Birding Tour in the Andean Foothills of Central Bolivia
This 10-day Birding Central Bolivia Tour in the Central Andes in Bolivia, taking in some of the most famous sights along the way while exploring a surprising variety of habitats. Focus on the wildlife-rich lowlands beside the foothills of the Andes for a superb introduction to Bolivia’s diverse habitats, birds, landscapes and culture.
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 has more than 1430 bird species and there are at least 20 country endemic species. Add to that several range-restricted and 48 globally threatened birds that are very difficult to find elsewhere and you have an exceptional birding destination!
Bolivia's avian biodiversity comes from its varied habitats and ecosystems. From the Amazon rainforest to Yungas cloud forests to the high Andean mountains to Lake Titicaca, Bolivia is most arguably the most diverse landlocked country on earth. In fact, some say that if it wasn’t landlocked it would have more species than any other country.
Until now, experiencing Bolivia's avian riches required a minimum of 3-4 weeks of exhilarating and exhausting travel. We've designed this Bolivia birdwatching tour to be more affordable than those marathon trips while experiencing the highlights of Bolivia and its surprising diversity. Here is your opportunity to explore the most important birding ecosystems in Bolivia and the best birds the country has to offer in just over a week.
This Bolivia birding tour focuses on birding from Santa Cruz de la Sierra and west onward to Cochabamba along the foothills of the Andes in central Bolivia.
Birding Central Bolivia Tour highlights include:
- Expect to see over 350 bird species during this birding tour in central Bolivia.
- We’ll travel from the Eastern Lowlands of Santa Cruz to Cochabamba in the Central Valleys of Bolivia.
- 2 days birding in Amboró National Park west of Santa Cruz, where an extensive trail system provides easy access to a variety of forest types and their birds.
- Seek out some of the rarest species in Bolivia at Los Volcanes Lodge, including the Endemic Bolivian Recurvebill, Yungas Manakin, Black-streaked Puffbird, Military Macaw, Gray Tinamou and Slaty Gnateater.
- Visit the surreal and beautiful area of Cloud forest ecosystem in upper humid montane Yungas forest at “La Siberia” (2,500m - 3,500m) where you will bird in search of the endemic Black-throated Thistletail and Black-hooded Sunbeam.
- 2 days birding through a variety of habitat types in Carrasco National Park for Scimitar-winged Piha and Hooded Mountain-Toucan, Crested and Golden-headed Quetzals...
- Visit the arid Polylepis forests of Mt Tunari slopes in central Bolivia in search of Giant Conebill, Cochabamba Mountain-Finch, and Rufous-bellied Saltator.
Like the look of this birdwatching tour in Bolivia and keen to extend your stay in the highlands? Take a look at this Birding Tour in Western Bolivia
Alternative Tour Name: Birding Central Bolivia
Tour departs from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Bird the local savannas and forest islands around Santa Cruz. One night at local hotel in Santa Cruz.
The tour will begin this morning 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 savannas reminiscent of the Brazilian cerrado. This diverse area offers several bird species endemic to and typical of this ecosystem, such as Toco Toucan, White-wedged Piculet, Chotoy Spinetail, Chopi Blackbird, White Woodpecker, White-bellied Nothura, Red-winged Tinamou, Red-legged Seriema, Green-cheeked Parakeet, the near-endemic Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, and others.
Overnight: Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Species possible around Santa Cruz de la Sierra:
Red-winged & Small-billed Tinamous, Long-winged Harrier, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Guira Cuckoo, Thrush-like Wren, Masked Yellowthroat and Chopi Blackbird. Bolivian Slaty- Antshrike, Stripe-backed Antbird, Straneck’s (grey-crowned or monte) Tyrannulet, and many others including Blue-crowned Trogon, Amazonian 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.
Open woodland & sand dunes around Santa Cruz: White-bellied Nothura, Ringed Teal, and Whistling Heron.
We’ll transfer to Amboro National Park west of Santa Cruz, where the dry forests of the eastern lowlands meet the humid Andean forests to the west. Over the coming days, we’ll explore the southern edge of the park.
From Santa Cruz, we start our drive towards the inter-Andean valleys, on the way passing through the lush tropical forest of the Bermejo canyon on the southern edge of the park. Today we will seek out the species of the forest and canyon such as Bolivian Tapaculo, Grey-throated Leaftosser, Military Macaw, Rufescent Screech Owl, Two-banded Warbler, Dusky-green Oropendola, and more.
Bird the hilly landscape and evergreen seasonal forest gradients around our lodge in Amboró National Park, lush with dense vegetation and fascinating birds.
Located at the juncture of three major South American biogeographic regions, Amboro hosts species from all three including southern Amazonia, the central Andes as well as the Chaco. The area is diverse, a result of the variability of the forest, which ranges from completely deciduous on the driest slopes to nearly evergreen in the humid canyon. The varied habitats should offer some exciting birding!
Our accommodation is located on the border of the Amboro National Park and is a 3-hour drive from the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Tucked away in a deep valley, we will have spectacular views of sandstone rock cliffs, as well as the tropical forests which surround the hotel.
We will spend 2 days birding around our lodge in Amboro National Park, looking for species like Two-banded Warbler, Black-goggled Tanager, Dusky-green Oropendola, Plush-crested Jay, Purplish Jay, Masked Duck, Green-cheeked Parakeet, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, and many others. With more than 300 species logged in the surrounding area, we will have plenty to look for in and around the park.
Amboro National Park (south side):
Giant Antshrike, Bolivian Earthcreeper, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Blue-and-white Swallow and Blue-and-yellow Tanager as well as Blue-crowned Parakeet, White-fronted & Striped Woodpeckers, Stripe-crowned Spinetail, White-bellied Tyrannulet, Greater Wagtail-tyrant, Pearly-vented Tody-tyrant, White-tipped Plantcutter, Ringed & Black-capped Warbling-finches, Grey-crested & Red-crested finches and Golden-billed Saltator.
King Vulture, Andean Condor, Solitary Eagle (rare) and Military Macaw (increasingly rare), Bolivian Recurvebill (rare), Grey-throated Leaftosser, Slaty Gnateater, Bolivian Tapaculo, Yungas Manakin. More common and widespread species include Blue-headed and Red-billed Parrots, Grey-rumped, Chestnut-collared Swifts, Sparkling Violetear, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, White-eared Puffbird, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Lineated and Red-necked Woodpeckers, Black-banded and Tschudi’s Woodcreepers, Plain Antvireo, White-backed Fire-eye, Sepia-capped and Slaty-capped Flycatchers, White-necked Thrush. Mixed flocks may well produce Tropical Parula, Slate-throated Whitestart, Guira, Black-goggled, White-winged, and Saffron-crowned Tanagers, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, and Thick-billed and Golden-rumped Euphonias. Higher elevation forests may produce the Short-tailed Antthrush.
A beautiful crater lake, surrounded by dense reed beds, usually holds one or two family parties of Masked Duck, as well as Least and Pied-billed Grebes. Night birding in search of Rufescent Screech-Owl, Band-bellied Owl, Pauraque, Rufous Nightjar and Ocellated Poorwill, Subtropical Pygmy-Owl (rare).
Then we head west towards Comarapa valleys, where the dry, cactus dominated vegetation has many great birds.
First, we will explore the dry valleys west of Amboro [ i.e. Samaipata and Saipina ] in search of some very special birds. Several Bolivian endemics can be found here and we hope to find Bolivian Earthcreeper, Bolivian Blackbird, Cliff Parakeet, and the endangered Red-fronted Macaw. Other species include Dusky-legged Guan, Giant Antshrike, Grey-crested Finch, and Chaco and White-eared Puffbirds, among others.
Then we will bird the dry slopes of Comarapa and Siberia cloud forests on the southern edge of Amboro National Park [ Comarapa ]
Star species here include a number of endemics such as Bolivian Warbling Finch, Light-crowned Spinetail, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, Trilling Tapaculo, hummingbirds such as Red-tailed Comet, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Scaled & Tyrian Metaltails, Bar-bellied & Montane Woodcreepers, Light-crowned Spinetail, Pearled Treerunner, Spot-breasted Thornbird, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, Montane Woodcreeper, Olive-crowned Crescent-chest, White-throated Tyrannulet, Andean Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant, Scarlet-bellied & Chestnut-bellied Mountain-tanagers, Blue-backed Conebill, Rufous-naped Brush-finch, Buff-banded Tyrannulet, Light-crowned Spinetail, Bolivian Brush-Finch, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, and Band-tailed Fruiteater. Night birding may yield Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Tropical Screech owl among others.
Dry inter-Andean valleys and cloud forest of La Siberia from Comarapa.
Leaving the dry valleys behind, we will drive through the cloud forest of the Siberia area, where we will look for the endemic Black-hooded Sunbeam and Black-throated Thistletail, but also for other species such as Grey-hooded Parakeet, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Trilling Tapaculo, Light-crowned Spinetail, Pearled Treerunner, and Fulvous-headed Brush Finch.
Dry inter-Andean valleys and cloud forest of La Siberia from Comarapa and west to Cochabamba.
Leaving the dry Comarapa valleys behind, we will drive through the cloud forest of the Siberia area, where we will look for the endemic Black-hooded Sunbeam and Black-throated Thistletail, but also for other species such as Grey-hooded Parakeet, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Trilling Tapaculo, Light-crowned Spinetail, Pearled Treerunner, and Fulvous-headed Brush Finch.
From La Siberia cloud forest, we will drive to Cochabamba, while focusing on birds of higher elevations like Black-throated Thistletail, Darwin Nothura, Thick-billed Siskin, Bolivian Brush Finch, the endemic Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, and the endemic Wedge-tailed Hillstar.
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 endemics occur, such as Cochabamba Mountain Finch and Bolivian Warbling Finch. We will have a chance to see the gorgeous Red-tailed Comet, Andean Condor and several Polylepis specialists including Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail, and Giant Conebill. The beautiful mountain scenery is a picture in itself with images of Andean Gull, Andean Goose, and Andean Lapwing.
Higher altitude habitats between Siberia and Cochabamba:
We’ll look for Black-throated Thistletail and Black-hooded Sunbeam at elfin forest patches as well as a variety of warbling-finches on the high Andean plateau. Other species include Wedge-tailed Hillstar, Rufous-bellied Saltator, Citron-headed Yellow-Finch, White-tipped Plantcutter and Great Pampa-Finch, Cinereous Harrier, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Bare-faced Ground-Dove, Giant Hummingbird, Slender-billed Miner, Cream-winged Cinclodes, Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail, Creamy-breasted Canastero, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Rufous-webbed Bush-Tyrant, Brown-bellied Swallow, Rusty-browed Warbling-Finch and Greenish Yellow-Finch.
• Bird the Chapare road on the UPPER fringes of Carrasco National Park.
The cloud forest and upper tropical foothills known as of the Yungas del Chapare 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 Toucan, Orange-browed Hemispingus, and Yungas Tody-Tyrant. We will also look for the endemic Yellow-rumped Antwren, White-eared Solitaire, Straw-backed Tanager, Blue-banded Toucanet, Crested Quetzal, and more.
The Chapare area is home of several exciting birds, including Rusty-faced Antpitta, Black-throated Thistletail, Trilling Tapaculo, White-eared Solitaire, the localized Hooded Mountain Toucan, Masked Trogon, Superciliaried and Orange-browed Hemispingus, Band-tailed Pigeon, Barred Antthrush, and Streaked Xenops among many others.
The areas explored here are reminiscent of La Siberia on the other side of the Reserve. We’ll be looking for Black-winged Parrot, Golden-headed Quetzal, Blue-banded Toucanet, Hooded Mountain-toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker and Hooded Mountain-tanager at higher elevation. If time enables, we may explore lower elevation for Crested Quetzal, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Racket-tail, Versicolored Barbet, Saffron-crowned, Straw-backed and Beryl-spangled Tanagers, White-eared Solitaire, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and Green Jay. Other specialties we may see here include Black-throated Thistletail, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Black-winged Parrot, Blue-banded Toucanet, Band-tailed Fruiteater (near-endemic), Chestnut-crested Cotinga, White-eared Solitaire, the uncommon Straw-backed Tanager and Pale-footed Swallow as well as White-throated Antpitta. If we are lucky, we will find the remarkable Torrent Duck and the extraordinary Sword-billed Hummingbird.
• Bird the Chapare road on the LOWER fringes of Carrasco National Park.
Focus on lower elevation for Crested Quetzal, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Racket-tail, Versicolored Barbet, Saffron-crowned, Straw-backed and Beryl-spangled Tanagers, White-eared Solitaire, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and Green Jay.
Other specialties we may see here include Black-throated Thistletail, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Black-winged Parrot, Blue-banded Toucanet, Band-tailed Fruiteater (near-endemic), Chestnut-crested Cotinga, White-eared Solitaire, the uncommon Straw-backed Tanager and Pale-footed Swallow as well as White-throated Antpitta.
If we are lucky, we will find the remarkable Torrent Duck and the extraordinary Sword-billed Hummingbird.
Slopes of Mount Tunari above Cochabamba where four endemic species are present. Return flight to Santa Cruz. End of trip.
Species possible in the Polylepis woodland near Cochabamba:
Star species here include Black-hooded Sunbeam, Wedge-tailed Hillstar, Maquis (or Iquico) Canastero, Rufous-bellied Saltator, Cochabamba Mountain-Finch, Citron-headed Yellow-Finch, Bolivian Blackbird. Other species we may find include Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch (relatively common), Rufous-bellied Saltator, Maquis Canastero and Rock Earthcreeper, Black-hooded Sierra-Finch. Puna grasslands at the highest elevations may yield Short-tailed Finch on rockiest slopes, Puna Canastero and a variety of Ground-Tyrant species in grassier areas.
If time enables, we’ll spend time at Laguna Alalay for waterfowl such as White-tufted Grebe, Cinnamon, Yellow-billed & Puna Teals, White-cheeked Pintail, Puna Ibis, Andean Lapwing, Andean Gull, Plumbeous Rail, Black-necked Stilt, Andean Avocet, Baird’s Sandpiper, Cream-winged Cinclodes, Wren-like Rushbird, Andean Negrito, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant and Yellow-winged Blackbird.
From Cochabamba, a short flight takes us back to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, where the tour ends.
Some of the star species you may encounter on this Bolivia Birding Trip:
Tropical Screech owl
Maquis (or Iquico) Canastero
Black- winged Parrot
among many other species.
What is included?
- Local transfers and all ground transport throughout the tour
- Internal flights where applicable
- All accommodation or lodgings based on double occupancy
- Single occupancy available for an additional charge/cost
- Professional English-speaking guide(s) and support staff
- Specialist guide fees
- Entrance fees to all National Parks, Nature Reserves and/or use of Hides where applicable
- All meals
- Snacks throughout the tour
- Water throughout the tour
- All activities as specified within the tour itinerary
- Personalised checklists
- All Applicable Taxes
What is not included?
- All international or domestic airfares
- Visa Fees (if applicable)
- Travel & medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
- Airport departure taxes or visa fees
- Bank transfer charges
- Items of a personal nature such as alcoholic drinks
- If providing binoculars and telescopes then add within above
- Laundry & telephone Charges
- Gratuities and extras (phone calls, laundry, etc.)
- Optional tour extensions where applicable
- Any other drinks not mentioned above
- Anything else not mentioned in “What is included”
Bolivia Naturally is one of the leading local birding companies based in Bolivia offering birding with a lot of fun, lead by a team of naturalist guides and ornithologists. Bolivia Birding offers specialised birding tours and a number of other wildlife experiences including nature and bird photography adventures directly to the independent traveller while also working as a specialised ground operator for a number of international birding companies.
We stay in hotels with en suite bathrooms in cities and very simple rural lodging in the backcountry. Expect simple but comfortable ecolodges with relatively good comfort and hot showers. We also provide great local food and a nice variety of snacks and unlimited bottled drinking water throughout the trip. Most of the tour will be done in either a 7-seat or 17-seat vans depending on number of people on tour. Some sites require use of 4x4 vehicles, in which case we use Toyota Land Cruisers. In some cases Jeep Willys are used.
This tour involves ground transportation, be it in a van or smaller 4x4 vehicle. Internal flights are also included in the price of the tour. International flights to/from Bolivia are not included.
We have the lowest group size in the industry with a maximum of 8 birders per group!
Yes, all airport transfers are included.
Yes, don't hesitate to contact us.
Yes, all meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day are included. We also include snacks and bottled water throughout the trip.
This tour is great year-round. Rain can (and does) occur at any time in the Bolivian rainforest (rains are much heavier during the rainy season from Dec to Feb), but participants should expect some rain, regardless of the time of the trip, as the Andes foothills, generally, receive fairly high rainfall. However, this does not impact the quality of the birding.
We hope our travelers are able to walk 1 – 3 miles daily. This tour birds lightly travelled roads with support vehicles nearby.
There is wi-fi in all hotels and lodges. PLease keep in mind that wi-fi is only available in common areas in some places and that in more rural areas the connection is not always 100% reliable.
Bolivia Naturally supports the local communities we visit in many ways. First, it is our policy to always hire local guides when available and make use of the services provided by the locals (meals, transportation, feeder sites, etc). Secondly, we support various programs and work closely with partners such as Bolivian NGO Fundacion Armonia in the areas we visit to promote conservation and bird tourism and to provide outreach and training in the local communities we visit.
Yes, just let us know!
No. We suggest you purchase trip cancellation insurance and your own travel insurance or make sure your insurance covers you while travelling.
A deposit of $1,000 USD (non-refundable) per person is due to confirm the trip and full payment is due 60 days prior to the start date of the tour. You can pay by wire transfer or by Credit Card.
The tour can be rescheduled within 1 year (no additional fees)
If you cancel before final payment is due a cancellation fee of your deposit will be charged. If you cancel after final payment is due there is no refund but you can reschedule the tour within a year at no extra charge.
General Packing List: Documents and Money: • Passport • Cash and credit cards • Airline tickets or E-ticket confirmation Clothing: • Waterproof rain jacket • Sweater or medium weight jacket • Two pairs of pants, at least one lightweight, plus cool long pants and shorts • Two or three long-sleeved shirts • Two or three T-shirts • Four or five pairs of underwear • Four or five pairs of socks • 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes • 1 pair of waterproof boots • Shade hat and 1 bandanna • Pyjamas • Bathing suit Toiletries: • Toiletries and washcloth • Personal first aid kit • Prescription drugs • Sunscreen • Lip balm with sunscreen • Soap for hand washing and universal sink stopper • Insect repellent (chiggers, no-see-ums and mosquitoes) and anti-itch ointment Gear: • Binoculars • Spotting scope • Camera • Daypack - for rain gear and water on walks • Plastic bags to put wet gear in case of rain • Sunglasses and extra prescription glasses • Reusable water bottle – to refill throughout the trip • Alarm clock • Flashlight and extra batteries Optional: • Sandals • Field guides • Map • Spanish dictionary • Writing materials, paper, and pens • Laundry bag and a few clothespins
Field Guide to the Birds of Bolivia by Sebastian K Herzog, Asociacion Armonía Editors, 2016. Serious birders will definitely also want Volume 1 and Volume 2 of The Birds of South America by Robert S. Ridgely and Guy Tudor. If you have an interest in bird songs, the Bird Sounds of Bolivia CD-ROM by Sjoerd Mayer is a very useful tool.