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Birdwatching in Peru

Peru is the birdiest country in the world. It harbors over 1800 species of birds and with more than 85% of them being all time residents. It is second only to Brazil in number of endemic birds and second only to the "islands" of Indonesia in the number of species with restricted geographical ranges(as defined by Birdlife). Some lodges in the Peruvian eastern lowlands are hardly equaled anywhere in the number of species on their lists: several with over 550 species! In 1982 a team of birders in southeastern Peru, broke a world record, with 331 species of birds in a single day without the use of motorized vehicles, all within paddling and walking distance. Peru is a country with amazing contrasts. From the world' richest oceanic currents, over the world' highest tropical mountain chain to the basin of the world' largest river, Peru is a land of unparalleled contrasts. With 87 of the 104 climates of the world, Peru encompasses both, the driest desert and the second wettest locality on the planet. Such a diversity of climates and wealth of natural resources has not only produced the unparalleled diversity of birds, but is also responsible for the amazingly rich history of human cultures and civilizations of which the Incas are only the best known.

Machupicchu


Peru's unrivalled diversity of birds (1840 species). From exotic hummingbirds (118 species), colorful cotingas (33 species) and Tanagers (134 species), to secretive but vocal antbirds (142 species) and macaws at clay-licks with more than 10 species, mixed species flocks of over 30 commingled species, and endemics (120 species) like the White-winged Guan, Inca Wren and the Junin Flightless Grebe.

Tour I.
7 day birdwatching tour to Cusco and Machupicchu.
Tour II.
7 day birdwatching tour to the Long Whiskered Owlet Trail.


Electronic map of Peru


Tour I

7 day birdwatching tour to Cusco and Machupicchu.

If you are coming to Cusco this is the perfect tour for those interested in birding and seeing the rich culture of this region. This is a perfect short trip, where you not only visit and bird the famous site of MACHUPICCHU but also bird some very good temperate and sub-tropical forest, inter-montane valleys, highland lakes to Polylepis woodlands where some of the rarest birds on earth are found. All of this staying at convenient lodging and guided by a Birdingpal.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Cusco.
Arrival to Cusco, transfer to selected hotel, morning at leisure. Afternoon visit of nearby ruins, visiting the impressive sites of Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman. We carry our binoculars as we will explore some polylepis forest in the vecinity of these sites, where we may spot our first birds of the trip. Possibilities include Spot-winged Pigeon, Golden-billed Saltator, Andean Flicker, Sparkling Violet-ear, Black-throated Flower-piercer and more.
No meals. Overnight at Cusco.
Day 2 - Huacarpay to Urubamba Valley.
Morning drive to the Wetlands of Huacarpay, habitats dominated by thypa reeds, where we have the chances for fantastic Andean water fowl birds include Puna Teals, Yellow-billed Pintails, Puna Ibis and the secretive Plumbeous Rail; others include the colorful Many-colored Rush Tyrant, Wren-like Rush-bird, Rufus-naped and Spot-billed Ground Tyrants, the gorgeous Bearded Mountaineer (endemic) and more. Picnic Lunch will be provided. Mid-afternoon drive to the Sacred Valley of the Incas Urubamba. We will certainly make an official stop at the colorful Pisaq Market excellent place to buy arts and crafts.
Breakfast and Picnic Lunch. Overnight at Urubamba.
Day 3 - Full day at Malaga.
Early morning departure to bird Malaga Pass and its wonderful birds, we will bird at a hanging valley, our first stop will be at Peñas with scrubby vegetation, where several interesting birds are found. Some target birds include the endemics Chesnut-breasted Mountain-Finch, White-tufted Sunbeam, Rusty-fronted Canastero and Creamy-crested Spinetail as well as a great variety of hummingbirds. Giant, Black and Green-tailed Trainbearers, Great Sapphire-wing, Shinning Sunbeam, Sparkling Violetear, Tyrian Metaltail and others include Golden-billed Saltator, Blue and Yellow Tanager, Andean Parakeets and many more. As the pass is reach a short walk is required to get to a patch of Polylepis forest at 14,300 ft. The birds we expect to find here include Ash- breasted Tit-Tyrant (endemic), White-browed Tit-Spinetail (endemic), Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Striped-headed Antpitta, Giant Conebill, Cordilleran Canastero, Lined-fronted Canastero, Tit-like Dacnis, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Thick-billed Siskin and a good chance for Andean Condor.
The birding in the pass itself is quiet rewarding too with several species of seedeaters, sierra finches and ground tyrants and raptors are a good possibility as well. Once over the pass the habitat gets more humid, quiet a dramatic change, Chusquea bamboo patches offers good possibilities for Parodis Hemispingus (endemic), Unstreaked Tit-tyrant (endemic), Marcapata Spinetail (endemic) several species of conebills, furnarids, mountain tanagers and flycatchers. The fast moving streams are good for Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper. Late afternoon drive back to Urubamba.
Breakfast and Picnic Lunch. Overnight at Urubamba.

"Highland Motmot"   © Spike Baker


Day 4 - Ollantaytambo to Machupicchu.
Morning drive to the last living Inca town in existence the charming Ollantaytambo, where we will take our time to walk its cobbled stone streets and interact with Ollantaytambo locals. Mid-morning train to the Wonder of the World Machupicchu (1 hour and half train ride). The ride is certainly gorgeous, as we travel along the Urubamba Canyon, good possibilities to see Torrent Ducks and White-capped Dipper. On arrival check-in to hotel and lunch. Full afternoon exploration of the site with your guide, as she reveals the mysteries of its construction and use. Vecinity of site is excellent for the Peruvian endemic Inca Wren. We will take last bus back to town on time to be around Puente Ruinas, where we have good changes to spot displaying Lyre-tailed Nighjar.
Breakfast and Picnic Lunch. Overnight at Aguas Calientes.

"Sparkling Violet-ear"   © Spike Baker


Day 5 - Machupicchu to Cusco.
Full morning birding around Aguas Calientes. We will bird this beautiful tropical cloud forest with trees loaded with bromeliads and orchids, good chances for several special birds amongst them Silver-backed, Saffron-crowned, Blue-necked Tanagers, Green Hermit, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Ocellated Piculet, the colorful Andean Cock of the Rock and others. Machupicchu is also a great spot to find the endangered Spectacled Bear. Mid-afternoon train back to Cusco. On arrival transfer to selected hotel.
Breakfast. Overnight at Cusco.

"Torrent Duck"   © Spike Baker


Day 6 - Cusco.
Morning walking tour of Cusco visiting the colorful produce market of San Pedro, the amazing Temple of the Sun Koricancha and the Cusco Cathedral. Afternon at leisure. You can join a musician expert on Andean instruments or meet a local chef to learn the secrets of the delicious Peruvian cooking on request.

"White-capped Dipper"   © Spike Baker



Day 7 Cusco to Lima.
Morning transfer back to airport for flights back to Lima and other connections.
Breakfast. End of tour.


7 Days tour price is: 2 pax US$1765 per person double room. 4 pax US$1345 per person double room.
US$115 single supplement.
Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Included:
6 nights accommodations in very comfortable 3* hotels (Cusco, Urubamba and Machupicchu), entrance fees to sights of interest according to itinerary, round trip train ticket to Machupicchu only on day 04, round trip bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machupicchu on day 04. 02 picnic lunches in the field and one lunch in Machupicchu, private transport during tour, professional birding/history and archaeology during trip, bottled water and snacks, transfer on arrival and departure.
Excluded:
Meals not mentioned in itinerary, laundry, second entrance fees to Machupicchu, tips and other gratuities.


Tour II

7 day birdwatching tour to the Long Whiskered Owlet Trail

This birding tour focuses on the least-known and most endemic-rich areas of South America; targets geographic specialties on the rich and diverse habitats of northern Peru, including tropical lowlands, foothills on the western cordillera through arid intermontane valleys and up over the eastern Andes. Enjoy the fanciest of all hummers, Marvelous Spatuletail, the Long-whiskered Owlet: the most enigmatic, and least known, of South America's birds, dozens of hummingbirds and more. This tour focuses on the Alto Mayo Protected Forest and the newly created private Reserve at Abra Patricia and Alto Nieva. This fantastic tour starts and ends in Tarapoto. Up to 200 species of birds are possible during this trip, enjoy it in the company of your Birdingpal Doris Valencia.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Tarapoto.
On arrival to this Amazonian city transfer to your hotel in downtown Tarapoto, lunch at local restaurant. Afternoon birding in the vicinity of Tarapoto, in specific Xerotophic dry forest, we will be in search of Northern Slaty Antshrike, Pacific Parrotlet, Rusty-backed Antwren, Pearly-vented Conebill, Ashy-headed Greenlet and others.
Night in Tarapoto at Tucano Suites Hotel. (L,D)
Day 2 - Tarapoto to Moyobamba.
Early breakfast, we will take a short drive, to the Cerro Escalera Protected Area, about 30 minutes from Tarapoto. The area is excellent for birds like Golden-headed Manakin, Dooted Tanager, the unusual Slaty Euphonia and more. We will make a special stop at Oilbird gorge, where the birds are easily seen on their roosting ledges. Lunch at local restaurant. Mid-afternoon arrival to Wakanqui Lodge, on time to enjoy the hummingbird garden with almost 18 species! We will hopefully spot Green Violetear, Mountain Velvet-breast, Black-throated Mango, Amathist Woodstar, Rufus-crested Coquete, Blue-tailed Emerald and many more.
Night at Wakanki Lodge. (B, L, D)

"Yellow-scarfed Tanager"


Day 3 - Moyobamba to Abra Patricia.
We will dedicate the early morning hours for birding around lodge clearing, the species we may finds include Purple-throated Euphonia, Short-crested Flycatcher, Lafresnays Piculet, Fairy-capped Manakin and several others more. Before we depart to our next destination we will take a look of lodge┬┤s orchid garden as well as hummingbird garden. Moyobamba is known as the orchid capital of Peru, this display features up to 60 species of orchids in their natural habitat. Early afternoon drive along the Alto Mayo Protected Area with very diverse tropical cloud forest to Abra Patricia, several stops will be make on the way searching for Sickle-winged Guan, several species of tangara tanagers, Versicolored Barbet, Oriole Blackbird, Blue-winged Mountain Tanager and the list goes on.
Arrival and overnight at Long-whiskered Owlet Lodge. (B, L, D)

"Royal Sunangle"


Day 4 - Abra Patricia.
Morning breakfast at lodge, we will dedicate the first morning hours to bird lodge clearing, hopefully bump into a mixed flock of mountain tanagers, the possible species in this colorful flocks include Lacrimose Mountain Tanager, the endemic Yellow-scarfed Mountain Tanager, the gorgeous Grass-green Tanager and certainly much more. We will also spend enough time at hummingbird feeders close to lodge dinning room, where the usual visitors to feeders are Collared Inca, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Bronzy Inca, Long-tailed Sylph, Speckled Hummingbird and others. Lunch at lodge. Afternoon exploration of lodge trails. If the night is clear and after finding out the whereabouts of the most enigmatic bird, we may encounter during this trip. We will take an hour walk in the company of a park ranger of the Abra Patricia/Alto Nieva private reserve to hopefully find this Peruvian endemic with a extremely restricted geographical distribution "the Long-whiskered Owlet". This enigmatic little owl is on its own monotypic genus Xenoglaux meaning  strange owl with a total lengh of 5.5 inches and it is among the smallest owls in the world. This elusive bird was found first back in 1976, and since them not only seen again until 2007!!!! this unique opportunity to see such a rare bird makes you a lucky birder!!! since it may have been seen by less than 200 people since the establishment of this reserve, that protect important tracks of forest, where various individuals have been found. The Long-whiskered Owlet is also one of the most eccentric in appearance, with large, bright reddish-orange eyes, prominent yellowish-white eyebrows and long facial  whiskers sprouting from the base of the bill and the sides of the face.
Arrival and overnight at Long-whiskered Owlet Lodge. (B, L, D)

"Long-whiskered Owlet"


Day 5 - Abra Patricia to Huembo Marvelous Spatuletail.
After a very good night sleep and a delicious breakfast, we will set off to Huembo Protected Area, where the local community of Huembo in coordination with ECOAN a Peruvian non for profit organization have been able to established a corridor of protection for both flora and fauna, since 2007 they have been reforesting the area with native species in the hope to recover the fragile habitat of several species of birds and mammals, this day we will enjoy probably the most beautiful of all hummers the exquisite Marvelous Spatuletail, this magnificent little creature comes to the feeders as well as to flowers that have been carefully planted in a small hummingbird lookout! Other species that also join the action are Little Woodstar, Andean Emerald, Violet-fronted Brilliant, Chesnut-breasted Coronet and several others. Drive back to lodge for lunch. We will dedicate the afternoon to bird the lower forest below lodge in the hope to find the endemic Royal Sunangel.
Night at Abra Patricia Lodge. (B,L,D)

"Marvelous Spatuletail"

Day 6 - Abra Patricia and Alto Nieva.
Morning breakfast. Today we will spend part of the day birding along the road in the hope to bump into colorful Tangara Tanager flocks, which may have Metallic Green, Silvery, Saffron-crowned, Beryl-spangled, Flame-faced Tanagers. Other morning mixed flocks may also have Green and Black Fruiteater, Montane Woodcreeper, the very attractive White-capped Tanager, Masked Flowerpiercer and hopefully the endemic Jhonson's Tody Tyrant and many many more.
Night at Abra Patricia Lodge. (B,L,D).
Day 7 Abra Patricia to Tarapoto.
Morning departure back to Tarapoto, we will certainly make selected stops on the way to pick up species we may have missed days before. If luck is with us, we may spot the gorgeous Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, the endemic Black-bellied Tanager, Emerald Toucanets, Gilded Barbet, Purple Honeycreeper, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, White-throated Toucan and more. Lunch at local restaurant. Mid-afternoon arrival back to Tarapoto on time to be on your flight back to Lima and then home. (B,L)


7 Days tour price is: 2 pax US$2100 per person double room. 4 pax US$1950 per person double room.
US$170 single supplement.
Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Included:
All transfers on arrival and departure from Tarapoto, Private transport from day 1 to 7, 6 nights accomedations in double rooms (Tarapoto, Moyobamba and Abra Patrecia Lodges 3***), Professional birding guide for tour length, full board during trip (B, L, D), entrance fee to Abra Patrecia/Alto Nieva private reserve, Long-whiskered research station, Huembo research station for Marvelous Spatuletail Hummingbird, snacks and bottled water, check list
Excluded:
Domestic airfare between Lima and Tarapoto, airport taxes, alcoholic drinks, lodging before and after trip, not mentioned meals/drinks, laundry, bank fees for money transfers

Notes:
Consider travelling with an overnight bag for the Machupicchu part of trip. Second entrance fees to Machupicchu can be bought on request.
A total of 150 species is possible during the 6 days tour.
Birding season: Year round.
All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time six (6)weeks.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
Fitness:
Moderate, easy walking to most birding areas. Machupicchu requieres a moderate level of fitness as terrain is uneven
Weather: Cusco has two defined seasons: Dry and Wet seasons, the dry season from mid-April to mid-October, with occasional showers at the end of day between early to middle October, the rainy season from early November to middle April, being February and part of March the most rainny. Between the middle of May to early July we experience frost, these are the coldest times of the year, especially at the end of day and early mornings.
Equipment:
Depending on time of year clothing will require additional warm layers, rain gear, mosquito repellent for Machupicchu, good sturdy hiking shoes, wide brim hat, sun cream (very important), water canteen as water will be available during trip for refills, binoculars, group will be guided by guide with a scope, but any participant having her/his own is more than welcome to bring it along.


Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Doris and Adrian.   

Birding guide Doris Valencia Puclla, your local Birdingpal guide
Doris Valencia from Cuscou. Im a license tour guide here in Cusco, specialize in birding, natural history and history and archaeology. I do tours in diferent natural areas of my country but certainly more often to birding spots around Cusco, Sacred Valley, Huacarpay Wetlands, Abra de Malaga, Machupicchu and the Manu National Park. I would like to be contacted anytime for any service, I dont do tours for free often, but could organize anything necesary for birders in my area from transportation, accomodation etc for really good prices. Lots of good birding spots are around Cusco including the best and famous archaeological sites both from the pre-inca and Inca.


Birding guide Adrian Walker, your local Birdingpal guide
Adrian is an experienced tropical field ornithologist and naturalist with extensive experience across several continents. Now residing in Peru he and his Australian business partner have developed Cotinga Eco Haven, the only lodge in Northern Peru dedicated to birds and natural history studies. Adrian has written widely and published books on birds and reptiles and will ensure your time in Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve is memorable.


Testimonials.

I have been fortunate to have birded with some excellent birders in North America. Doris's ear and identification skills are as good as anyone with whom I have birded. This is a daunting challenge because of Peru's 1800 plus bird list. I would totally trust Doris to arrange a trip for you that you will completely enjoy and never forget.
Dave and Wendy Carter October 23, 2010 USA
Doris is absolutely amazing at spotting and identifying birds. I came back with more than 150 life birds, including 17 hummingbirds and some rare birds, like the endangered Inca Wren.
Manny Vara, January 2010, San Jose, California, USA
I emphatically recommend Doris Valencia to anybody wanting to explore Peru. Doris is an enthusiastic and knowledgable guide and she is well versed in the cultural and natural history of her country. Her birding skills are top notch and she works hard to insure that all the participants gets to see them. Doris Valencia is one of the best guides that I have had the pleasure to work with. Our tour with her was excellent and we look forwards to working with her again.
Dan van den Broek, Audubon Society of Portland. Trip Leader and Educator Set 2010.

Some facts about Peru.

Did you know?

Full country name: Republic of Peru.
Term for Citizens: Peruvian(s).
Capital: Lima.
Area: 1.28 million sq km2.
Population: 28 million (2007).
People: 54% Indian, 32% Mestizo (mixed European and Indian descent), 12% Spanish descent, 2% other.
Language: Castilian (Spanish), Quechua, Aymara and several dialects in the Amazon.
Religion: Over 50% Catholic, Protestant population, growing number of smaller religions.
Government: Constitutional republic.
Head of State: President Ollanta Humala (2011 to 2015).
Date of Independence: Declared July 28, 1821, from Spain; achieved, 1824.
Time zone (-5 H. GMT).
PERU 12 noon
New York 1 pm
London 6 pm
Berlin 7 pm
Paris 7 pm
Sydney 3 am (next day)
Electric power: 220 volts
Health: A yellow fever vaccination is mandatory if traveling to the jungle. No cases of yellow fever have been reported in a long time. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended on some areas.
Did you know?
1 - Peru has the second highest number of bird species in the world? Counting only breeding species, Peru ranks first.
2 - Right now, descriptions of at least 2 new species are already in press, at least another 5 new species are being described, and scientists estimate that more than 40 populations could be new species waiting to be properly documented.
3 - The official list of the birds of Peru has increased by about 200 species in the last 30 years, from 1601 species in 1972 to about 1800 species today? A combination of new records for Peru, taxonomic re-arrangement, and new species for science are responsible for this.
4 - More new species were described in Peru in the last 30 years than in any other country in the world, with about 1 new species on average described each year!!!!!
5 - Peru holds the world record for number of bird species seen in a single day without the help of motorized vehicles, with 331 birds at Cocha Cashu in southeast Peru? This record was established by Ted Parker and Scott Robinson in 1982 and yet to be surpassed. The absolute world record is 342, done in Africa with the help of airplanes.
6 - Peru has the highest number of “range-restricted” (*)species in the Neotropics and is second in the world only to Indonesia (*)defined by Birdlife International as confined to a range of less than 50,000 square kilometers.
7 - More than 400 of Peru’s birds have more than one subspecies in the country, adding 1003 subspecies to the 1800 species, for a total of over 2803 taxa.
8 - Tinamous are the most primitive of the Paleognathae, a group that includes Ostriches, Rheas, Cassowaries, Emus, Kiwis and Tinamous, and belongs to the oldest lineage of birds. Peru has more Paleognathae species (28), than any other country in the world.
9 - Peru has more flycatchers (family Tyrannidae, 248 species), more ovenbirds (Family Furnariidae, 121 species) and more finches (Emberizidae, 91 species) than any other country in the world.
10 - Peru has both the world’s largest flying land bird, the Andean Condor (and largest bird of prey), and the next-to smallest, the Little Woodstar (only 1 mm larger than the smallest, the bee hummingbird of Cuba).


More facts about Peru.

Guide books and CD’s recommended:

Recommended reading:
Field Guide to the Birds of Peru
by Thomas Schulenberg, Douglas F. STOTZ, Daniel F. Lane, John P. Oneill and Theodore A. Parker III
Birds of Tropical America: A Watcher's Introduction to Behavior, Breeding and Diversity (The Curious Naturalist)
by Steven L. Hilty
Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America
by Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata
A Neotropical Companion
by John Kricher

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Last update 24/09/2014