The Chaparri Reserve encompasses some 34,412 hectares (75,706 acres). This area is largely dominated by sparse dry forest and semi-desert. Under the protection of the local community this habitat is regenerating naturally, allowing the wildlife to flourish and populations of threatened species to recover. It has also created a haven for the visiting birdwatcher or naturalist. The reserve has a species list of some 187 species at the time of writing, not large by South American standards, but a high percentage are found only in the Tumbesian dry forests and it is these endemics that are the key attraction for the visitior.
Adobe lodges that blend in with the landscape have been constructed of local materials. It offers guests a quiet and relaxing place to stay (no radios, televisions or cell phones are allowed) where species like White-tailed Jay, Elegant Crescentchest, Collared Antshrikes, Amazilia Hummingbird, Superciliated Wren and Tumbes Sparrow, as well as White-tailed Deer and Sechuran Foxes can be watched from the dining room.
The critically threatened White-winged Guan has being reintroduced here and both wild and reintroduced birds can be seen near the lodge and in an adjacent canyon. Solitary Eagles and both Andean Condor and King Vulture are all regularly seen flying over the lodge in the late morning, along with several more common raptor species.
The more open areas of the reserve are frequented by Peruvian Thick-knees, Necklaced Spinetails, Cinereous and Sulphur-throated Finches and Short-tailed Field-Tyrants. A series of trails allows easy access to scrubbier areas and forested ravines. In the dry scrubby areas Andean Tinamous, Short-tailed Woodstars, Parrot-billed Seedeaters and Collared Warbling Finches abound. The shadier wooded ravines require more time with highlights such as Tumbes Tyrant, Little Woodstar, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner and Ochre-bellied Dove all being possible. Overhead skim twittering pairs of Pacific Parrotlets and flocks of raucous Red-masked Parakeets.
At night Scrub Nightjars, Grey Potoos, Pacific Pygmy-Owls and Peruvian Screech-Owls are all to be found within a few minutes of the lodge. And, just after dawn the main stream is the centre of the hummingbird action with all species appearing to bathe in the shallows whilst remaining alert to avoid the waiting Boa Constrictors.
For those with more diverse interests the reserve is also a great place to see mammals with Spectacled Bears, Puma and Collared Peccary being possible for those with time and luck. White-tailed Deer, Pampas Cat, Northern Tamandua, Tayra, and the endemic Sechuran Fox are more frequently seen.
The reserve borders the Tinajones reservoir and a new project is currently underway to create a series of lagoons to make a 24 hectare wetland reserve (with funding from the US Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act). The wetland reserve should be open for visitors in early 2005 and will have a visitor centre and a series of hides. It is hoped that the wetland will improve habitat for several important species that are regular on the reservoir, including the very rare local form of the Black-faced Ibis, Southern Pochard and Comb Duck, as well as provide a new habitat for many other new species for the site and an additional attraction for visitors and local people.
A visit to Chaparri will not only give you a great wildlife experience but also helps to support the local community and their efforts to preserve these remaining forests of the Tumbesian region.