12–28 September 2017
In Bolivia we can have breakfast by an Andean lake at 4500 m, lunch in cloud-forest and supper in sweltering Amazonian foothill forests. Our tour will take us from lowlands to mountains and focuses on the dry and humid forests of the Andes where many of Bolivia’s endemics and restricted-range species occur. We also offer an extension to the Beni department in search of the critically-endangered endemic Blue-throated Macaw.
Day 1 Overnight scheduled flight from London to La Paz.
Day 2 We will take a scheduled internal flight to Santa Cruz, arriving mid-morning. After lunch at the airport, we will bird the local savannahs and forest islands looking for Greater Rhea, Red-legged Seriema, Red-winged and Small-billed Tinamous, Long-winged Harrier, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Guira Cuckoo, Thrush-like Wren, Masked Yellowthroat and Chopi Blackbird. If time allows we will make an evening visit to the Piraí River in search of Collared Plover and Yellow-browed Sparrow. Overnight in Santa Cruz.
Day 3 This morning will be spent birding at the Jardín Botánico de Santa Cruz. The dry forests here are home to Blue-crowned Trogon, Blue-crowned Motmot, Buff-bellied Hermit, White-wedged Piculet, Red-billed Scythebill, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Stripe-backed and Mato Grosso Antbirds, Plush-crested Jay and many other species. After lunch in the city we will drive for two to three hours to Los Volcanes, a spectacular lodge on the south side of Amboró National Park, where we will spend the next two nights. The park lies where the dry forests to the east meet the humid and dry Andean forests to the west and consequently has a diverse and fascinating avifauna. We should arrive in time to see Red-billed and Turquoise-fronted Parrots flying over the lodge on their way to roost.
Day 4 We will spend the whole day around Los Volcanes. Our attention will focus on hard-to-see species including Short-tailed Antthrush, Bolivian Tapaculo, Slaty Gnateater and the endemic Bolivian Recurvebill. However, we will also hope to see some good flocks containing Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Black-capped Antwren, Dusky-capped, Pale-edged and Slaty-capped Flycatchers, Sclater’s and Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulets, Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant, Black-goggled Tanager, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Two-banded Warbler and Slate-throated Redstart. The birding in the clearing around the lodge is excellent and here we will look for Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Bat Falcon, Military Macaw, Streak-throated Bush-tyrant, Planalto Hermit, Channel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Blue-browed Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia and Dusky-green Oropendola.
Day 5 After early morning birding around Los Volcanes, we will head west to the Valles region, where the dry, cactus-dominated vegetation holds many fascinating birds. Our lunch stop in Samaipata may provide our first Glittering-bellied Emerald, Blue-and-white Swallow and Blue-and-yellow Tanager. As we head west and the fierce sun dies, we will make several stops along the road in search of White-fronted and Striped Woodpeckers, Stripe-crowned Spinetail, White-bellied Tyrannulet, Greater Wagtail-tyrant, Pearly-vented Tody-tyrant, White-tipped Plantcutter, Ringed and Black-capped Warbling-finches, Grey-crested and Red-crested Finches and Golden-billed Saltator. By the evening we aim to reach the dry streams at Tambo, a site for the endemic Bolivian Earthcreeper as well as many other birds of the dry Valles. Two nights in Comarapa.
Day 6 Today we will search for the spectacular endemic Red-fronted Macaw. We will set off early for San Rafael, where the macaws are often seen in the morning, as are countless Mitred and Blue-crowned Parakeets. Nearby, in agricultural land and natural scrub, we will look for Spot-backed Puffbird, the handsome Cream-backed Woodpecker, Masked Gnatcatcher, Black-and-rufous Warbling-finch and Dull-coloured Grassquit. In the evening we will make a second visit to Tambo.
Day 7 We will leave Comarapa early for Siberia, our first cloud-forest site. Here we will look for Scaled Metaltail, Montane Woodcreeper, Pearled Treerunner, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, White-throated Tyrannulet, Plumbeous Black-tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant, Scarlet-bellied and Chestnut-bellied Mountain-tanagers, Blue-backed Conebill and the newly-split Yellow-breasted Brush-finch. After our morning visit to Siberia we will drive for the rest of the day to Cochabamba. We will make stops along the road for Variable Hawk, Streak-fronted Thornbird, White-browed Chat-tyrant, Yellow-billed Tit-tyrant, Brown-capped Redstart and Fulvous-headed Brush-finch. In the evening we may have time to visit a lake on the outskirts of the city where we should see a range of Andean water birds. Four nights in Cochabamba.
Day 8 This morning we will bird the higher reaches of the cloud-forest in the Chapare east of Cochabamba. Species could include Black-winged Parrot, Golden-headed Quetzal, Blue-banded Toucanet, Hooded Mountain-toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker and Hooded Mountain-tanager as well as a host of commoner birds in psychedelic flocks. If time allows, in the afternoon we will visit Laguna Alalay, home to Many-coloured Rush Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird, White-cheeked Pintail and Fulvous Whistling-duck. At this time of year Rosy-billed Pochard, Silver Teal, Red Shoveler and Spot-billed Ground-tyrant may also be present.
Day 9 Today we will return to the cloud-forest in the Chapare but at lower elevation, where, with luck, among many commoner species we may see Crested Quetzal, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Racket-tail, Versicoloured Barbet, Saffron-crowned, Green-throated and Beryl-spangled Tanagers, White-eared Solitaire and Green Jay. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock is rare, but is nonetheless possible here.
Day 10 A full day on the Cerro Tunari above Cochabamba will see us birding the lower slopes at sunrise in search of Grey-hooded Parakeet, Brown-backed Mockingbird, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, Band-tailed Seedeater and the endemic Bolivian Blackbird. At slightly higher elevation, on the lower edge of the Polylepis forest, we will hope to see Rock Earthcreeper, Rufous-bellied Saltator, Rufous-sided Warbling-finch, Giant Conebill and three endemics: Bolivian Warbling-finch, Cochabamba Mountain-finch and Wedge-tailed Hillstar. High up, at the top of the Polylepis and in the puna, we will look for Andean Hillstar, the endemic Maquis Canastero, Buff-breasted (Plain-breasted) Earthcreeper, White-winged Cinclodes, Plumbeous and Black-hooded Sierra-finches, Bright-rumped Yellow-finch and several ground-tyrants.
Day 11 Today we will leave Cochabamba for the altiplano city of Oruro. Along the way we will look for Cinereous Harrier, Mountain Parakeet, Golden-spotted and Black-winged Ground-doves and a selection of ground-tyrants, pipits, yellow-finches and sierra-finches. Near the city of Oruro we will visit Lake Uru Uru, an excellent site for Crested Duck, Andean, James’s and Chilean Flamingos, Andean Avocet and Puna Plover. Overnight in Oruro.
Day 12 A drive of several hours will take us back to the wonderful city of La Paz. We will travel through beautiful altiplano habitats that are home to Puna Snipe, Spot-winged Pigeon, Giant Hummingbird, Plain-mantled and Brown-capped Tit-spinetails and D’Orbigny’s Chat-tyrant. Overnight in La Paz.
Day 13 Early this morning we will leave La Paz and head up into the Cordillera Real. We will stop at the top of the road to Chulumani, where exciting, multicoloured flocks can hold Moustached Flowerpiercer, White-browed Conebill and Mountain Cacique and where we may see numerous hummingbirds, including Great Sapphirewing, Violet-throated Starfrontlet and the amazing endemic Black-hooded Sunbeam. Our next stop, at Cotapata, may provide Rufous Antpitta, Diademed Tapaculo, Golden-collared Tanager and the endemic Black-throated Thistletail. We will then make the long descent of the notorious Yungas road to the warm foothill town of Coroico, where we may see Speckle-faced Parrot, Golden-olive and Smoky-brown Woodpeckers and Upland Antshrike. Overnight in Coroico.
Day 14 In the vicinity of Coroico we will hope to see Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, Stripe-chested Antwren and a host of tanagers and flycatchers. We will then drive back up the Yungas road, stopping to check the swallow flocks for the scarce Pale-footed Swallow. Pongo, a high-altitude site, has Stripe-headed Antpitta, Puna Tapaculo, Scribble-tailed and Line-fronted Canasteros, Tufted Tit-tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-tyrant and Peruvian Sierra-finch. Two nights in La Paz.
Day 15 Today we will visit Lake Titicaca and, in addition to admiring the lake’s great beauty, we will have a good chance of seeing Titicaca and White-tufted Grebes, Puna Teal, Ruddy Duck (Andean), Andean Negrito, Black Siskin and Yellow-winged Blackbird. From Titicaca we will drive on towards Sorata in the hope of seeing Giant Coot, the endemic Berlepsch’s Canastero and several ground-tyrants.
Day 16 On this, our last morning of the tour we will visit the little town of Mecapaca in the valley below La Paz. Puna Ibis, Mountain Caracara, Plumbeous Rail, Andean Swift, Red-tailed Comet and Creamy-breasted Canastero are commonly seen here amongst many other species. Those not taking the extension to the Beni will fly out of Bolivia today from La Paz, arriving in London on Day 17.
Day 16 This extension, to the savannahs and forests of the Beni department in search of the critically endangered, highly beautiful endemic Blue-throated Macaw, will begin with a scheduled flight from La Paz to Trinidad, capital city of the Beni. If time allows in the evening we will look for Yellow-collared and Chestnut-fronted Macaws, White-eyed and Dusky-headed Parakeets, Unicoloured Blackbird and Rufous Cacholote around the city. Overnight in Trinidad.
Day 17 Today we will drive to the Blue-throated Macaw site, several hours outside Trinidad, through open savannahs that are comparable to the Pantanal in the wonderful abundance and visibility of their birds and other wildlife. Here we may see Capybara, Spectacled Caiman, Anaconda, Southern Screamer, Laughing Falcon, Savanna and White-tailed Hawks, Southern Lapwing, Peach-fronted Parakeet, Toco Toucan, White Woodpecker, Great Rufous Woodcreeper and truly impressive concentrations of storks, herons, egrets, spoonbills and ibises. In the evening we will visit a roost site for the macaw where, in addition to our target species, we will have a good chance of seeing Blue-and-yellow and Red-and-green Macaws. Two nights on an estancia near the macaw site.
Day 18 In case we missed the macaws the previous evening, this morning we will revisit their roost. The rest of the day will be spent exploring the fantastic savannahs, wetlands and forest islands in the area in the hope of seeing Black Howler Monkey, Hoatzin, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Plain Softtail, Hudson’s Black-tyrant, Grey, White and White-rumped Monjitas, Spectacled Tyrant, Black-backed Water-tyrant, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Red-crested and Red-capped Cardinals, Velvet-fronted Grackle, Scarlet-headed Blackbird and many other species.
Day 19 We will drive back to Trinidad this morning, stopping along the way for roadside birds and to watch the Capybaras and caimans that crowd around every roadside pool. In the afternoon we will take a scheduled flight to Santa Cruz. Overnight in Santa Cruz.
Day 20 We will leave Bolivia on a flight from Viru Viru International Airport, arriving in London on Day 21.
General Information The climate is highly variable, from very cold in the mountains to hot and humid in the lowlands. Though the tour works slowly up in altitude, we will reach very high altitudes of up to 4500 m. A suitable mix of clothing should be brought, including stout walking shoes. There are a number of special health requirements, so please consult your GP. The pace of the tour is moderate, with a basic degree of fitness required. Accommodation will be in moderate to good-quality hotels, all with en-suite facilities. On the Blue-throated Macaw extension, accommodation will include staying on a comfortable private ranch.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 4; maximum group size: 10 with 2 leaders.