The Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the finest reserves in Bolivia. The site is known for its diverse features and wildlife.
The park is situated in the northeast Santa Cruz Department. This is at the Jose Miguel de Velasco Province. This is along the country’s border with Brazil.
What to See
There are more than 130 mammal species, some of which are endangered. These include rare river otters. Other animals in the park include black jaguars, jaguars and large anteaters. You will also come across the giant armadillo and the spider and howler monkeys.
Tapirs and the river dolphins also abound in the park. In addition, the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is home to over 600 species of birds. This includes nine species of macaw. There are over 70 reptiles in the park.
The park is also home to over 4,000 vascular plant species. Among them are the palm trees, araceas, heliconias and passifloras. Bromelias are also widespread.
The park was established on June 28, 1979. It was originally called Parque Nacional Huanchaca. In 1988, the park was given its present name. The renaming was done in honor of Bolivian conservationist and biologist Noel Kempff Mercado.
He was honored for his research in the park and the way he died. Mercado was murdered in the park by drug traffickers. He was killed when he came upon a cocaine laboratory at the Huanchaca plateau.
Today, the park occupies 15,234 km2 (5,880 mi2). It is recognized for its biological diversity. The weather is usually humid and hot all through the year. However, the rainfall does average 1500 mm yearly.
Aside from being a tourist attraction, the park is designed to protect the ecosystems in it. The park is also used for scientific research. The park was also built to help improve the lives of people around it.
Travel tour prices are around 60 to 70 USD per day. This will include a guide, a stopover at the most interesting sites in the country, etc. There are more expensive tours, but they will have more amenities and longer itineraries.
Aside from the macaw, the park bird species number almost 20% of all South American bird species. If migratory birds are included, the number will go up.
The Noel Kempff Mercado National Park also has 347 species of insects. Many of them are rare, and some have not even been evaluated yet.