Amboro National Park...
One of the last untouched wildernesses on Earth

Camping spot at Amboro National Park. Bolivia
Amboro National Park - © David

Out of the list of a dozen or so Bolivia's national parks, Amboró National Park stands out well above the rest.

Its unique geographical location makes it the convergence point of three different ecosystems: Amazon basin, northern Chaco and the foothills of the Andes, otherwise known as the "elbow of the Andes".

With a varying altitude between 300 and 3,200 meters above sea level, the park hosts and incredible variety of flora and fauna, where both highland and lowland species are part of the scenery.

Plant life includes fine woods such as the Mara (Swietenia macrophylla) or big-leaf mahogany, palm trees like the Chonta (Astrocaryum), forests of giant fern and bamboo as well as a huge variety of orchids and bromeliads.

In total, there are nearly 3,000 species of plants catalogued, but it's likely to exist much more awaiting discovery within the park's boundaries. In fact, Amboró National Park is one of the botanically richest parks in the world.

Animal life is also extremely diverse, with over 120 species of mammals alone. While it hosts most of the Amazonian species like capybaras, peccaries and tapirs, several species of monkey such as howlers and capuchins and jungle cats like the jaguar, ocelot and margay, it's also home to the rare spectacled bear.

Also known as Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus), is locally known as jukumari - word that comes from Aymara language - also a very important figure in Bolivian mythology as well. Spectacled bears are the only surviving species of bear native to South America, and the only surviving member of the subfamily Tremarctinae.

But is in the bird department where Amboró National Park stands out, with over 800 species known to date. Members include such rarities as horned curassows, quetzals, cock-of-the-rocks (also found in the Guianas), Southern Helmeted Curassow and the Military Macaw, as well as the more familiar chestnut-fronted macaw and cuvier toucan. It has one of the highest concentration of birds per km² in the world, more than USA and Canada combined.

Annual rainfall varies by season and in different parts of the park, fluctuating between 600 mm and 3,400 mm in the wettest parts. During rainy season (Nov to March), roads and treks are not always in good condition, so your best bet is to choose dry season instead.

Amboró was initially established as a natural reserve in 1973, under the name of Reserva de Vida Silvestre German Bush. It became national park in 1984, protecting 180.000 ha. This was extended to 637.600 ha in 1991, composed by the Natural Integrated Management Zone and the park itself, that spreads over 442,500 ha - 4,425 km².

SERNAP - Servicio Nacional de Areas Protegidas - is the governing body that regulates all activities within Bolivia's protected areas.

Cloud forest at Amboro National Park. Bolivia
Amboro National Park - © David

How to Get There / Where to Stay

Amboró National Park is located at about three hours driving, 160km to the NW of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. See it on the map. Distance from Santa Cruz to La Paz is 550 km (339 miles). Main airport is Viru Viru International Airport, the largest in Bolivia at present time.

While some tours originate in Santa Cruz itself, if you visit the northern part of the park, you'll find accommodation, camping facilities and guide services to Amboró in Cajones de Ichilo, Mataracú (near San Carlos), La Chonta, Villa Amboró and Buena Vista.

In the southern part, the communities of Los Volcanes, in the Serranía Volcanes mountain range, La Yunga and Jardín de las Delicias (close to El Torno) offer similar services. Find the best hotel rates in Santa Cruz and Samaipata.


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