Monday, 28 May 2012

The Andes foothills, Bolivia

After leaving Camiri, we drove north back towards Santa Cruz. We had a birding stop for Breakfast next to a lake in the Andes foothills. The scenery was beautiful, with the forested mountains of the foothills surrounding us. Here we had two more Military Macaws perched and saw some new waders for the trip. Sandro saw a wader at a distance, back on, which he could not identify but knew was a lifer for him. Chris took a look and decided to take a path down to the water side. He had just placed his scope down, looked through it and immediately identified it as a Least Sandpiper when he gave out a shout of “ow!”. Then, Sandro, pointed at Chris’ trousers and shouted “chiwowa!”. Chris had been standing on an ants’ nest and was covered up to his knees in about a hundred little red biting ants. There was a lot of frantic trying to swipe the ants off, which resulted in Sandro also being covered in ants. It must have been the cost of a tick for him! Birdgirl and I managed to remain unscathed and when we returned to the vehicle, Herman could not help but laugh at the two grown men trying to get the remaining ants out of their trousers.

We then travelled west from Santa Cruz, stopping at a golf resort at Los Volcanos, for Masked Duck, Birdgirl’s 200th new bird for the trip. We also saw our first two Andean Condor of the trip. They are so beautiful and deserve their iconic status. The resort itself was very manicured and is normally full of lots of people from Santa Cruz. Though it had luxurious looking cabins on the lawns with absolutely stunning views overlooking a large lake and surrounded by mountains on all sides.

We then carried on west to Samaipata. This was a beautiful town set in the foothills, with well renovated Spanish style houses, painted white with red tiles. Apparently 80% of the residents are foreigners, who have settled here and set up businesses, liking the cool climate and hippy feel. There are nearby pre-Inca ruins of a place that was meant to have much spiritual meaning. Bolivia’s Glastonbury. We stayed on an organic farm and accommodation run by a Dutch guy, with homemade organic foods, including bread, pickle and honey. Birdgirl said that she would have liked to have stayed a week to which Chris suggested that maybe she could come back on her own when she was older, now that she knows it was there. Exactly what we hoped she would get out of the trip.

The next morning we birded in the hills above Samaipata and saw Giant Antshrike and the endemic Bolivian Earthcreeper, which I missed. I was promised the bird at Saipina. Promises on bird trips can be dangerous things, especially to me!,

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