Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Jaguar sightings in KAA IYA NATIONAL PARK of Bolivia

Located in the Santa Cruz department of Bolivia is the rarely visited Kaa Iya National Park, this área is extremely remote which has provided the wildlife especially Jaguars to thrive. The Park is internationally famous for its populations of Jaguars and is without a doubt one of the worlds best áreas to observe Jaguars in the Wild and an excellent alternative to the North Pantanal.

Here is a collection of some of the best Jaguar sightings we have had during our Kaa Iya National Park tours in Bolivia.http://www.nicksadventuresbolivia.com/kaa-iya-national-park/

Female Jaguar recorded in September 2013, this was our first sighting of this particular female and the beginning of many.


One of our best sightings ever, this Young female literally walked right up to our 4WD and sat in front of us for over an hour

Close encounter with this large male in May 2015, we saw another Jaguar and also a Puma on this trip

Our first of many sighting of this large male Jagaur which we named Cainyoto

Cainyoto again in September 2015

Pregnant female in December 2014

Large Male Jagaur recorded by our tourists October 2015

Female Jaguar which had cubs !!

A special momement, our first ever Jaguar sighting in May 2013

July 14th 2015 Jaguar Sighting , this trip we saw 2 Jaguars plus a Puma and Jaguarundi

October 2014 Female Jaguar, Photo credit from Essam Al - Khulifi Wada

November 2015 Female Jaguar sighting, this Jaguar also had cubs !!

Spectacular close up Jaguar sighting on the 11th of November 2015

Just 2 km from where we were sleeping !!

October 2015 a mating pair of Jaguars were recorded on the ourskirts of the Park , we hope in 2016 we will have a chance to see the offspring.

Monday, February 22, 2016


First ever Bush dog recorded in Amboro National Park



Every month as part of our tour to the Southern Side of the Bolivian Amboro National Park ( Refugio los Volcanes) we set and check our camera traps which are placed in areas of high probablity of recording wildlife, in the past we have recorded Jagaurs, Pumas, Ocelots and even the rare Spectacled Bear however nothing suprised us more when we recorded this image of this very rare and elusive species.  
The Bush Dog ( Speothos Venaticus) is a stocky yet small Canine , which weighs up to 5-8 kgs it feeds on anything from Agoutis, rodents , snakes etc and has even been recorded trying to hunt a Tapir which weighs up to 250kgs.

Puma with cubs captured on camera trap in the same location as the Bush Dog was recorded 

This discovery is extremely exciting for Amboro National Park as it represents the first ever image of this species inside the Park , and we will carefully continue to study the area for more signs of this incredible yet literally unknown Canine..

If you wish to find out more about our camera trap studies in the Refugio Los Volcanes part of Amboro National Park  or plan to visit the National Park then, then visit our webpage of www.nicksadventuresbolivia,com

PLEASE SEE BELOW OTHER CAMERA TRAP IMAGES TAKEN IN THE REFUGIO LOS VOLCANES SECTION OF THE AMBORO NATIONAL PARK 

An incredible capture of the Bush Dog in Amboro National Park of Bolivia
Jaguar or Panthera Onca, we recorded a few years ago in a part of the Amboro National Park , sadly we believe this male was shot and killed by surrounding cattle farmers a few months after this photo was taken.
Family of Tayra 
Margay, another example of the diversity of Refugio Los Volcanes in Amboro National Park
Ocelot , another one of the 5 feline species we have recorded in this part of Amboro National Park
Our first ever capture of the elusive Spectacled Bear in Amboro National Park - Refugio Los Volcanes

As you can see there is plently of wildlife in this región , so make sure to help support the región and make a visit to the Refugio los Volcanes lodge in the Amboro National Park, through controlled tourism we aim to teach locals which live in the área that wildlife is worth more alive than dead.

Friday, February 19, 2016

SAND BOARDING IN SANTA CRUZ  BOLIVIA

LOMAS DE ARENA 




When you hear about Sand boarding in South Amercia instantly you think of the Peruvian tourist Meca of Huacachina  which is famous for its natural deserts , huge amounts of tourists and Sandboarding, however we are here to tell you there is an excellent alternative called Lomas de Arena in Bolivia. Unlike Huacachina you can literally visit Lomas de Arena and have the entire place to yourself, this of course also helps with wildlife viewing and its not uncommon to see Sloths, Monkeys, Toucans , Caimans, Capybara and Pumas have been recorded 

Exploring the Natural desert of Lomas de Arena  without another Tourist in sight !! 
Lomas de Arena is a 14,000 hectare PROTECTED AREA and is located just 20 km from the city of Santa Cruz Bolivia, this protected area not only offers tourists excellent sandboarding , but treks to see colored lagoons, birds, wildlife and many different types of forests.

Where Jungle meets desert, and not another tourist in sight !! 

Getting here is not easy, like many places in Bolivia the park lacks infrustructure , the roads are poor and a strong 4WD is required, for travellers on an extreme budget its possible to catch public transport to the front of the park however its over a 7km trek to the start of the dunes which is extremely hot and at time dangerous, lone female travellers have been reported to have been assulted here so its not recommened. The safest and easiest way to explore Lomas de Arena is by a tour company as they know the roads, the best areas to see wildlife and can teach you how to sandboard.



A 3 toed Sloth which we encountered during a trip to Lomas de Arena in Santa Cruz Bolivia

So if you plan on travelling to South America this year make sure you stop by Santa Cruz Bolivia and explore a real hidden treasure in Lomas de Arena Natural Desert









Thursday, February 18, 2016

Where to see to see Jaguars in the Wild


Taken during our San Carlos Wildlife Tour in Bolivia

 
The Jaguar or Panthera Onca is the largest Cat in the Western Hemisphere and is one of the most elusive yet beautiful animals on the planet, tourists from all over the world flock to South and Central America hoping to get a glimpse of this big cat however the vast majority are lucky even to see tracks.

Its common knowledge that the North Pantanal in Brazil is the best place to observe them, with thousands of cashed up photographers flocking to the Pantanal yearly and are paying upwards of two to ten thousand dollars per person to film and observe Jaguars, Even though the sightings are amazing these trips are not for everyone and the thought of sitting on a boat filled with other passengers with other tour boats surrounding the Jaguars competing for the best photographic positions are not for everyone. These tours are also in the high budget range and not affordable for everyone.

November 2015 Jaguar sightings in Kaa Iya National Park Bolivia
This brings to question where are the best Jaguar viewing destinations apart from the North Pantanal ,so through constant travel and research we have devised a list of proven Jaguar viewing hotspots which even rival the Jaguar viewing success of the Pantanal.


KAA IYA NATIONAL PARK - SANTA CRUZ DEPARTMENT BOLIVIA
One of the best Jaguar viewing destinations is the rarely visited Kaa iya National Park, located in the Santa Cruz department of Bolivia and consisting of the world’s most pristine Chaco forests, this amazing National Park truly is an excellent area for frequent Jaguar sightings, in the dry season of July –November its common to have multiple big cat and Tapir sightings per trip. The Park itself is larger than Belgium and is part of the 2nd largest forested area in the world.

Close up encounter with this large male Jaguar in Kaa Iya National Park 

 The area where Jaguars are seen the most is in a highly restricted part of the Park which is protected from the outside world, as well as having excellent Jaguar viewing opportunities Tapirs, Pumas , Ocelots and much more are seen frequently making it easily the best big mammal viewing destination in Bolivia. In 2006 WCS completed a camera trap study of the park which was aimed at Jaguar populations and they estimated over 1000 Jaguars to be living within the park. The Kaa Iya National Park was also chosen as the best destination to film Jaguars in Bolivia and it has featured in the new book National Parks of Bolivia by photographer Daniel Alarcon where he photographed a female Jaguar with its cubs daily for over a month. 

Sadly with a change in Park admin tourism does not seem to have much importance, park permits are extremely hard to obtain and are not able to be given in advance, toilets, suitable bathrooms and kitchen facilities have been deemed out of bound for tourists and now its only camping in unbearable and unhygenic conditions. A new environmental licence costing over US 4000-6000 dollars is being implemented for tour operators whom wish to operate inside the Park. 

Night encounter with this young female Jaguar which we watched for over 45 minutes in Kaa Iya National Park Bolivia

SAN CARLOS WILDLIFE RESERVE BENI BOLIVIA


This remote and spectacular private reserve holds very healthy populations of Jaguars. In our last two visits we have seen 4 different Jaguars as well as a huge variety of other impressive wildlife. Here Jagaurs can be seen with some frequency without another tourists in sight and also Black Caiman, Pink Dolphins,Marsh Deers, Anteaters and much more. 

This Reserve was developed to help recover losses caused by Jagaur and Puma Predation of Cattle, now thanks to eco tourism there is a no hunting policy and we expect great results in a growth of Jaguar sightings and growth in the future.


MADIDI NATIONAL PARK


The open rivers and sand banks of Madidi National Park make excellent Jaguar viewing in the dry season


The 3rd best place on our list of best places to see Jaguars is in the spectacular Madidi National Park, Located in the Beni Department of Bolivia this park is one of the most beautiful and bio diverse locations found anywhere on the planet, unlike other Amazon areas like Iquitos in Peru and Manus in Brazil which are now booming cities  the base town Rurrenrabaque is still small in population which means hunting , logging and settlements and entry into the park is minimal in comparison to other Amazonian Regions. To see Jaguars here you have to venture deep into the Amazon, there are numerous touristic lodges here however only the deepest ones have the most realistic chances of seeing Big Cats, there are certain parts of the rivers where Jaguars are still seen often,  as the peccary populations inside the park have boomed so have the populations of Jaguars. Other species of Wildlife which can be seen here include the vocal Giant Otters, Tapirs, White Lipped Peccaries, Giant Anteaters, Ocelots, Pumas and much more. 

Access to the Madidi National Park is easy, you can fly from La Paz or Santa Cruz to the town of Rurrenrabaque and here there are a huge variety of tour operators who offer Jungle Tours, the key is locations and as the majority of lodges are close to the Town or are over- run by tourists then picking the right lodge to visit is key to having the best chances for Jaguar viewing. The best lodges where you have the best chances to see Jaguars include Berraco del Madidi lodge, Chalalan Lodge and Madidi Jungle.

Jagaur tracks along the many Sandbanks of Madidi National Park

Jaguar sighting in the Madidi National Park along the Tuichi River


Other notable mentions of where to see Jaguars in the wild include
MANU NATIONAL PARK IN PERU
REWA HEADS GUYANA
SOUTHERN BRAZILLAN PANTANAL
BENI DEPARTMENT BOLIVIA


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Santa Cruz Bolivia - The Unofficial Sloth Capital of the World

A baby 3 toed Sloth living amongst a housing estate


There is something about Sloths that appeals to everyone and instantly makes people happy, they can make even the coldest of people crack into a smile,their slow awkward movements and seemingly never ending smiles are all part of their charm.
What most people are un- aware of is that Santa Cruz Bolivia is home to healthy populations of these beautiful and intriguing creatures and they were once so common that just a few years ago they were even found in the main Plaza of the City, sadly as the City has grown the Sloth numbers have dropped however even amongst the never ending housing and agricultural advancements Sloths are still showing their resilience. 

A delightful 3 Toed Sloth having dinner


Although Sloths are a common species in Santa Cruz this does not make them easy to see and one can easily spend a day in the forest which is teeming with Sloths without having a single sighting, their lack of movement, camouflaged hair and tendency to sleep hidden in high trees make them  at times nearly impossible to see.
Sadly this Sloths home was cleared for new housing estates and as the human population grows the Sloths are rapidly vanishing



 With this in mind we have developed Santa Cruz Sloth Tour which caters for Sloth Lovers from around the world and our specially trained guides take you on a half day Sloth Tour where we will look for Sloths in the wild  and learn everything about them, if we are lucky we can even see Monkeys, Marmosets, Toucans and more.. So if you are coming to South America and your dream is to see a Sloth then contact us today for this fun adventure in Santa Cruz Bolivia.




Spot the Sloth ! As you can see they are not easy to find !! Especially when they are sleeping 

SLOTH FUN FACTS

 The hair of Sloths makes excellent habitat for a range of organisms which range from beetles and moths to algae and Fungus
Sloths are excellent swimmers
Sloths go to the ground around once a week to urinate or defecate where they dig a hole with their claws and bury the waste. (They use the same hole every time)

Sloths were thought to sleep over 15 hours per day but new research has proved that they actually sleep less than 10 hours per day.






UYUNI SALT FLAT TOURS 

BUDGET VS LUXURY


With over 90 Tour Operators in Uyuni alone which are selling Uyuni Tours its very hard for travellers to choose the right option, while a visit to the Uyuni Salt Flats should be a highlight of any trip to South Amercia sadly for many it turns into a nightmare. We have all heard of the horror stories of drunk drivers, car crashes, theft on tours, break downs with lack of equipment, 4WDS in terrible conditions, no spare tyres, dirty and unsafe accomodation, tour operators transporting drugs across the border etc
With these horror stories in mind we have created a tour with the best accomodation possible, a zero drinking policy for our guides/drivers, high quality 4WDS with all saftey equipment including Satelite Phones and Oxygen Tanks, excellent guides who are trained mechanics and more. With this in mind you can ensure you tour to the Uyuni Salt Flats runs smoothy so that you can relax and enjoy this world class destination in comfort and saftey.
Another issue with the cheap shared tours is that you are sharing a 4WD with up to six travellers which is not only uncomfortable it is also time constraining meaning the tours are very rushed and you dont have time to really enjoy and take in the surreal ecosystems, wildlife and scenery. While you pay more for the Private tours you have much more comfort and time to really explore the landscapes of the Salt Flats and Eduardo Avaroa National Park.
Other factors which travellers need to consider is the impact bulk tourism has on the environment and infrustructure of the Park, roads and facilities, Wildlife is also disturbed and often due to the tours being rushed rubbish is left by tourists inside the park.Other issues include price wars between Tour Operators which means local guides earn less money for their families.

As more people line up for bulk cheap tours wildlife is often harrassed and can have huge impacts in the future





If you are going to visit the Uyuni Salt Flats once in your life, we recommend that you pay a little extra and get the service and safety which you deserve, think about your decision wisely and hopefully it will make the difference between a nightmare experience or one of the best experiences of your life.