Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area

Located in South America, the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park in Bolivia, strictly the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area, is a government-protected area with a vast ecosystem brimming with biodiversity from the Gran Chaco region. The park boasts a variety of exceptional wildlife and flora, a rich cultural heritage, and a staggering natural history that makes it a must-visit destination for nature and adventure enthusiasts.

Introduction to the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park

Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area

Geographical Location

Located to the south of the Santa Cruz department, in the Cordillera and Chiquitos provinces of Bolivia. The Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park covers the municipalities of Charagua and San José de Chiquitos. This strategic location allows it to protect a vast expanse of forests and ecosystems characteristic of the Gran Chaco region, contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage in this area.

Geographical Coordinates

The geographical coordinates of the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park, in the mentioned reference quadrant, are as follows:

  • South Latitude: from 17° 53′ 53.178″ to 20° 15′ 3.94″.
  • West Longitude: from 62° 25′ 43.134″ to 60° 06′ 48.022″.

These coordinates delimit the geographical area in which the park is located, encompassing the territorial extension where the conservation of this valuable ecosystem takes place in the Santa Cruz department, Bolivia.

History and Establishment of the Park

Created on September 21, 1995, through Supreme Decree No. 24122, establishing its official protected area status in Bolivia. This decree provided the legal basis for designating the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco area as a national park, giving it the Spanish name "Parque Nacional y Área Natural de Manejo Integrado Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco", recognizing its importance for the conservation of the unique biodiversity of the Gran Chaco and its role in protecting threatened species. Since then, the park has been a symbol of continuous conservation efforts and a prominent destination for nature and adventure enthusiasts in South America.

Park Objectives

The creation objectives of the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park are multiple and significant:

  1. Represent the largest expanse of well-preserved tropical xerophytic forests in the world.
  2. Maintain ecological processes and conserve populations of flora and fauna present in the park.
  3. Ensure the subsistence of family groups of the Ayoreo ethnicity that inhabit the interior of the protected area with collection and transhumance activities.

These objectives are fundamental for the protection and conservation of the unique biodiversity and cultural heritage of the region affected by the protected area.

Total Protected Area

The Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park has an approximate area of 3,441,115 hectares, according to the following sources:

  • According to the Creation Decree: 3,441,115 hectares (ha).
  • According to GIS (Geographic Information System) digital archives: 3,415,893.945 hectares (ha).

These figures may vary slightly due to different measurement methodologies or data updates, but both sources indicate that the park is an extensive protected area of great importance for biodiversity conservation in Bolivia.

Physical Features: Geography, Physiography, and Climate


It is located in the Chaco Beniano Plain physiographic unit. This region is characterized by vast plains and flatlands covering the eastern and southeastern parts of the protected area. The park’s topography is predominantly flat, although hills, mounds, and small mountain ranges can also be found, adding variety to the landscape.

A notable feature of the park’s physiography is the presence of a limited number of rivers. Despite being in a relatively dry region, the protected area contains some river and stream systems that are vital for maintaining wildlife and flora in the ecosystem.

This diversity of landscapes and physiographic features makes the park a unique place in Bolivia and a natural gem among the crown of South American national parks.


It belongs to the watersheds of the Plata and Amazon rivers, meaning that its territory covers areas that drain into both river systems. Within the park, several important hydrographic basins are found, including:

  1. Rio Quimome Basins: This basin contributes to water drainage in the park, providing crucial water resources for wildlife and vegetation.
  2. Rio Parapeti Basins: The Parapeti River and its tributaries are vital for water supply in the park, helping to sustain aquatic ecosystems and associated biodiversity.
  3. Quebrada Abarca Basins: This stream contributes to water flow in the park, playing a relevant role in maintaining habitats and ecological processes.
  4. Rio Cuevo Basins: The Cuevo River and its tributaries are also a significant part of the park’s hydrographic system, providing an essential resource for life within the protected area.

These hydrographic basins are fundamental for the ecological balance of the protected region and play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability.


The park experiences a warm climate with significant temperature variations during the dry and wet seasons. Precipitation ranges from 1,000 mm in the western region to around 300 mm in some areas. The average annual temperature is approximately 22°C near the mountains and 26°C in the interior of the park.

During summer, temperatures can reach extreme highs of up to 48°C, reflecting the hot and arid climate of the region. In winter, temperatures can drop significantly, reaching lows of around 1°C.

These climate variations in the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park play a crucial role in the adaptation of wildlife and flora to the extreme environmental conditions of the Gran Chaco region.

Biodiversity of the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park


The park is located in an area where two important ecoregions converge:

  1. Gran Chaco Ecoregion: Encompassing the eastern part of the park and the entirety of the Integrated Management Natural Area (ANMI). Here, there are medium to low-sized forests that represent a transition between the Chaco and Cerrado biogeographic provinces. The Gran Chaco is known for its diversity of flora and fauna adapted to semi-arid and strongly seasonal conditions.
  2. Cerrado Ecoregion: Although only present in the form of the San Miguel Hill plateau summit within the park, it represents a Cerrado vegetation enclave. The Cerrado is a savanna ecosystem that extends across much of central Brazil and hosts high biodiversity. In this area, the restricted distribution species Trichomys apereoides has been identified.

The presence of these two ecoregions in the park contributes to its richness and variety of habitats and species, making it a place of significant importance for biodiversity conservation in South America.


Home to a rich and diverse flora, including approximately 880 species of vascular plants distributed across 111 families, as well as 28 species of cryptogams. The total number of higher plant species is estimated to be even higher, reaching around 1,500 species.

Prominent flora in the park includes:

  1. Quebracho Colorado (Schinopsis quebracho-colorado): an important and characteristic Chaco species with valuable and resilient wood.
  2. Soto Negro (Schinopsis cornuta): found in the region and valued for its wood and ecological significance.
  3. Cuchi (Astronium urundeuva): a native tree with medicinal applications and useful wood.
  4. Guayacán Morado (Bulnesia sarmientoi): known for its durable wood and purple color.
  5. Guayacán Negro (Izozogia nellii): a valuable species recognized for its dark wood.
  6. Cupesí (Prosopis chilensis): A tree from the carob family, important for wildlife and local communities.

Different areas of the park host distinct flora series. Transition forests include Sotillo Athyana weinmannifolium and Tasaá Acosmium cardenassi, while the southern areas are dominated by Gochnatia sp. and Curupaú Anadenanthera macrocarpa. Flooded palm groves feature Vinalillo Prosopis vinalillo and Carandá Palm Copernicia alba. Low forests contain endemic or nearly endemic species such as Izozogia nellii, Trithrinax schizophylla, and Erythroxylum patentissimum.

In the xeric Chaco forests, species like Cacha lagunera Aspidosperma triternatum, Guayacán Bulnesia sarmientoi, Cordia bodasii, and Mampuesto Tabebuia nodosa can be observed. In the gullies, Pororó Coccoloba guaranitica and Chauchachi Geoffroea striata are predominant. Lastly, the wetlands are home to Asotocosi Albizia polyantha and Sapito Crataeva tapia.


Habitat of the typical fauna of the Chaco plain. To date, approximately 514 species of animals have been recorded, including diverse categories:

  1. Large mammals: 59 species of large mammals have been identified in the park. Among them are iconic species such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), tapir (Tapirus terrestris), collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), and giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla).
  2. Birds: The park is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, with at least 301 registered species. Among them, you can spot raptors like the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and crested eagle (Morphnus guianensis), as well as a wide variety of woodpeckers, parrots, macaws, and other colorful species.
  3. Herpetofauna: including reptiles and amphibians, is represented by around 89 species. Snakes, lizards, turtles, and toads can be found, among others.
  4. Micromammals: approximately 65 species of micromammals have been recorded, including small rodents and marsupials.

The diversity of fauna within the park is invaluable, offering a unique experience to visitors and the local community. The presence of iconic species and animals of all kinds contributes to the significance of this park, making it a privileged territory to be cared for and protected in South America.

Culture and Indigenous Communities

Native Indigenous Peasant Land: The Isoceño People in the Chaco

The Chaco was inhabited by various ethnic groups with different linguistic families, from nomadic communities to sedentary farmers. The Chiquitano, Ayoreo, Chañe, and Isoceño Guaraní were some of the groups that inhabited the region. Their main activities included hunting, gathering, and fishing.

From the year 1561, a process of reducing the indigenous peoples began through Jesuit missions, which imposed cultural changes and suppressed native cultures. With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, slavery was reinforced during the colonial era.

The Isoceño People emerged in the 15th and early 16th centuries, resulting from the fusion of the local Chañe ethnic group with the newly arrived Guaraní. Over time, they resisted conquest and colonization imposed by the Jesuits, Franciscans, and colonial authorities.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Isoceños changed their strategy to defend their territory. They managed to obtain titles for their communities and the creation of the TCO (Native Communal Land) of Isoso, thus consolidating their identity and their people. This effort was undertaken in the face of the advancing agricultural and livestock frontier that threatened their existence and traditional way of life.

In this way, the Isoceño People have fought and resisted throughout history to protect their culture and territory, setting an example of resilience and perseverance against the adversities imposed by colonization and the expansion of human development in the Chaco.

Traditions and Customs

These communities have maintained their traditions and customs over time. Their deep knowledge and respect for the land make them essential guardians of the biodiversity of the park.

Attractions and Tourist Activities

Bañados de Izozog: Yeyú, Yande Yari, Charata (Izozog Wetlands)

The Izozog Wetlands, including the Yeyú, Yande Yari, and Charata lagoons, are a prominent attraction in the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park. These wetlands offer a unique and diverse environment, providing essential habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Laguna Palmar de las Islas (Palmar de las Islas Lagoon)

The Laguna Palmar de las Islas is another stunning site within the park. This lagoon features charming scenery and picturesque landscapes, making it an ideal spot for birdwatching and observing wildlife that inhabits its surroundings.

Misiones (Missions)

The historical missions, remnants of the colonial era, are also an attraction for visitors. These archaeological and cultural sites offer a glimpse into the history and culture of the indigenous communities that inhabited the region.


Tucavaca is a significant area within the park, with special geographical and ecological characteristics. Its natural beauty and diverse flora and fauna make it an ideal location for nature tourism and ecotourism activities.

Laguna Porvenir (Porvenir Lagoon)

Laguna Porvenir is part of the Chaco forest and stands out for its high scenic value. It’s a highly appealing destination for nature enthusiasts, where one can enjoy the beauty of the landscape and observe a wide variety of wildlife that inhabits the area.

Practical Information for Visitors

How to Get There

To get to the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park, the key reference point is the city of Santa Cruz. There are two main options to access the area from there, either from the north or the south, and both roads and trains can be used.

Option 1: Access from the South

  • By road: Take the route to Camiri, which is accessible by bus from Santa Cruz. However, to reach the protected area, it is recommended to use your own or rented vehicle to avoid delays and have greater flexibility in transportation.
  • By train: It’s also possible to reach the town of Charagua by train, located in the southern region of the park.

Option 2: Access from the North

  • By road: Take the route to Puerto Suárez, accessible by bus from Santa Cruz. Similar to the access from the south, it’s advisable to have your own or rented vehicle to access the protected area without inconveniences.
  • By train: Another option is to take the train to the towns of San José de Chiquitos, Roboré, or Pailón, located in the northern region of the park.

Regardless of the chosen option, it’s suggested to plan ahead and consider the available transportation conditions to ensure a comfortable and safe journey.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the park is during the dry season, which generally extends from May to September.

National Park Entrance Fees

  • Foreigners: 200 Bs (Bolivianos).
  • Nationals: 50 Bs.
  • Students: Considered as nationals.

These are the entrance fees for the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park, promoting nature, ecotourism, and adventure tourism. Foreigners will pay a fee of 200 Bs, while nationals will pay 50 Bs. Additionally, students are considered to have a special price equivalent to the national rate.

Accommodation and Services

Accommodation options within the park are limited, but there are campsites and other lodging options in the surrounding areas. Basic services might be limited in some areas of the park, so it’s advisable to plan ahead. Nearby towns to the Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco National Park for lodging:

  1. San José de Chiquitos: This town is located to the north of the park and is one of the common entry points for visitors. It offers lodging options, restaurants, and basic services for tourists.
  2. Roboré: Located to the northeast of the park, Roboré is also a nearby town with lodging options and services for visitors looking to explore the area.
  3. Charagua: To the south of the park lies Charagua, another town that offers some lodging options and services for tourists wanting to visit the Kaa Iya National Park.

It’s advisable to inquire and make reservations in advance to ensure a pleasant stay and be adequately prepared to enjoy good accommodation.

Regulations and Recommendations

Visitors must respect all park regulations, including not disturbing wildlife and leaving no trace. It’s important to carry enough water and sun protection due to the dry and hot climate.

Conservation and Park Management

Conservation Measures

Through various conservation projects, the park aims to protect and preserve its unique biodiversity for future generations.

Challenges in Conservation

Despite efforts, the park faces challenges such as deforestation, poaching, and climate change. The struggle for conservation is an ongoing task that requires support.

Contribution of Indigenous Communities to Conservation

Local indigenous communities have played a crucial role in the park’s conservation through their traditional knowledge and deep respect for the land.

Future of the National Park

Future Conservation Projects

The future of the park relies on continued conservation and sustainable management. It involves expanding protected areas, safeguarding endangered species, promoting environmental education, engaging local communities, restoring ecosystems, conducting scientific research, curbing illegal activities, and receiving international support. Only through collective efforts can this valuable natural and cultural treasure be preserved for future generations.

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