Birding trip report Bolivia Sep/Oct 2000
Part 2. Logistics and sites
John van der Woude, The Netherlands - www.jvanderw.nl
- See also introduction to this report
Note 1: the two-letter abbreviations behind the main site names refer to the column headings for (sub-)sites in the species list.
Note 2: some sites have been measured with
GPS. The locations ('waypoints') are indicated as WP01 etc. in the text below and explained with
coordinates at the bottom of this page.
Santa Cruz (LA, JB)
This second-largest town of Bolivia is recommended as a low starting point in order to get used to the higher altitude later on. Sta. Cruz is in the eastern lowlands and from here the classical birding trip goes up to Cochabamba along the old (but good) road and then either on to La Paz, or back to Sta. Cruz along the new road. (But, as explained in part 1, we did not do the latter leg).
We rented a Suzuki four wheel-drive car (the usual option in Bolivia) at A.Barron's rent-a-car for 400 USD a week. We had e-mailed with them (
email@example.com ) and we were picked up at the airport. The car was good although the tyres could have been better. On one of the last days we had a flat tyre and it was beyond repair then so we had to use the spare tyre instead and buy another spare tyre (second-hand). Note that there is also another company with nearly the same name: Barron's rent-a-car (his brother), as well as a branch of
Localiza. But we were happy with this car and the service, esp. the possibility of e-mailing beforehand (all in Spanish however).
We had a good hotel in town, the Asturias, phone (591) 3 33 9611, fax 35 0897. Hotel prices in Santa Cruz (as well as Trinidad, the other lowland town) are higher than in the other parts of Bolivia, even higher than in La Paz. This hotel was 400 Bs for a spacious room (don't take the smaller ones for a bit less) and a swimming pool in a large inner courtyard with some trees. Taxis were everywhere and not expensive.
There are three main birding sites near Santa Cruz:
1. Lomas de Arena. This is a regional nature park with large sand dunes (hence the name) but also some nice open chaco woods and even a small stream and some ponds. Here we got several of our first lowland species like Red-winged Tinamou and Guira Cuckoo but also a few duck species that we did not have later on in Bolivia. It is a lovely and quiet area (except in the weekends I think). To reach this area take the long road indicated on the map, and 50 m before the end (a gate) go left on a dirt road an then after another 50 or 100 m go right again. Then follow this as straight as possible until you see the barrier of the park where you have to pay something and can drive on through the various habitats. These roads are definitely 4WD (to our western standards; taxi's here drive anywhere…). This is LA in the species list.
2. Jardin Botanico, the botanical garden, is more a forest than a garden. And a good forest! I think we had the best chaco woods of the trip right here. See the map how to get here, it is on the right, just after a fly-over across a railway. There is long and stately fence and a large gate which was open and seemed to be open mostly (if it is closed go to the house on the left corner and ask there to be let in). The first part has open lawns with a pond also, and then you follow the broad tracks along the left-hand border fence through the woods, all the way for maybe 2 km until you reach the backside where you see open fields beyond the fence. Here we turned right along that backside and then back again along the other side and fence of this elongated reserve. Hot here! Bring sufficient drinking water. We had nice chaco species, several of which we did not see later on. We had good views of several Arrowhead
Piculets, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Brown-crested Flycatcher, White-backed Fire-eye, and others. See column JB in the species list (part 4 of this report).
3. The airport fields and near surroundings was good for some savanna species such as Red-legged
Seriema. The airport is about 20 km north of Sta. Cruz. There are some dirt roads to the left before the terminal building, and we had the seriema on the grazed grasslands outside the airport, some 5 km to the North along the main road.
Rio Pirai (PI)
At 47 km from the last big roundabout of the town of Sta. Cruz, or 22 km after a village called San Jose, is a large bridge across the Pirai River. We drove the track left before the river for about 1 km and had some nice additional species of the chaco woodland and transitional habitats, as you get here gradually into the lower reaches of the large dry Andes valley here, the so-called
Valles. Spot-backed Puffbird is one of these species. Look for PI in the list, for other species.
Along the 'old' road up from Sta. Cruz to Cochabamba, right after the village of Angostura the road goes through a nice gorge where Golden-collared Macaw is often seen but we had no luck. We were probably too late but it was also very crowded as we were there on a special holiday, with lots of colorful dressed people in the riverbed. We only stayed half an hour here.
Cuevas valley (CU)
About 20 km before Samaipata and 100 m before the big sign 'Cuevas 100 km' (100 km from Sta. Cruz) is a side road to the left that leads through a splendid valley to a village called Bellavista (as another sign says at the main road). The habitat is open mountainous with at first steep cliffs (should hold Golden-collared Macaw in Nov./Dec., according to a few locals), and gradually more wooded moist subtropical further on. This seems to me to be a moist subtropical refuge inside the drier Valle region. I had not heard about it but we got this tip from the owner of our lodge in Samaipata (see below). We drove this dirt road for about 7 km. At the cliffs we got good swifts (Ashy-tailed and White-tipped) and the rest of the valley is just a good chance of getting into subtropical woods. See CU in the species list.
In this small town we had a wonderful birder-friendly lodge (cabañas), La
Vispera, at the left backside of town, bordering the hills. A Dutch couple owns it for many years now and they have a large shaded garden for growing several plants, a/o kitchen and medicinal herbs for which people come from the wide surroundings, esp. Sta. Cruz. Other farmers around have gradually adopted their biological practice, and their approach is very matter-of-factly. Their e-mail address is
firstname.lastname@example.org and phone nr is (591) 9446082. Pieter is a keen conservationist too and gives good advice on where to go birding (like the Cuevas valley described above). He knows Amboro National Park also, from long
trekkings, and can act as a guide there, or provide you local guides for this and other destinations. See their info at
Their garden and the bushes below it and above it have many of the Valle specialties like Narrow-billed Woodcreeper and Spot-backed
Puffbird, and also several Golden-billed Saltator. Another good spot was when driving (walking is possible too) from town up to the chapel on the hilltop or rather in a pass, visible from below, with the best birding just before leaving the town. There, a small artificial watercourse attracted warbling-finches etc. Up on the hill we did not see many birds. So I think that just walking around the backside border of this cozy town or rather village will produce most species (backside as seen from the main road). But if you stay a bit longer you could explore more habitats in the surroundings, and even into Amboro NP of course. Sjoerd Mayer stayed a full week at the lodge and several recordings on his Bolivia CD-ROM are from this place. Many of the species here can also be seen at
Comarapa/Tambo. The famous 'pipeline-track' did we explore shortly in the afternoon, but we were not very lucky there. It starts at a short (100 m) dead-end side road to the right, which can be found just before you enter the village from the direction of Sta. Cruz.
Tambo/Comarapa (CO, SI)
At the upper end of the large semi-arid valley along the old road from Sta. Cruz to Cochabamba is the simple village of Comarapa and some 15 km before that (or just 1 km after the hamlet of San Isidro, and behind a sports field to the right) is the Tambo Mission School. This is for children of development-aid workers and missionaries in Bolivia and even South Peru. You can stay there in one of their guestrooms (with shared bathrooms) for 10 dollar per person. We arranged this beforehand by e-mail with one of the teachers, Lenna Gill:
email@example.com. Also possible is just firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a peaceful place, with quiet nights. You can have meals in the dining hall but all at sharply fixed hours, so we also ate at Comarapa at some days, because this fitted better in our birding. In
Comarapa, restaurant Paraiso is the best according to the people of Tambo, and we did not even try the rest. Hotel/restaurant Paraiso has a friendly owner and the meals were simple but good (and very cheap). They recently built new rooms with private bath (the older rooms have shared bathrooms). These are in the premises behind the restaurant, where we chatted a while with a Turquoise-fronted Parrot. On our last visit to the restaurant we asked for a quick look at the rooms and these are really worthwhile, and probably very cheap as well.
This region is a semi-arid habitat at about 1500 m so not too hot, and in fact pleasant year-round (a reason for establishing the school here). But there are two other habitats nearby as well: lush river valleys, and the Siberia cloud forest on the mountain ridge above
The river valleys are famous for the Red-fronted Macaw, a Bolivian endemic and an endangered species. In fear of the possibility of macaw pet trade I won't publicly describe here where exactly we found the species (thanks to other birders, esp. Patricia) but you can personally e-mail me for more information.
The Siberia cloud forest is a wonderful area. As there was virtually no traffic because of the roadblocks further on towards
Cochabamba, we had the main road through the forest all to ourselves. Of the three best spots one was right at the beginning, where you see a small pond to the right. A tiny trail leads up into the forest from a small plot of lawn-like grass. Inside the forest we had a/o Bar-bellied Woodpecker, brush-finches,
fruiteaters. A second good spot was at the pass-like area (forested as well) several kms further on, before a lonely barrack on the left and just before a side road to the right (the only or first clear side road to the right; it goes to
Kuahari). Here we had our first ever Condors. But best of all was that side road down to the right. This eventually would lead to subtropical forest but that's a long way. We stayed in the cloud forest zone along this side road and had White-eared Solitaire (seen after 1 hour trying, at WP01), Plumbeous Tyrant,
Rufous-faced Antpitta at 15 meters but not seen (also at WP01). As always in cloud forests, be here early, as the bird activity slows down by mid morning. But we mostly remain as long as possible and you'll pick up new things later on the day as well.
Around Tambo itself there are many interesting species of the semi-arid area and also some common species in the arable fields behind the school. We could freely wander around on the private tracks in these fields. Right opposite the school entrance we had our first White-tipped Plantcutter and several more were at the bushes bordering those arable fields at the back.
For the semi-arid specialties we had our best luck along the side road to the right after 5 km when going from Tambo to
Comarapa, and just along the first km of this side road: Bolivian Earthcreeper, White-fronted Woodpecker (both at WP02), Stripe-crowned
Spinetail, Streak-fronted Thornbird and others.
In the species list the sites are indicates together as CO (of Comarapa), and separately SI for the Siberia cloud forest.
Laguna Alalay at Cochabamba (AL)
On our flight from Sta. Cruz to Trinidad in the Beni lowlands, we had a stop of 4 hours in Cochabamba and took a taxi to drive around the laguna
Alalay, a well-known birding site at the border of the city. This was for 2 hours, 40 pesos. At the city-side of the lake many young men aimlessly wandered around and we were glad to have the taxi nearby when we made short walks from the road to the lake border. On the opposite side of the lake it was much quieter and seemingly safer. In general we don't like birding in city parks in these countries, and the city-side of this lake is just like that, so you probably keep better to the other side. We had a good introduction to the high altitude wetland species, although most if not all of them would we see later near La Paz and at Lauca NP in Chile. In several of the small trees around the lake White-tipped Plantcutters were singing.
This lively town in the lowlands of the Beni province has good birding habitats in the immediate surroundings, and is the starting point for trips to see the endemic and rare Blue-throated Macaw. We were advised to do some birding near Trinidad first and then taking a short trip to the macaw only, to minimize the costs. As we had to arrange a trip for only the two of us it would inevitably be more expensive per person than with a group. After arrival in the afternoon we headed to the tour offices which are all three in the same street (see map). Moxos tours was far too expensive (and 3 days were the standard there), and at Paraiso travels
(email@example.com says the card) Liliam, the lady who does the tours to the macaw, was not present. Her colleagues did not know how to help us (faxing beforehand had not given a response either), and so we ended up at the more modest looking Amazonia Holliday, phone/fax 46 22806 or phone 46 25732. Here the owner, Lito (Carlos Ruiz), understood us very well and he tailored a trip of just two days for us. This for US$150 pp., including all meals, lodging, a guide and a driver with his car. Read on to see how this worked out, but we did see the macaws indeed.
Our hotel in Trinidad was the Gran Moxos first, but we found the service so bad that we changed the next morning to Mi Residencia I
(Uno). The latter was better, with a more professional staff, but both are definitely overpriced at US$68, so it may be better to look at alternatives if you can take some time for it. Probably Mi Residencia II (fax 46 22464) is better value for money but this is further from the plaza. Please mind that for Mi Residencia the prices in the hotel listing on
http://www.boliviaweb.com/hotels/trinidad were far below the real prices (less than half), but the manager of Mi R Uno did not seem to bother much when I pointed this out to him. Never mind, there are more hotels here and reportedly a new one at the road to the airport, near the TAM-office.
The plaza and side streets were good for anything from booking a flight to having a haircut (because it's so hot here). The best and prettiest place to eat and drink (with beer bottles in coolers) was La
Casona, with a shaded street terrace overlooking the plaza. Although the kitchen was a bit slow (to the fast South American standards), the food was good.
We found the taxi driver who had brought us from the airport to the city careful and keen enough to ask him to take us out the next morning and later in the afternoon again. The morning drive was to the nearby Laguna Suarez and then slowly on for some 4 km more. Trinidad is already a bit more Amazonian than the lowlands around Santa Cruz so we had several new trip ticks. This is a partly wooded savanna area with many pools.
On this trip to the laguna and beyond we had both cardinals (Yellow-billed and Red-crested), Rufous
Cachalote, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Toco Toucan, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Buff-necked Ibis, Great Antshrike and the like. The same morning we also did another road, the one going South to something like
Sachojera, and on this 8 km or so drive we added Jabiru a/o. We were back in town at the end of the morning and only went on for another drive late in the afternoon because of the heat these days (was better the next day). We drove the 5 km or so from the airport to the river, where the village Loma Suarez is idyllically situated in a more moist and more wooded area. On this slow drive we added species like Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Spix Guan, White-bellied Seedeater, Undulated Tinamou and Band-tailed Nighthawk. In the species list the birds of this day are lumped with those of the next days further North to the macaws under the code TR (Trinidad), as there is not a big difference in habitat except that further north everything is even more spacious. But believe me that the direct surroundings of Trinidad are good birding so there is no need to do all the birding here on the expensive trip to the Blue-throated Macaw.
Our 2-day trip straight North from Trinidad to that 'barbazul' (Blue-throated Macaw) was a rather weird but impressive one and with success. The car was a normal taxi with airco because of the dust roads where you don't like to open your windows. A normal taxi was possible on these roads in this season indeed, but the car had suspension problems so in the end we had to walk a few kms on a small field road (picking up our only Buff-breasted Sandpipers of the trip) before reaching the place where we would stay the night, a ranch at an exquisite location in a wide river bend with several river dolphins. This was not the official place where we had to stay the night but the car would not allow us to go on. But this ranch was a necessary step in the itinerary as from here you can reach a forest island with the
barbazul. We walked on (in far less heat than the day before, luckily), first still with our guide but when we reached another, smaller farm he arranged to have us guided for the last 2 kms by one of the children so that he could help fixing the car, which had electrical problems now as well. So there we walked with a 7-year old girl, who had no problem finding the forest island as it stands out from far in this open savanna. We first thought somehow that we had to wait on the macaws as if this was a night roost only, but after 10 minutes we discovered a pair of this absolute wish-list species Blue-throated Macaw, sitting on a palm front at the edge of the forest island. They were feeding each other palm nuts, and were preening each other. We witnessed this from a safe distance for another 10 minutes before they disappeared into the forest, and we realized how lucky we had been to see them so well. At the farm we understood that there were just two couples of this barbazul here (lots of Blue-and-yellow screaming around though). On our last leg back to the lodge we were given a horse ride, our first ever.
The next morning the driver had to wait for help of a mechanic from the city who would arrive by motorbike later on. So we took our time and wandered around the ranch, or in fact mostly sat at that absolutely wonderful spot in the river bend, on a small concrete plateau right in front of the lodge. The show of river dolphins, macaws (Blue-and-yellow),
cayman, wood-rails (Grey-necked), Sunbittern and kingfishers amidst a choir of
antbirds, spinetails, doves and others was something that we will never forget. A Green Kingfisher was having troubles a long time with a too big fish, and this was watched most of the time by his bigger nephew Ringed Kingfisher…
With the car fixed in 2 minutes, we had an easy drive back to Trinidad, although slowly (good!) in order to spare the suspension. All in all we had a good trip, mainly thanks to the skill of our guide who could improvise so well. He normally does long trips with fishermen or even small expeditions. His name is Johnny Zambrano Fernandez and he is well known in Trinidad, as just Johnny. He can be reached at
johnnyZ@latinmail.com but more regularly at his phone number (591) 46 20431 or cellular 01796573.
Apart from the barbazul we also ticked Golden-collared Macaw on this trip. This was at a small but clear woodland plot with a farm well before the hamlet-with-restaurants San Pedro (which is WP10). At that woodland we also had a piculet (I am still sorting out this).
Another good spot was a small wet pasture to the left just before the access road left to Estancia
Betlehem, with several storks, herons and ibises, and Orinoco Goose. At another spot (WP03) where we had breakfast the first day, we ticked two monjita species
(White-rumped and White), and had a group of four Toco Toucans displaying well. This was in an open savanna with scattered palms.
At WP09 the road crosses a small river, this may be worthwhile to check a bit longer. We saw a river dolphin and Anhinga.
The more North you get along this road the opener the scenery becomes and here we had Greater Rhea which were camouflaged by the slightly similar termite hills that are all around.
From Trinidad to the North of Bolivia the scenery gradually changes into Amazonian rain forest, and this whole transition from mainly savanna with gallery forests to mainly rainforest can be excellently seen during the flight from Trinidad to
Riberalta. The small rubber-boom town of Riberalta has a laid-back atmosphere, not the least because there are very few cars, and normal traffic is done by motorbike. So after installing ourselves in the aptly named hotel Colonial (not expensive, but to be paid in cash like everything here except your flight, and there were no ATM cash withdrawals) we walked the 50 m to the plaza where we were assigned in no time to two motorbike taxi drivers by somebody from the hotel. He arranged a rate of 10 pesos per hour each, and the two friendly guys (William and Dennis) remained our drivers for the coming days (mornings and some late afternoons). At the same corner of the plaza is the best restaurant, Tom's, with a shaded terrace overlooking the plaza. The road around the ample plaza was one big softly buzzing motorbike parade in the evenings, and the sport for us was to find out the maximum number of passengers on one motorbike (5!), and how many rounds somebody would make. I kept my eye on a lone girl on a rented motorbike but she came not further than 8 rounds or so before catching up with friends and taking a side road. From another guest who worked here we heard that the maximum she had ever counted for one motorbike was 62 rounds. This is a funny and quiet town and we saw no other tourists here.
Hamburgo is the name of a cluster of clay ovens at the border of the town, near the river, and it is here that Sjoerd Mayer discovered the Masked Antpitta as a new species split from Spotted
Antpitta. This is in the low moist forest to the right of the road towards the river, and we clearly heard it singing here (some 2 or 3 together; we had brought one of Sjoerd's recordings) but we never saw them. But we are seldom lucky with
antpittas. Sjoerd wrote me later that he mostly saw antpittas by chance and not when they were singing. Black-spotted Bare-eye was one of the birds we did see here, and a funny sight was the gathering of a hundred or so Fork-tailed Flycatchers at a roost in the reeds behind the forest.
Antofagasta is a hamlet deep into the forested zone to the left of the road from Riberalta to
Guayamerin. Here, but even more near the hamlet Siete Julio to the right of the sand road to
Antofagasta, we had great moments of Amazonian birding, with Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, Paradise Jacamar, White-necked
Puffbird, Scaly-breasted Woodpecker, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Screaming Piha and many others. Although the forest was nowhere really unbroken for more than a mile or so there were many good spots. See the map for the location of this 7 Julio. Before passing by this hamlet you cross a small river and in the low bushes along the river (to the right after crossing the bridge) we had
Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, and an Ihering's antwren. This species was not yet on the most recent list for Bolivia but presumed by Ridgely and Tudor to occur here in this corner of Bolivia, and we later learned that ours would be the second observation for Bolivia, and the first for
Beni. The first one for Bolivia was in Pando.
Lago Tumichucua is along the road from Riberalta towards the Andes, and we were strongly advised by several people in Riberalta to visit that scenic site as well. The lake is attractive indeed, and the more so the forested island in it. We hired a dugout canoe for the four of us (the drivers and we) and made a slow tour along that island and walked a bit onto the island. The birding seemed slow but in fact we added a few species to the list, like White-eyed Attila (singing incessantly on the island), Horned Screamer (so we had both screamers now) and Osprey. On the way back to Riberalta we visited some open woods just before the large checkpoint at the outermost border of the town, and we got a nice lowland-tanager flock.
La Paz (CT, YU)
We had to stay in La Paz three times and although it is an impressive city, at 3600 m and the even bigger twin-town El Alto at 4000 m, we did not really like it. Just too crammed and messy, and an appalling contrast between rich and poor on every street. I also suffered a bit from the altitude. We first had the recommended hotel Rosario and this is in the very lively Illampu street with many Indians, but the other nights we had hotel Libertador in Potosi street (actually the continuation of it called Obispo Cardenas). This one we preferred – it is less touristy and more comfortable, and it felt very safe also. The room was 52
USD, their fax is 318924, phones 313434, 310059, 317192). The restaurant of Libertador is recommended but we found it rather dull and expensive, but good enough when you are tired of the trip or the city). Another recommended restaurant was the authentic Casa del Corregidor at Murillo Street but here we found the service bad, and it was too cold there. In contrast, a logistical highlight was Imbex rent-a-car at Av. Montes, where we got a good car, a Suzuki Gran Vitara again, but with good tyres now. We had not made a reservation but it was all arranged smoothly on the spot. We used it for a 3-day trip across the high pass called Cumbre and then down into the
Yungas, the subtropical to temperate moist forest zone on the East Andes slope.
Imbex' e-mail address at La Paz is firstname.lastname@example.org or (what I used)
email@example.com , fax (591) 2 379884, phone 316895. They do have one other office, at
Sucre, but not in Sta. Cruz, but they said they cooperate sometimes with one car rental company in Sta. Cruz. One-way rental is very expensive here, so maybe this cooperation is an opportunity and you could explicitly ask for it.
To find your way out of La Paz to the Cumbre, which is the direction of Choroni, we used the city map provided by
Imbex, and the location of Imbex made it easy as well. They are on the main road through the center (Av. Montes) but just so (at the corner of Av.
Pucurani) that you can avoid driving through the center when heading for the
Cumbre. The weather at the pass (Cumbre) can be miserable but we had sunny weather after a light snowfall on the previous day. We tried birding on several places along this main road further down at the other side of the pass but the altitude made us go slow. The best place was above the gas station of
Cotapata, at about 3240 m, at WP20. Here in the low elfin forest we had many good tanagers and the like (see list). You find this by driving or walking up left of the gas station, then keeping left at a fork, and at the next fork, where you cannot drive on any further, the birding was good to the left (short dead-end trail) and to the right. This one is a long trail going over a saddle and gradually getting into denser temperate forest. We only had 30 minutes birding along this trail but the vegetation looks very promising. That second fork still is only 150 m or so from the gas station. The main road is asphalted now till nearly Cotapata and we did not go further than Cotapata because we had to take the side road to Chulumani (right after
Unduavi). At Unduavi is a military checkpoint that is much more serious that the ones we had had anywhere before in Bolivia (where you always could drive on after slowing down a bit). We were followed by a police car and forced to stop, and we were seriously reprimanded for driving on. So please just do stop at the open barrier and take your time to find out in which of the small barracks you have to go to show your papers.
The drive down to Chulumani is wonderful. This into the Sud Yungas (YU). Steep slopes with good forests, at least there where people cannot yet easily get into them. This dirt road is not busy (a bit more so at weekends) and we could easily stop on many places to do some roadside birding in the half-open forest habitat, e.g. at WP19 (at 3200 m) and WP18 (at 1800 m). The road starts at about 3000 m in upper temperate forest and we ended the day at the hotel Tamampaya just before the hamlet called Puente Villa, at about 1300 m in subtropical forest. This hotel (phone 79 6099; postbox 3-12356, at La Paz I suppose) is really worthwhile although I did not yet hear about it from other birders. But they do receive birding tour groups, the manager told us. It is located at the other side of the river than where the road goes (you cross the river on a one-way bridge), and the main building with the open air restaurant and the chalet-type rooms are situated in a beautiful green setting with many different trees and good views up hill. We did not bird so much here as it deserved, but got two typical foothill species on their grounds: Slaty Gnateater and Plain
At the backside of Puente Villa village (which is still an hour or so before
Chulumani) a track goes up through a narrow lush stream valley. After about 500 m the track along the stream merges into a trail, and then after some time steep rock faces hang above the trail. This is a site for Andean Cock-of-the-Rock as we had been told at the hotel. At the spot a local farmer walking by reconfirmed this. They would be mostly just before the narrow wooden bridge leading to a trail on the other side of the stream (see photo in the other part of this report).
We spent about four morning hours in the upper reaches of the Apa Apa forest reserve, about which we had only read in the Footprint Bolivia Handbook, but at the hotel they pointed this out as the best birding spot in the surroundings. We had a shortcut through Huancane village to the upper backside of this reserve but normally you enter via a longer road from
Chulumani, and then you will have wardens at the lower part of the reserve to guide you, I think. For the upper reaches of this reserve some rare species like Scimitar-winged Piha and Chestnut-crested Cotinga are mentioned. The shortcut to the upper part is mentioned in the Bolivia Handbook: 'from Huancane follow the high trail to the right which leads around the hillside to the upper parts of the Apa Apa forest'. The 'trail' is actually a difficult but practicable 4WD track. We did not have those rare species but had a whole series of Yungas
Manakin, amongst others, and we were really impressed by the quality of this yungas forest, in a sort of transitional zone between the subtropical and the temperate zone.
From Huancane to Chulumani it is some 10 minutes and here you finally have a place with gasoline, telephone (at the plaza), fruit stalls etc.
Another attractive excursion from La Paz is Lake Titicaca of course. We had one spare afternoon when coming back from our side trip to Chile, and went to the lake with the same taxi driver as we had from the airport to the hotel. Our main target was the Titicaca Flightless Grebe of course, also prosaically called Short-winged Grebe. We found this at WP25 at 'Snack Mirador
Chua', a bit after the village Shankajawira, and when driving slowly back again also at WP26 at another establishment likewise called
Mirador. For the rest this trip was our only acquaintance with the tough life on the cold but fairly populated Bolivian
altiplano, and as such as impressive as the lake with its incredible far horizon.
List of waypoints measured by GPS on a trip to Bolivia,
N Chile and Buenos Aires province Argentina in Sept/October 2000.
W 001 S17°49'51,85"
Waypoints of sites with vulnerable macaw species have been left out.
Data are in WGS84. "W 001" below = W01 in the text of this report.
W 002 S17°58'43,42" W064°28'30,54"
W 003 S14°23'42,49" W064°52'19,64"
W 004 S14°02'29,14" W064°50'33,91"
W 005 S14°03'01,04" W064°51'24,25"
W 006 S14°04'21,69" W064°53'00,97"
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W 030 S36°26'54,45" W056°57'19,71"
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