by Lawrence Rubey

Although possessing many of the same species as the nearby Cotapatatrail, Chuspipatahas some marked differences. First, with its slightly lower elevation, it is a few degrees warmer than the Cotapatatrail. Second, the trails at Chuspipata lead into the Unduaviriver valley towards the south rather than into Cotapatanational park to the north. Unfortunately, it is also somewhat more disturbed than Cotapata. The consolation is that, on a clear day, there are beautiful views of snow-capped Mt. Mururata. The two trails at Chuspipataare also very flat, unusual for the Yungas.

Like the Cotapatatrail, Chuspipata boasts a number of range-restricted species. In fact, while the bird list is very similar to Cotapata(see Cotapata list in the Appendix), it is probably a better place to see goodies such as Stripe-faced Wood-Quail, Orange-browed Hemispingus, Plush-capped Finch, Grass-green Tanager, ParamoSeedeater, Hooded Mountain-Toucan, and Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant. A pair of Hooded Mountain-Toucan inhabitthe Unduaviriver valley and can occasionally be seen from above. Listen for their distinctive calls.

Logistics: Leaving Cotapata(see previous site), pass the turn-off to the left ( 47.0 km) where the new road to Coroico was still under construction in 2000. Completion may be sometime in 2002. At 47.6 km, arrive at Chuspipata, a tiny town with shops selling cold drinks lining both sides of the road. For the Mining Coop Trail, park in the grassy area on the right between the shops. From there, a small trail travels a little over a kilometerto a mining camp. A yellow sign may still exist pointing the way to the mining cooperative. Too overgrown for vehicle traffic, the path offers excellent views of the canopy and foraging flocks.

For the Railway Trail, take the branch to the right and follow the road downhill about a kilometer to a construction camp, a fenced in set of office and bunkhouses. The old train station has been converted into the headquarters for a construction firm. Stop at the gate and let the person in the guardhouse on the left know that you want to hike along the old railroad bed (Via de Ferrocaril in Spanish). You will probably have to leave your car at the guardhouse. Walk past the old train station (on your left) and after100 meters or so, turn left to follow a dirt road uphill. The road has a couple switchbacks before leveling off at the start of the old railroad bed (no iron rails or ties are visible). On a clear day, the entire Unduavi valley is visible with snow-clad mountains in the distance. The railroad bed can be followed for about an hour, past waterfall and a railroad tunnel, although it is more over-grown the farther from the construction camp you get.
GPS reading at Chuspipata: S 16 17.965' W 67 49.152'