drive from the campsite. This savanna is a large area of grassland studded with termite mounds and islands of forest covered in bushes and small trees.
Trip to the El Encanto waterfall
This beautiful waterfall is 40 km away from Los Fierros. To get there, you drive the first 32 km across the savanna and through the forest, and walk the last 8 km along a path through the tall tropical forest until you reach the base of the plateau. Here you will find the 80m waterfall, with transparent water plunging into the crystalline pool at the bottom. Along the trail you will see the local wildlife, including peccaries, coatis and large groups of spider monkeys.
Walk to the Caparuch plateau
The ascent to the Caparuch plateau takes in the most spectacular scenery and is one of the best nature experiences the Park has to offer. The Park was created in 1979 with the aim of preserving the unique habitats on top of the plateau. Today, visitors can see these habitats for themselves at the end of an 8 km walk through the tropical rainforest.
The trail leads to a rocky outcrop where you will find a natural viewpoint offering a splendid view of the surrounding savanna and forest. Visitors who are reasonably fit can choose to climb up to the summit, which is worth exploring if you are accompanied by a guide. Those who choose to stay behind will be able to rest while they enjoy the view and the sounds of a waterfall. The walk back to the campsite will be equally exciting, as the area is home to an abundance of large mammals and the trail offers a good opportunity to see them.
FLOR DE ORO
Flor de Oro offers about 40 km of trails and fascinating boat trips. The guided trails pass through different natural settings and the signs describe their noteworthy and interesting features. On the trails for longer hikes you need to be accompanied by a guide, who can be found at the campsite. These trails go inside the riverine forest and along the banks of the River Iténez and its oxbow lakes.
During the rainy season, one of the lakes floods the savanna grasslands, forming an interesting archipelago of “islands of forest” on top of old termite mounds, where all the wildlife takes refuge. During the dry season the trail goes through the savanna until you reach a small swamp with low trees whose branches are covered with a wide variety of orchids and bromelias.
River trips on motorboats and canoes are a good way to see the Park’s aquatic flora and fauna and can be combined with walks along guided trails.
The Flor de Oro visitors’ center
In the visitors’ center you can see a large exhibition of photographs of the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, and a scale model of the Park that provides information about the whole area.
North Trail Walk
The North Trail Walk offers a good introduction to the Amazon forest and savanna near the Flor de Oro campsite. During this walk you will be able to see different species of birds and turtles, and with a little luck you may come across a troupe of spider monkeys.
The walk takes 2½ hours and you will be accompanied by a park warden.
South Trail Walk
The South Trail Walk leaves from the Flor de Oro campsite and runs along the banks of the River Iténez. You will walk through gallery forest and seasonally flooded savanna. The walk takes 1 hour and you will be accompanied by a park warden. At the end of the walk you can either return along the same path or take the oxbow lake tour.
Tour of nearby oxbow lakes to see heron colonies
At any time of the year, you can take a boat from Flor de Oro and reach the oxbow lakes in just a few minutes. This is an expedition to the black waters of the local network of lakes and rivers, and the oxbow lakes are excellent places to turn off the motor and enjoy the beauties of the Park from the vantage point of the water. During the trip you will see a huge variety of birds, including herons, toucans and kingfishers. If you are lucky, you may also see the giant otter, one of the many endangered species of mammal that live in the Park. The tour takes 1½ hours.
This is a protection site that can be reached by motorboat at any time of the year, traveling for an hour upriver along the Iténez from Flor de Oro. It is a good place for a picnic, and there is a short path leading to two rocky towers that rise above the forest canopy. From the top of these towers there is a spectacular view of the river, the state of Rondonia in Brazil and the Caparuch plateau in the Park.
Caiman Lake and the Monkeys Viewpoint trail
Between November and May, a one-hour motorboat trip along the River Iténez will take you to a channel that leads to Caiman Lake. From there you enter the forest and climb up to the plateau to reach the viewpoints, where you will have a sweeping view of the steep cliffs and the immense plain, including forests, lakes and flooded savanna. With a little patience and a pair of binoculars, you may see macaws flying by far below, the king vulture on its aerial patrol and, in the jungle canopy, monkeys and coatis. You can either return by boat or take the long trail to Flor de Oro, walking through the forest until you reach the savanna that surrounds the campsite.
This tour takes 5 hours.
River Pauserna and Ahlfeld Waterfall tour
A journey downstream along the River Iténez takes you to the mouth of the River Pauserna. Between November and May, a boat trip along this river as it snakes through the plains offers an excellent opportunity to see birds and animals. Rising in the grassland on the plateau, the waters of the Pauserna hurtle over the cliff in two waterfalls, the 25-meter Federico Ahlfeld falls and the 80-meter Arco Iris or Rainbow falls.
To reach the base of the Federico Ahlfeld falls is an easy walk from the nearby campsite. You will need to spend the night at the Ahlfeld campsite and return to Flor de Oro the next morning.
This tour takes a day and a half, and can only be done in the dry season.
Adapted from travel information provided by FAN