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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Bolivia: Northern Andes, Madidi National Park, and Barba Azul

Monday 3 October to Monday 17 October 2022
with Rich Hoyer as leader
Of all the New World woodpeckers, Cream-colored Woodpecker is one of the most striking.Photo: Rich HoyerOf all the New World woodpeckers, Cream-colored Woodpecker is one of the most striking. Photo: Rich Hoyer
  • Of all the New World woodpeckers, Cream-colored Woodpecker is one of the most striking.

    Of all the New World woodpeckers, Cream-colored Woodpecker is one of the most striking. Photo: Rich Hoyer

  • Crimson-crested Woodpecker is a common inhabitant of the forest islands in the Beni savanna.

    Crimson-crested Woodpecker is a common inhabitant of the forest islands in the Beni savanna. Photo: Rich Hoyer

  • The nearly flightless Giant Coot is a possibility in high elevation lakes.

    The nearly flightless Giant Coot is a possibility in high elevation lakes. Photo: Rich Hoyer

  • Golden-collared Toucanet is only one of ten species of toucan possible on our new Bolivia itinerary.

    Golden-collared Toucanet is only one of ten species of toucan possible on our new Bolivia itinerary. Photo: Rich Hoyer

  • It seems ironic that the most colorful member of mixed flocks is also one of the most common: Paradise Tanager.

    It seems ironic that the most colorful member of mixed flocks is also one of the most common: Paradise Tanager. Photo: Rich Hoyer

  • The spritely Sharp-tailed Tyrant is a local specialty of the high-quality grasslands at Barba Azul Nature Reserve.

    The spritely Sharp-tailed Tyrant is a local specialty of the high-quality grasslands at Barba Azul Nature Reserve. Photo: Rich Hoyer

  • The bizarre goose relative Southern Screamer is a frequent background sound at the Barba Azul Nature Reserve.

    The bizarre goose relative Southern Screamer is a frequent background sound at the Barba Azul Nature Reserve. Photo: Rich Hoyer

  • Colorful Andean Flickers often animate the often stark puna habitats of the high Andes.

    Colorful Andean Flickers often animate the often stark puna habitats of the high Andes. Photo: Rich Hoyer

  • Black-capped Donacobius is something like a cross between a mockingbird and a wren and is now placed in its own family.

    Black-capped Donacobius is something like a cross between a mockingbird and a wren and is now placed in its own family. Photo: Rich Hoyer

Bolivia is a large country with many ecoregions, and this companion to our classic Bolivia tour allows you to see even more of it and the wonderful birds that call it home. We’ll visit three regions of radically different ecosystems, all farther north than our other tour. Starting with the Lake Titicaca area, we’ll bird its shores then cross the northern Andes and descend through the cloud forests on our way to the dry interior valley of Apolo and the upper Machariapo Valley within Madidi National Park, which have a whole host of special birds. We’ll then return to La Paz to take a short flight to the Amazonian lowlands at Trinidad where we’ll spend a couple of days in the gallery forests and other habitats near town. Finally, we’ll take a private air taxi to Barba Azul Nature Reserve, a remote station located in the Llanos de Moxos, a region of seasonally flooded tropical savanna and palm island forests. After three days at bird-filled Barba Azul, famous for its conservation importance for the Blue-throated Macaw we’ll return to Trinidad for our internal flight to Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Day 1: The tour begins this evening at our La Paz hotel.

Day 2: After a relaxed morning start, we’ll have an easy day to acclimate to the elevation and recover from overnight flights, but we’ll still see some exciting birds in the process, among which could be Titicaca Grebe (found only in this lake’s basin), Yellow-winged Blackbird, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, and Wren-like Rushbird. A detour to the valley of Sorata may result in our finding the endemic Berlepsch’s Canastero and Black-hooded Sunbeam. Night at Lake Titicaca.

Days 3: If necessary, we’ll make some more birding stops along Lake Titicaca and at nearby marshes to look for waterfowl, such as Andean Goose and Yellow-billed Pintail, Chilean Flamingos, and migrant shorebirds before we start working our way into the drier, upland habitats of the Andes. Ovenbirds such as the Slender-billed Miner and tyrants such as Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant could be found on the short grass tundra-like puna, while various small ponds and lakes should have Giant Coot, Crested Duck, and many other fascinating species. We’ll then cross a high pass and arrive at a stopping point part way down the Andean slope. Night in Charazani.

Day 4: We’ll complete our drive to Apolo today, passing through some mid-elevation cloud forests that are full of interesting birds. At the higher elevations we’ll listen for the ethereal songs of Andean Solitaires, keeping our eyes on the sky for the rare White-throated Hawk and much more likely Andean Condor. As the day progresses we’ll visit lower stretches of cloud forest with more subtropical affinities, and possibilities here include Many-spotted Hummingbird, Slaty Gnateater, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Upland Antshrike, White-rumped Hawk, and many more. We’ll arrive at our lodging in the late afternoon. Night in Apolo.

Days 5–6: We’ll spend two days in this interior valley in the rain shadow of the Andes’ outlying ridges. Dry areas like this in an otherwise rain-drenched eastern slope are quite rare and host birds with isolated distributions. One of the most famous recent rediscoveries here is the endemic and far-removed subspecies of Swallow-tailed Cotinga, which some split as the Palkachupa Cotinga. We’ll make a special effort for it and also look for the rare Ashy Antwren and Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, both of which are spotted here occasionally. In the drier areas likely species include White-eared Puffbird, Blue-crowned Trogon, Red-winged Tinamou, and Sapphire-spangled Emerald, and Green-capped Tanager. In the wetter areas there’ll be a significantly different set of birds which could include Black-capped Tinamou (likely to be heard only, but it’s a marvelous and unmistakable call), Military Macaw, Ash-browed Spinetail, Ochre-faced Tody-Tyrant, and Yungas Manakin. Nights in Apolo.

Day 7: We’ll retrace our steps back to La Paz, breaking the long drive in half in order to bird the moist cloud forests along the main road once again, and we’ll be certain to pick up many species we missed on the way down. Night in Charazani.

Day 8: We’ll spend the early morning near town birding the puna grasslands and humid treeline scrub where Puna Tapaculo and Andean Hillstar are among the many possibilities, then we’ll work our way over the high pass, where we’ll concentrate on picking up some species that we may have missed on the first day, with Gray-breasted Seedsnipe a possibility. We’ll complete the day with a drive to La Paz. Night in La Paz.

Day 9: This morning we’ll take a 45-minute flight to Trinidad in the heart of Bolivia’s savanna region but on a major tributary that eventually flows north to the Amazon. From there we take a 30-minute flight, passing over the enchanting landscapes of marshes, lakes, pastures, and grasslands of the Llanos de Moxos. We’ll arrive at Barba Azul Nature Reserve in time for lunch, take a siesta, and then in the afternoon make our first outing, during which we’ll likely see our first Blue-throated Macaws. Night at Barba Azul Nature Reserve.

Days 10-12: We’ll have three full days based at the reserve. We’ll prioritize several specialties, especially the namesake of the reserve, the extremely local Blue-throated Macaw. The story of the discovery of the Blue-throated Macaw’s distribution and its ongoing conservation is well known but can’t be told often enough. If not for the efforts of several conservationists in Bolivia, the species could very well be extinct in the wild, and our visit will help support the efforts to ensure its survival. There are actually six species of macaws possible here, as well as many other birds found in the tropical savanna and gallery forests, and we’ll search for specialties such as Spot-tailed Nightjar, Cock-tailed Tyrant, Sharp-tailed Tyrant, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Black-masked Finch, Long-winged Harrier, and Chimango Caracara. This region is so filled with birds, each day’s bird list will likely exceed 125 species with little effort. Nights at Barba Azul Nature Reserve.

Day 13: After a final early morning at Barba Azul, we’ll continue via private air taxi to Trinidad. We’ll have this afternoon and all the next day based out of Trinidad to look for any birds missing from our list, and there are a few specialties more easily found here than elsewhere on our itinerary. Unicolored Thrush, an elusive endemic, is one of the possibilities, and if we’ve missed the Blue-throated Macaw due to unforeseen circumstances, there’s a discrete breeding population within driving distance that will be our priority. The Velvet-fronted Grackle and Plain Softtail that occur in this part of Bolivia are often considered worthy of specific status, so we’ll look for them as well. In the unlikely event that we missed the Blue-throated Macaw at Barba Azul, we are within driving distance of the Laney Rickman Reserve where there is a smaller, locally nesting population. Night in Trinidad.

Day 14: We’ll have the first half of this day for more birding around Trinidad, followed by lunch and an afternoon commercial flight to Santa Cruz. Night in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Day 15: The tour ends this morning with transfers to the international airport in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Updated: 15 June 2022

Prices

  • 2022 Tour Price : $7,600
  • Single Occupancy Supplement : $170

Notes

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Questions? Tour Manager: Greg Greene. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

Maximum group size seven with one leader.

 

**The single occupancy supplement indicated above covers only those sites where single lodging is available.  See the Accommodations section of the Tour Information page for details.

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