Reserva Barba Azul

Amazon Basin

Thanks to the efforts of the conservation NGO Armonía, the 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.

Your visit should be arranged in advance at Armonía's office in Santa Cruz, and they may be able to help with transport. Alternatively, contact Bird Bolivia or Nick's Adventures for a guided tour.