by Bennett Hennessey

Samaipata RuinasSamaipata is a large town in the middle of a highly deforested plateau of the Bolivian Dry Andes. It is a popular tourism locality for its cool dry climate, especially during the hot humid summer months. The photo is the popular "Las Ruinas" archaeological site. But bird wise, the place is really poor and not worth spending a lot time. Birds in the town are common elsewhere. The best birds in the area are Andean Condors and the Giant Antshrike. Near the town there is a trail (three hour hike) where you can go to a site where Condors bath on the cliff side. Rolando Galarza (cel 72618102: lives in Samaipata, speaks English and can guide tourists to this site. The Giant Antshrike is seen in the forests around this area, most frequently seen by Bird Bolivia guides following the paved road to Cochabamba. Go over the first peak, and coming down that next valley, they have been seen with playback in the woody areas.

But given the development of other good birding spots in this area, Samaipata can be a good resting spot and now with a decent area to bird in the morning. The town sits between the popular birdwatching spots of Los Volcanes, Red-fronted Macaw Reserve and Siberia. Hotel La Vispera (see their web site) has a beautiful vegetable and herb garden around their rustic cabins and restaraunt and trails that lead to their recuperating forest up the hill. This is a good spot to see the Red-tailed Comet which is an amazing hummingbird. They also serve excellent European food with lots of leafy greens- something rare in Bolivia and perhaps a nice meal switch during a long trip. Vegetarians love this restaurant, which is excellent as your plates are filled with produce picked from their garden in the morning. They do not serve dinner, but you can request that a dinner is left for you from their lunch staff. The cabins are very peaceful. A stay at Samaipata can be combined with an easy day at the Quirusillas site searching for Tucuman Parrots.