Amboró National Park: Giant Fern Excursion

The Amazon Rainforest holds an unimaginable amount of wildlife, and people travel from near and far to get a glimpse of it. When people think of the Amazon, Peru and Brazil often come to mind, but Bolivia is also an amazing place to experience the wonders of the Amazon and is a place that should not be disregarded. There are many jungle adventures to be had in the country, and visiting Amboró National Park is one we definitely recommend.

The vast beauty of Amboró National Park
The vast beauty of Amboró National Park

Amboró National Park offers an ecosystem unlike anywhere else due to the highly varied topography that ranges from the higher Andean foothills to the warmer and more humid Amazon basin. This unique aspect makes it one of the most biodiverse national parks in the world.

The park is in a convenient location, making it easily accessible from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Samaipata, and other wonderful cities and towns located in the center of Bolivia. There are many ways to experience Amboró National Park, and below we will discuss the options we considered and our experience in the park.

The ferns looked like something from Jurassic times
The ferns looked like something from Jurassic times

Our Original Plan: A Night in Refugio Los Volcanes

Originally, we wanted to stay in Amboró National Park at Refugio Los Volcanes. This beautiful refuge lies right inside the border of the park and offers access to the amazing views, fun hikes, and complete tranquility. For a reasonable price, you get lodging, multiple meals, transport to the lodge from the park entrance, and ‘pathfinders’ to assist you on adventures.

While we were in contact with those working at the refuge, they were very friendly and accommodating. If you are thinking about staying here, we definitely recommend making reservations in advance by reaching them through their website. Our timing and budget didn’t quite align with this option, and while we were bummed that we missed out on staying here, we experienced an awesome alternative.

Amboró National Park is filled home to some amazing wildlife
Amboró National Park is home to some amazing wildlife

Plan B: Amboró National Park Day Tour from Samaipata

We left Santa Cruz de la Sierra and found ourselves in the lovely town of Samaipata. There, there are many tour operators that specialize in a variety of day tours to Amboró National Park. We opted to go with Samaipata Tours to see the giant ferns. This company also offers other tours, such as excursions to see the condors and the Samaipata fort.

The tour van we embarked in

We left at 8:30 a.m., departing with our small group from the tour office. We drove about 45 minutes on the winding road up into the park, leaving civilization behind. It had been raining a lot lately, so the roads were a muddy. After the pretty drive through the countryside, we parked and began the ascent through the jungle.

Feeling small among the giant ferns

All of the flora was lush and beautiful, but when we reached the giant ferns, we were amazed. These ferns are among the oldest plants on this planet. Some towered above our heads, blocking out much of the light that would otherwise flood the forest floor. Our guide provided much information about these unique plants. As we hiked, the forest was alive with the sounds of birds and rushing water.

The moss holds much of the forest's water
The moss holds much of the forest’s water

We climbed higher, eventually leaving the forest behind and entering grassy fields. It was colder up here as there were no trees to protect us from the wind, and rolling clouds that left mist on our skin. We sat on the hillside for a while, eating our packed lunch and watching the clouds cruise through the valley.

All smiles high up in Amboró National Park

We continued up the hillside, admiring the panoramic views before heading back down into the trees. The descent was much easier with the exception of the muddy spots. Towards the end of the hike, the sun came out, making for the perfect end to our excursion.

Rolling hills and steep cliffs make for a beautiful view

Amboró National Park Tour Overview

Tour Cost: 180 Bolivianos per person

Tour Duration: 6-8 hours, depending on hiking speed

Hike Distance: 8-9 miles (12-15 kilometers)

What to Bring: Comfortable shoes (they may get muddy and wet), sunscreen, bug repellent, rain jacket, lunch and snacks, water, camera

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