Extreme Bolivia – Masked Antpitta, Palkachupa Cotinga, Flightless Grebe and others

Cotinga, PalkachupaPhotographer: Paul Noakes

Bolivia is a landlocked country located in central South America. On this 10-day trip we skirt the borders of neighboring countries Peru and Brazil. The geographic location of the places we visit comprise a great variety of terrains and climates. Bolivia has a huge degree of biodiversity, considered one of the greatest in the world; It stretches across the widest part of the Andean mountain chain and is one of the poorest, highest and most isolated of Latin American republics with the biggest indigenous Amerindian population. Assisted by the recent publication of a superb national field guide (in English), the birding world is starting to appreciate what they have been missing for years! While we will not neglect the quantity of birds but our trip will target on this trip quality endemic and range restricted birds.

DAY 1: ARRIVE IN LA PAZWe will gather in La Paz – the de-facto capital and the rest of the day will be to get used to the altitude or wander around the historic center or even visit the witch’s market. We will gather for dinner. Night in La Paz. D

DAY 2: LA PAZ - APOLO Today we will depart very early from the hotel for our long, full-day journey to the small town of Apolo in the Apolo valley. This is essentially a travel day, requiring us to cover about 340 kilometers (roughly 211 miles). A stop at Cerro Asunta Pata may produce Upland Antshrike, Yungas Tody-Tyrant, Yungas Warbler, Ashy Antwren, Blue-banded Toucanet, the rare Yungas Tyrannulet, a recently described tyrannid considered rare and very local in the foothills and adjacent lowlands, and avariety of cloud forest Tanagers and Flyctachers. This remote area is also very good for the increasingly rare Military Macaw, the localized White-browed Hermit and a new taxon within the Fuscous Flycatcher group. Our hosts will be a closed order of nuns at their convent who provide great accommodation to weary travelers such as ourselves as they have been doing for centuries. Night Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Nazareth. B: L: D

DAY 3: APOLO AND ATUEN The Apolo region lies in the heart of the isolated Bolivian Andean ‘cerrado’. We will begin our exploration of this dry and rather unique area located along the otherwise humid eastern flank of the Andes searching the drier forest-edge habitats. This relict area of ‘cerrado’ has evolved in splendid isolation in a single rain shadow catchment and is, as a consequence, very limited in extent. In itself this poses an immediate problem for the endemic fauna and flora found here, as the habitat has been largely cleared for farming and cattle ranching. However, as we work the fragments of woodland and scrub with our local guide we should be able to encounter the lovely Palkachupa Cotinga. Also present in the dry scrubby habitat is the rare Green-capped Tanager, a species previously only known from neighboring Peru. In the afternoon we may explore the upper part of the Machariapo Valley to make start on the birds mentioned for tomorrow or we may continue our quest for the rare Green-capped Tanager should we not have seen it so far. Night Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Nazareth. B: L: D

DAY 4: APOLO AND THE MACHARIAPO VALLEY: Today we shall also explore more humid Yungas forests in the Machariapo valley. This area gives us the opportunity to hunt for the rarely seen Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo and Yungas Antwren plus the very local Rough-legged Tyrannulet at a site where they seem to be more regular than elsewhere. This remote area is also very good for the increasingly rare Military Macaw, the localized White-browed Hermit and a new taxon within the Fuscous Flycatcher complex. We shall also look for a yet to be described (but it might be by 2020) Tanager that will probably be given its own genus. It is thought to be a migrant but no-one knows for sure the time it first arrives in Bolivia but we will look for it on its breeding grounds. Night Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Nazareth. B: L: D

DAY 5: APOLO TO LAKE TITICACA : Today we head back to Lake Titicaca and the Lago Titicaca lakeside hotel. If we leave really early we’ll make some stops along the way for the species mentioned for day 2. Night Hotel on Lake Titicaca. B: L: D

DAY 6: LAKE TITICACA AND SORATA : Today we undertake a journey to seek the endemic Berlepch’s Canstero. We’ll also look for other high-altitude species including the enormous Giant Coot and the endemic Black-hooded Sunbeam and return in time to seek the Lake Titicaca flightless Grebe and other lakeside species. Night at our hotel at Lake Titicaca. B: L: D

DAY 7: LAKE TITICACA TO EL ALTO AIRPORT AND TO RIBERALTA : Drive to El Alto airport and on arrival, we’ll drop our bags at the hotel and if time permits walk down to river for evening birding and Band-tailed Nighthawk. Night Hotel Colonial B: L: D

DAY 8 & 9: RIBERALTA: Just outside town in a low-lying area called Hamburgo. This is a hot tropical location.Our target bird will be the endemic Masked Antpitta. Other possibilities include White-browed Hawk, Purus Jacamar, Riparian Antbird, Amazonian Tyrannulet (formerly Pale-tipped T.), Johannes' and Spotted Tody-Tyrants, Rufous-tailed Flatbill, Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Lesser Kiskadee. Leaden and Streaked Antwrens, Manakin and Black-billed Seed-Finch. Oneday we’ll drive some distance down dusty roads to the northernmost mature savanna in South America. We’ll be looking for White-rumped Tanager, White-bellied Parrot, Horned Sungem, the local Rufous-sided Pygmy Tyrant, Rusty-backed Antwren and Small-billed Elaenia are all possible. Later in heavy forest we may see Amazonian Antshrike, Natterer’s Slaty Antshrike, a reasonably common bird in this area and the endangered Chaco Eagle is here and last year we found a nest. Other Antbird species are also well represented by White-shouldered Antshrike, Amazonian Streaked and White-flanked Antwrens, Spot-backed Antbird, Silvered Antbird and Black-spotted Bare-eye. Night Hotel Colonial B: L: D

DAY 10: RIBERALTA – SANTA CRUZ OR LA PAZ: Flight to either Santa Cruz or La Paz for international flights home B: L: D