Los Volcanes

by Bennett Hennessey and Lawrence Rubey

Another photo

Los Volcanes is a wonderfull lodge located in a mystical place on the edge of Amboro National Park. It is situated at the intersection of three major South American biogeographic regions, and its bird community presents a unique mixture of elements from southern Amazonia, the central Andes as well as the Chaco.  Over 170 species have so far been found in the reserve, an exceptionally high diversity for its habitat and elevation.  This high diversity is largely a result of the variability of the forest, which ranges from completely deciduous on the driest slopes to nearly evergreen in a humid, south-facing canyon.  The Los Volcanes bird list includes such specialties as the Endemic Bolivian Recurvebill, Yungas Manakin, Black-streaked Puffbird, Military Macaw, and Slaty Gnateater.  An extensive trail system provides easy access to all forest types and their birds.

Presently the area has three main birding routes.  The entrance road is an excellent trail to gain access to the deciduous dry slope, well worth a full morning of birding.  Here you can see foraging flocks with an assortment of tanagers and flycatchers.  This forest is dominated by Black-capped Antwrens, Common Bush-Tanagers and  Two-banded Warblers.  Try to arrange being dropped off at the top, so you can pass the day birding down the slope.  Look out for Short-tailed Antthrush, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Thick-billed Euphonia, and Saffron-billed Sparrow

Los Volcanes also offers two humid valley trails.  The Loro trail travel up a valley eventually taking you to three lookouts.  The lower forest is great for White-crownePhotod Tapaculo, Plain Antvireo White-necked Thrush, Yungas Manakin and Red-necked Woodpecker.  As you travel up in the clearings, enjoy the open areas to get looks at perched Mitred Parakeet, Green-cheeked Parakeet, Turquiose-fronted Parrot- maybe a Military Macaw- and the everpresent Dusky-green Oropendola.

The river trail follows the local river through humid valley habitat and about 8 shallow river crossings.  The trail eventually climbs to another great look out.  This trail covers more understory habitat and is a better place to find Ochre-cheeked Spinetail, Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Plush-crested Jay and river birds like White-winged Phoebe.

Birding at sundown just around the clearing of the lodge can be very productive with the local residents: Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Channel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Sayaca and Palm Tanager, Piratic Flycather, Rufous-breasted Thrush, Crested Oropendola, Hooded Siskin and many flocks of various species of parrots.

Logistics: You must make a RESERVATION to visit Los Volcanes. One cannot drive directly to Los Volcanes given the steep thin entrance road. Contact Bird Bolivia (birdbolivia@birdbolivia.com) regarding reservations. Los Volcanes is along the road to Semaipata from the SW Cochabamba tranca.  Los Volcanes is approximetly 20 km from this tranca just before the town of Bermejo.  The turn off is on the right side before a large sign that says EL SILLAR and underneath that a smaller sign that reads Serrania Volcanes 3.5 km.  From the turn off one has to drive the dirt road for 5km over the crest and a bit further down to the vista on the left. One can leave their vehicle here or arrange a pick up with Bird Bolivia. You can only travel down the road with the Los Volcanes vehicle and their experienced driver, and without a reservation, there is no means to call the lodge from the top of the hill.

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