Bolivia: Best of the Andes Intro

TOUR OVERVIEW

Bolivia is a biological treasure nestled between Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Paraguay. With around 1400 species currently recorded, this landlocked country supports more than forty percent of South America’s bird diversity. Bolivia is home to around twenty endemic species of birds (taxonomy depending), but this figure is misleading as there are another 100+ species confined to a variety of rather limited ecosystems that overlap political boundaries, and are species that may not be seen readily by birders elsewhere. Our comprehensive itinerary will mainly focus on the montane areas where most of the localised, rare, endemic, and near-endemic species reside. We begin our Andean adventure in the tropical lowlands at Santa Cruz and the Chaco-habitat of Lomas de Arena, before our route slowly takes us day-by-day up into the high Andes, to finally reach an altitude of around 4,720 meters around La Paz. Our journey then takes us to the spectacular Refugio Los Volcanes, before searching for the first of two endemic macaws during this tour amidst dry, cactus covered valleys - Red-fronted Macaw. The moss-encrusted, epiphyte-laden forests of Serranio de Siberia are next to be explored, and we will really hit the heights with our 5-night stay at Cochabamba, which gives us access to numerous habitats all above 1500m where an impressive birdlist includes a wide variety of hummingbirds, flowerpiercers, furnariids and flocking tanagers. We will end the main tour at La Paz from where we can reach the high-altitude puna bogs around La Cumbre, as well as the humid-
temperate and subtropical forests on the east slope, Elfin forest, paramo and the fabled Coroico Road - one of the world's classic birding roads. And let's not forget a visit to the largest lake in South America, Lake Titicaca for its endemic grebe and the surrounding altiplano that is home to the endemic Berlepsch's Canastero. 

With its diversity of habitats ranging from huge snow-capped Andean peaks, puna grassland and high-altitude lakes, down through polylepis, Yungas cloud forest laden with moss-encrusted branches and epiphytes, right down to the Amazonian lowlands - Bolivia has it all! We will undoubtedly experience the most spectacular scenery on earth during this tour. This fascinating country offers an exciting chance to truly immerse oneself in the marvelous birdlife of the Andes and it is always something of a surprise to the relatively few birders who have already visited just how good the accommodation and transportation is here. Our optional pre-tour extension will seek out the threatened endemic Blue-throated Macaw as well as an additional 250 or so species in lowland habitats more reminiscent of the Brazilian Pantanal. Here we will see a wide variety of herons, egrets, Jabiru, Crowned Eagle, Black-collared Hawk, Striped Cuckoo, Little Nightjar, Blue-and-yellow and Golden-collared Macaws, Peach-fronted and Cobalt-winged Parakeets, White Woodpecker, White-wedged Piculet, and Orange-headed Tanager amongst a huge list of possibilities. We invite you to join us in this very special birding adventure to the heart of South America.

Beni Ext: Sat 3rd - Thurs 8th April 2021

Main tour: Thurs 8th - Fri 23rd April 2021   

 

KEY SPECIES

Here are just a few of the key species we will be targetting on this tour:

  • White-belled Nothura
  • Andean Tinamou

  • Titicaca Grebe

  • Red-fronted Macaw
  • Blue-throated Macaw
  • Black-winged Parrot
  • Cliff Parakeet
  • Andean Condor
  • Crowned Eagle
  • Red-legged Seriema
  • Yungas Pygmy Owl
  • Band-bellied Owl
  • Ocellated Poorwill
  • Hooded Mountain-Toucan
  • Bolivian Recurvebill
  • Rufous-faced Antpitta
  • Black-hooded Sunbeam

  • Blue-capped Puffleg

  • Andean Hillstar
  • Red-tailed Comet
  • Bolivian Earthcreeper

  • Chaco Earthcreeper

  • Berlepsch's Canastero
  • Maquis Canastero
  • Black-throated Thistletail
  • Tawny Tit-Spinetail
  • Chestnut-crested Cotinga
  • Yungas Manakin
  • Yungas Tody-Tyrant
  • Brown-backed Mockingbird
  • Rufous-faced Antpitta
  • Long-tailed Antbird
  • Band-tailed Fruiteater
  • Olive-crowned Crescentchest
  • Scimitar-winged Piha
  • Diademed Tapaculo
  • Spot-backed Puffbird
  • Velvet-fronted Grackle
  • Orange-browed Hemispingus
  • Ultramarine Grosbeak
  • Plush-crested Jay
  • Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer
  • Versicolored Barbet
  • Blue-browed Tanager
  • Golden-collared Tanager
  • Hooded Mountain Toucan
  • Rufous-bellied Saltator
  • Black Siskin
  • Cochabamba Mountain-Finch
  • Bolivian Warbling-Finch
  • Short-tailed Finch
  • Citron-headed Yellow-Finch
  • White-tipped Plantcutter
  • Great Pampa-Finch

Leaders:Nick Bray and Miguel Castalino.

Ground Price Main Tour:  £tba - Santa Cruz/Santa Cruz.
Ground Price (Extension): £tba - Santa Cruz/Santa Cruz

Airfare: £735.00 - £850.00  (Approx) UK/UK

Single supplement (Main): £tba
Single Supplement (Ext): £tba

Deposit: £500.00

Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 5 and maximum 10.

Included in cost:  Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals, all entrance fees to national parks, transport throughout, bottled water, and services of leaders and an English speaking guide. During the pre-tour extension facilities are shared and there are no single rooms available.

Not included: International flight, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Accommodation:  We stay in the best available local hotels closest to the birding sites. In the Comarapa region, which is mostly undeveloped and far from any town that amounts to more than a crossroads, we will be staying at a basic but comfortable hotel. At Bermejo, the lodge has limited occupancy and may have only generator-based electricity (probably only available for a few hours a day), but is clean and comfortable. Hotels for the rest of the regular tour range from good to excellent. Rooms for two nights of the extension will be in the small guest house of a working cattle ranch. There are several rooms with a mix of queen and single beds under mosquito netting and shared bathrooms. Single rooms will not be available at the ranch, however the food and birding are great here.

Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with regular birding walks along roads and well marked trails, although we do spend some long days in the field. Please note that our birding ranges from 450m to 4720m during this tour, although we will only spend a short time at the highest altitude. We will probably experience a variety of weather ranging from showers in the lowlands to sunny, dry and cold weather in the higher areas. We’ll begin our birding in the lowlands of Santa Cruz and work our way slowly westward by zigs and zags, sleeping five nights at 8300 feet, before ascending to the altiplano to end in La Paz at 12,000 feet. After this acclimatization, we plan to be ready (and eager!) to stroll the invigorating puna grasslands and pincushion bogs near the snowline. Since we do try to sample a wide variety of habitats during this tour, some of the distances covered on our birding days and on days that are primarily travel days are large. In the past several years, however, many of the long, slow dirt highways in the country have been paved, so traversing these
 distances in a comfortable bus is no longer the drudgery that it once was. Long distances also tend to produce generally long days in the field, and we will typically rise early and depart after an early restaurant breakfast or enjoy a picnic breakfast in the field either at or on the way to our primary destination. Since our primary birding destinations tend to be a fair distance from the nearest restaurant, our ground crew will be making lots of delicious picnic lunches as well. We’ll do our best to get the group back to the hotel before the sun sets, except, of course, when we plan to do some night birding.

Climate, like the habitat, is extremely varied and there will be days that you will want the lightest of field clothing to provide some comfort in the heat of Santa Cruz, while on other days you’ll be donning your warmest down jacket, wool gloves and woollen cap. Most of the climates will be somewhere in between these extremes, though. We’ll also see an extreme difference in the types of terrain covered, from flat to steep-sided Andean canyons. Hikes in steep terrain are very few, and those hikes are generally short or we avoid them altogether and walk downhill instead (with the bus following). For those sensitive to high altitude, rest assured that your guides are too. Any hiking high up in the Andes will be at a very slow pace and on the flattest ground that we can find.

Documents: A current passport is necessary for UK citizens to enter Bolivia. We recommend that your passport be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of your visit, as regulations vary from country to country, and are subject to change. You will also need an International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever to enter Bolivia. The vaccination is good for 10 years and can be obtained at your local travel clinic or from your physician.