Horned Curassow Lodge (Cajones del Ichilo)
by Bennett Hennessey
Note: CLOSED: Access to this lodge has been closed since 2012. It appears a group near the main road was processing coca into cocaine. The solution was to close the access road, which also has cut out farmers access to markets. The Horned Curassow is Bolivia's most threatened species. We are looking into areas where the species can be seen, but it is very difficult.
The Horned Curassow has now been split from the Sira Curassow in Peru, making this species Endemic to Bolivia. It should be Bolivia's most threatned species as it lives in the same habitat as where coca plants for cocaine area produced. The Horned Curassow lodge (locally called Cajones del Ichilo) has been closed for a few years now (updated in 2012). The forest in the park remains intact and people have seen the Horned Curassow in the area as recently as November 2011. The lodge is situated on the edge of Amboro National Parkand before the best site to see the Horned Curassow only a few hours from the city of Santa Cruz. The lodge is based in a tall tropical forest near a foothill forest habitat. There were three forest trails but I do not know if they remain. The area has an interesting tropical forest bird community with tame monkeys (Spider, Capuchin, and Squirrel), curassows, macaws and toucans. The key feature of the site is the possibility of seeing the rare, endemic Horned Curassow. So far still a hit and miss experience with 50% of visitors in 2007 seeing the species. From the lodge base, you need to climb up steep forested trails for about an hour to get into the right habitat. Most likely to see the species from September to December when they are breeding and vocalizing.
Other interests in the area are rivers, bat caves, and the large mammal salt licks. There is the possibility of seeing an Oilbird cave, but it is a days hike. Note, frequently in Bolivia, the Oilbird caves (see Carrasco National Park Road, Mapajo Lodge for other Oilbird caves, and Apa apa for flying birds) are only occupied during the breeding season, and could be empty between May to early September.
Logistics: The Bird Bolivia is helping the community develop this lodge. Presently you should make a reservations before visiting this site, which you can do with Bird Bolivia. From Santa Cruz travel to the village of Yapacani- approximately 2.5 hrs drive. From Yapacani youneed to continue driving to a small community of San German (15 minutes). Near the market you will see the taxi stop, which is locally knownas Kilometre 27. This could mean that there is a trufi taxi available to this area from Buena Vista or Santa Cruz. From San German you need to travel on the dirt road south for 30 minutes. At San German there are two motorbike taxi companies which can take you to the community ofIchilo- costing around 3-4 US$, 30 Bolivianos. The motorbike taxi can collect you when leaving.
Before arriving to the Moiller River, the dirt roads come to a fork from which you should take the left side to the bridge. A few kilometres later the road comes to another fork where you should take the rights side. Following this road to Ichilo, you will first pass the communities of El Condor and San Isidro and the river Condor and Colorado. There remains the possibility after a hard rain that the River Condor will be to high, and you will not be able to drive through the crossing. From the Ichilo community, the lodge is a 45 minute walk.