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Wildlife Watching - Activity Info. - Bolivia

For ecological diversity, few countries can beat Bolivia’s ecological diversity. Wildlife watching in Bolivia begins to provide riches as soon as you are below the snow line of the mountainous west and opportunities continue to abound as you head down into some of the world´s most exciting and diverse habitats. The mountain slopes offer fantastic birding and some fascinating wildlife viewing opportunities. However, one of the greatest places to observe the beauty of Bolivia is the Altiplano.

A recent NASA research expedition to the Altiplano described the area “as close to Mars we’ve found.” The place is best defined by its extreme dryness and temperatures (hot in the day and cold at night). It was also once a massive inland lake, which has been shrunk to the modern Lake Titicaca, as well as numerous salt lakes, such as Poopó, a large salt lake, south of Oruro. Bolivia is also home to several notable salt flats such as Salar de Uyuni.

Despite the harsh terrain, the Altiplano offers some of the most intriguing wildlife watching in the world. With a good guide, you should have a good chance of seeing alpacas, vicunas, and vizcachas (a rodent that looks like a cross between a squirrel and a rabbit). If you are especially lucky you might even get to see a gray fox.

Birding is also a popular option in this area. While it lacks the sheer diversity of the rainforest, the Altiplano still has plenty to keep you busy. In fact, given the open nature of the topography, birds can be easier to watch. Keep your eyes open for the Andean condor and the three species of flamingo that inhabit the other otherwise (mostly) barren salt flats.

The eastern side of the country is Bolivia’s tropical lowlands. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of this only as rainforest. The Gran Chaco, in the southeast, is one of the least understood ecosystems in the world. Years of conflict in the area kept scientists out, and more recent agricultural and mineral development have taken its toll.

Regardless, this is a great place to explore a little understood ecosystem. Keep an eye open for the Chacoan peccary, a large mammal that wasn’t discovered until the 1970s. The Gran Chaco is also a center of armadillo diversity, with at least 8 different species. Consider going to the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park, run and created by indigenous people of the region, one of the world’s most innovative and fascinating national parks.

Of course, for sheer biodiversity, the Amazon Basin literally cannot be beat. The region begins with the Llanos de Mamore, which gently drops into the Amazon Basin proper.  Bolivia is home to one third of the bird species in the world, and the majority of them can be found here.  In addition, there is an abundance of animals to choose to watch – capybaras, monkeys, snakes, tapirs, frogs, and even dolphins are just some of the animals that you have an excellent chance of seeing in the area.

For wildlife watching in Bolivia, but especially in the Amazon, hiring a guide might well be worth it. The sheer diversity and complexity of the ecosystems means that you have a much better chance of seeing what you came to see if you have an expert to help you along.

Activity Info.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Bolivia: Parque Bolívar, Bosque Ecológico Apa Apa, PN Noel Kempff Mercado Activities, Things to See and Do, Chulumani Activities, San Ignacio de Moxos Activities, Casa Gunther, Plaza Enrique Peñaranda, Hiking and Biking.

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