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Reserva de la Biosfera – Estación Biologíca del Beni - National Park San Borja - Bolivia

Located in Bolivia´s Beni Department, this 135,000-hectare expanse of protected natural land contains over 200 species of mammals and over 2,000 species of vascular plants. The Amazon, the Chaco and the Cerrado—all distinct biogeographical zones—converge here, making for some extraordinary land and wildlife diversity. Seventy percent of the Beni Biological Reserve is made up of forest, while the remaining area is occupied by extensive savannahs and wetlands. Visitors have the opportunity to see jaguars, otters, howler monkeys, foxes and deer, which all call the reserve home. Additionally, 470 species of birds, 45 species of amphibians, 200 species of fish and numerous endangered species have been recorded here.

The Beni Biological Station was created in 1982 by the National Academy of Sciences of Bolivia for conservation and scientific research purposes. The surrounding area was then declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO´s MAB (Man and the Biosphere) international council in 1986 and officially became a protected site. Twenty-two percent—or 30,000 hectares—of the reserve is legally recognized as indigenous territory. 200,000 inhabitants live in the reserve, and the great majority belong to the Chimane ethnic group. Therefore, another major priority of the station is to integrate these indigenous communities with conservation efforts.

The park´s entrance is located on the main La Paz – Trinidad road at Porvenir, about 50 kilometers from San Borja. Here you can arrange guides, horses and trips to the park. They offer a variety of day trips (between $8 and $20) including walks to Laguna Normandia to see the black caiman, and a wealth of other trips by foot, canoe or horseback through the pristine forests. If you choose to take a three- or six-day tour ($80-$120), you’ll be able to visit lagoons, savannah and tropical forest and to navigate the Río Curiraba. Admission to the park costs $5. It is also possible to camp on the grounds for $9 a night.

The reserve´s office is located in San Borja (Trinidad and 18 de Noviembre, Tel: 531-3-895-3895 / 3898). Tours can also be arranged through the tour operator Sr. Tito Mundana Morales (Cel: 7-112-2920, Amaszonas offices) in San Borja or through the Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Bolivia in La Paz (Av. 16 de Julio 1732, Tel: 591-2-236-3990 / 231-6776, E-mail: aciencia_bo@hotmail.com, URL: aciencias.org.bo).

To get to the reserve, get on any bus running between San Borja and Trinidad or any bus going west from San Ignacio and ask to be dropped off at the park. Leaving is considerably harder because you will need to hail down a passing car, truck or bus and hitch a lift to your next destination.

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