Tour: Kaa Iya National Park (4 days, from Santa Cruz)

The Kaa Iya National Park belongs to the region in the southeast of the department of Santa Cruz, which is still an insider tip for any tour in Bolivia. The starting point for visiting Kaa Iya National Park is San José de Chiquitos. This area is well connected today by rail and the main road between Santa Cruz and the border towns to Brazil, Puerto Suarez and Puerto Quijarro further east. With its rich natural and cultural heritage, the region has maintained much of its charm and originality since the time of the first Jesuit settlement about 300 years ago.

The Kaa-Iya National Park, located in the Gran Chaco region, is the largest national park in Bolivia and the second largest national park in South America. It protects the biggest remaining expanse of the Gran Chaco dry forest and is home to the largest known single population of the jaguar. The Bolivian Gran Chaco is a dry forest landscape with high temperatures and low rainfall. The vast wilderness is considered one of the last untouched bush and dry forest regions. The protected area is home to over 350 animal species. A recent study using camera traps came to the conclusion that up to a thousand jaguars may live in the national park area. The reserve harbors what might be the largest single population of the endangered big cat known worldwide. Two to five jaguars were found in each of the examined areas over a hundred square kilometers. The second largest cat in South America, the puma, is also present in quite high population densities. Furthermore, the national park is likely to house more than six thousand flatland tapirs. The Chaco peccary is one of the species that are particularly characteristic of the Chaco dry forests and are native to Kaa-Iya. The park is also home to numerous smaller predators, such as the ocelot, small spotted cat, jaguarundi, pampas fox and crab-eating fox (maikong). Recently, in addition to the pampas fox and the crab-eating fox, a third species of canid called the bush dog, has also been found in the national park.

Itinerary:

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, 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. Afterwards 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 view of the sunset. Overnight in San Jose de Chiquitos (B/-/-) (approx. 275 km, approx. 3.5 hours driving time).

Second day: Kaa Iya National Park

Today you will have breakfast on the road, because the journey to the Kaa Iya National Park starts at 5:30 am. Around 7:00 a.m. entry into the park and registration at the Tucavaca park ranger station. Then you drive towards the Isoso pumping station, about 130 km, to see monkeys, birds and, with some luck, jaguars, pumas or tapirs. Have lunch on the way and around 3:00 p.m. drive back to Tucavaca. From there you continue via another park exit to Santiago de Chiquitos, with more good chances of seeing animals along the way. Arrival around 8:00 p.m. Overnight in Santiago de Chiquitos (B/BL/ -) (approx. 360 km).

Third day: Serranía de Santiago and visit to Aguas Calientes

Discover 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. There are great hiking and trekking options around Santiago. Today's half-day hike in the Tucavaca Nature Reserve takes you on a beautiful nature trail to the impressive rock formations in the area, such as the enormous stone bridge "Puente del Mono", or a natural arch called "Arco de Don Romulo". Not far from these formations is the "Cueva de Miserandino" cave, where you can take a look at mysterious rock paintings that testify to the early settlement of this region. You can also visit a waterfall near the cave. Alternatively: visit the rock pools and rock paintings from El Manantial. In the afternoon you’re in for a different experience. In Aguas Calientes, hot springs invite you to a pleasant bath in a paradisiacal environment. Here, up to 40 ° C hot, sulfur-enriched thermal water rises to the surface at various points in a flat and sandy creek bed surrounded by exotic vegetation. Overnight in Santiago de Chiquitos (B/-/-) (approx. 70 km by car, 1.5 hours spent driving)

Fourth day: "Antesala del Cielo" viewpoint and return to Santa Cruz

Take another short hike to the Serranía de Santiago in the morning. 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 meter 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. In the afternoon, return to Santa Cruz with a 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. In the evening arrival in Santa Cruz (B/-/-) - END OF OUR SERVICES

IMPORTANT: In Kaa Iya National Park, expect temperatures of over 40 ° C, long hours in the vehicle for observation trips, getting up very early and little sleep. We cannot guarantee sighting of a jaguar on these tours, but we always try our best to give our customers the chance of seeing one. For guests who want to specifically increase the chances of sighting big cats, we can organize an additional night in Kaa Iya National Park, with overnight in a tent. This option is only for guests who are prepared to accept reduced comfort under the described climatic conditions.

Included in the package:

- Private transport in a 4WD vehicle with air conditioning from/to Santa Cruz
- Local English-speaking guide specialized in flora and fauna to/from Santa Cruz
- 3x overnight stay in DBL room with private bathroom
- Meals according to program (B= breakfast; L= lunch; D= Dinner)
- All entrance fees

Reservation:

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

Link

https://www.landmarktravelbolivia.com/kaa-iya-nationalpark

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