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ECO-TOURISM
THE GREAT AMBORO NATIONAL PARK

SANTA CRUZ

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SANTA CRUZ

ECO-TOURISM IN
THE GREAT "AMBORO" NATIONAL PARK


The great Amboro National Park is located west of the city of Santa Cruz, and one gets there from Angostura, only 60 kilometers away by the old Cochabamba road. If you travel by the new Chapare highway, the park starts at the Surutu river, near Buena Vista, 120 kilometers away. Despite its closeness, it is an area almost unknown to the neighboring communities. Even when it is bounded by these two main roadways, there are only a few trails leading in to its depths, where the true beauty of uncontaminated nature can be observed. The park has undergone a series of settlement attempts since some thirty years ago, when the government launched its first colonization projects in eastern territories. In 1975, when it was created as a 480,000 hectare park between the Surutu and Yapacani rivers, the government started handing out the first title deeds to properties belonging to dozens of families that had moved from the high plateau area towards the flat, forested lands on the eastern edge of the park, near Buena Vista.

More than 120 mammals are known to inhabit the park, and some of them are currently very rare on this continent. This is the case of the spectacled bear or jucumari, the only South American bear, which is almost extinct in its original habitat, which extended from Venezuela and Colombia down to Argentina. Another example is the pacarana, a medium sized rodent similar to the well known jochi pintado, but having a tail. There are healthy populations of monkeys, deer, wild hogs and tapirs, as well as many bats and rodents. Although the edges of the park have been affected by burnouts prior to sowing, cattle foraging and hunting activity, there is a virtually intact area of around 400,000 hectares that is a habitat to its rich fauna. The streams are still clear and uncontaminated; the species that are most sensitive to human activity such as the mountain turkeys and the major mammals, are still abundant; the woods display large stands of South American pines and other species that have only been preserved thanks to the inaccessibility of the mountain terrain, and condors, harpy eagles and king buzzards are still frequently seen.

The Department of Santa Cruz, with its extraordinary natural reserves located in Amboro and Noel Kempff Mercado National Parks, as well as the wildlife reserves of the Blanco y Negro rivers, offers wilderness areas of incomparable beauty.

The amount and variety of the flora and fauna in Bolivia shows us that its different regions still offer adequate protection for many species that are endangered in other countries.

The varying conditions of temperature, cold on the mountaintops, temperate in the valleys and hot on the plains offer a wide choice of possibilities.

Thus, we believe that in Bolivia nature, the hand of man and the challenges involved in the exploration of its surprising hidden natural riches combine to offer items to interest the most demanding visitors.

Amboro National Park offers the magnificent spectacle of its natural beauty over its extensive 630,000 ha territory. It occupies the sub-Andean belt, and is so named after Mt Amboro, that is found in this area. It is located in the Department of Santa Cruz, very near the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. This Park presents climatic diversity, originating various ecosystems that harbor 540 species of birds and 120 of mammals. Among these, we can find jaguars, pumas, deer, anteaters, monkeys, wildcats and reptiles. One of the exclusive and highly endangered species in this park is the Golden Crested Peacock. It is also the habitat of the Jucumari, a bear only found in this area of the Americas.

The beautiful landscape also features dwarf forests, mist forests, giant ferns, bonsai trees and other species, as well as totally virgin areas with thousand-year-old trees.

The rivers Pirai, Guenda. Ichilo and Surutu run through the Park, offering a large variety of fish. At their highest points, they offer the spectacle of incredible crystalline waterfalls, forming deep natural pools.

Eco-tourism to this area has the incentives of the hotel and camping infrastructure in Samaipata, Buena Vista, Mataracu, Saguayo and Macuņucu

Amboro Park, located in the "bend in the Andes" and geologically formed by sandstone mountains, is easily subject to erosion by the heavy rainfall.

The plant cover is the only thing standing in the way of disastrous erosion activity. The heat and humidity of the environment are constants in the Park, where insects abound and magically hued butterflies attract the attention of visitors.

In some areas, where clouds permanently blanket the hillsides, there are forests of giant ferns that grown beside cedars and other trees. These are the cloud forests of central Amboro. Its vegetation is intensely green, and this is a region of jagged mountains and small valleys, canyons and river beds that crisscross each other forming an intricate maze that baffles even skilled explorers. Here there are no vestiges of people, roads or cropland. This area is also known as the yungas region, and is a traditional resting and feeding place for many migratory bird species.

Thirty kilometers to the south, the rain ceases abruptly where the first bare mountains appear. Many of them have been eroded, especially by the roaming cattle that are present in small numbers in every forest and glade in this drier area. The mountains can now be seen to be covered by cactus and thorn bushes. Small-leafed trees have replaced the larger-leafed ones of the northern area. Yellowing grassland is seen on some mountainsides. Here one can again see roads and people, irrigated cropland and houses gathered in small communities, some of them over one hundred years old and built in the old colonial style. This is the area of the dry mesothermal valleys that skirt the southern edge of Amboro National Park. It is the mountain chaco (dry forest).
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