Focus on Brazil


Brazil is a vast country with several distinctly different biomes. Discover them all with Focus Tours: Brazil

Focus on Argentina

The 8th largest country in the world, Argentina offers a wealth of experiences. From the subtropical rain forests of Iguazú Falls to the high Andes. Discover more with Focus Tours: Argentina 

Focus on Bolivia

Bolivia, nestled between Brazil, Peru, Chile and Paraguay, is the poorest and least developed country in South America, but also biologically and culturally the richest, safest and friendliest. Discover more with Focus Tours: Bolivia

Focus on Chile

Chile is the only truly temperate country in the Neotropics, and occupies more degrees of latitude than any other nation worldwide. Perhaps it is not surprising that Chile offers several extremes of the natural world. Discover more with Focus Tours: Chile

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Jaguar Tours

The northern Pantanal is the richest area in the world for spotting Jaguars in the wild and, our naturalist guides are some of the best. Together with our boatmen we can take you into the best areas for jaguars and many other creatures. Read more about Jaguar Tours.

Bird Watching Tours

Douglas Trent is a scientist, bird watcher and wildlife photographer and his be operating Bird Watcing Tours for around two decades now. The tour possibilities in South America are many. Read more about Bird Watching Tours.

Wildlife Photography Tours

Douglas Trent is a wildlife photographer and guides groups of professional, or enthusiastc amateur, photographers and film crews on focused wildlife tours. Read more about Wildlife Photography Tours 

Funding Conservation

 

A percentage of our profits has been funding in-country conservation projects since 1981. They directly benefit the local communities we visit and, when possible, are self-sustable, generating benefits long after our initial donation. Your visit will benefit you, the environment and your hosts.

COCHABAMBA TO VILLA TUNARI: High Altitude Puna to Lowland Amazon

 

From the delightful city of Cochabamba at 8,400 feet we begin on the Villa Tunari road, known to be one of the best birding sites in South America. It is also a botanist's dream as the road climbs to the Puna ridge at 12,000 feet before dropping back down to elfin forest, cloud forest and then rich montane temperate forest.

In this region one can find the endemic Black-winged Parrot, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Great Sapphirewing, Black-hooded Sunbeam, the fabulous Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals, White-throated Quail-Dove, Hooded Mountain-Toucan, Blue-banded Toucanet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, the endemic Black-throated Thistletail, Rufous Antpitta, Andean Tapaculo, Rufous-breasted and Brown-backed Chat-tyrants, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Blue-and-Black Tanager, and White-browed Conebill.

The road continues on down the road to a place that we regularly have lunch in the upper subtropical rainforest at around 5,000 feet. The forest here is humid with many epiphytes and reminiscent of the Atlantic coastal rainforests of Brazil. At this altitude, the forest is rich in little known species. Possibilities include the Brown Tinamou, Andean and Sickle-winged Guans, Plumbeous Pigeon, a showy race of the Collared Inca with a chestnut collar, Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Rackettail, Masked Trogon, the gaudy Versicolored Barbet, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Red-necked Woodpecker, Olive- backed Woodcreeper, the shy White-throated Antpitta, Blue-backed Manakin, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, the scarce and endemic Yungas Tody-Tyrant, White-eared Solitaire, Spotted Nightingale-Thrush, Saffron-cowled, Slaty, Straw-backed and Spotted Tanagers, Deep-blue Flower-Piercer and many others. Further down the road, approaching Amazonian rainforest, one can see the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, a large, orange/red bird with black wings and tail, white patches on the wing and an almost comical plumage on its forehead resembling an orange slice.

We finally descend into the tropical lowlands and the resort town of Villa Tunari as the end of an exhilarating day. We will have dropped some 10,500 feet from the pass this morning. At the foot of the Andes, 1,475 feet above sea level, Villa Tunari is in one of the wettest areas of sub-tropical forest on the continent. Based in Villa Tunari, birders will want to look for a number of Amazonian species.

Occurring here are the Amazonian Umbrellabird, Black-throated Antbird, Black-spotted Barbet, Black Phoebe, Swainsonís Thrush, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Crested and Dusky-green Oropendolas, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Black-and-chestnut Eagle and the restricted Upland Antshrike.

The nearby Carrasco National Park is reached by a cable ride across a raging river. One at a time we will be whisked across the river in a safe but exciting ride. The river crossing is an adventure in itself, but our goal here is a cave with the southernmost population of Oilbirds. In a safe procedure a single seat is pulled across a cable over the rushing river below. Somewhere in these habitats lurks the rare Spectacled Bear. Reaching 200kg, the bear is omnivorous and inhabits the forest floor, trees and the unlucky farmer's corn field. Its black or brown body has white circles around the eyes, giving it its name.

We recommend 4 or 5 days to fully explore the Villa Tunari road, which may be the highlight of any Bolivia tour.