Blue-throated Macaws by Paul Jones.
Puma and Jaguar in Kaa-Iya by Nick's Adventures 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 Mojos; Masked (Spotted) Antpitta is only likely at Riberalta, accessible by air from La Paz; the best place for Horned Curassow is Amboro National Park; 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.)
Bolivia and Peru 84 (Seven hummingbirds, three cotingas and ten tanagers) Taczanowski’s Tinamou, Stripe-faced Wood-quail, Titicaca Grebe, White-browed Hermit, Olivaceous Thornbill, Scaled Metaltail, Buff-thighed Puffleg, Gould’s Inca, Huanaco (Violet-throated) Starfrontlet, Rufous-booted (Booted) Racket-tail, Cloudforest Screech-owl, Blue-banded Toucanet, Hooded Mountain-toucan, Blue-moustached (Versicoloured) Barbet, Black-crowned (Crimson-mantled) Woodpecker, Andean Parakeet (also recorded in Argentina), Black-winged Parrot, Plumero (Speckle-faced) Parrot, Yellow-rumped Antwren, Ashy Antwren, Upland Antshrike, Brownish-headed Antbird, Rufescent (Russet) Antshrike, Slaty Antshrike, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Rufous-faced Antpitta, Trilling Tapaculo, Bolivian Tapaculo, Puna Tapaculo, Diademed Tapaculo, Royal Cinclodes, Bolivian Recurvebill, Rufous-backed Treehunter, Line-fronted Canastero, Streak-throated Canastero, Puna Thistletail, Light-crowned Spinetail, Cabanis’s Spinetail, Yungas Manakin, Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater, Band-tailed Fruiteater, Scimitar-winged Piha, Hazel-fronted Pygmy-tyrant, Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet, White-bellied (Slaty-capped) Flycatcher, Yungas Tody-tyrant, Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Yungas Tyrannulet, Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant, Unadorned Flycatcher, Kalinowski’s (Crowned) Chat-tyrant, Golden-browed Chat-tyrant, Chestnut-belted (Slaty-backed) Chat-tyrant, Taczanowski’s Ground-tyrant, Chestnut-naped (Rufous-naped) Ground-tyrant, Rufous-bellied Bush-tyrant, Olive Flycatcher, White-collared Jay, Fulvous Wren, Southern Chestnut-breasted Wren, White-eared Solitaire, Black-faced Brush-finch, Dusky-green Oropendola, Southern Mountain Cacique, Bolivian Citrine Warbler, Golden-bellied Warbler, Bolivian (Three-striped) Warbler, Slaty Tanager, Golden-bellied (Grey-hooded) Tanager, Drab Hemispingus, Orange-browed Hemispingus, Three-striped Hemispingus, White-browed Conebill, Peruvian Sierra-finch, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Golden-collared Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Mountain-tanager, Bolivian (Blue-winged) Mountain-tanager, Fire-bellied (Scarlet-bellied) Mountain-tanager, Blue-throated (Orange-eared) Tanager, Rusty-naped (Golden) Tanager, Green-capped Tanager and Spot-bellied (Blue-and-black) Tanager.
Bolivia, Peru and Brazil 39 Brazilian Tinamou, Purus Jacamar, White-throated Jacamar, Blue-necked (-cheeked) Jacamar, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Semi-collared Puffbird, Rufous-necked Puffbird, Fulvous-chinned Nunlet, Rufous-capped Nunlet, Black-throated (Emerald) Toucanet, Green-billed (Golden-collared) Toucanet, Brown-mandibled Aracari, Flame-throated (Lemon-throated) Barbet, Amazonian Parrotlet, Black-legged Parrot, Rose-fronted Parakeet, Black-capped Parakeet, Blue-headed Macaw, Southern Red-shouldered Macaw, Sclater’s Antwren, Ihering’s Antwren, Saturnine Antshrike, Bluish-slate Antshrike, Bamboo Antshrike, White-lined Antbird, Goeldi’s Antbird, Rufous-fronted Antthrush, Ocellated Woodcreeper, Inambri Woodcreeper, Flame-crested Manakin, Red-headed Manakin, Round-tailed Manakin, Black-faced Cotinga, Rufous Twistwing, Long-crested Pygmy-tyrant, Flammulated Bamboo-tyrant, White-cheeked Tody-flycatcher, Yellow-crested Tanager and Pearly-breasted Conebill.
Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador 6 Rufous-breasted (Leymebamba) Antpitta, White-bellied Pygmy-tyrant, Red-billed Tyrannulet, Black-and-white Tanager, Silver-backed Tanager and Straw-backed Tanager.
Bolivia, Peru and Chile 6 Arequipa (Creamy-breasted) Canastero, Ticking Doradito, White-fronted Ground-tyrant, Cinereous Conebill, White-winged Diuca-finch and White-throated Sierra-finch.
Bolivia, Peru and Argentina 10 Ocellated Piculet, Tawny Tit-spinetail, Buff-banded Tyrannulet, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Rufous-webbed Bush-tyrant, Andean Swallow, White-browed Brush-finch, Pale-legged Warbler, Two-banded Warbler and Short-tailed Finch.
Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina 5 Andean Avocet, Diademed Plover, Puna Plover, Puna Yellow-finch and Black-hooded Sierra-finch.
Bolivia, Chile and Argentina 6 Elegant Crested Tinamou, White-sided Hillstar, Horned Coot, Rock Earthcreeper, Sombre (Chiguanco) Thrush and Red-backed Sierra-finch.
Bolivia and Brazil 30 Red-throated Piping-guan, Long-tailed Ground-dove, Cinnamon-throated Hermit, Buff-bellied Hermit, Dot-eared Coquette, Eastern Striolated Puffbird, Gould’s Toucanet, Lettered Aracari, Western Red-necked Aracari, Black-girdled Barbet, White-wedged Piculet, Cryptic Forest-falcon, Yellow-faced Parrot, Crimson-bellied Parakeet, Madeira (Santarem) Parakeet, Rio Madeira Stipplethroat (Antwren), Large-billed Antwren, Natterer’s Slaty Antshrike, Rondonia Antwarbler (Warbling Antbird), Humaita Antbird, Double-collared Crescentchest, Campo Miner, Uniform Woodcreeper, Dusky-capped (Rondonia) Woodcreeper, Snow-capped Manakin, Snethlage’s Tody-tyrant, Chapada Flycatcher, Tooth-billed Wren, Blue Finch and Black-and-tawny Seedeater.
Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay 13 Rufous-faced Crake, White-winged Nightjar (small range), Hyacinth Macaw, Black-bellied Antwren, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, Mato Grosso Antbird, White-lored Spinetail, Helmeted Manakin, White-rumped Monjita, Curl-crested Jay, Fawn-breasted Wren and White-bellied (Golden-crowned) Warbler.
Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina 1 Coalcrest (Coal-crested Finch).
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina 8 Black-fronted Piping-guan, Great Dusky Swift, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Nanday Parakeet, Planalto Elaenia, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Ibera Seedeater and Stripe-bellied (Burnished-buff) Tanager.
Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay 6 Chaco Owl, Black-bodied Woodpecker, Crested Gallito, Stripe-capped Sparrow, Black-breasted (Ringed) Warbling-finch and Black-crested Finch.
Bolivia and Argentina 29 Huayco Tinamou, Red-faced Guan, Yungas (Large-tailed) Dove, Rothschild’s Swift, Red-tailed Comet, Wedge-tailed Hillstar, Blue-capped Puffleg, Slender-tailed Woodstar, Yungas Screech-owl, Dot-fronted Woodpecker, Tucuman Amazon, Zimmer’s Tapaculo, Bolivian Earthcreeper, Brown-capped Tit-spinetail, Spot-breasted Thornbird, Creamy-breasted Canastero, Maquis Canastero, Rufous-throated Dipper, Brown-backed Mockingbird, Stripe-crowned (Saffron-billed) Sparrow, Fulvous-headed Brush-finch, Brown-capped Whitestart, Bolivian Warbling-finch, Black-and-chestnut Warbling-finch, Rufous-sided Warbling-finch, Rusty-browed Warbling-finch, Citron-headed Yellow-finch, Rufous-bellied Mountain-tanager and Grey-crested Finch.
Red-fronted Macaws by Nick's Adventures Bolivia.
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 Yellow-toothed Cavy.
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
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.
Red-fronted Macaw by Paul Jones.
Military Macaw by Paul Jones.
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 August.
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.
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.
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.
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.