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Birdquest's Bolivia birding tour explores one of South America's fastest up-and-coming birdwatching venues, and one that surely deserves more recognition given its magnificently rich avifauna and wonderful scenery. Our Bolivia tour achieves the most comprehensive coverage of this superb country available and records many great Bolivian specialities, including both Red-fronted and Blue-throated Macaws.
Tuesday 19th September —
Sunday 8th October 2017
Masked Antpitta Extension: Sunday 17th September — Tuesday 19th September (3 days)
Leader: Eustace Barnes
Group Size Limit: 8
Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations
With around 1400 species already recorded, Bolivia boasts the highest avian diversity of any land-locked country in the world! We should see over 600 species during this exciting tour, including two stunning endemic macaws and a host of additional endemics and regional specialities.
Sitting astride the Andes at its widest point Bolivia is placed at the meeting point of several major biogeographical regions; Amazonia, the Cerrado and the Chaco all converge in the eastern lowlands, while in the Andes, humid and semi-humid foothill cloudforests meet in the Santa Cruz region and these ranges create a rain shadow to the west that features a spectacular system of cactus-clad canyons and inter-montane valleys dominated by towering snow-capped peaks.
Only sparsely populated, Bolivia has a very distinctive character our travels will be both a colourful and an unforgettable experience. This delightful and largely unspoilt country is now amongst the most democratic in South America and offers some of the continent’s most exciting birding, with a wealth of pristine habitats remaining throughout the country.
The Bolivian Andes are some of the highest and most spectacular of all, harbouring a high concentration of endemic, near-endemic and restricted-range species. Amongst the huge snow-capped peaks and volcanoes, the magnificent Andean Condor is still a regular sight soaring over canyons and ‘chaparral’ woodlands.
On their eastern flanks these impressive mountains fall rapidly away through Yungas ‘cloud forest’ into luxuriant subtropical forests or arid, cacti-dominated valleys. The lowlands, made up of Amazonian forests, savannas and Chaco woodlands, together with the vast wetlands of the Llanos de Moxos, add to the considerable wealth of natural variety. Much of Bolivia is still very poorly known ornithologically and certainly conceals many future surprises.
This great diversity of habitats provide a home for a bewildering array of birds. From huge rheas and tiny seedeaters in the lowland savannas and cerrado to noisy macaws and toucans in the tropical forests, scintillant hummingbirds and gaudy tanagers in the luxuriant subtropics, secretive antpittas and tapaculos hiding amongst the highland bamboos, a wealth of ground-tyrants on the puna grasslands and flightless grebes and shimmering flocks of flamingos on altiplano lakes, Bolivia offers even veteran South American birders a marvellous experience, and all this amongst some of the most awe-inspiring scenery on Earth. Our itinerary is the most comprehensive Bolivian specialities tour available. Join us for some of the best birding South America has to offer!
Our journey begins in the bird-rich eastern lowlands at Santa Cruz where the habitat and avifauna are reminiscent of the pampas and cerrado of central Brazil.
Our journey begins in the rather Pantanal-like region around the town of Trinidad in the province of Beni. Here, in the Llanos de los Moxos, we will go in search of the first of Bolivia’s two endemic macaws, the beautiful but very rare and critically-endangered Blue-throated Macaw. Only a hundred or so pairs of this magnificent species survive and seeing this ‘megabird’ will be the main goal of our visit.
Interestingly, four other species of macaw make a living here, including Golden-collared, and we will also see a host of other lowland birds, including such specialities as Orinoco Goose, Plain Softtail, Hudson’s Black-Tyrant, Dark-throated Seedeater and the endemic boliviensis form of the Velvet-fronted Grackle. With a bit of luck, we will also see the very poorly known Unicoloured Thrush. The mixture of grasslands, palm savanna, gallery forest and seasonally inundated woodland in this bird-rich region hold an amazing variety of waterbirds and raptors.
After returning to Santa Cruz, we then head into the Andean foothills to the Amboro National Park to explore a stunning area of sub-tropical forests in search of such infrequently seen species as Bolivian Recurvebill and Slaty Gnateater.
As we work our way westwards to podocarpus forests and dry deciduous woodlands near Valle Grande we shall search for the rare Alder Parrot and Red-faced Guan.
Next we explore the cactus-clad canyons of Comarapa and the cloudforests of Siberia perched above it on the western edge of Amboro National Park. In this spectacular area we will be looking for such endemics and near-endemics as the rare Red-fronted Macaw, Bolivian Earthcreeper, Light-crowned Spinetail, Rufous-faced Antpitta, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer and Bolivian Warbling-Finch.
Our journey into the Andes then continues with visits to dry valleys and remnant Polylepis woodland near Cochabamba, where specialities include Black-hooded Sunbeam, Wedge-tailed Hillstar, Maquis (or Iquico) Canastero, Rufous-bellied Saltator, Cochabamba Mountain-Finch and Citron-headed Yellow-Finch.
From Cochabamba we descend into the temperate and subtropical forests along the Chapare Road, where some of Bolivia’s most exciting birding is to be found. We shall hope to find such species as Black-winged Parrot, Blue-banded Toucanet, the spectacular Hooded Mountain-Toucan, Black-throated Thistletail, the gorgeous Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Band-tailed Fruiteater and White-eared Solitaire.
Departing from Cochabamba, where we will find the endemic Bolivian Blackbird, we continue west and climb again up through puna grassland and deep canyons to the altiplano at Oruro and Lake Uru-Uru with its vast flocks of flamingos.
After exploring extensive wetlands we will visit the remote town of Inquisivi, one of only two known sites for the endangered endemic Bolivian Spinetail.
During the last part of the tour we will be covering the La Paz region. During our visit we will first enjoy some tremendous birding along the old Coroico road, where we will look for such poorly known species as Scimitar-winged Piha, Diademed Tapaculo and Orange-browed Hemispingus.
Finally we will explore the Andean bogs at La Cumbre, the high altiplano and Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake on Earth) in search of the restricted-range Short-winged Grebe and the endemic black-hooded Sunbeam and Berlepsch’s Canastero.
There will also be the option of a short pre-tour extension to Riberalta in search of the only recently discovered Masked Antpitta and the rare Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant along with an interesting selection of rainforest and cerrado species.
Birdquest has operated tours to Bolivia since 1992.
Those taking this tour in 2017 may combine it with our special Palkachupa Cotinga Expedition if they wish.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good to medium standard throughout (mostly the latter). Road transport is by small coach or minibus and roads are variable in quality (there are some long drives on unsurfaced and often bumpy sections).
Walking: The walking effort is easy to moderate.
Climate: Rather variable. At low and middle altitudes many days are warm or hot, dry and sunny, but it is sometimes cool and overcast. At high altitudes conditions range from cool to decidedly cold. It may rain at times and it can be rather humid in the lowlands.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
Can be taken together with: BOLIVIA: PALKACHUPA COTINGA EXPEDITION
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: £5790, €6830, $7580 Santa Cruz/La Paz. Masked Antpitta Extension: £820, €960, $1070.
Price includes all transportation (including the specified internal flights), 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: £456, €538, $597. Extension: £48, €57, $63.
Deposit: £600, €800, $900. Extension: £100, €150, $150.
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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