Samaipata: across valleys, the Andes & prehistoric forests

Vanesa Zegada | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Would you believe that there is a tiny town in Bolivia* populated by more than 30 nationalities? That town is called Samaipata** and, in fact, there is more than one reason to fall in love with it! This time, I will give you the most important one: nature. The peaceful valleys surrounding the town have the particularity of being close neighbors of the Andes, the Dry Chaco and the spectacular Amboró National Park. Across valleys, the Andes and prehistoric forests, let’s take a look at this dream place for nature lovers*!

© iStock/Elijah-Lovkoff

Samaipata marks the eastern extreme of the Andes mountain range, called Codo de los Andes, which means "Andes Elbow". If you take a look at the map of this mountain range, you will understand the name.

A few hours of hike lead those not afraid of heights to spectacular mountain views. This is also a territory of wild condors, one of the world's largest flying birds, that played an important role in the cosmovision of ancient Andean civilizations. There are hikes focused exclusively on the observation of this endangered species, though, a few times, condors can also be observed during the mountain hikes.

Going down the mountains, beautiful waterfalls fill up the landscape. Cuevas Ecological Center (only 30 minutes away from Samaipata town)* **encloses a circuit through nature filled with beautiful waterfalls*. The walking trail is not too complicated nor long; therefore, a high physical condition is not needed to arrive at this gift of nature.

Zipline and rappelling are additional adventure activities in the area within the natural environment, where cottages and camping spots are available.

In the north of Samaipata is Amboró National Park, a protected area of 4425 km2 that encloses different climate types. Inside the park and close to Samaipata town is the Giant Fern Forest, whose name speaks for itself. Probably, if you hear the word 'ferns', you think about cute plants that people grow indoors at their home, but this time get ready to see ferns up to 20 meters high. As far as we know, only five countries in the world, on different continents, have ferns of similar altitude. The ferns found in this forest can live hundreds of years but, the most outstanding fact is that those species date back to prehistoric times, being one of the plants that survived the age of dinosaurs and lasted millions of years, up to our days. Giant ferns for giant animals!

© iStock/elisalocci

Near Samaipata town, the valleys have two refuges that help with the protection of wildlife and allow visits!

One of them is the Hummingbird Refuge. It was created by a Bolivian family to help wild hummingbirds survive the coldest days of the year by developing a warmer environment where free hummingbirds can find shelter. The place, filled with regional flowers, is constantly frequented by several free hummingbird species, creating a colorful spectacle.

On the other hand, El Refugio Jachainti (created by a Swiss family) takes care of wild animals rescued from traffic or captivity. With time, the aim is to send the rescued animals back to their natural environment. Though, re-adaptation is not always possible because some animals lose their ability to survive in wild environments. In those cases, the refuge tries to provide them with the best life possible. Most of the animals in the refuge are very friendly. Therefore, visitors can, within the limits of respect, stay near different mammals, birds and reptiles. If you would like to support this initiative, click on the following link for more information.

There is no doubt that Samaipata is a great place for nature lovers! Across valleys, the Andes and prehistoric forests, connect with nature and let yourself go in the exciting adventure that Samaipata offers.

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