Thanks to the efforts of the conservation NGO Armonía, the squawkily endangered blue-throated macaw or barba azul has become something of a regional celebrity in the Bolivian Amazon. Endemic to the unique Beni savannas, a fast-disappearing habitat found nowhere else on earth, a quarter of the world’s minute population of this spectacular psittacid calls this 11,000-hectare private reserve its home.
Unlike most of the surrounding savanna, the open grasslands here are completely ungrazed and the birds can be seen relatively easily along with a plethora of other threatened birds and mammals such as maned wolves, giant anteaters and marsh deer. A new dining facility and improvements to the four existing cabins were scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018. Logistics demand a minimum three-night stay, with a memorable trip costing US$150 per person per night, including food, access to a motorboat and horseback riding.
For most of the year, by far the quickest and easiest way to get to the reserve is by chartering a plane from Trinidad or Santa Cruz. Armonía has been dealing with the local pilots for a few years so it's best to have them arrange this; the flight from Trini runs about B$580 but can be shared among three to five people. In the dry season (July to October) land transport can be arranged in Santa Ana de Yacuma; although it is only 80km away, rough roads mean that the drive will take at least three hours.