Wildlife Photography Tour focusing on Bolivian Macaws
This is a 6-day Bolivian Macaw Photography Tour designed to explore Bolivia’s contrasting landscapes through the lens of your camera while visiting two spectacular, award-winning hotspots east of the Andes that is home to the critically endangered macaws of Bolivia.
The varying habitats on this Bolivian Macaw tour will bring an exciting assortment of wildlife to enjoy and photograph while focusing on two extremely rare and endemic macaws – the Blue-throated Macaw and the Red-Fronted Macaw.
For photographers and nature lovers, the Amazon lowlands and the foothills of the Andes mountains of Bolivia represent the wild heart of South America. The astounding fauna there is certain to inspire.
Part of what makes wildlife photography in Bolivia special is that some of its notable birds are particularly showy and amazing ones. More to the point, it has an incredible diversity of macaws (Bolivia has twelve species of macaw, the highest diversity of macaws in the world.)
These will be front and centre in our visit, with a focus on two endemic species which are not only gorgeous and charismatic but also extremely rare – the Blue-throated Macaw of the Bolivian Amazon and the Red-fronted Macaw of the dry inter-Andean valleys of central Bolivia.
Enjoy up-close observation of the behaviours and interactions of wildlife in their native habitats. Seek out these highly coveted macaws and other remarkable wildlife, so you can get the award-winning shots you’re looking for.
Note that this trip is a completely private experience and can be (highly) customised at will. You’ll certainly see many other species as we look for these.
Of course, not all showy Bolivian birds are macaws, there are the rheas, hummingbirds, toucans, tanagers, warbling-finches, crescentchests, puffbirds, trogons... We could go on of course (check itinerary for species list) but you get the idea: this country is full of riches, including a growing infrastructure of pleasant local lodges and knowledgeable birding guides.
Bolivia is a prime destination for bird watchers and wildlife photographers. The perfect place for your next adventure.
So, come on and join us to capture the essence of tropical Bolivia with your camera, on this 6-day Bolivian Macaw exploration focusing on unique macaws and other rare wildlife.
This distinctive travel experience has been designed specifically with photographers in mind but we’d be happy to tweak it to meet your specific needs. Immerse yourself in some of the most pristine and photogenic regions in South America.
Bolivian Macaw Photography Tour highlights include:
- Great chances to see and photograph extremely rare wildlife at close range, including two of the rarest macaws in the wild and a high diversity of other birds and mammals.
- Experience some of the best and easiest birding in the world, and a great place to take award-winning shots as you’ll enjoy the freedom to choose the angle of view, light direction...
- Support the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve: saving the Blue-throated Macaw from extinction by creating the world’s first protected area for the species and tackling the illegal pet trade.
- Support the Red-Fronted Macaw Reserve: protecting the endangered Red-fronted Macaw by empowering indigenous communities.
- Make a real contribution towards ensuring the survival of Bolivia’s rare and unique fauna and flora by joining two of the most critical conservation initiatives in this country.
Note: This trip can be run any time as a custom tour.
Like the look of this tour and keen to explore what else is on offer? Take a look at this Bolivia Wildlife Photo Tour
Alternative Tour Name: Macaws and Nature Photography Tour
Today marks the start of our incredible macaw and nature photography tour as we make our way out of Santa Cruz de la Sierra to Trinidad and the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve, which is one of the best places for birds and mammals in the Bolivian Lowlands. This is where we will spend the next two nights.
Almost all conservation projects need a medium to long period of time to demonstrate successes. The situation and characteristics of the Blue-throated Macaw have made it especially difficult to discover and collect the information necessary for management actions to be formulated and implemented. All indications are that the species still has a small wild population (best current estimate of 400 macaws, or slightly more), which is increasing and is known to exist in the lowland savannas (the Llanuras de Moxos), of the Department of Beni, north-east Bolivia.
The area of these savannas, 213,654 sq-km, is very large, which means that even finding Blue-throated Macaws can consume a disproportionately high amount of effort and resources. There is also the difficulty of access to sites which require searching, caused by the seasonal flooding of the savannas.
Guided experience – Local knowledge of the region and its wildlife is key to crafting the ultimate Bolivia photo tour experience. Combined with the photographic expertise of your photo tour leader, and you are in for an adventure that will further fuel your excitement for photography and the destination.
Photography level – There is no “minimum level” required regarding photographic ability. Beginners and highly experienced shooters alike are all very welcome to join us. You will receive plenty of individual one-on-one time that will be geared towards your own personal skill levels and needs.
The Trinidad flooded savannas are not only home to Blue-throated Macaw but also possess a large density of birds including Wood Stork, Jabiru, Hoatzin, Roseate Spoonbill, Sunbittern, and Buff-necked, Green, and Plumbeous Ibis.
The reserve also protects the Beni Savanna ecosystem in a natural state, protecting it from fires and overgrazing. As many as 1,450 buff-breasted sandpipers (a near threatened species) use the reserve on migration, making this the most important stopover site in Bolivia. Of its 146 mammal species, several are found nowhere else in Amazonia, including the Beni Titi Monkey (endangered), Maned Wolf (near threatened), and the Pampas Deer. Also present are the southern Tamandua, Black Howler Monkey, Capybara, Jaguar and high concentrations of Giant Anteater.
Today we will have the amazing opportunity to search for our main photographic subject, the critically endangered Blue-throated Macaw, with a series of early morning and late afternoon boat rides and hikes through the forest. Until 1992 the natural habitat of this species was completely unknown, and with possibly less than 400 mature individuals it is one of the most endangered avian species in the world.
We will also look for Limpkin, and Wattled Jacana, Snail Kite, Black-collared Hawk, Long- winged Harrier, the local subspecies of Plain Softtail, and Velvet-fronted Grackle, Greater Thornbird, Grey-crested Cacholote, Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kite, and White-bellied and Rusty-collared Seedeaters.
We will continue our Bolivia photo safari as we will explore the forest and the savannas along the savanna and forest islands of the 5,000 ha reserve. Renowned as a bird paradise among birders and photographers alike, this forest islands take centre stage and put on a stunning display of feathered friends in all shapes, sizes and colours.
We also have the fabulous opportunity for intimate encounters with family groups of capybara, huge tapirs, manned wolf, caiman and many bird species.
Today we make our way back to Santa Cruz. If time permit we will spend the morning birding in Trinidad visiting the Chuchuni Ecological Reserve, where we might find species such as Hoatzin, Sunbittern, Black-tailed Trogon, Blue- crowned Trogon, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, Band- tailed Antbird, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Band-tailed Manakin, Purplish Jay, Plain- crowned Spinetail, Fawn-breasted Wren and White-backed Fire-eye. With luck we might find the secretive Bare-faced Curassow, Undulated Tinamou or Pheasant Cuckoo. Then we will fly back to Santa Cruz.
Today we have an early start to drive to Perereta and the Omereque mountains towering over the Mizque River valley, 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.
We will have the entire day to explore the Red-fronted Macaw Conservation Area looking for our main photographic subject with a series of early morning and late afternoon hikes to the breeding cliffs that surround our lodge. We also have the fabulous opportunity for intimate encounters with many other bird species.
The spectacular Red-fronted Macaw is endemic to the unique dry scrub forests of central Bolivia. Visiting this area offers great birding and will support several ongoing conservation projects. The non-profit group, Armonia, operates a nice lodge very close to a fantastic breeding cliff.
For serious birders, the Red-fronted Macaw lodge is a must visit. All of the rarities known from the area are reliably seen with ease and accommodations are quite comfortable given the remoteness of the site. The lodge has capacity for 14 guests and has running water, electricity, hot showers, and a cook to provide delicious meals.
Other special birds include the Bolivian Blackbird, Cliff Parakeet, and Grey-crested Finch.
An early start will enable us to portray the macaws and other wildlife in this locale one last time before we drive back to Santa Cruz.
If time allows we may look for more birds on the way: possible encounters include the endemic Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, Green-cheeked Parakeet, Fawn-breasted Wren, Blue-crowned Trogon, Amazonian Motmot, Chestnut-eared Aracari and more.
This afternoon you will be transferred to the airport, or extend your visit in Bolivia (many options available).
Some of the wildlife expected to see on this tour are:
Blue-throated Macaw, Red-Fronted Macaw.
The Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis) is found in only one place on Earth: the Beni Savanna of Llanos de Moxos in northern Bolivia. Extending over 213,654 sq-km, this complex ecosystem of grasslands, marshes, forest islands, and gallery forest supports a diverse and distinctive flora and fauna. Recent surveys account for 230 bird species, including many water birds and several species of North American migrants. As many as 1000 Buff-breasted Sandpipers (a Near Threatened species) were counted there recently, making this the most important stop-over site in Bolivia.
Of its 146 mammal species, several are found nowhere else in Amazonia, including the Pampas Deer, the Near Threatened Maned Wolf, and the Endangered Beni Titi Monkey. Also present are the Southern Tamandua, Black Howler Monkey, Capybara, Jaguar and high concentrations of Giant Anteater.
The spectacular and endangered Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys) is endemic to the unique dry scrub forests of central Bolivia. The decreasing population is estimated to number 1,000-4,000 individuals, roughly equating to 670-2,700 mature individuals. Nesting on steep-sided riverbanks, the habitat of this handsome bird is a gorgeous landscape of inter-Andean valleys and cliffs. Visiting this area offers great birding and will support several ongoing conservation projects. Other special birds here include the Bolivian Blackbird, Cliff Parakeet, and Grey-crested Finch among others.
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 airfares to & from Bolivia
- Visa Fees (if applicable)
- Travel & medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
- Airport departure taxes or visa fees
- Items of a personal nature (incl. binoculars and telescopes)
- Laundry & telephone charges
- Gratuities and extras (phone calls, laundry, etc.)
- Optional tour extensions where applicable
- Alcoholic beverages
- 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.