We made a private 5-week birding trip to Bolivia including side trips to northern Chile and Buenos Aires province, Argentina. The side trip to Chile was more or less forced by the social-political troubles in Bolivia resulting in many roadblocks, and the extra trip to Argentina was a planned stopover on our way back home. So this was a trip from ocean to ocean, and from steaming lowlands to freezing highlands. The report is in three parts: this one about Bolivia and two short separate reports of the side trips to Chile and Argentina.
We first had a successful week of birding from the chaco woodlands of Santa Cruz through the semi-arid valley of Comarapa up to the Siberia cloud forest above it. Then we could not proceed to Cochabamba because of the roadblocks so we went back to Sta. Cruz and on to the tropical lowlands in the Beni province: the partly wooded savannas of Trinidad and the tropical rainforest remains at Riberalta. By now the situation in the highlands had cleared enough and we flew on to La Paz. After a visit to the high Cumbre pass and the steep forested Yungas valleys below it, we still wanted to visit the region around Cochabamba (highlands and East Andes slope forests), but here the last roadblocks still persisted. So instead we took the side trip to nearby northernmost Chile, which we did not regret at all. There we had a lot of good birds in the short distance from the coast of the Atacama desert to the splendid intact puna grasslands below the snow-clad volcanoes at Lauca national park. The 5-day stopover at Buenos Aires did we use to go along the coastal marshes and pampas, from the city down to Punta Rasa at the open ocean. We regarded this region as the southern end of the same savanna belt as we visited in eastern Bolivia.
Some of the highlights of this exciting birding trip to three countries were Red-fronted and Blue-throated Macaw, Greater and Lesser Rhea, Andean and Puna Flamingo, Giant Coot and Giant Wood-rail, a breeding colony of Andean Avocet, our first condors and our first albatrosses, Red-tailed Comet and Peruvian Sheartail, the enormous Toco Toucan, Bolivian and White-throated Earthcreeper, Straight-billed and Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Yungas Manakin and Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-manakin, our first monjitas (White-rumped and White), White-eared Solitaire and Andean Slaty-thrush, Moustached and Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, and many more. Of course we missed several species, partly due to the roadblocks preventing us to visit the Cochabamba region. Apart from the roadblocks (that we easily avoided) and some time needed to get used to the high altitude of La Paz, we had no troubles and we enjoyed the diversity of cultures.
Sunday 24 September 2000: afternoon arrival Santa Cruz Bolivia (from Amsterdam via Madrid and Buenos Aires) and short evening visit to Lomas de Arena
Mon. 25: morning Lomas de Arena, afternoon on to Samaipata
Tue. 26: Samaipata and surroundings
Wed. 27: Cuevas valley, and on to Tambo (Comarapa)
Thu. 28: Siberia cloud forest
Fri. 29: surroundings Comarapa
Sat. 30: Siberia cloud forest
Sun. 1 October: behind Tambo, and back to Santa Cruz
Mon. 2: botanical garden (forest) of Sta. Cruz (morning only)
Tue. 3: flight to Cochabamba, visit to Laguna Alalay, and flight to Trinidad
Wed. 4: surroundings Trinidad
Thu. 5 and Fri. 6: excursion to Blue-throated Macaw site N of Trinidad
Sat. 7: morning visit to river near Trinidad, and flight on to Riberalta, with short late afternoon visit to Hamburgo
Sun. 8: Antofagasta and Hamburgo (morning only) near Riberalta
Mon. 9: Siete Julio near Riberalta
Tue. 10: Lago Tumichucua near Riberalta
Wed. 11: flight to La Paz, via Trinidad and Cochabamba
Thu. 12: via Cumbre pass down to Sud Yungas (Puente Villa)
Fri. 13: Apa Apa forest reserve near Chulumani, and valley behind Pte. Villa
Sat. 14: slowly back to La Paz
Sun. 15: flight to Arica in North Chile, and on to Putre
Mon. 16: Putre and Lauca N.P.
Tue. 17: Lauca N.P.
Wed. 18: slowly back to Arica, afternoon Azapa valley and seabirds
Thu. 19: morning seabirds and Azapa valley, then flight back to La Paz and visit to Titicaca lake
Fri. 20: early flight to Santa Cruz, birding in surroundings airport, flight on to Buenos Aires
Sat. 21: Costanero Sur reserve near B. Aires, then on to Magdalena
Sun. 22: Atalaya near Magdalena, then on to San Clemente
Mon. 23: Punta Rasa and other sites near San Clemente
Tue. 24: seabirds, and same as 23
Thu. 25: seabirds, and slowly back to B. Aires, evening flight back to Madrid
Fri. 26: arrival Amsterdam