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BOLIVIA AND EDUARDO AVAROA NATIONAL ANDEAN FAUNA RESERVE

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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 grayish-blue legs.

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:
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.

Verde Lagoon:
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 at Uyuni.

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 mind
  • 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.

We look forward to your visit. Remember, you must take everything necessary with you before you enter the Reserve.
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