Amboro, Bolivia 2019

     On August 1st – 3rd, 2019; I had the opportunity to trek the Amboró National Park in Bolivia.  I was currently staying in Santa Cruz, nearby. Located only 40 km west of Santa Cruz, in the Andean foothills of Bolivia, Amboró spans 4,425 sq km stretching all the way to the borders of Carrasco National Park in the department of Cochabamba.

Santa Cruz, Bolivia area map
Amboró National Park Map

     My first approach into the Amboró National Park, was the Refugio Volcanes.  Amboró National Park is located in the western part of the Santa Cruz Department of Bolivia, at the “Elbow of the Andes,” where the eastern cordillera bends slightly westward from its northerly course.

Bermejo, Bolivia; (Looking north into the Amboró National Park and on the old road to Cochabamba)

          The trekking-approach into the Refugio de Volcanes started at Bermejo, Bolivia.  This rigorous trek, took be to a spectacular viewpoint of the Amboró National Park. Noted for its rugged and varied topography, Amboró National Park lies within three distinct ecosystems: the foothills of the Andes, the northern Chaco, and the Amazon Basin. Nowhere else in the world do three such diverse environments coincide, making Amboró a unique host to a wide range of flora and fauna.

Amboró National Park, (looking north).

     The park protects parts of several ecoregions: Southwest Amazon moist forests, Chaco, Bolivian montane dry forests and Bolivian Yungas at higher elevations.  During my time in the Amboró National Park, I spent it in the Yungas. 

Another view into the Amboró National Park, Bolivia

     The Yungas is the transition zone between humid hot losland forests and the cold dry deserts of the uplands.  This area includes humid and dry cloud forest which is masked with huge bromeliad-decked fig trees and bamboo breaks.  The Amboró National Park region is rich with steep valleys and waterfalls that have promoted highly localized speciation, restricting many of the region’s insects and plants to just one valley.

Looking down towards the Refugio de Volcanes, (I’m standing on the ridge top before you drop into the valley below).

     The altitudinal range also make for a very rich flora and fauna. Vegetational diversity can be attributed to the park’s distinct ecosystems which is made up of lowland forests, cloud forests, palm forests, tree-fern forests, cactus forests, tropical yungas forests, montane scrublands, pampas and more. Surviving stands compliment the beauty of the cloud-clad vistas

Looking south, back towards the old Cochabamba highway and the Rio Piray.  

     The park is also part of the Vilcabamba – Amboró Corridor that begins at the Vilcabamba mountains in Peru and extends all the way to Bolivia.   Pictured below, is the infamous Yungas, “Death Road”, which is part of this Corridor.  I took this picture near Cochabamba, on my way back to La Paz, Bolivia.

The Yungas “Death Road”, Bolivia. 

     In 1984, with the help of esteemed conservation biologist Noel Kempff, British zoologist Robin Clark, and other notable researchers, Amboró was legally given the status “National Park” in order to protect the ecological hotspot from human settlements, hunting, mining and deforestation.

Map of the Monumento Natural Espejillos in the Amboró National Park

     My second trekking-approach into the Amboró National Park was the Monumento Natural Espejillos. This required a slightly treacherous crossing of the  Rio Piray, (picture below).

Crossing the Rio Piray in the Amboró National Park, Bolivia.

          Located just 45 km West from the City of Santa Cruz is yet another one of the areas staggering yet unknown attractions. Situated in the protected area on the verge of the amazing Amboro National Park,  this area is a series of impressive pristine Waterfalls and Natural pools set within the surrounding forests, with lovely, clean and refreshing water sparkling over the polished black rock that characterizes the area. (pictured below).

The cascading falls of Monumento Natural Espejillos in the Amboró N.P.

     Here I found a series of natural waterfalls and pools of crystalline water in which I could splash and swim.

Monumento Natural Espejillos,  (looking down into Rio Espejillos).
Monumento Natural Espejillos in Bolivia
Monumento Natural Espejillos 2019

     Seventeen delightful pools lie along the river that flows through Espejillos. Several natural twists and turns had carved out clear and impressive waterfalls (the largest of which falls for 20 m and pictured below).

Monumento Natural Espejillos in the Amboró National Park
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