Where to watch birds and wildlife in
- Spectacular birds in spectacular scenery, in the birdiest landlocked country on Earth
- Over 1400 species including some stunning endemics such as Blue-throated and Red-fronted Macaws, Black-hooded Sunbeam, Masked
Antpitta and Cochabamba Mountain Finch
- And about 100 near-endemics and specialities, many of which are easier to see in Bolivia than the surrounding border regions of
Peru, Argentina and Brazil, and which include Short-winged (Titicaca)
Grebe, Black-legged Seriema, Red-tailed
Comet and Hooded Mountain Toucan
- As well as more widespread spectacular birds such as Greater Rhea, three species of flamingo, Andean Condor, several
macaws and Toco Toucan
- From the dry Chaco, vast wetlands and lowland Amazonian rainforest up through yungas cloud forests to Lake Titicaca and the salt
desert of Salar de Uyuni in the high Andes
Puma and Jaguar in Kaa-Iya by
Nick's Adventures Bolivia.
Best Birds and other wildlife in Bolivia
12 out of 18 endemics are possible to see on the main circuit; Red-fronted Macaw, Cliff (Monk) Parakeet, Black-hooded Sunbeam, Bolivian (Violet-throated)
Starfrontlet, Bolivian (Stripe-crowned) Spinetail, Black-throated Thistletail, Berlepsch’s Canastero, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, Bolivian (Rufous-naped)
Brush Finch, Cochabamba Mountain Finch, Ringed Warbling Finch and Bolivian Blackbird. (Blue-throated Macaw and Unicoloured Thrush (as well as the potential
endemic Bolivian (Velvet-fronted) Grackle are only possible off the beaten track at Llanos de los Moxos; Masked (Spotted) Antpitta is only likely at
Riberalta, accessible by air from La Paz; the best place for Horned Curassow, on the edge of Amboro National Park, was inaccessible in the mid-2010s;
Apolo (Palkachupa/Swallow-tailed) Cotinga can be seen near Aten in the Apolo Valley reached by road from Huarina; and Coppery (Letitia's) Thorntail is
known only from two specimens labelled 'Bolivia' from the 1800s. Other possible endemics include Yungas (Ashy) Antwren.)
Near-endemics and other specialities
Short-winged (Titicaca) Grebe, Black-legged Seriema, Red-tailed Comet, Wedge-tailed Hillstar, Hooded Mountain Toucan, Great Rufous Woodcreeper,
Light-crowned Spinetail, Maquis Canastero, Bolivian Earthcreeper, Bolivian Recurvebill, Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, Yellow-rumped Antwren, Rufous-faced and
White-throated Antpittas, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Yungas Tody Tyrant, White-tipped Plantcutter, Bolivian Warbling Finch, Citron-headed Yellow Finch,
Great-billed Seed Finch, Grey-crested and Short-tailed Finches, and Rufous-bellied Saltator. Also a chance of Scimitar-winged Piha.
Red-fronted Macaws by
Nick's Adventures Bolivia.
OthersThis list includes birds possible only at Llanos de los Moxos where the endemic Blue-throated Macaw occurs.
Greater Rhea, tinamous including Red-winged, White-bellied Nothura, Southern Screamer, Orinoco Goose, ducks including Torrent, Chaco Chachalaca,
herons, ibises, storks, Andean Condor, King Vulture, Cinereous and Long-winged Harriers, Great Black and Savanna Hawks, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle,
Mountain Caracara, Spot-winged Falconet, Aplomado Falcon, Grey-necked Wood Rail, Rufous-sided Crake, coots including Giant, Red-legged Seriema, Andean
Lapwing, Andean Avocet, Puna Plover, Puna Snipe, Grey-breasted Seedsnipe and other shorebirds including Wilson’s Phalarope, Andean Gull, pigeons and
doves, Blue-and-yellow, Red-and-green, Scarlet, Chestnut-fronted and Golden-collared Macaws, parrots, Blue-winged Parrotlet, parakeets, Hoatzin, Nacunda
Nighthawk, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Common and Great Potoos, swifts including Andean, hummingbirds including Giant Hummingbird and Violet-throated
Starfrontlet, Crested and Golden-headed Quetzals, Blue-crowned and Black-tailed Trogons, Amazonian and Andean Motmots, puffbirds, Versicoloured Barbet,
Black-mandibled and Toco Toucans, Blue-banded and Chestnut-tipped Toucanets, Chestnut-eared Aracari, woodpeckers including White, and Andean and
Campo Flickers, spinetails, canasteros, thornbirds, Brown Cachalote, Lark-like Brushrunner, woodcreepers, antbirds including Mato Grosso, antshrikes
including Great, Slaty Gnateater, numerous tyrant flycatchers including Spectacled Tyrant, Greater Wagtail Tyrant, Hudson's Black-Tyrant, Many-coloured
Rush Tyrant, ground tyrants, White and White-rumped Monjitas, chat tyrants, Band-tailed and Barred Fruiteaters, Red-crested Cotinga, Band-tailed,
Round-tailed and Yungas Manakins, Plush-crested and Purplish Jays, swallows, wrens, Black-capped Donacobius, thrushes, Blue-winged and Chestnut-bellied
Mountain Tanagers, other tanagers including Black-goggled and Golden-collared, hemispinguses, flowerpiercers including Moustached, Giant and White-browed
Conebills, Black-hooded and Peruvian Sierra Finches, Many-coloured Chaco Finch, warbling finches, yellow finches, seedeaters, oropendolas, Orange-backed
Troupial, blackbirds including Scarlet-hooded, and Black Siskin. Also a chance of Blue-throated Piping Guan, Rufous-breasted and Stripe-faced Wood Quails,
Fasciated Tiger Heron, Black-and-chestnut and Solitary Eagles, Sunbittern, Band-bellied Owl, Oilbird, Military Macaw, Alder Parrot, Blue-capped Puffleg,
Sword-billed Hummingbird, Short-tailed Antthrush, Rufous and Undulated Antpittas, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Chestnut-crested
Cotinga, Screaming Piha, White-eared Solitaire, Brown-backed Mockingbird, Paradise and Straw-backed Tanagers, Plushcap and Short-tailed Finch.
Capybara. Also a chance of Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, Black-tailed Marmoset, and Black (Paraguayan) Howler,
Tufted Capuchin and White-eared Titi Monkeys, and an outside chance of Big Hairy Armadillo, Azara’s Night Monkey, Southern Mountain Viscacha and Common
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
Other Natural Wonders in Bolivia
- Lake Titicaca This huge lake which is about 190 km (120 miles) long and up to 80 km (50 miles) wide, straddles the
border with Peru. It is situated at 3810 m (12,500 ft) and from the islands Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna, both accessible from Copacabana,
the view of the Bolivian Andes can be spectacular. The lake is also famous for its floating islands and boats, composed of a reed-like papyrus.
- Salar de Uyuni These immense salt flats, which cover 10,582 sq km (4085 sq miles), form a blinding white desert at
3656 m (12,000 ft) in the altiplano.
Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Bolivia
It is best to start in the lowlands of the east and travel west from Santa Cruz, stopping to bird and acclimatize to the high altitudes to come,
on the way up the Andes.
- Santa Cruz area including Viru Viru Airport Greater Rhea, Red-winged Tinamou, White-bellied Nothura, Red-legged Seriema,
White-tailed Goldenthroat and Chotoy Spinetail.
- Santa Cruz Botanical Gardens Blue-winged Parrotlet, Blue-crowned Trogon, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Amazonian Motmot, Bolivian
Slaty Antshrike and Fawn-breasted Wren. Also a chance of Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth and White-eared Titi Monkey.
- Lomas de Arena Park Red-legged Seriema, Chaco (Spot-backed) and White-eared Puffbirds, Chotoy Spinetail and Fawn-breasted
Wren. Also a chance of Mato Grosso Antbird.
- Santa Cruz to Camiri Golden-collared Macaw, Spot-backed Puffbird, Pale-crested and White Woodpeckers, Ochre-cheeked Spinetail,
Black-bellied Antwren, Stripe-backed Antbird, Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, Ochre-faced Tody Flycatcher, Greater Wagtail Tyrant and Black-capped Warbling
- East of Boyuibe Spot-winged Falconet, Black-legged and Red-legged Seriemas, Cream-backed Woodpecker, Chaco Earthcreeper,
Brown Cachalote, Lark-like Brushrunner, Crested Gallito, Spectacled Tyrant, Black-crowned and White Monjitas, and Many-coloured Chaco Finch.
- Refugio Los Volcanes NR and Amboro NP Andean Condor, Rufescent Screech Owl, Bolivian Recurvebill, Yungas Antwren,
Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Bolivian Tapaculo, Slaty Gnateater, Yungas Manakin and Black-goggled Tanager. Also a chance of Rufous-breasted Wood Quail,
Rufous-sided Crake, Sunbittern, Military Macaw (mostly Nov-Dec), Band-bellied Owl and Short-tailed Antthrush.
- Loma Larga, Valle Grande A chance of Red-faced Guan, Alder Parrot and Short-tailed Anthrush.
- Red-fronted Macaw Lodge and Reserve/Rio Misque Andean Condor, Red-fronted Macaw, Cliff and Mountain Parakeets, Greater
Wagtail Tyrant, Cinereous Ground Tyrant, White-tipped Plantcutter and Bolivian Blackbird.
- Serrania de Siberia, above Comarapa in Amboro NP Black-winged Parrot, Golden-headed Quetzal, Red-tailed Comet (below cloud
forest in dry habitat), Light-crowned Spinetail, Black-throated Thistletail, Giant Antshrike, Rufous-faced Antpitta, Yungas Tyrannulet, Trilling Tapaculo,
Bolivian Brush Finch, Blue-winged and Chestnut-bellied Mountain Tanagers, Grey-bellied and Moustached Flowerpiercers, and Bolivian Warbling Finch. Also a
chance of Blue-capped Puffleg, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Band-tailed and Barred Fruiteaters, and Olive-crowned Crescentchest
(below cloud forest in dry habitat).
- Comarapa to Cochabamba Giant Hummingbird, Maquis Canastero, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, Rufous-bellied Saltator, Giant
Conebill, Cochabamba Mountain Finch, Bolivian Warbling Finch and Citron-headed Yellow Finch. Also a chance of Black-hooded Sunbeam, Wedge-tailed
Hillstar, Blue-capped Puffleg, Red-tailed Comet and Olive-crowned Crescentchest.
- New road between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz including Corani Reservoir and Tablas Monte Black-hooded Sunbeam (Corani),
Hooded Mountain Toucan, Black-throated Thistletail, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Three-striped Hemispingus, Bolivian Brush Finch, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer
and White-browed Conebill. Also a chance of Stripe-faced Wood-Quail, Rufous, Rufous-faced and Undulated Antpittas, and Golden-collared
- Miguelito (Pipeline Road), also on new road between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz Crested and Golden-headed Quetzals,
Black-streaked Puffbird, Bolivian Tapaculo, Bolivian and Yungas Tyrannulets, Yungas Tody Tyrant, Yungas Manakin, Rust-and-yellow Tanager and
Giant Conebill. Also a chance of Yellow-rumped Antwren, White-eared Solitaire and Straw-backed Tanager.
- Laguna Alalay, Cochabamba Many-coloured Rush Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird and White-tipped Plantcutter.
- Cerro Tunari, Cochabamba, via Quillacolla Road Torrent Duck, Grey-hooded Parakeet, Giant Hummingbird, Andean and Wedge-tailed
Hillstars, Red-tailed Comet, Andean Flicker, Bolivian Earthcreeper, Tawny Tit Spinetail, Maquis and Puna Canasteros, Puna Tapaculo, Olive-crowned
Crescentchest, ground tyrants, Fulvous-headed Brush Finch, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, Rufous-bellied Saltator, Giant Conebill, Cochabamba Mountain Finch,
Black-hooded Sierra Finch, Bolivian and Rufous-sided Warbling Finches, and Bolivian Blackbird. Also a chance of Stripe-crowned Spinetail and Short-tailed
- Chapare Road (Villa Tunari-Cochabamba) Black-winged Parrot, Black-hooded Sunbeam, Crested Quetzal, Versicoloured Barbet,
Blue-banded Toucanet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Black-throated Thistletail, Upland Antshrike, Bolivian Tyrannulet and Yungas Tody Tyrant. Also a chance
of White-throated Quail Dove, Hooded Mountain Toucan, Rufous-bellied Bush Tyrant, Band-tailed and Barred Fruiteaters, Chestnut-crested Cotinga,
White-eared Solitaire and Straw-backed Tanager.
- Lake Uru-Uru (3700 m (12,139 ft)) Depending on water levels, Andean, Chilean and James’s Flamingos, Puna Plover,
Andean Avocet, Many-coloured Rush Tyrant and Wren-like Rushbird.
- Laguna Colorado (nearly 4300 m (14,107 ft)) The most important nesting site in the world for James’s Flamingo,
and also a nesting site for Andean and Chilean Flamingos, usually from November to January.
- Inquisivi Bolivian Spinetail.
- Coroico Road including El Cumbre Pass at 4600 m, Cotapata, El Chairo, Pongo, Chuspipata, Chulumani and down to Coroico
Grey-breasted Seedsnipe (El Cumbre), Andean Motmot, Black-streaked Puffbird, Versicoloured Barbet, Hooded Mountain Toucan, Blue-banded Toucanet,
Black-throated Thistletail, Tawny Tit Spinetail, Line-fronted and Scribble-tailed Canasteros, Chestnut-backed and Upland Antshrikes, Diademed and Puna
Tapaculos, Bolivian and Yungas Tyrannulets, Yungas Tody Tyrant, Band-tailed and Barred Fruiteaters, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Chestnut-crested Cotinga,
Yungas Manakin, White-eared Solitaire, Bolivian Brush Finch, many tanagers including Golden-collared, Grass-green and Rust-and-yellow, and Orange-browed
Hemispingus. Also a chance of Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Rufous, Rufous-faced, Stripe-headed and Undulated Antpittas, and
- Lake Titicaca including area Short-winged Grebe, Many-coloured Rush Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird and Black Siskin.
- Sorata Giant Coot, Black-hooded Sunbeam and Berlepsch's Canastero.
- Llanos de los Moxos (7 hrs by road from Trinidad, accessible by air from La Paz) Blue-throated (El Cutal estancia),
Blue-and-yellow, Red-and-green, Scarlet, Chestnut-fronted and Golden-collared Macaws, as well as Greater Rhea, numerous waterbirds including Southern
Screamer, Orinoco Goose, herons, ibises and storks, Long-winged Harrier, Great Black Hawk, Hoatzin, Nacunda Nighthawk, Scissor-tailed Nightjar,
Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Toco Toucan, Pale-crested and White Woodpeckers, Campo Flicker, Plain Softtail, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Great Antshrike,
Rusty-backed Antwren, Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, Mato Grosso Antbird, White and White-rumped Monjitas, Hudson’s Black Tyrant, Band-tailed Manakin,
Sulphur-bellied Tyrant Manakin, Large-billed Seed Finch, Long-tailed Reed Finch, Great Pampa Finch, Orange-backed Troupial, Chopi, Scarlet-hooded,
Unicoloured and White-browed Blackbirds, Bolivian (Velvet-fronted) Grackle, Black Howler Monkey, Capybara and Spectacled Caiman. Also a chance of
Unicoloured Thrush, as well as Rufous-sided Crake, Sunbittern, Sungrebe and Azara's Night Monkey.
Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Bolivia
April to November is usually the driest time of the year, with the end of this period, from early September to early November, usually being
the driest and best for birds. The wet season normally lasts from January to March. It is usually coldest at night at high altitude from June to
Recommended Bird Books etc. for Bolivia
Birds of Bolivia: Field Guide by Sebastian K Herzog et al. Asociacion Armonia, 2017.
Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica (including Bolivia) by M R de la Pena and M Rumboll. Collins, 1998.
Birds of Peru by T S Schulenberg et al. Helm, 2010 (Second Edition).
Birds of South America: Non-Passerines by J R Roderiguez Mata et al. Harper Collins, 2006.
Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press/Helm, 2009
(Updated paperback edition of books listed next with 400 more illustrations).
The Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press, 1989 and 1994 (Two volumes).
Mammals of South America by R D Lord. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.
Where to watch birds in South America by N Wheatley. Helm, 1994.
Don’t know which country/countries to visit in South America? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this
book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to
the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet.
However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered,
lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Bolivia
Many trip reports, some for Bolivia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these
websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to
Bolivia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites,
which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Bolivia' below.
Local bird and wildlife guides in Bolivia
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders.
Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are
the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional
skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently,
employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the
wildlife you wish to see.
Accommodation for birders in Bolivia
Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Bolivia
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other
wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably
according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours
last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an
important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals
and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and
transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where
the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the
cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local
transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and
that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those
which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously
lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit.
Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are
certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are
the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional
skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom
tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set
itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes,
whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made
attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are
also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds
or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best
sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the
pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit
people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of
strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small
groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with
a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the
price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Bolivia
include the following.