Dedicated bird holidays can take participants to a range of destinations as diverse as Australia, Spain, Chile, Kenya and Bolivia. With the assistance of a naturalist guide, professionally organised bird holidays open up new and exotic habitats to enthusiasts who may never have had the opportunity to encounter the endemic species of different countries.
Bolivia's Prolific Birdlife
While Bolivia may not immediately spring to mind as a destination for bird holidays, in the foothills of the Andes, the lush lowlands and the mysterious cloud forests the country's prolific avian species can be seen in glorious abundance. It's less accessible than neighbouring Peru and Colombia, but that makes the experience even more special.
Amboró National Park
Located in the central rural region of the country, around 40 kms to the west of Santa Cruz, this 1.5 million hectare national park nestled into the foothills of the Andes is home to between 800-900 avian species.
The park forms part of the famous Vilcabamba-Amboró Corridor, which stretches from Peru down through Bolivia. This remarkable region is unique in that it encompasses three very different ecosystems - the Amazon Basin, the northern Chaco and the Andes – affording it a diversity of plant and animal life not seen anywhere else in the world.
Amidst the spectacular landscape of Los Volcanes and the Amboró National Park, bird watchers are rewarded with sightings of a huge range of species including hummingbirds, antwrens, flycatchers, parakeets, tanagers, Sunbittern, Two-banded Warblers, Spectacled Owl and the unusual multi-coloured scavenger, the King Vulture.
Tambo, Samaipata and Siberia
Famous as the site of the legendary pre-Incan site El Fuerte, Samaipata is around 2.5 hours by road from Santa Cruz. Sitting in the middle of a deforested plateau, the town affords access to the renowned bird watching areas of the cloud forests of Siberia, Comarapa and the Red-fronted Macaw Reserve.
Among the most sought after sightings around the Samaipata region are the Black-faced Ibis, Huayco Tinamou, Dusky-legged Guan, Band-bellied Owl, the Red-tailed Comet (of the hummingbird species) and the impressive Giant Antshrike and iconic Andean Condor.
In the high-elevation cloud forests of Siberia, amongst the species that may be seen are the Spot-breasted Thornbird, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Trilling Tapaculo, Andean Tyrant and the Rufous-faced Antpitta.
Tambo, in the Andean foothills, encompasses a hot, dry habitat consisting of arid shrub desert and semi-deciduous woodlands. There are a number of rare and endemic species that make the region home, including the Tataupa Tinamou, White-tipped Plantcutter, Bolivian Earthcreeper and the Blue-capped Puffleg.
The Celebrity Species of Bolivia
The Red-fronted Macaw deserves a mention all its own, and a sighting of this rare endemic species is quite often the highlight of professionally organised bird holidays to Bolivia. It's believed there may only be several hundred of these magnificent birds surviving in the wild, and the central Bolivian Andes is the only place they can be found.
While, due to this scarcity of numbers, a sighting cannot always be guaranteed, for those who are privileged to experience an encounter with this spectacular species it is a true once-in-a-lifetime moment.
For those looking to experience a huge range of diverse, exotic and endemic avian species, Bolivia is a destination well worth considering.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in bird watching. As a passionate lover of birds, Marissa chooses the expert-led bird holidays organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.