Lawrence Rubey and A. Bennett Hennessey
The lower section
of the Chapare road, between 1800 and
800 meters has the
most pristine forest on the Chapare Road. An
unpaved stretch of
27 kilometers offers fabulous
vistas of steep, heavily forested slopes. Access, however, is difficult;
there are few trails leading into the forest. Most birders end up birding the roadside as many sections of the road have
"good" forest right up to the road edge. The biggest frustration
with roadside birding is the large volume of traffic and resultant dust.
Since this is the main road between
traffic can be heavy (by Bolivian standards this means a vehicle every minute
At kilometer post 100 driving from
Cochabamba, just after Miguelito,
UMOPAR (the equivalent of Bolivian DEA) has established a checkpoint to ensure that no chemicals are brought into the Chapare for cocaine manufacture and no coca leaves or
cocaine base are brought out. From this checkpoint, the road is unpaved for
27 kilometers, largely because the
area is geologically unstable. These
27 kilometers offer a wonderful transect birding from
2000 meters (at the
UMOPAR checkpoint) to 800
meters at the second bridge over the Rio Espiritu Santo where the pavement begins again. Kilometer 114 at about
1200 meters has some
attractive forest and makes a nice stop. Bolivian Recurvebill has been seen and heard close to the west side of the road at kilometer 120, just before the Rio Chuyumuyu.
There are also a couple Andean Cock-of-the-Rock leks somewhat close to the road and you may be lucky enough to spot one flying
across the road.
From the second
bridge over the Rio Espiritu Santo to Villa Tunari, it is a quick
29 kilometers to Villa Tunari on a good paved road.
Unfortunately, this last stretch is rather poor for birds.