- Designing your own Bolivian
By Bennett Hennessey Update Nov 2018
FIRST BOLIVIAN TRIP
In June 2012, Bird Bolivia ran a 37 day Bolivia trip geared to pick up all the Bolivian Specialities in the shortest amount of time. I have pasted this below as a guideline. Ideally you would want to add a day in many of the sites just visited for one morning. This should give you an idea of the spots you would like to visit, many of which Bird Bolivia offers on different tours depending on the theme.
This is a great trip- with a lot of birds, and passing almost everything Bolivia has to offer. If you are only going to visit Bolivia once, this would be the way to see the most- but granted- this trip would be hectic, very much a go-go trip- where you would want a few days at home to rest from your vacation when you get back.
1-4 Arrive La Paz, Flight Rurrenabaque, drive Sadiri Amazon Lodge
5-7 Drive to Rurrenabaque, Charter flight to BANR. The Barba Azul Nature Reserve offers the Blue-throated Macaw along with many threatened and rare Beni Savanna species Barba Azul Nature Reserve
8 Charter flight to Trinidad, Flight to Riberalta Riberalta, Aft: Mariguisal
9 Day in Cerrado Triangulo, Riberalta
10 Flight close to midday to Trinidad, San Ramon
11 Morn: Trinidad, Aft: flight to Santa Cruz Bella Vista
13 Morn: Local Forest, Aft: Lomas de Arena Santa Cruz
14 Morn: Botanical Gardens; Aft: Drive to Camiri Camiri
15 Day of Boyiube Chaco Camiri
Morn: Lagunillas de Chaco; Aft: Drive to Samaipata
17-18 Morn: Andean dry forest birds; Aft: drive to Red-fronted Macaw Reserve
19 Morn: valleys, Aft: drive to Comarapa Comarapa
21 Morn: Siberia, Aft: Drive to SC- night flight Cochabamba
22 Drive through the Yungas, Chapare
23 Morn: Villa Tunari, Drive up through Yungas
jk24 Polylepis, late Aft: Flight to La Paz
La Paz Dry Andean Valleys, Inquisivi
26-27 Drive to Apa Apa
28 Drive up Yungas La Paz
29-30 Drive to Sajama
32 Drive to Apolo
33 Day in Bolivian Andean Cerrado Apolo
34 Day in Dry Forest of Machariapo Apolo
35 Day in Yungas Apolo
36 Morning in Yungas La Paz
37 The End
OTHER POSSIBLE TRIPS
I think a wonderful trip would be to visit the three recent nature lodges in Bolivia, each in very different habitats, the Sadiri Lodge, Barba Azul Nature Reserve, and Red-fronted Macaw Reserve.
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Designing your own Bolivian Birdwatching trip
birding tour one must decide the emphasis of the tour, usually between three
factors, 1) bird numbers, 2) endemics, & 3) comfort. Usually people try to arrange a compromise between
the three. It is best if you or your
group knows where they would like to place an emphasis.
Many groups wish to create a
Bolivia bird tour that is different
from existing tours. But in
reality is that there are certain physical limitations to any "far from the
broken path" tour. The most obvious is
altitude sickness, which can be a three-day horrible illness if unconditioned.
As a consequence it is common to start in Santa Cruz, rest up after the long
flight, then Cochabamba (2500m) where one can adjust a little through two days
with the 6 endemics (Bolivian Blackbird, Cochabamba Mountain-Finch, Bolivian
Warbling Finch, Wedge-tailed Hillstar, Bolivian Earthcreeper, and I include
Rufous-bellied Saltator as a range-restricted endemic) around the dry valleys
of Cochabamba, and then up to La
Paz (3600m) for the Corioco road (yungas), Lake Titicaca,
Puna and altiplano birds. The Santa Cruz-Cochabamba-
La Paz route is the only present
possibility for adjusting to the altitude considering Bolivian infrastructure
(paved roads, frequent flights, decent hotels, etc.).
Most Bolivian endemics (believed to be 16 now, see Bolivian Specialities) are found in
the highlands around Cochabamba Though if one is
less interested in endemics and more in bird numbers, than
could be skipped for a different habitat (the Yungas and dry valleys of
La Paz A
bird trip that is concerned about endemics usually does not miss the Red-fronted Macaw reserve and the Barba Azul Nature Reserve for the Blue-throated Macaw.
Your emphasis on the birding factors will decide your
trip. A big list is approached best by
zooming through as many habitats as possible, two days in each, and visiting
repeated habitats in different areas.
Endemic birding means visiting the right spots and investing time and
searching. Pleasant Birding, I think of
as days in a forest lodge, camping on Montane forest edge, driving out to
poorly known areas, maybe even taking in some local culture like Andean Music,
Museums and festivals. Of course all can
be combined for a great trip.
The dry season is between June and Sept. This is important for wet habitats especially Pampas (where many dirt (read mud) roads are closed during the rainy season), forest (lost hours of good birding sitting in a tent, lodge ....), Montane forest ( where it is always raining anyway). Flights are pretty cheap in Bolivia between main cities and daily, saving a lot of driving time and they often leave midday. Flights to Rurrenabaque are not as dependable, and will not happen in rainy conditions (read a lot of waiting). A friend of mine birded the Dry valleys of Cochabamba for an entire day in a taxi that cost 20 USD. A rental car would cost 50-80 USD, and that would not include a chauffeur who can catch up to you when you are ready. This option is also possible with a group and a few taxis. Taxi prices are based on the Bolivian market, whereas car rental prices are based on rich tourist prices. We are presently looking into the possibility of taxi’s over rentals. Possible problems are space, the necessity for a 4x4, and the daily and distance limitations, but it is looking like a taxi is a better option for close to city birding. 4x4 rental is anywhere from 50 USD for a Suzuki box, to 70-100 USD for the Toyota Landcruisers, with 100 km free daily (but I have learned you can always talk them higher).
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