After a very bizarre day entering La Paz, (which you can read about here) Ross and I slept in and took advantage of the complimentary breakfast our hotel offered before heading out for a day of birding. Our plan for the day was to head to nearby Cotapata along the Coicio Road, AKA “road to death” that a lot of tourists visit to bike ride down. We hired a taxi for a few hours and proceeded to stop at several locations along the road to see some range restricted birds. Our first stop was a damp, muddy trail along the road that Ross had read about in a bird report (which probably has some sort of name that I am not aware of.) We started on the trail and not more than 30 feet in we heard two Bolivian Diademed Tapaculos. Although we found that a large portion of the forest along the trail had been disturbed and deforested, some native patches of trees were remaining. The first few kilometers proved to be the best and over the course of the next two hours on the trail we were fortunate to run into a few flocks of birds before finally running into our main target of Orange-browed Hemisphingus. Other highlights from the morning included Rufous-bellied Bush Tyrant, Yungus Pygmy Owl, Three-striped Hemisphingus, and Yungus Manakin.
We met back up with our driver and proceeded to stop for lunch at a very delicious and very cheap trout restaurant. Ross ended up finishing his large plate of food and ordered a second plate of food while the girls eating nearby couldn’t help but giggle at his appetite.
With our tummies full we headed off to make a few more stops along the road searching out some range-restricted Canesteros. After plugging some GPS coodinates into our handheld Garmin, we stopped and a very cooperative Scribble-tailed Canestero jumped onto a rock. This easily was the most cooperative bird of the trip so far!
We drove a few more kilometers down the road and stopped again, this time to search out Streak-throated Canestaro. Although not as cooperative as his scribble-tailed counterpart, the Streak-throated Canestaro was not hard to find and soon was spotted singing on a rock. We hadn’t expected to find all of our targets so quickly!
With some time to kill we made a few more stops before heading back to La Paz.
We arrived back in town with some daylight to spare and concluded the day with a walk through the shops and markets purchasing a few trinkets to take home with us.
The next morning we woke up early and relied mainly on public transportation to get to the little town of Mecapaca. The collectivos (AKA minivan style public transportation) we were searching out were relatively easy to navigate, albeit packed full of as many passengers as possible. A van that you thought could only fit 9 can actually fit 13+, fun fact. We arrived in Mecapaca and took a walk through the fields searching out Brown-backed Mockingbird and Brown-capped Tit-spinetail. The morning birding was slow until the final few hundred meters before arriving back at the plaza. It was here that we had great looks at two Brown-backed Mockingbirds and an endemic Bolivian Earthcreeper.
Ross and I ate in the little town before taking a collectivo back to our hotel. We collected our luggage and attempted to squeeze everything into yet another collectivo en route to the bus station. We were dropped off and walked the remainder of the way to find a collective headed to Achacachi but took a few wrong turns before arriving at a van getting ready to leave. We boarded up but debarked in the small town of Huarina which borders Lake Titicaca. Ross left me to watch our bags while he searched out someone with a car willing to drive us around while we searched for the flightless Titicaca Grebe that calls Lake Titicaca home. Unfortunately finding a taxi was no easy task, even with the help of two girls Ross met in town. He claims they helped him out because he looked too irresistible.
Finally a driver willing to take us the mere 5 km down the road comes by. We pile in our bags and after one quick stop have some scope views of several Titicaca Grebes! To make a long story short, the driver we had was saying he wanted more money than initially agreed upon so we decided that instead of using him for the two hours we planned, we would turn around instead and head back to town. We then hitched our way to the small town of Sorata.
The next morning we were dropped off a few kilometers outside of town so we could search for yet another endemic canestaro! We stumbled upon a trail and birded there having a pair of cooperative Berlepsch’s Canestaros calling and singing.
We walked around the trails that led up to a ridge reminiscent of the ridge hikes of Hawaii! The views were great but with no time to spare we hitched a ride back to town.
We picked up our bags and decided that after hitting many of our targets we could head off to Peru three days ahead of schedule! In order to get to Peru we took a Collectivo back to Huarina and then caught a bus to Copacobana. We walked around the touristy town of Copacobana trying to get the best deals on a bus ride over to Cusco before purchasing tickets for a 6:30PM bus. We had two hours to spare before departing on the twelve-hour journey to the town of Cusco, Peru so we took that opportunity to scope out a restaurant with WIFI so we could research about the next leg of our trip and book a few hostels.
Bolivia was a fantastic country with many diverse habitats. Despite a few mishaps along the way we loved our time in this diverse country and hope to be back again someday! It sure is crazy how fast time flies! Anyone wanting to visit we give this country two thumbs up!
Somehow the three weeks we spent here flew by extremely fast and before we knew it we were getting our passports stamped at the Peruvian customs! Hasta Luego, Bolvia. Hola, Peru!