BOLIVIA AND EDUARDO AVAROA NATIONAL ANDEAN FAUNA RESERVE
BOLIVIA AND "EDUARDO AVAROA" NATIONAL ANDEAN FAUNA RESERVE
Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve is located southwest
of the Department of Potosi, in the province of Sud Lipez, at between
22º 00' and 22º 54' southern latitude and 66º 55' and 68º 00' western
longitude. It currently has an extension of 714,745 hectares, and
is at an average altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level; its weather
is dry in winter (May through August) and rainy in summer (December
through April). Its average temperature is 3º Celsius and annual
median rainfall is 65 mm, with the lowest temperatures in May, June
and July, and frosts in every month of the year.
The reserve is located in a region of irregular relief, with large plains and plateaus that are bordered on the east by a volcanic mountain range (Western Cordillera) and on the west by strongly folded sinuous hills. On the reserve there are a number of ponds and lagoons that were formed when ancient lakes dried up, and there are also melt-water rivers and some springs.
Its vegetation shows the strong presence of grain fodder grazing
land (paja brava or ichu), forming semi-circular growth
patterns on some hillsides and plains; in more humid places may
be found some forests, and in some rocky gullies (between 4,200
and 3,800 meters above sea level), keñua associated in
some cases with large stands of yareta.
Its fauna features the presence of unique species that have adapted to the area's extreme living conditions, in some cases in danger of extinction. The most typical bird fauna to be found on lakes in and around the Reserve are three species of flamingoes (Andean, Chilean and James):
The Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
Known locally as "Tokoko", it is of medium height (1.05
meters for the male), and features a red-tipped salmon pink plumage
with black wing feathers, a rosy-white bill with a black tip and
The Andean Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus)
Known also as "Big Parina" and locally named "Chururu",
this is the larges tone (1.10 meters) with a whiter coloring than
the other two species, its plumage being a deep pink in color with
the rear third of its body black and the upper part of its breast
colored violet; its bill is mostly black, but yellow at the base,
and it has yellow legs.
The Puna Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus Jamesi)
Known as "Small Parina" and called "Jututu" by the locals,
it is the smallest of the three species (90 centimeters), exhibiting
pink plumage and having less evident black feathering on the rear
third of its body than the Andean flamingo. Its beak is less curved
than those of the other two species and is colored orange-yellow
with a small black spot at the tip. Its legs are red.
The place where these three species concentrate is the "Colorada
Lagoon", being one of the few nesting places, and having the greatest
population of Puna Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus Jamesi) in
South America. The presence of flamingoes on Colorada Lagoon is
related to the weather conditions; from May to August a large part
of the population abandons the lake, leaving only a few adults and
the young that are yet unable to fly; as from September, the flamingo
population begins to increase again, reaching a maximum in December
and January; the best month to visit the reserve is November, because
of both the number of flamingoes present and the weather conditions.
There are also some other endangered bird species such as the horned
coot (Fulica cornuta), and others which are merely threatened,
such as the lesser rhea or "Suri" (Pterocnemia pennata).The
most representative domestic mammals in the region are the vicuña,
the vizcacha and the llama.
INTERESTING AREAS WORTH VISITING
Colorada Lagoon is the most important area in the region to view flamingoes, and is unique because of the red coloring of its waters; its approximate surface area is 60 km2 and it is at an altitude of 4,278 meters above sea level. Its average depth is 35 cm and the temperature of its water varies between 10 and -10° Celsius.
Colorada Lagoon is classified as a "High Andes Saline Lake", presenting borax islands in the northeast and southeast sectors, and its red color is due to the fine sediments of that hue deposited on the surface, and to the pigment of some of its algae.
"Sol de Mañana" (Morning Sun):
This area of around 1 km2, located south of Colorada Lagoon on the
road to Challviri Salt Pan, features intense volcanic and fumarole
activity. In the craters of the volcanoes one can see the lava bubbling
intensely; the fumaroles spout a mixture of hot water and vapor
reaching 10 to 50 meters height due to the built-up pressure underground;
these phenomena replicate the conditions of a primeval landscape
from an early geological era in the Earth's formation.
Located at the southernmost tip of the Reserve, Verde Lagoon's surface is 17 km2, and it is divided into two separate bodies of water. Its emerald-green color is caused by the high magnesium content of its water. Next to the lake stands Llicancabur Volcano, at 5,868 meters above sea level, ideal for mountaineering.
Please take note that the last place you can obtain provisions and where you must forcibly spend the day in order to arrange for entry, is the town of Uyuni. Here you will find an offer of tourism services for the area, including:
Lodging: Uyuni has two hotels and four residential
hostels located around the main square.
In the town of San Juan, as well as at Colorada Lagoon and Verde Lagoon, there are rustic lodges with rooms accommodating six people equipped with sleeping bags. In Colorada Lagoon there are also rooms let out to visitors.
Food: Uyuni has several restaurants, of which the
best are located around the central square and at the railway station.
For the trip, you will have to obtain tinned food and other preserves
In San Juan you can enjoy delicious dishes and drinks prepared from quinua.
Tour Operators and Travel Agencies: To get to Uyuni
you can take the train from Villazon, Potosi, Oruro, La Paz and
Sucre; from the town you can go by land to the entrance to the Reserve.
You can also travel by road from the aforementioned cities directly
to the Reserve or to the Uyuni Salt Pan.
In the city of Uyuni there are twenty two local operators offering several circuits in the area. Some Potosi and La Paz travel agencies offer circuits to this region also.
The following recommendations must be carefully borne in
We look forward to your visit. Remember, you must take everything necessary with you before you enter the Reserve.
- Do not enter the area of the reserve without a guide. If you travel independently, take the precaution of registering your departure at the Regional Tourism Office in Uyuni (last checkpoint), indicating the approximate duration of your trip.
- In this area there are baths and thermal waters originating from underground rivers. We recommend taking extreme precautions, especially if you are traveling independently. Ask everywhere you go if it is safe to bathe before trying to do so.
- Take warm clothing, because the wind is strong and cold. Temperature plummets at nighttime.
- You should also take sunscreen and sunglasses because at this altitude the solar radiation is strong.
- Binoculars are necessary to watch the flamingoes properly.
- Do not stay long in the Sol de Mañana area, as you may feel dizzy or queasy due to breathing in the underground gases. To watch the fumaroles there is no need to get very close, follow the signposted cautionary instructions.
- Remember that you are in an area where the balance of the ecosystem is quite fragile, so do not take anything with you that may leave waste behind.