Covering some 1350 square kilometres of savannah and rainforest to the east of San Borja, the Reserva de la Biosfera del Beni (Beni Biosphere Reserve) was one of the first protected areas to be established in Bolivia. Standing at the intersection of two important biogeographical zones, the reserve is exceptionally biodiverse, hosting some five hundred species of birds and one hundred species of mammals – these include almost half the protected species in Bolivia, among them many that are in danger of extinction. Illegal hunting, unfortunately, still poses a major threat. While the reserve, did, at one time, offer very well-organized visitor facilities and ecotours, funds have now dried up, with barely enough money to support a skeleton staff of two rangers. You can still visit, though there’s no accommodation and you’ll have to bring in all your own food and water, as well as a tent or hammock. The funding crisis may change in future; check with SERNAP in La Paz for the current situation if you don’t have time to visit the office in San Borja.

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