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Bolivia Birding Tours: our special Palkachupa Cotinga bird watching expedition visits a rarely-visited part of Bolivia. Our Palkachupa Cotinga, Bolivia birding tour focuses on this rare but spectacular endemic species as well as a number of other specialities.

Sunday 8th October — Sunday 15th October 2017
(8 days)

Leader: János Oláh

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

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.

Single Room Supplement: £210, €248, $275.

Deposit: £300, €400, $450.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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