24-days Top 5 National Parks Trip

  • N.P. Amboró (south side), walking in subtropical area 3 days
  • N.P. Torotoro, hiking in valleys area and cave visit 3 days
  • N.P. Madidi, tropical jungle, a mix of hiking and boating 4 days
  • N.P. Avaroa and the fantastic salt flats of Uyuni 3 days
  • N.P. Kaa Iya, safari and/or hiking 4 days

During this specially composed trip to the 5 most beautiful national parks of Bolivia you will see an enormous variety of landscapes, plants, birds and mammals.

From Santa Cruz you first visit N.P. Amboró. The eco lodge where you will spend the night is beautifully situated between red sandstone mountains covered with subtropical forest.
Then you will travel to Cochabamba to visit N.P. Torotoro. You will see valleys, Bolivia's longest cave, a deep canyon and well-preserved dinosaur footprints of various species.
Next, you travel from La Paz to the fantastic N.P. Madidi in the Bolivian Amazon. The park is known for its huge number of bird species (1000+) and is home to many species of mammals such as monkeys, jaguars and tapirs.
Then you travel to the Bolivian Plateau where a 3-day Jeep tour from Uyuni is on the programme. You start with a visit to the world famous Salar de Uyuni, the second biggest salt plain in the world. In N.P. Avaroa you will see geysers, deserts, volcanoes, coloured lakes, flamingos, llamas and vicuñas.
To conclude your trip, you will go to N.P. Kaa Iya. This park is located in a very hot part of Bolivia, the Gran Chaco.  Here you will look for wildlife; the jaguar, the puma, tapirs, monkeys and other mammals and many bird species.

Compile your own National Parks Trip.
This is an example trip; you can adjust this trip in consultation. For example, you can stay more days in N.P. Madidi, extend your trip with a visit to the pampas or omit a visit to N.P. Kaa Iya.

During this trip you will travel at high altitude. To prevent you from suffering from altitude sickness as much as possible, we have designed the trip in such a way that your body can gradually get used to the altitude. We advise you to read information about altitude sickness.

Route: Sa. Cruz - N.P. Amboró, Sa. Cruz - Cochabamba - N.P. Torotoro - La Paz - N.P. Madidi - La Paz - Uyuni - Salar de Uyuni & N.P. Avaroa - Uyuni - Sucre - Sa. Cruz - N.P. Kaa Iya - Sa. Cruz

Day 1: Arrival in Santa Cruz (450 m)
After arrival you can rest from your journey and get an impression of the city centre with its cosy Plaza. In the Manzana I you can view a temporary exhibition of art.

Day 2: Santa Cruz - El Refugio Los Volcanes, N.P. Amboró (900 m)
Today you will travel in about 2 hours to the beautifully located nature reserve El Refugio Los Volcanes, on the border of national park Amboró. The eco lodge is surrounded by red sandstone mountains and dense subtropical forest.

You can go hiking here with a local Spanish-speaking companion and explore the magnificent nature.
Hopefully, you will see many bird species and perhaps a few other animals.

A small river meanders through the reserve and you can take a refreshing bath at the waterfalls.

Day 3: El Refugio Los Volcanes, N.P. Amboró (900 m)

When you wake up, you find yourself surrounded by the sounds of nature. You have the whole day at El Refugio to go hiking. There are several hiking trails you can choose from.
At the lodge there are hammocks, so you can also relax for a while.

Day 4: El Refugio Los Volcanes - Santa Cruz (450 m)
In the morning you will have time to take a nice walk again and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

In the summer months, there is also a huge variety of butterflies and insects to be found.

In the afternoon you will be picked up at the exit of El Refugio and travel back to Santa Cruz.

Day 5: Santa Cruz - Cochabamba (2,550 m)

After a short flight you arrive in Cochabamba. Here you can explore the city centre or go to the statue of Christ from where you will have great views of the city. If you like markets, you can indulge yourself in the huge La Cancha market. Cochabamba is a student city and has a fascinating nightlife.

Day 6: Cochabamba - N.P. Torotoro (2,676 m)
Today you will travel by private Jeep to Torotoro National Park. As soon as you leave the city you will enjoy the beautiful ride.
Arriving in the town of Torotoro, you will move into your room and after lunch you will head for the Umajalanta cave. Here you will see spectacular formations of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as blind fish of an endemic species.
After your visit to Umajalanta it is time to go to your hotel and have dinner.

Day 7: N.P. Torotoro (3,780 m)
By car you will depart to the starting point of your walk to the stone city, Ciudad Itas at about 3,780 m altitude. You will see interesting rock formations and caves, including some with rock paintings, formed millions of years ago by the water (erosion) that flowed through the area at the time.
You will enjoy an excellent view of the entire park with its valley, canyons and mountain ridges. You also have a good chance to spot a condor.

Then you go the area exposed to the natural elements called Carreras Pampa. The short walk here is easy. You will be able to admire foot prints of various types of dinosaurs. The local guide will indicate the best-kept prints and will explain which dinosaur species they are from.

Day 8: N.P. Torotoro - Cochabamba (2,550 m)
Also today special experiences await you. Just outside the village you will see a large number of huge footprints of carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs. Then you walk to the canyon of Torotoro. You come to a naturally formed stone bridge and then go to a lookout point above the canyon from where you have a fantastic view. Hopefully you can see the endangered red-headed macaw, which has its habitat here.

A little further you go down a staircase to the bottom of the canyon to visit the waterfall El Vergel. Here you will probably not be able to resist a refreshing bath in the crystal-clear water that is supplied by underground caves. Unfortunately, you will have to climb the stairs again to take the last part of your walk. At the end of the walk the car waits for you to bring you back to Torotoro.
You end the adventure with a typical regional dish for lunch. Around 16.00 hrs. the drive back to Cochabamba starts.

Day 9: Cochabamba - La Paz (3,650 m)
After a short morning flight with spectacular views of the majestic mountains of the Cordillera Real, you arrive in the government city of La Paz.

The rest of the day you can explore this fascinating city full of contrasts: rich, poor, modern, traditional, old, new, high, low, all mixed up.
You can take a look at some small museums on Calle Jaén, take the cable car to El Alto, go see the articles offered on the witches' market or visit the Coca Museum.

Day 10: La Paz - Rurrenabaque - N.P. Madidi (250 m)

A spectacular flight of only half an hour brings you from La Paz along mountain peaks of more than 6,000 m high and over N.P. Madidi to tropical Rurrenabaque. Here begins your 4-days tour to the jungle of N.P. Madidi. The park of almost 19,000 km² is with, among others, the N.P. Apolobamba and Peru's Manu Biosphere Reserve one of the largest protected areas in the world. Because the park is wedged between the high Andes mountains and Amazon rivers, biodiversity is immense. The flora is abundant with 20,000 plant species, and the fauna has more than 250 mammal species, 1250+ bird species, more than 400 amphibians and reptiles, almost 500 fish species and 120,000+ insect species. In short, you are in a paradise.

After arrival in Rurrenabaque you go to the Beni river and sail by boat to the Chalalán Eco Lodge in N.P. Madidi. The trip on the Beni and Tuíchi rivers takes about five and a half hours. Along the way you get a lunch (package). The boat moors in the harbour of Chalalán and you take a walk of about 25 minutes through the jungle to the eco lodge.

In the afternoon, you can go out for a walk in the area. From a vantage point you have a beautiful view of a lake, the mountains and the impressive tropical rainforest of Madidi.

By canoe you sail along the shores of the lake to spot birds and monkeys.
You get an explanation about the use of hardwood and animal life.
After dinner you can take an evening walk to see nocturnal animals, such as frogs, snakes, spiders, moths and other insects.

Day 11: N.P. Madidi (250 m)

After breakfast you will depart for an interpretation walk on theme paths. You return to the eco lodge for lunch. Then you have time to rest or to swim in the lake before you make another walk in the area. In the evening, after dinner, you will take a trip on the lake by canoe to see amphibians, night birds and the gleaming eyes of alligators.


Day 12: N.P. Madidi (250 m)
You make a full day walk to the rivers Rayamayo and Eslabón where you can fish.
Along the way you may see spider monkeys, deer, wild boar, tapirs and perhaps a jaguar.
You can use your pack lunch on the banks of the river.
Walking along the riverbank, you can see insects and birds. Then you return to the eco lodge.

You will then go by canoe along the shores of the lake to see birds, monkeys and the tropical vanilla plant.

In the evening you will enjoy a dinner with typical fish dishes and folk music and dance.


Day 13: N.P. Madidi - La Paz (3,600 m)

On this last day of the tour, you will have an early breakfast and then walk to the little port of Chalalán on the Tuíchi River. By boat you will return to Rurrenabaque. On the way you will certainly see many bird species again. Then you will be taken to the airport for your flight to La Paz.

Day 14: La Paz - Uyuni (3,600 m)
You have a day at leisure in the cultural metropolis. You can make it a relaxing day or visit one of the museums the city has to offer. You can also visit the Moon Valley, an eroded landscape where the largest hummingbird in the world is found.
In the evening you fly from La Paz to Uyuni. Alternatively, you can take the night bus to Uyuni and spend the night on the bus.

Day 15: Uyuni - Salt flats of Uyuni - Tahua (3,600 m)
Today you start your wonderful 3-days jeep tour through the Salar de Uyuni and N.P. Avaroa.

First you will visit the Train Cemetery, and then Colchani, where handicrafts made of salt can be seen, as well as the process of making domestic salt, and the Salt Museum.

Then you will enter the salt flats and you will see Ojos del Salar; here bubbling gases escape from underneath the salt flat, the Salt Hotel and Incahuasi, where you can go for a short walk to observe giant cacti and volcanic rocks.
In the distance you can see the Tunupa Volcano. At the foot of this volcano you will spend the night in a salt hotel in the hamlet of Tahua, on the north side of the Salar de Uyuni.

Day 16: Tahua - Ojo de Perdiz (4,600 m)
You cross the immense salt flats, extending in all directions as far as the eye can see. You can walk up the Tunupa Volcano to one of the viewpoints that offer a magnificent view over the salt flats.
After that you will visit the archaeological site of Chullpares, pre-Inca mummies, in Coquesa. Just outside the village you might spot lamas and maybe also flamingos.
You cross the salt flats again and visit the caves Cueva del Diablo and Galaxia Cristal.
Through the Salar de Chiguana you will go to a viewpoint from where you can get a good look at the semi-active Ollagüe Volcano.
The journey continues through the Silolí Desert and you will see the small lakes: Laguna Cañapa, Laguna Hedionda and Laguna Chiarkota.
The day ends in Ojo de Perdiz, where you will spend the night.

  Day 17: Ojo de Perdiz - N.P. Avaroa - Uyuni (3,600 m)
The departure today will be very early to enjoy all the sights.
On your way to visit Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon) you will pass the Stone Tree; a rock formation of over eight meters high.
The highlights on this day are again numerous; Laguna Colorada with its flamingos, the geyser Sol de Mañana, the natural thermal baths of the hot springs (Polques), the Salvador Dalí desert.
Amongst all these desolate desert landscapes, you might see the Rhea, a species of ostrich, or the Andean fox, the Vizcacha.
Later you reach Laguna Verde with the nearby Licancabur Volcano in the background and Laguna Blanca.

On the way back to Uyuni you will pass Villa Mar, Valle de las Rocas and San Cristóbal.
It will be a tiring but beautiful day. If you have more time available, you can consider adding an extra day and spreading the programme over two days. You will then spend the night in Villa Mar.

Day 18: Uyuni - Sucre (2,750 m)
In the morning you take the bus via Potosí to Sucre, the wonderful capital of Bolivia where you arrive at the end of the afternoon.

Day 19: Sucre - Santa Cruz (450 m)
You will have the day at leisure in Sucre. You can stroll through the attractive colonial city centre and enjoy the beautiful white buildings and churches or visit Sucre's biggest local market, the Mercado Campesino, or the ASUR textile museum.
At the end of the afternoon or in the evening your flight to Santa Cruz is scheduled.
If this day is a Sunday and your flight time allows it, you can make an excursion to the famous traditional Sunday market of Tarabuco. People from surrounding villages come here to buy and sell merchandise and you can find beautiful souvenirs.
If you want to be more active, you can take a hike on an Inca trail. 

 Day 20: Santa Cruz - N.P. Kaa Iya (200 - 500 m)
N.P. Kaa Iya, with an surface of 3,441,115 ha. is the largest national park of Bolivia, situated in the Gran Chaco. It is a unique area where you have a reasonable chance of spotting the jaguar, the puma, the tapir, monkeys and other mammals.

What you need to know in advance:
* It can be extremely hot, temperatures above 40°C are normal.
* In addition to large mammals and birds, there are also many mosquitoes and small stinging flies (polvorines). You will not leave here without insect bites.
* It is mandatory to bring a park ranger.
* The meals in the camp are very basic.
* You will spend the night in a tent, if possible and available we try to arrange a room.
* The travel to and from the park is long.
If you take these things into account, it is well worth going here and you will greatly enjoy the fantastic experience of being in the park.

The tour starts from Sa. Cruz, you will have the opportunity to buy some more in a supermarket before you start your journey to San José. In N.P. Kaa Iya and in the camp there is nothing to buy. Once you are out of the city you will enjoy the lowland landscape. After 4 driving hours you will arrive to the Jesuit Mission San José de Chiquitos.
After that, it will be about 3 hours before you reach the camp in the park. During this part of the ride you can already see animals that live in the park. The same evening, if you feel like it, you can make your first animal watching trip. Depending on your preference, you can go by car or -partly- on foot.

Day 21: N.P. Kaa Iya
Every day over the next few days, you can go on a morning, afternoon and evening exploration with your guide and park ranger. This can be either by car or on foot, to maximise your chances of seeing the jaguar or your favourite species living in the park. During our 5 days inspection tour, we recorded more than 100 bird species. In between the excursions you will have the time to rest and relax.


Day 22: N.P. Kaa Iya
You will have another full day in N.P. Kaa Iya.
In consultation with your guide and the park ranger, you will put together the programme for today.
The park ranger often has good knowledge of where animals were last spotted and this can help you plan your day and find the animals.

Day 23: N.P. Kaa Iya - Santa Cruz
In consultation with your guide, you can make a short last drive in the national park in the early hours before the return drive to Santa Cruz begins.

Day 24: End of journey - return flight

Your beautiful varied National Parks Trip has come to an end. You will be picked up and taken to the international airport for your flight back home.