Welcome to Birdquest
Friday 6th October —
Friday 13th October 2017
Leader: Eustace Barnes
Group Size Limit: 7
Tour Category: Easy to moderate grade walking and mostly simple accommodations
The Palkachupa Cotinga remained ‘unknown in life’ until very recently, when it was re-discovered near Apolo in Bolivia. This remote site had received some attention from birders during the 80s and 90s and is important for a number of range-restricted Yungas species, but it was not until more recently that the extremely restricted-range Palkachupa Cotinga (endemic to Bolivia) was re-discovered in the area. This form (named after the local Quechua Indian words for ‘fork’ and ‘tail’), which has now been raised to full species status, is considered to be endangered by Birdlife International, with only between 400-600 individuals thought to remain in this small area. It is now the subject of an intensive conservation programme working with local communities.
As this expedition visits diverse foothill locations we will also be looking for a great variety of species, many of which are poorly known and infrequently seen, including Yungas Antwren, the recently described Yungas Tyrannulet and the practically unknown Green-capped Tanager. In addition, we will also be wanting to find such major specialities as Bolivian Recurvebill, Upland Antshrike, Unadorned Flycatcher, Yungas Tody-Tyrant, White-bellied Pygmy-Tyrant and Straw-backed Tanager.
Day 1 The expedition begins this afternoon at La Paz airport, from where we will transfer to Huarina on the shores of Lake Titicaca for an overnight stay.
Day 2 Today we will depart early from Huarina for our long, full-day journey to the small town of Atén in the Apolo valley. This is essentially a travel day, requiring about 10-11 hours of driving to cover about 340 kilometres (roughly 211 miles).
Days 3-5 The Apolo region lies in the heart of the isolated Bolivian Andean cerrado. We will begin our exploration of this dry and rather unique area located along the otherwise humid eastern flank of the Andes searching the drier forest-edge habitats. This relict area of ’cerrado’ has evolved in splendid isolation in a single rain shadow catchment and is, as a consequence, very limited in extent. In itself this poses an immediate problem for the endemic fauna and flora found here, as the habitat has been largely cleared for farming and cattle ranching. However, as we work the fragments of woodland and scrub we should be able to encounter the lovely Palkachupa Cotinga. Also present in the dry scrubby habitat is the rare Green-capped Tanager, a species previously only known from Sandia in the department of Puno in neighbouring Peru.
We shall also explore more humid Yungas forests in the Machariapo valley. This area gives us the opportunity to find the rarely seen Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, Yungas Antwren and the very local Rough-legged Tyrannulet at a site where they seem to be more regular than elsewhere. At Cerro Asunta Pata we may even find the rare Yungas Tyrannulet, a recently described tyrannid considered rare and very local in the foothills and adjacent lowlands. This remote area is also very good for the increasingly rare Military Macaw, the localized White-browed Hermit and a new taxon within the Fuscous Flycatcher complex.
Other species recorded from the area which we will certainly be on the look out for include the shy Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Montane Solitary Eagle, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, the localised White-throated Hawk, Striped Owl, Rufous Nightjar, Plum-crowned Parrot, Rufous-crested Coquette, the uncommon Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Black-bellied Antwren and Yungas Manakin. If we are very lucky we might find the rare Peruvian Treehunter, White-throated Antpitta, Hazel-fronted Pygmy Tyrant or the stunning Chestnut-crested Cotinga.
As this is a very poorly known area we will undoubtedly make some interesting discoveries!
Day 7 Today we head back towards La Paz, stopping for the night at Charazani in order to break the journey. We will have time for a few roadside birding stops along the way.
Day 8 Today we will return past Lake Titicaca to La Paz airport, where the expedition ends in the early afternoon.
Important: It is a long, long way from the La Paz region to Apolo, and you don’t want to have too little time to do justice to the area after you get there. For that reason we have built in four full days of birding in Apolo region into the expedition itinerary. Naturally this costs significantly more than a rapid in and out visit, where a high proportion of the trip is simply spent travelling on those long dirt roads, but we think this is a far better way to explore the area properly.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotel at Huarina is good quality. The hotel at Charazani is fairly simple but adequate. The guesthouse accommodation at Atén in the Apolo valley is very simple but adequate. Bathroom facilities may be shared at Atén and Charazani. Road transport will be by 4x4 vehicles. The dirt roads in the area are generally well maintained, but dusty, often bumpy and long.
Walking: The walking effort ranges easy to moderate grade.
Climate: Rather variable. Temperatures in Apolo region range from warm to distinctly hot. Weather is mainly dry and sunny, but it can quickly become overcast with storms and heavy rain. Conditions will be much cooler on the high-altitude altiplano around La Paz and Lake Titicaca.
Bird & Mammal Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
Can be taken together with: BOLIVIA
Important Information for Pound Payers: Kindly note that the Pound prices shown here are based on post-EU-referendum exchange rate reality, unlike the website prices of most UK bird tour operators which are still based on outdated and hugely higher pre-referendum exchange rates. Consequently you can rest assured that we will not have to adjust these prices upwards at invoicing, unless the Pound falls significantly further, and if there is any recovery by the Pound you will receive the full benefit of the cost-saving by way of a price reduction at invoicing.
Tour Price: £1890, €2230, $2480 La Paz/La Paz.
Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Base prices for this tour are determined in US Dollars, the currency in which we pay for most tour services. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110. For those not paying us in US Dollars, prices may be adjusted (either downwards or upwards) at the time of invoicing should there be a change in the exchange rate. See booking information.
Single Room Supplement: £210, €248, $275.
Deposit: £300, €400, $450.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
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