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Cordillera de Sama Biological Reserve is in the Tarija department of Bolivia, about 90 km away from Tarija.


The main attraction are the Tajzara lakes, where many species of birds, including the 3 species of flamingo, gather year-round.

The reserve can also function as a start- or end-point for a Bolivian Inca trail.

With four permanent lakes, the area attracts birds - especially flamingos - and mre that 30 other species of birds.

The region has been inhabited for over 8000 years, and the reserve area bear witness to Incan and pre-Incan structures such as irrigation channels and water tanks. The Inca Trail starting inside the reserve is in good enough conditions that it was used for military transit during the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay.


Created in 1991, the reserve covers 108 hectares. The community-run lodge was inaugurated in 2012.


Salt-water lagoons against a mountainous backdrop.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Aquatic birds, llamas, vicunas, Andean deer.


The overall climate is cold, and can reach -20 °C in winter. Temperatures drop significantly at night, and a sleeping-bag might come handy even if overnighting indoors, since the Albergue has no heating (but offers blankets, has warm water).

Get in[edit]

Buses on the route Tarija-Tupiza or Tarija-Villazón pass the turn-off to the village of Pujzara, which sits nearby one of the three lakes. Trip takes approximately 2,5h from Tarija.

Fees and permits[edit]

The area's governing body, Servicio Nacional de Áreas Protegidas (SERNAP), has an office opposite the Tarija bus station.

Get around[edit]

Trek. There are driving routes circling some of the lakes.


  • Birds congregate in and around the lakes, and the months that see the biggest concentration of them are between November and February.
  • Colonial-era church


  • Walk on the sand dunes
  • Walk part or the entire Inca Trail starting 7 km off the Albergue


The community run Albergue can organize home-cooked meals with advanced notice.



There's simple room accommodation at the 1 Albergue de Pujzara (located on the shore of Patanka lake).The nearby community is considered one of the poorest in the region, and this community-run inn was built to foster sustainable tourism. Prior notice of arrival might be necessary.

It's possible to go backcountry.

Go next[edit]

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