by A. Bennett Hennessey
A small indigenous group of Mosetenes had a dream to create a little ecotourism lodge in 1998. In June 2001 the lodge opened to accommodate up to 8 people, and 12 people by the end of the year. The project, based in the low lands of Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve is completely run by the Mapajo communities of Asuncion and has a very special feel to it, mixing nature trails with indigenous medicinal plant presentations and tours on the mix of their people and their environment. The lodge is top quality for jungle lodges, with mosquito free rooms, hot showers, library, solar lights in the bathrooms, dining hall and a large round-room resting center.
There are no bird guides, but the guides are very experienced with mammals, trees and plants. They have sites and trails to show Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Golden-collared Macaw, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Hoatzin, Crimson-crested Woodpecker and many of the Amazonian rainforests splendors. Ask about the special boat trip they can provide up the Beni river to see the Oilbirds. The cave is fairly deep so the birds are hard to see during the day, but one can watch them come out circle the cave entrance as they begin to forage. The Mapajo project has trails through open forest, closed rainforest and open-pampas like- Palm forests, as well as large and small river boat trips.
The forest area is rich in bird life (about 90 of the diversity you would find in the best site at Alto Madidi). Local indigenous guides can provide for a very rounded tropical forest experience with some large mammal observations, great eyes and ears for the birds and full of local knowledge on plant usage and wildlife natural history.
Logistics: The area is only accessible by a Mapajo tour from the Rurrenabaque office, near Hostal Beni and the Mosquito Bar, the corner of calle Comercio and Calle Santa Cruz. The project is presently looking for a tourism agency in
La Paz to promote the tour. Reservations may be diffucult in
Bolivia and impossible outside- contact Bird
Bolivia for more information firstname.lastname@example.org.
See www.mapajo.com for further information.