The natural riches of Bolivia are really only just starting to be realised. This is a country where one doesn’t have to travel half the length of a continent to reach thoroughly different habitats for here are the meeting points of Paramo, Amazonas and Chaco. This is full natural history exploration of some of Bolivia’s finest natural parks with equal emphasis placed on all the myriad flora, butterflies, mammals, birds, and reptiles therein.
Bolivia’s altitude ranges help to provide such a rich biodiversity but one has to plan carefully how to access these altitudes as rushing up to the altiplano is never a sensible thing. So we’ll start our exploration in the middle altitudes of the Refugio Los Volcanes and a spectacular landscape of red rock domes surrounded by forest. There’s an amazing variety of trees here and also a rich birdlife that includes handsome Plush-crowned Jay, Andean Condor, Green Oropendula, Mitred Parrot and with luck, Harpy Eagle.
An easy and quiet access road meanders slowly through Yungas’s wonderful high cloud forests with amazingly diverse mixed bird flocks at every turn with Hooded and Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanagers, Masked Flowerpiercer and the wonderfully named Streaked Tuftedcheek. We’ll also spend a day in the sublime Andean landscapes of the Cerro Tunari amid Polylepis forest draped with pendant Bomareas, inflated scarlet Caiophora horrida and magnificent cascades of Salpichroa glandulosa. Beautiful high-altitude birds we’ll see are Golden-billed Saltator, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, and the exquisite endemic hummer, Red-tailed Comet. Sunny days will bring an abundance of montane butterflies such as Brazilian Painted Lady, Christophori Mapwings and Andean Silverspot.
Next we’ll descend to extensive area of pampas around Santa Rosa de Yacuma. The flooded grasslands are rich in waterbirds and boat trips along the rivers will get us close to Pink Dolphins; some of them are well-habituated and come close to the boat. Tamandua, Black Howler, Squirrel Monkey, and Brazilian Porcupine are often seen in the grounds of Las Tortugas Lodge, whilst there’s abundant waterbird life in the flooded grasslands – Red-crested Cardinal, Toco Toucan, Southern Screamer, Rufescent Tiger-heron and Jabiru are some of the highlights.
Moving into Amazonas we’ll visit the Sadire Ecolodge, a community project known for its rare primates, especially the endemic Madidi Titi Monkey and Saddleback Tamarin. The approach roads to Sadire cross streams packed with superb butterflies. We’ll be dazzled by eighty-eights such as Callicore hesperis, Diaethria clymena and Paulogramma pyracmon, dozens of daggerwings, elegant Jemadia fallax, shimmering Rhetus periander and so many Adelpha, Memphis and Tigerwings. Further into the great rainforest we’ll finish the tour at wonderful Chalalan. Fully in Amazonia, Chalalan is a lodge sited on the banks of a large river and we’ll explore by boat and by walking their extensive trail network. Again this is fine primate country and we’ll see Red Howler and Brown Capuchin and we’ll hope for Black Spider Monkey. Night forays will give us a chance of Giant Armadillo, Tapir and Jaguar. Hoatzin are easily seen around a large lake which sometimes has Giant Otters playing in it. Insect life is especially rich here with many butterflies, beetles and colourful shield bugs. We’ll see the handsome Polythore boliviana damselfly and careful searching of seeps might reveal the poison dart frog Ameria picta. Nearby is a real tour highlight, a macaw salt lick with both Red-and-green and Blue-and-yellow Macaws in attendance.
The Kaa-Lya National Park protects perhaps the most unspoilt remaining area of the Gran Chaco, the second largest forest in South America. It is a semi-arid region, hot and dry, bisected by large rivers and home to a rich variety of birds and mammals, many of them either found only within this ecosystem or more often most easily seen in the Chaco’s more open habitats. We’ll visit the San Miguelito Jaguar Conservatión Ranch, a working cattle ranch some way to the north of the national park which has been working at protecting Jaguars in particular as well as the habitat in general. During our three days we can expect to see Ocelot (just one of six species of cat on the ranch), Peccaries, Tapirs, Anteaters and birds such as Undulated Tinamou, Cocoi Heron and Plush-crested Jay.
Dates and Prices
25th September - 13th October 2024 (19 days)
Optional Tour Extensions
San Miguelito & the Gran Chaco Extension
12th October - 17th October 2023 (6 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
The entire natural world!
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 9.
All flights. Transport, accommodation and all meals in Bolivia. Services of your leader. Entrance fees to national parks. Please note: Insurance, drinks, tips and items of a personal nature, are not included.
Mammal and bird checklists are available.
After a night in the Sun Hotel in Santa Cruz we’ll move to the Refugio Los Volcanes for a two night stay in their well-appointed large cabins. We’ll explore the higher altitude areas on the itinerary from the Hotel Aranjuez in Cochobamba which is very comfortable and has a lovely garden and giant fig in the atrium. After three nights here we head to the pampas where we’ve one night at Las Tortugas Lodge near Santa Rosa de Yacuma where the large individual cabins are set well apart in grounds that are very productive for wildlife. We’ve two nights to enjoy the lovely Sadire Ecolodge, a community project where the large cabins are set amid fine forest in a very pleasant climate. We’ll have four nights at the excellent Chalalan Lodge whose large cabins offer access to wonderful Amazonian habitats. In Rurrenabaque we’ll stay in the Hotel Maya de la Amazonica, a very pleasant little hotel, before heading off to La Paz and our departure. A pre-tour take us to San Miguelito. After a night at the Sun Hotel in Santa Cruz we’ve three nights on the working cattle ranch at Sam Niguelito. Beautifully situated on a hilltop overlooking the Chaco forests and rivers the lodge has pleasant rooms and great home cooking.
All rooms on this tour have en-suite facilities.
Easy. No more than three or four miles a day for the most part and always on paths, trails or tracks. Note that in the middle part of the tour we’ll reach altitudes above 4000m above sea level but that we will have acclimatized carefully first.
UK flights are to Santa Cruz in Bolivia via Madrid, the return flight from La Paz also via Madrid to the UK. Indirect routes from regional UK Airports* and various European Airports may be available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Very variable. From cool, or even cold, in the mountains, to hot and humid in the Amazonas and Chaco regions. Rain can occur at all locations, usually as heavy showers.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.