Bolivia Landscapes and Wildlife Photo Tour
This short 12-day Bolivia Photography, Landscapes and Wildlife Tour combines two spectacular regions of the Neotropics: from multi-hued deserts in the high Andes to free-flowing rivers in the Bolivian Amazon, explore and photograph Bolivia’s top sites, travelling by air, 4WD vehicles, boats and canoes and, of course, on foot.
The natural marvels of Bolivia are in a class all their own. And so is this trip, which reveals less-discovered realms of this little-known nature travel photography hotspot. From Andes to Amazon, experience the diverse landscapes and intriguing wildlife of Bolivia with your camera.
Wander through high Bolivian steppes, float tropical rivers through vast nature reserves, and discover the hidden lagoons and macaw roosting sites within the jungles of the Bolivian rainforest.
Unwrap a side of South America most travellers never see on this unique itinerary crafted to reveal diverse landscapes & wildlife from the Andes mountains to the edge of the Amazon basin, and Bolivian nature at its most entrancing and photogenic—including rare flamingo habitat as well as close-up hoatzin, hummingbird and red howler monkey encounters.
First, set out into the Bolivian Andes to photograph breathtaking panoramas of snow-clad peaks and the towering Altiplano. Get immersed in the surreal, windswept perspectives of Salar de Uyuni—the world’s largest salt flats—in southwestern Bolivia. Shoot images of infinite landscapes, timeless highland farming villages, luminescent skies, and the Milky Way… Capture scenes of colourful wildlife and crimson-robed lakes set against a backdrop of whitewashed volcanoes. Navigate the highland steppes and deserts, rock canyons and lava caves, volcanic pits and hot springs of this part of the continent. Look for herds of wild vicuñas and hidden lagoons full of rare flamingos…
Then, voyage to the headwaters of the Amazon river basin into the heart of Bolivia’s northern (and largely unexplored) territory. Slip through an intricate network of jungle waterways in a skiff in search of caimans, tamarins, and sloths, as well as a variety of tropical birds; and go for an optional swim with pink dolphins along a pristine lagoon. Skim past massive lily pads, peer up at towering ceiba trees, and witness glorious sunsets on the still waters of the Yacuma lagoons in the tropical forest of the Bolivian Amazon.
From there, venture deeper into the rainforest of Madidi National Park, on the foothills of the Andes mountains. See and photograph some of the incredible wildlife that lives and thrives within the dense forests and along the rivers that make up the park. Cap off your voyage with a stop at alluring macaw cliffs where Red-and-green and Chestnut-fronted Macaws have dug out their nests.
Few countries in the world are as dramatic. And few are as under-explored by photographers as Bolivia. So, whether you’re a professional photographer looking to build your portfolio quickly, an amateur photographer thinking about making the jump to pro, or just a hobbyist who doesn’t want to feel rush in the hobby, this Bolivia photo tour is for you.
This is a specialized adventure for photographers of all ability levels. The trip is led by a highly trained naturalist Expedition Leader who is also an accomplished nature photographer, adept at offering personalized guidance.
This is a private Bolivia Photography tour, to ensure the utmost in flexibility to pursue photo opportunities as they arise, access priority for the best shots, and plenty of room for your gear. We often rise early and linger till sunset, to capitalize on the best light and wildlife activity.
A fascinating photographic exploration of a little-known region. Grab your gear and join us on this 12-day Bolivia Landscape and Wildlife Photo Tour.
Bolivia Photography Tour highlights include:
- Photograph rare landscapes and wildlife in the Bolivian Andes AND the Bolivian Amazon on a single trip.
- Build a stunning portfolio from a staggering variety of photographic situations and lightings.
- Possibly the widest array of vistas, flora and fauna in such a short tour.
- An exclusive trip for you and your group, so you'll enjoy quieter encounters with the natural world, and you’re always assured plenty of personal attention from our Expedition Leader.
- Many possibilities to customise travel plans according to your photographic requirements.
Alternative Tour Name: Bolivia Wildlife Photo Tour
Tour departs from La Paz, Bolivia, with a short flight to the frontier town of Uyuni in the remote Altiplano region, in the heart of the central Andes. Explore the world’s most spectacular and intriguing salt flats at Salar de Uyuni on a private 4x4 expedition. Unlike most salt flats, it is still advancing, and watching sunset or sunrise here is a matchless thrill. And we also view it from higher elevation. Gorgeous landscapes guaranteed!
The Bolivian salt flats of Uyuni are the largest on Earth, and we don’t shortchange you on Salar sightseeing. Maybe your favourite photos of Bolivia will come from this section of the trip. Get the shots YOU want. Play with patterns, texture, symmetry, depth of field and (forced) perspective, lines, curves, frames, contrast, colour, viewpoints, depth and optical illusions, negative space, foregrounds, visual tension, shapes... Use these elements to create compositions that work for your images.
Still shrouded in the mysteries of uncharted territories, southwestern Bolivia is a treasure trove of dramatic landscapes, rare wildlife, and Andean hamlets that still cling to age-old traditions.
The wilds of Uyuni stretch across the southern altiplano, spanning twisted Andean peaks, sweeping steppe, and pristine glacial valleys. On a variety of excursions by foot and 4x4, take in the region’s most spectacular scenery, from the imposing caldera of Thunupa Volcano and barren Salt Flats of Uyuni to the Sud Lipez Massif and its flamingo-dotted lagunas. Delve deeper into these unspoiled landscapes to discover hidden multihued lakes and mysterious web-like formations of delicate petrified algae, and get to know the culture of the journeymen who collect the salt of the earth.
Start by driving at dawn through the giant salt plains of the Salar de Uyuni. You will soon agree that this area lives up to the hype. All of the places we visit on this trip are tremendously photogenic, and we’re going to have a blast. “It is truly stunning!”, says National Geographic photographer Alex Saberi. It is such a surreal place and absolutely haunting.
You’ve opted for a private tour, so take as many photos and stop as many times as you like. This pays off as you explore the cactus island in the middle of the salt plains. This former island is covered by huge cacti and makes for some great compositions.
Cactus island is hilly and rocky with incredibly majestic and large cacti, unusual coral-like fossil formations and llamas as well. We are privileged to have our lunch in the very surreal surroundings at the middle of this incredibly fascinating crystalline landscape. In the evening after a gorgeous sunset, we get another shot at the Milky Way over the Salt Flats. Long exposures welcome.
Laguna Colorada (red!), Laguna Verde (green!), Flamingos and Andean Wildlife
Leaving the Salar behind us, we’ll journey on through some of Bolivia’s most amazing landscapes to visit Avaroa National Park and Wildlife Reserve, world-class altiplano wetlands (especially as waterfowl habitat), protected under the UNESCO Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, where we do some light hiking near the lagoons.
The Andean fauna is diverse and richer than one might think, including Andean Goose, Guanaco, Alpaca, Vicuña, Vizcacha, Andean Fox, Andean Flamingo, Chilean Flamingo, James Flamingo… While Andean wildlife is elusive and some animals are rarely seen, sightings are on the rise, and we put a special focus on looking for them. In fact, we've added an extra day in Avaroa National Park for this very purpose. This is likely not the case on other Bolivia trips, which aren't as wildlife-oriented as ours is.
It feels like driving on another planet. Volcanoes, rare flamingos, llamas and vicuñas, strange geological structures and surreal lakes abound. One of the best bits being the Laguna Colorada – a reddish coloured lake inhabited by rare flamingos. The colour of the water varies from light pink to strong crimson depending on the capricious winds. The colour of this shallow lake is caused by the red sediments and algae in the area and displays great contrast to the white borax islands all around, projected from the red lagoon.
Next stop is the salty Laguna Verde or Green Lagoon, comfortably situated under a cone volcano, surrounded by the black and rocky landscape. The colour of the water varies from turquoise to emerald green, again depending on the unpredictable winds stirring the surface. The colour originates from mineral components like arsenic in the lagoon and despite the icy winds and freezing temperatures of the water at times, it still remains liquid.
You'll surely take many photos at these locations but you’ll still wish you could have stayed longer. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of your Bolivia photo tour is at night alone on the mountains, viewing—and photographing—the trillions of stars above.
Flight back to La Paz and on to the small tropical city of Rurrenabaque, the starting point for the Amazon section of your Bolivia photo trip and conveniently located on a broad sweep of the Río Beni, between the last forest-covered foothills of the Andes and the great lowland plains. Overland transfer northeast to Pampas de Yacuma Nature Reserve on the edge of the Bolivian Amazon great plains. Arrive in the afternoon and start exploring the area for wildlife.
The Pampas de Yacuma Nature Reserve is a critical area for the conservation of a larger biome known as the Moxos plains. Its unique characteristics in terms of ecological dynamics are associated with annual flooding in the drainage basin of the Yacuma river, which has determined the composition and distribution of a complex mosaic of vegetation: wetlands and seasonally flooded savannas, forest islands, gallery forests, grasses and sedges, aquatic plants, bromeliads, palm trees and emergent trees (fig, ambaibo, cedar, tajibo). As a consequence, it also has a great diversity of wildlife, including a number of endemic & endangered species such as the Beni and Olalla titi monkeys and the blue-throated macaw. Other relevant wildlife species are the marsh deer, gray brocket deer, red brocket deer, jaguar, maned wolf, Bolivian river dolphin, yellow-spotted river turtle, spectacled caiman, and the black caiman.
Explore the Pampas de Yacuma Nature Reserve. These savannas have some of the highest bird abundances in Bolivia. You will probably never see another place with such a high bird biomass. Cocoi Herons, Plumbeous Ibis, Southern Screamers, Jabirus, Snail Kites, Limpkins abound here, along with another 100+ birds that are relatively easy to spot and photograph. Hence the savanna is a favourite area for bird photography with lots of tame big birds in good light.
Expect many canoe rides on this part of the trip. We'll explore large and small marsh areas, dry savannas, wet savannas and gallery forest.
In the open areas pick up your Herons, Ibises, Screamers, Ducks, Storks and Hawks but don't neglect the forest patches and river edge forest for savannas adapted Ovenbirds, Antbirds and Flycatchers like Chotoy Spinetail, Rufous Cacholote, Great Antshrike, Mato Grosso Antbird, White-crested Tyrannulet, and White, White-rumped and Grey Monjita. And keep an eye out for the Bolivian savannas subspecies of the Plain Softtail and Velvet-fronted Grackle, both being under scientific investigation as to their full endemic species status.
We recommend that you think like the birds looking at the many variable habitats and microhabitats within the general name "savannas". We'll intend to spend sometime in each of these habitat types: wet marsh, dry marsh, open small lake, river, river edge forest, open forest, forest Island, large forest, thick road edge scrub, dry grassland, wet grassland…
Today is a transition day. Drive back to “Rurre” and on to Madidi National Park by boat through the spectacular Bala gorge before heading up into Madidi National Park. Arrive at your lodge in the afternoon and start exploring the area.
Established in 1995, Madidi protects some of the wildest and most pristine rainforest on earth, and the big animals such as herds of peccary, sloths, howler monkeys, giant otters, and jaguar still thrive in this park. Each day here is filled with discovery as you head out on excursions with your local guide in search of macaws, toucans, squirrel monkeys, and more. With luck you might even run across a 300-pound tapir using your trail as a highway through the forest!
Your jungle lodge is a comfortable introduction to the sights, sounds, smells and texture of the tropical rainforest. The surroundings resonate with birdsong and the cries of howler monkeys, especially at dawn and dusk. Accommodation is in traditional Tacana-style cabins with private bathroom, equipped with mosquito nets, comfortable armchairs, a veranda, balcony and hammock where you can relax and photograph wildlife right from your doorstep.
Don't miss the Macaw Cliffs — Within canoeing distance from your lodge you'll be tempted to arrange for a visit or two to a series of exposed cliffs where groups of Red-and-green and Chestnut-fronted Macaws have dug out their nests. From the riverbank, a short trail leads uphill to an overlook and a great natural hideout to watch and snap rare images of these impressive macaws flying, calling and interacting from above, with a perfect backdrop of dark green forest. The macaw nesting cliffs are best in either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Explore Madidi National Park from your lodge. Over the next two days, choose from a wide array of themed walk ideas and hikes offered at the lodge. Depending on your photographic interests, rise early to witness the early morning activity in the cloud forest; enjoy a steaming cup of coffee on the hotel terrace as you watch birds and other species flit among nearby trees…
Wildlife viewing here is great. For instance, bird photography starts as soon as one sets foot outside the front door with the lake edge lookout with Neotropical Cormorant, White-winged Swallow, Hoatzin, Cuvier's Toucan and Red-capped Cardinal. The symphony of Neotropical sounds starts up before first light with the ripping sound of the Blue-throated Piping-Guan's wing display, the Barred Woodcreeper's laughing call, and the haunting sounds of the Barred Forest-Falcon. And one is sure to fall asleep to the sounds of Spectacled, Crested and Black-banded Owl. Over 300 bird species live can be found in this area of the park, and our expert native guides easily identify their songs and calls. Another advantage of our lodge is its wonderful trail system that takes us through a variety of different habitats and microhabitats.
Be warned that Amazonian forest birding in Bolivia can be less productive from January to May, as this is the end of the breeding season and many birds are not in song. Also in June and July brief winter cold spells (called surazos) can really slow down the bird activity. The Forest is best from September to November when many species are singing and breeding activity is starting.
Guided exploration of the park includes canoe rides to the nearby lagoons, walks to the lodge’s canopy overlook, hikes on the numerous trails… to observe and photograph wildlife. Local indigenous guides give expert interpretation of the varied forest paths that surround the lodge. Each hike has a different theme and you will learn about medicinal plants, hardwood trees, observe the wildlife and experience primary forest. But most of all, look for howler monkeys, mammals, insects and frogs, and of course a variety of brightly colored birds along the way.
If we are alert, we may photograph macaws, guans, brown capuchin and yellow squirrel monkeys as well as black spider monkeys, or with more luck cross herds of white-lipped peccary or tapirs. Our local guides will share their knowledge of plants, natural history, and wildlife.
Cap off your evenings with a guided night walk through the surrounding jungle, treading amid bioluminescent fungi and keeping your eyes and ears open for the forest’s nocturnal residents, including frogs, owls, and kinkajous.
Back to to “Rurre” and flight back to La Paz, where the tour ends. Again we'll wake up (very) early to enjoy one last time the sounds and sights of the terra firme tropical forest in this part of the Bolivian Amazon before we embark on a motorized canoe for a full morning navigation downriver and back to the small city of Rurrenabaque. Keep a sharp eye out on the banks and in the river as we have seen jaguars, peccary, tapir, caiman, deer and countless birds on shore and crossing from one side of the river to another. From Rurrenabaque, a short flight takes us back to La Paz in the afternoon, where the tour ends.
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, 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.