by Bennett Hennessey
Is a forgotten city (town!) built from the rubber boom period in the early 20th century. It rests in a tropical forest area filled with Brazil Nut trees, now the main economic input for the town. But for birders, its claim to fame is the existence of the Bolivian Endemic and threatened Masked Antpitta around its bordering Varzea Forest. This species, discovered by Sjoerd Mayer in the 90s has been found to exist in a minuscule area on the planet. But thankfully when in the right spot, it is fairly easy to find and see.
You will want to visit Marigüisal to search for the Masked Antpitta.
Riberalta is also the access point for some healthy Bolivian Cerrado habitat.I recommend you also try to spend a morning in the Triangulo Cerrado forest. From Riberalta, in 30 minutes you can drive out on the paved road (meaning you can take a city taxi) to the Cachuela forest and the San Lorenzo Cerrado.
I was also told about healthy Brazil nut forest in an indigenous reserve across river Beni travelling North-west, about an hours drive.
My suggested visit schedule would be:
Midday arrival: Visit San Lorenzo Cerrado
Morning: Varzea forest of Marigüisal
Afternoon: Tropical Forest of Cachuela
Morning: Triangulo Cerrado
Afternoon: flight out.
Logistics: Riberalta is a small town which does not offer a lot of options for the tourist.I recommend the Hotel Colonial as an pleasant hotel full of local history (firstname.lastname@example.org, 591-3 852 3018). The hotel is half a block from the central plaza.
The Asociacion Armonia Masked Antpitta conservation program has worked with the local driver Luis Franceis Rivero (better known as Pilo). He can take you to the Marigüisal site, and he also knows the San Lorenzo and Cachuela. See if he has access to a good condition 4x4 to travel to Triangulo.
Radio taxis in Riberalta are Rogerlio Pimma 768 89433, 852 4564, and Erwin Lens 71128231 (who also has a 4x4). In Riberalta, there is no rent-a-car, but taxes serve this function for a very reasonable price.