The Yvaga Guazu Eco Park is a beautiful botanical park located just 20 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It truly lives up to its name, which means "big paradise" in the Guaraní language. You'll find it at Kilometer 12 ½ of the Doble Via a
This is the same highway you will take if you decide to visit Samaipata. Eventually, it also ends up in Cochabamba; however, a newer highway now connects Santa Cruz and Cochabamba so this route is now referred to as "La Vieja Carretera" (the Old Highway).
You can call one of dozens of companies that provide
or hop on one of our small
called "micros". Just take the #44 or #83, both of which run as far as Km. 13 where there is a small toll booth. If you drive yourself, just follow the Doble Via straight out of town, and watch for the Yvaga Guazu Eco Park road signs on the left hand side of the road about 500 meters prior to arriving at the Km. 13 toll booth. If you arrive at it, you’ve passed the park.
If you’re interested in plant life, Yvaga Guazu Eco Park is the place for you. This tropical paradise is home to over 800 native and imported species of plants from dozens of tiny bonsais to towering palm trees imported from Cuba, hundreds of blooming plants, dozens of fruit species, and lots of native tropical plants, including over 200 of Bolivia's nearly 3000 known varieties of orchids. Several biologists are on hand 365 days a year to take you on a 1 ½ hour walking tour through 3 hectares of forest.
Children can enjoy (and learn from) this trip too – there are several species of native
Bolivian birds and animals
(deer, iguanas, monkeys, boars, toucans, parrots, and more) some in cages, others in the wild, most of them rescued. At the end of the walking tour the guides give the children a short explanation about some of the animals, maybe allow them to hold a snake, and help them make crafts, like animal masks they can color and wear. There is also a small playground for kids to play on.
Yvaga Guazu is a private nature reserve. Owned by the Rozenman family for decades, they are fully committed to their mission and vision of helping others learn to conserve, preserve and fall in love with nature, which is why they also offer inexpensive, guided field trips for schools, universities, and anyone interested in learning more about how to care for and protect our natural environment and biodiversity.
The general entrance cost for adults is Bs. 30 and for children 5-11 years of age it is Bs. 15. Complete guided tours lasting 2 or more hours cost Bs. 50 for adults and Bs. 30 for children 5-11 years old. For reservations, you can call +591-3-352-7971.
The walking tour through the tropical forest takes about one hour, or a little longer depending on how inquisitive you are and how many times you stop to ask questions or take photos. The tour covers 3 of the park's 14 hectares of land, ending near a small thatch-roofed hut where, if you have kids in the group, they are given a presentation by the guides (you can use the restroom there too). This hut faces a big soccer field next to which there is also a volleyball net, so feel free to bring big groups and enjoy the entire day doing sports.
You can end your tour of Yvaga Guazu plant life with lunch at the restaurant, which serves typical dishes like steak and several kinds of chicken and fish along with potatoes, rice, salads, and pastas. Enjoy a glass of mocochinchi (a cruceño juice made from dried peaches and burnt sugar) or any number of fruit juices or sodas.
There is also a small souvenir shop where you can purchase local handcrafts. Round out the day with a ride on a horse-drawn cart around the park. Be amazed at the over 150 species of butterflies flitting about you throughout the day, on your walking tour and everywhere else you are in the park. Wear comfortable clothing and good walking shoes.
Personnel are very nice and really REALLY knowledgeable about all the species of plants and animals they show you. When they are not guiding tours they are working and researching the plants that eventually are shown on the tour.
Yvaga Guazu Eco Park is a definite “don’t miss it” place if you are a true nature lover. It is the first park in South America to obtain Sustainable Tourism Certification from Green Globe. The park is open from sunrise to sunset every single day of the year. June and July are winter in Bolivia and colder so you're less likely to see some of the animals (like sloths, monkeys and butterflies) during these months (all the plant species will be there regardless of the weather). However, you might find it’s also the most comfortable time of the year to take such a long walking tour because you won’t suffer from the heat and humidity. This is the rainforest.