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Bolivia - Los Yungas & Las Colinas
that is lush with vegetation and teeming with birds at all times of year. Chulumani is in the South Yungas, off the main highway that runs between La Paz and Coroico. Shortly after Unduavi a side road turns south and then plunges down the mountains toward this village. Although perched on the side of a steep hill, surrounded by lush jungle and thick with wildlife, Chulumani is not often frequented by foreigners except birders, who flock there. Regardless of how or why you arrive, be certain to watch for the Bridal Veil Waterfalls on the way to Chulumani. In Las Colinas, Sucre is a town that sparkles like a diamond in the dry brown mountains surrounding it. There are many cycle and horse trips that can be enjoyed in the area, plus an exciting bus/truck/hike into the ancient crater of a long-blown volcano. People come to check out the famous dino tracks right on the edge of town. Tarija has many plazas that are clean and vegetated due to the almost tropical climate. People of Tarija are known for their songs and dances accompanied by the many varieties of drums. The Inca Trail in the Cordillera Sama Biological Reserve was used long before the Inca arrived, but it has not been studied and its age is not known. It can be walked in eight hours, but this leaves little time for exploration. While walking you will see archeological remains such as drainage troughs, platforms, an old bridge and structural walls made from huge slabs of rock. Rock paintings can be seen in six different locations and to find them you will need a guide. They are well preserved and depict llamas and birds. The trail starts at Tajzara, where you can enjoy the wildlife that lives near the Great Lake before taking a step along the trail. The lake is surrounded by sand dunes that are spectacular. Across the main highway from the lake is Copper Hill, where queñua trees manage to survive at an elevation of 16,000 ft/5,000 m. These trees grow to a height of 10 ft/three m and have twisted trunks that seem to peel from the sun. Another forest of this kind is at Sajama. As you start to cross the Sama range, you will pass waterfalls and mountain streams on rugged terrain that is dotted with jagged rocks and sharp boulders. Above, you may see the occasional condor checking you out. The trail descends to the village of Calderillas. From there it goes to the Calderilla River ravine and down into the village of Pinos along the road to Tarija. Macuñucu Tropical Forest is a popular destination because of its 132-ft/ 40-m waterfall that has a swimming pool at the bottom and a cave system nearby. Hugging this waterfall are some of the 2,961 species of plants that have been identified in the park, belonging to a total of 200 families. The most impressive are the 33-ft/10-m arboreal ferns that date back about 300 million years. They are in the rainforest. But the trees include everything from pine to palm with many serving as hosts to about 100 varieties of orchids and bromeliads. Within the forests and along the rivers are 127 species of mammals and 815 species of birds. These include the more common rock hens, blackbirds and condors. Over 100 species of reptiles have been identified and 43 species of bats. Cochabamba, the Garden of Bolivia, boasts the world's most comfortable climate; warm dry days with clear blue skies and cool nights. The elevation is low compared to the Altiplano, so the wind doesn't bite. But it is high compared to the Chaco and Amazon, so the breeze is fresh. Cochabamba's proximity (three hours by bus) to Torotoro National Park makes the town one of the best bases for muscle-powered adventures. This is not generally known, so you will not be crowded off a river or hiking trail. Cochabamba is also within three hours by bus or three days by foot from Villa Tunari, where an animal refuge and park are located. There is a lake in the center of town where birders can add new species to their lists. And there are the caves of San Rafael to explore and Cerro Tunari, the highest peak in the district, to climb. Vivien Lougheed shares her passion for Bolivia, telling you about the history, geography, landscape, hidden treasures and top highlights. Comprehensive background information - history, culture, geography and climate - gives you a solid knowledge of each destination and its people. Regional chapters take you on an introductory tour, with stops at museums, historic sites and local attractions. Places to stay and eat; transportation to, from and around your destination; practical concerns; tourism contacts - it's all here! Detailed regional and town maps feature walking and driving tours. Then come the adventures - fishing, canoeing, hiking, rafting, llama trips and more. Never galloped along a beach on horseback, trekked up a mountain, explored ancient sites? "Adventure Guides" include extensive lists of recommended outfitters, with all contact details - e-mail, website, phone number and location.
Hunter Publishing; January 2012
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