Birding Tour Bolivia: The Andes and Chaco Lowlands October 2019

Tour Details

Duration: 22 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Date Start: October 24, 2019
Date End: November 14, 2019
Tour Start: Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Tour End: La Paz

Good hotels in Santa Cruz, La Paz, Laguna El Volcan, and at Lake Titicaca. The hotels in Camiri, Cochabamba, and Tarija are more orientated toward business and local people, but they are comfortable. The accommodation in Trinidad is basic but with private bathrooms; there are no twin rooms available. The accommodation in Comarapa is basic, with private rooms and bathrooms, but there is not much service provided in such a small, remote town. But this is the only option in town and has worked well during our last tours.

Tour Costs

Price: US$8,417 / £7,001 / €7,773 p/p for 4-8 participants,

Single Supplement: US$900 / £749 / €832

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

Price includes:
Domestic flights
Accommodation in twin/double rooms
Guiding fees
Entrance fees
All transport while on tour
Bottled water throughout the tour

Price excludes:
International flights
Airport taxes
Items of a personal nature, e.g. laundry, gifts
Personal insurance

Eduardo's BioEduardo's Bio

Bolivia, Land of Endemic Macaws: The Andes and Chaco Lowlands 2019

Bolivia may be one of the less-frequently-visited birding destinations in South America, but it has truly great potential and magnificent birds. The country holds 1445 bird species, the sixth country with the largest number of birds after Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia, and Ecuador. There are 18 endemic species, but Bolivia also holds several range-restricted and 50 globally threatened birds that are very difficult to find somewhere else. The reason for this avian biodiversity is probably the large number of different ecosystems found in this country. From Amazon rainforest through cloudforest (Yungas) mountains, tropical savanna, cerrado, flooded savanna, Chiquitania forest, and Chaco to high Andean mountains and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, Bolivia is most likely the most diverse landlocked country on earth.

The itinerary of our Bolivia birding tour gives you the opportunity to explore in 22 days the most important birding ecosystems in search of the best birds the country has to offer.

Our trip starts in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, a lowland city surrounded by native woodlands of Acacia-like trees and other xerophytic vegetation (the Chiquitania region) and vast grassland plains and savanna reminiscent of the Brazilian cerrado, allowing us to see most of the bird species endemic to and typical of this ecosystem, such as Toco ToucanWhite-wedged PiculetChotoy SpinetailChopi BlackbirdWhite WoodpeckerWhite-bellied NothuraRed-winged TinamouRed-legged SeriemaGreen-cheeked Parakeet, and Bolivian Slaty Antshrike.

Then we will fly to the town of Trinidad north of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located in the province of Beni, which is surrounded by grasslands and wetlands similar to the Brazilian Pantanal. We will look for the endemic and Critically Endangered (IUCN) Blue-throated Macaw, one of the most representative birds of Bolivia and one of the most endangered species of parrots in the world. Other species include the endemic subspecies of Plain Softtail as well as Grey-crested CacholoteVelvet-fronted GrackleMato Grosso AntbirdPale-crested WoodpeckerChestnut-frontedBlue-and-yellow, and Red-and-green Macaws, and large numbers of JabiruWood StorkWattled JacanaLimpkin, and Plumbeous and Bare-faced Ibises on the area’s lagoons.

After flying back to Santa Cruz de la Sierra we will drive south toward the border with Paraguay to explore the Chaco, a vast and impenetrable deciduous, thorn-bush-like ecosystem that covers large parts of Paraguay and Northern Argentina and reaches into southern Bolivia. The Chaco holds several very special bird species, like the most-wanted Black-legged SeriemaChaco EarthcreeperLittle ThornbirdMany-colored Chaco Finch, and Crested Hornero.

After transferring once more to Santa Cruz de la Sierra we start our drive toward the lush tropical forest of the Bermejo canyon at the edge of the Amboró National Park. We will visit the Refugio Los Volcanes eco lodge, where we should find species such as Bolivian White-crowned TapaculoGrey-throated LeaftosserMilitary MacawRufescent Screech OwlTwo-banded WarblerDusky-green OropendolaBlack-streaked PuffbirdBlue-browed TanagerWhite-backed Fire-eyeYungas ManakinYungas DoveOchre-cheeked SpinetailSlaty Gnateater, and with some luck Bolivian Recurvebill.

Then we will explore the dry valleys between Samaipata and Saipina in search of several Bolivian endemics and some range-restricted species such as Dot-fronted WoodpeckerTucuman AmazonBolivian EarthcreeperBolivian BlackbirdCliff Parakeet, and the endemic Red-fronted Macaw.

Leaving the dry valleys behind, we will drive through the cloudforest of the Siberia area, where we will look for the endemic Black-throated ThistletailTrilling TapaculoLight-crowned SpinetailPearled TreerunnerFulvous-headed Brushfinch, and the endemic Rufous-faced Antpitta.

The city of Cochabamba in the center of the country at 2550 meters (8366 feet) above sea level will be our base for the next few days to explore the slopes of the snow-capped Cerro Tunari, where several interesting species occur, such as the endemic Cochabamba Mountain Finch and Bolivian Warbling Finch. We will have a chance to see the gorgeous Red-tailed CometAndean Condor, and several Polylepis specialists including Tawny Tit-SpinetailBrown-capped Tit-Spinetail, and Giant Conebill. The beautiful mountain scenery is a picture in itself with the addition of images of Andean GullAndean Goose, and Andean Lapwing. The cloudforest and upper tropical foothills hold several range-restricted species that are otherwise found only in the extreme southeast of Peru and are hard to get there, such as Hooded Mountain ToucanOrange-browed Hemispingus, and Straw-backed Tanager.

In order to save time we will fly to the city of La Paz and skip the long, whole-day drive from Cochabamba. We will spend the next days exploring Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, looking for Titicaca GrebeChilean FlamingoAndean Avocet, and Many-colored Rush Tyrant. We will also explore other habitats in search of the endemic Bolivian Spinetail and Berlepsch’s Canastero, and finally our journey will take us to the legendary road that goes to the Yungas, where we will look for Rufous-bellied SeedsnipeDiademed TapaculoVersicolored BarbetYungas Tody-Tyrant, and Upland Antshrike.


Itinerary (22 days/21 nights)

Day 1. Arrival in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, birding around the airport
Arrival at Santa Cruz de la Sierra in the afternoon.
We will spend a couple of hours birding around the airport, looking for species like Chotoy Spinetail, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Chopi Blackbird, Orange-backed Troupial, Plain Inezia, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Rufous Casiornis, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Toco Toucan, White-wedged Piculet, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, White-bellied Nothura, Campo Flicker, and Greater Rhea.
Overnight: Hotel Cortez, Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Day 2. Lomas de Arena Reserve, flight to and birding at Trinidad
We will have an early start to explore the Lomas de Arena Reserve, where we will focus on Red-legged Seriema and White-eared Puffbird.
Then we will transfer to the airport to connect with our flight to Trinidad in the Beni province. The wetlands of Trinidad provide good numbers of Jabiru, Woodstork, Roseate Spoonbill, Limpkin, and Wattled Jacana. We will also look for Snail Kite, Black-collared Hawk, Long-winged Harrier, the local subspecies of Plain Softtail, and Velvet-fronted Grackle, Gray-crested Cacholote, White-bellied and Rusty-collared Seedeaters, and more.
Overnight: Casa Lucia Hotel Boutique, Trinidad

Day 3. Birding the Trinidad area
We will depart early in the morning to look for our main target here, the critically endangered Blue-throated Macaw. Until 1992 the natural habitat of this species was completely unknown, and with no more than 73 – 87 mature individuals it is one of the most endangered avian species in the world. Around Trinidad there is an accessible site, where three pairs live.
We will also look for other species like Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Red-and-green Macaw, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Mato Grosso Antbird, White-lored Spinetail, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Undulated Tinamou, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Solitary Cacique, White-tailed Goldenthroat, and more.
Overnight: Casa Lucia Hotel Boutique, Trinidad

Day 4. Flight to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, birding the Botanical Garden
After a last morning of birding around Trinidad we will get a flight back to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Here we’ll spend a couple of hours in the Botanical Garden, looking for Amazonian Motmot, Blue-crowned Trogon, the handsome Green-cheeked Parakeet, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, our first chance for the endemic Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, and many others.
Overnight: Hotel Cortez, Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Day 5. Transfer to and birding in the Chaco
We will leave Santa Cruz de la Sierra and drive south toward the Chaco, one of the largest and least explored ecosystems in South America. The Chaco holds an interesting bird community with birds that can be found elsewhere only in the Chaco in Argentina and Paraguay.
On the way to the Chaco we shall look for Military Macaw, Stripe-backed Antbird, Black-capped Antwren, Ringed Teal, Least Grebe, Scaly-headed Parrot, Turquoise-fronted Parrot, and others.
In the afternoon we will start exploring the Chaco itself, where our main target is the most-wanted Black-legged Seriema. Other species we might encounter are Lark-like Brushrunner, Crested Hornero, Chaco Suiriri, Cinereous Tyrant, Little Thornbird, and Chaco Earthcreeper.
Overnight: J R Hotel, Camiri

Day 6. Birding the Chaco
We will have another day in the Chaco to look for species like Short-billed Canastero, Many-colored Chaco Finch, Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Crowned Slaty Flycatcher, Checkered Woodpecker, and others. Time permitting, we can scout a new site, where the enigmatic Black-bodied Woodpecker has been recorded in 2014.
Overnight: J R Hotel, Camiri

Day 7. Transfer to Bermejo, birding en route
Today we will start our drive back to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, exploring some habitat north of the Chaco, where we can find Grey-crowned Warbler, Ochre-cheeked Spinetail, Black-bellied Antwren, Black-capped Antwren, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Gilded Hummingbird, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Golden-collared Macaw, and with a lot of luck we may encounter Solitary Crowned Eagle.
This will be a long drive, having as our final destination the comfortable Laguna Volcan Golf Eco Resort at the edge of Amboro National Park.
Overnight: Laguna Volcan Golf Eco Resort, Bermejo

Days 8 – 9. Refugio Los Volcanes
We will have another early start, leaving Santa Cruz de la Sierra for Refugio Los Volcanes. This basic lodge is situated in an outstanding location surrounded by rocky cliffs at the edge of the Amboró National Park. Here we will spend two nights. We will be looking for Two-banded Warbler, Black-goggled Tanager, Dusky-green Oropendola, Plush-crested Jay, Purplish Jay, Green-cheeked Parakeet, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Blue-browed Tanager, Striated Antthrush, Slaty Gnateater, Ochre-cheeked Spinetail, Bolivian White-crowned Tapaculo, Red-necked Woodpecker, Yungas Dove, Sunbittern, Black-streaked Puffbird, Yungas Manakin, and if we are lucky the secretive Bolivian Recurvebill and the elusive Grey Tinamou. At night we will try for Rufescent Screech Owl.
Overnight: Refugio Los Volcanes

Day 10. Transfer to Samaipata
After a last morning’s birding around Refugio Los Volcanes we will transfer to Samaipata.
Overnight: El Pueblito Resort, Samaipata

Day 9. Search for the Red-fronted Macaw
Today we have an early start to drive to Saipina and look for the endemic Red-fronted Macaw. Other birds here include Cliff Parakeet, Cliff Flycatcher, Bolivian Earthcreeper, Spot-backed Puffbird, Giant Antshrike, Black-capped Warbling Finch, Rufous-sided Warbling Finch, Striped Woodpecker, and more.
Overnight: Hotel Paraiso, Comarapa

Day 10. Birding the Comarapa area
Today we will explore the humid patch of montane forest above Comarapa, looking for Azara’s [Buff-browed] Spinetail, Light-crowned Spinetail, Trilling Tapaculo, the endemic Rusty-faced Antpitta, Common Bush Tanager, Fulvous-headed Brush Finch, White-browed Brush Finch, the endemic Black-hooded Sunbeam, Black-winged Parrot, Gray-hooded Parakeet, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, and more.
Overnight: Hotel Paraiso, Comarapa

Day 11. Quirusillas forest and transfer to Comarapa
We will have a very early start to drive the unpaved road to the Emerald Lake in the Quirusillas forest. This remote location holds a remnant of temperate Tucuman forest (a unique habitat found in this part of Bolivia and in north-western Argentina). Our goal is to be there by dawn to look for Red-faced Guan, Tucuman Amazon, and Dot-fronted Woodpecker. Later we will descend into the dry valleys, dominated by scrub and cacti. During our drive to Comarapa we might see Blue-crowned Parakeet, Grey-crested Finch, White-fronted Woodpecker, White-tipped Plantcutter, and Black-and-rufous Warbling Finch.
Overnight: Hotel Paraiso, Comarapa

Day 12. Perereta canyon (Red-fronted Macaw)
Today we have an early start to drive to Perereta, a special place where the endemic Red-fronted Macaw roosts, so the sighting and the chance to photograph this unique species is almost guaranteed. Other birds here include the endemic Cliff Parakeet, the endemic Bolivian Earthcreeper, the endemic Bolivian Blackbird, Chaco Puffbird, Black-capped Warbling Finch, Rufous-sided Warbling Finch, Striped Woodpecker, and Spot-breasted Thornbird, and on the way back to Comarapa we might have a chance to see the elusive Giant Antshrike and Dusky-legged Guan. With luck we might see the majestic Andean Condor en route.
Overnight: Hotel Paraiso, Comarapa

Day 13. Siberia forest and transfer to Cochabamba
Today we will explore the humid patch of montane forest above Comarapa, looking for Azara’s (Buff-browed) Spinetail, Light-crowned Spinetail, Trilling Tapaculo, the endemic Rufous-faced Antpitta, Common Bush Tanager, Bolivian Brushfinch, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Fulvous-headed Brushfinch, White-browed Brushfinch, and with luck the scarce Black-winged Parrot. We will drive to a slightly higher elevation and try for the endemic Black-throated Thistletail. Later we will arrive at Cochabamba for a three-night stay.
Overnight: Hotel Diplomat, Cochabamba

Day 14. Birding the Cerro Tunari
Today we explore the Cerro Tunari, looking for the endemic Cochabamba Mountain Finch, Bolivian Warbling Finch, Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Puna Tapaculo, Maquis Canastero, Cordilleran Canastero, Rusty-vented Canastero, Streak-fronted Thornbird, Black-hooded Sierra Finch, Greenish Yellow Finch, White-capped Dipper, Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, and the striking Red-tailed Comet.
Overnight: Hotel Diplomat, Cochabamba

Day 15. Birding the Chapare
The Chapare area is the habitat of the localized Hooded Mountain Toucan and also White-eared Solitaire, the uncommon Orange-browed Hemispingus, and the rare Straw-backed Tanager. Other species include Yungas Pygmy Owl, Band-tailed Pigeon, Barred Antthrush, Blue-banded Toucanet, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, White-eared Conebill, Hooded Mountain Tanager, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Barred Fruiteater, and Southern Mountain Cacique.
Overnight: Hotel Diplomat, Cochabamba

Day 16. Flight to La Paz, transfer to and birding at Lake Titicaca
We will have an early flight to La Paz, and as soon as we have landed at El Alto International Airport we will transfer to Huarina at the shores of Lake Titicaca. The main target for today is the localized and most-wanted Titicaca Grebe, which is easy from the grounds of our comfortable hotel. Other birds include Yellow-winged Blackbird, Many-colored Rush Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird, Spot-winged Pigeon, Yellow-billed Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Duck, Puna Teal, Andean Gull, Chilean Flamingo, Plumbeous Rail, Andean Goose, Andean Lapwing, and Cinereous Harrier.
Overnight: Inca Utama Hotel, Lake Titicaca

Day 17. Search for Berlepsch’s Canastero
Today’s excursion will take us to Sorata just to look for the endemic and localized Berlepsch’s Canastero and other high-Andes species. Then we will drive back to La Paz for an overnight.
Overnight: Casa Grande Hotel, La Paz

Day 18. Search for Bolivian Spinetail
We will have an early start for a long drive to Inquisivi to look for the endemic and endangered Bolivian Spinetail, discovered in 1993.
Overnight: Alojamiento Rancho Grande

Day 19. Bolivian Spinetail and return to La Paz
We will have another chance for the Bolivian Spinetail early in the morning and then return to La Paz.
Overnight: Casa Grande Hotel, La Paz

Day 20. Birding La Cumbre and Coroico Road
Today we will explore the high-elevation mountain pass of La Cumbre at the base of the snow-capped mountains and at an altitude of over 4000 meters (14.440feet). Surrounded by stunning scenery we will look for Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and Grey-breasted Seedsnipe and at slightly lower elevation for Scribble-tailed Canastero and Diademed Tapaculo. We will reach the famous Coroico Road (once the infamous Death Road), which is used these days only by cars and mountain cycles. Here we will look for the scarce Scimitar-winged Piha, Band-tailed Fruiteater, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Mountain Wren, Fulvous Wren, Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, Andean Solitaire, Drab Hemispingus, and Orange-browed Hemispingus. Then we will descend to Coroico in the tropical Yungas.
Overnight: Rio Selva Resort, Coroico

Day 21. The Coroico Road and transfer to La Paz
We will spend the morning looking for the localized Upland Antshrike, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Stripe-chested Antwren, and with luck Yellow-rumped Antwren. In the afternoon we will return to La Paz.
Overnight: Casa Grande Hotel, La Paz

Day 22. Transfer to El Alto International Airport and departure
You will be transferred from La Paz to El Alto International Airport to connect with your international flight.

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.

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