Day 1 - Arrival in Lima and have dinner as a group.
Day 2 - This morning we will make our way south of Lima for about one hour to the fishing port of Pucusana where we will take a 1 hour boat ride out to circle Pucusana Island in search of Humboldt Penguin, Inca Tern, Peruvian and Blue-footed (rare) boobies, Guanay and Red-legged cormorants, Blackish Oystercatcher and Surf Cinclodes (endemic). The sheer volume of seabirds here is impressive in of itself as are the groups of South American Sea Lions that lounge on the rocks!
We will then drive southwards for another hour to the arid desert of the Lomas de Asia Reserve. Here we will look for the endemic Thick-billed and Coastal miners, along with Oasis Hummingbird and Collared Warbling-Finch. A common mammal in the area is the Vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia), a close relative to the Chinchilla.
After a picnic-lunch we will drive back to Lima, with a stop at the Villa Marshes, a protected area near the Pacific Ocean that is good for Great Grebe, White-tufted Grebe, Peruvian Thick-knee, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird, Grassland Yellow-Finch, and lots of shorebirds as well the spectacle of several thousand Franklin’s Gulls. Today will likely be very sunny and good sunscreen/protection will be essential. Night in Lima.
Day 3 - Morning flight to the city of Tarapoto. Upon arrival, we will make a birding stop at the Laguna Ricuricocha for Comb Duck and some dry forest species like Ashy-headed Greenlet and maybe Planalto Hermit as well as the disjunct population of Flammulated Pygmy-tyrant. We will then transfer to the stunning Pumarinri Lodge, located in lush lowland rainforest on the banks of the Huallaga river, in time for lunch. The gardens here attract Black-throated Hermit and Grey-breasted Sabrewing and we may spot the diminutive Yellow-browed Tody-flycatcher in the trees around the accommodation. There may even be time for a dip in the pool at some point over the next couple days so bring your swimwear!
The afternoon will be spent birding down the road outside the lodge getting acquainted with the common Amazonian avifauna of the region such as Black-fronted Nunbird, Green-backed Trogon, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Swallow-winged Puffbird, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Riparian Antbird, Spangled Cotinga, and perhaps even the rare Purple-throated Cotinga.
After dinner in the covered outdoor dining area we can spend some time around the lodge looking for owls like Tropical Screech-Owl, Mottled Owl, and Black-banded Owl. Night at Pumarinri Lodge.
Day 4 - After an early breakfast we will drive for about an hour to the mountains of Cordillera Escalera Reserve. Here we will be birding around “El Tunel” (the tunnel), a patch of excellent foothill forest along the road as well as, time permitting, at the overlook at El Mono y La Gata restaurant. The area holds many rare specialties like Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Ivory-billed and Curl-crested aracari, Dotted and Yellow-crested tanagers, Plumbeous Euphonia, Western Striolated Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, Blackish Pewee and many more.
In the afternoon we will visit the Koepcke’s Hermit Conservation Center, another private reserve created to protect the endemic Koepcke’s Hermit. While waiting for our main target to show up at the feeders inside the reserve we can enjoy the likes of Gould’s Jewelfront, Golden-tailed Sapphire and maybe the rarer Black-throated Brilliant and Black-bellied Thorntail from the covered viewing area. A walk on the trails near the hummingbird feeders can produce Paradise Tanager, Golden-headed Manakin (at a lek about 30 minutes from the feeders) and White-plumed Antbird and a mixed flock could hold White-throated Woodpecker, Fulvous Shrike-tanager and much more. If we are lucky we may even spot a roosting Long-tailed Potoo or a Hairy-crested Antbird skulking in the undergrowth. The stunning Three-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega trivittata) is fairly common here as well. Night at Pumarinri Lodge.
Day 5 - We will get another early start to drive south of Tarapoto to the dry forests of the Upaquihua Valley. This is the main area in Peru where Planalto Hermit and Ashy-headed Greenlet can be found. Other possible interesting birds in the area are “Peruvian” Northern Slaty Antshrike, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-manakin, Bant-tailed Manakin, Stripe-chested and Rusty-backed antwrens, Rufous Casiornis, and more.
After lunch in the city of Tarapoto we will drive northwest a couple hours to the city of Moyobamba, with one stop on the way to look for Oilbirds at Puente (bridge) Quiscarrumi . Here we will also have our first chance (albeit slim) to see the national bird of Peru, the weird and wonderful Andean Cock-of-the-rock!
Once in Moyobamba we will head south about 10 minutes to the Waqanki Lodge where we will have some time to visit the hummingbird feeders and/or bird around the gardens. This lodge is perhaps the best spot in the world to see and photograph the stunning Rufous-crested Coquette that feed regularly in the Verbena along with Violet-headed Hummingbird and Amethyst Woodstar. Night at Waqanki Lodge near Moyobamba.
Day 6 - We will start the morning exploring the Quebrada Mishquiyacu trail behind the lodge, where Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Varzea Thrush, Peruvian Warbling-antbird, Golden-collared Toucanet, Painted Manakin, and many others can be found.
The rest of the morning will be spent at the lodge’s hummingbird feeders and gardens, which have attracted over 20 species of hummingbirds! The forest around the feeders can also be productive and hold Tataupa Tinamou, Little Woodpecker; mixed flocks of tanagers with Paradise, Black-bellied (endemic), Blue-necked, Guira, Turquoise, and many others. Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant and Mishana Tyrannulet (endemic) are also possible. A fruit-feeder is visible from the dining area providing regular distractions during meal-times.
In the afternoon we may decide to visit the rice fields near Rioja located 45 minutes from Waqanki. Here we will look for the local Pale-eyed Blackbird, Black-billed Seed-finch and Point-tailed Palmcreeper. Several crakes and rails are possible with the most likely being Spotted Rail. Night at Waqanki Lodge, near Moyobamba.
Day 7 - An early departure today to get to the Arena Blanca Reserve near the town of Aguas Verdes, where we will have breakfast, and the chance to visit the “Arena Blanca Reserve” where the hummingbird feeders can produce Reddish Hermit, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Rufous-crested Coquette, Blue-tailed Emerald and Wire-crested Thorntail, and another 15 more possible species of hummingbirds. The principle reason for our early arrival is the Tinamou feeder which is usually visited by Cinereous and Little tinamous, along with Rufous-breasted Wood-quail and Orange-billed Sparrow. We will set up here after a quick breakfast near the hummingbird feeders. Other interesting birds in the area are Northern Chestnut-tailed (Zimmer’s) Antbird, Lafresnaye’s Piculet, Dark-breasted Spinetail and Fiery-capped Manakin, and flocks of Tanagers.
Moving up into the mountains our next stop is near the town of El Afluente, a good area to look for Versicolored Barbet, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, the fantastic Andean Cock-of-the Rock, and a myriad of other tanagers, woodcreepers, antbirds, woodpeckers, flycatchers and more.
We also will make a brief stop at La Llanteria hummingbird feeding station for Green Hermit and Ecuadorian Piedtail.
We will arrive to the Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge at around 2400m elevation in time for a late lunch. In the gardens of the lodge we can relax and enjoy the myriad of hummingbirds coming to the feeders: Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Long-tailed Sylph, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, White-bellied Woodstar, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Collared Inca, and more.
We will spend the latter part of the afternoon birding along one of the trails around the lodge and we will become familiar with a whole new suite of birds such as Pearled Treerunner, Grass-green, Blue-and-black and Beryl-spangled Tanagers. Night at Abra Patricia.
Day 8 - Birding around the lodge gardens and the parking lot can be very productive and Lulu’s (Johnson’s) Tody-Flycatcher (endemic), Yellow-Scarfed Tanager (endemic), Black-throated Tody-tyrant, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Drab Hemispingus and many more can be found.
Around 8am we will try our chances at the antpitta feeding station, where both Rusty-tinged and Chestnut antpittas can attend, both rare endemics of the eastern slope in northern Peru.
Then we will walk one of the trails that start around the lodge and pass through humid mountain forest where birds like Sharpe’s Wren, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Variable Antshrike, White-fronted Nunbird, Golden-headed Quetzal and lots of tanager flocks can been seen.
More difficult to find, but yet possible, are mammals like Yellow-tailed Wooly-Monkey, Kinkajou, and Andean Night-Monkey.
After lunch we will drive down the road to the nearby Fundo Alto Nieva where we will start with a visit to the hummingbird feeders for Royal Sunangel. After that we will head to the Ochre-fronted Antpitta and Rusty-tinged Antpitta (if we missed it in the morning) feeding stations. En route we will look for Bar-winged Wood-wren and Cinnamon-breasted Tody-tyrant. Before returning to the lodge we will spend some time after dark looking for the legendary Long-whiskered Owlet. Since this is a very rare bird, we should keep our expectations low. Night at Abra Patricia.
Day 9 - Today we will spend the morning birding along the road in the Alto Mayo protected area, back down toward El Afluente. We will be targeting flocks and in the upper areas will will hope to spy Inca Flycatcher (endemic), White-eared Solitaire and White-capped and Yellow-throated tanagers. As we descend species such as Bronze-green Euphonia, Versicolored Barbet, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Equatorial Graytail, Gray-mantled Wren and Vermillion Tanager will become our focus.
We will drive back to the Owlet Lodge for lunch.
In the afternoon we will assess where we would like to spend more time and bird accordingly.
Owling options around the lodge itself include White-throated and Cinammon screech-owls and Swallow-tailed Nightjar can regularly be seen outside the dining area before dawn. Night at Abra Patricia.
Day 10 - In the morning we will transfer to Huembo, home of the perhaps the most spectacular hummingbird of all; the Marvelous Spatuletail! Others hummingbirds attending the feeders here are Andean Emerald, Brown Violetear, White-bellied Hummingbird, Little Woodstar and sometimes Purple-throated Sunangel. The forest inside the reserve is good for Southern Emerald-toucanet, Speckled-faced Parrot, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Silvery Tanager, and many others.
The nearby Rio Chido road (about 15 minutes from Huembo) is good for Black-crested Warbler, Citrine Warbler, Sickled-winged Guan, Lacrimose-mountain Tanager, Pale-eyed Thrush, and many more and we may decide to spend an hour here en route to Huembo.
After lunch at Huembo we will spend most of the afternoon driving to Bagua Grande in the lower Marañon Valley. We may have time for a bit of birding en route but we will prioritize getting to our destination to have a crack at the endemic Little Inca-finch before dark. Night in Bagua Grande.
Day 11 - After breakfast we will spend the morning birding around the dry scrub in the Bagua Grande area to look for Little Inca-finch again if we missed it the previous evening and other Marañon specialties such as Marañon Spinetail, Necklaced (Chinchipe) Spinetail, Marañon Crescentchest, “Marañon” Black-capped Sparrow, “Marañon” Northern Slaty Antshrike as well as Red-crested Finch and any others that we didn’t pick up the day before.
In the latter part of the morning we will begin our transfer to Leymebamba with birding en route along the Utcubamba Valley. Birding the dry forest along the way could produce Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Speckled-chested Piculet (endemic), Marañon Thrush (near-endemic), Buff-bellied Tanager and Mitred Parakeet. Meanwhile, along the river we will look for Torrent Duck, Fasciated Tiger-Heron and White-capped Dipper. Night in Leymebamba.
Day 12 - In the morning we will take the main road up the mountains into the cloud forests and scrubby ridgelines above Leymebamba, looking for specialties like Leymebamba Antpitta, Large-footed Tapaculo (a scarce endemic) and Russet-mantled Softtail (endemic) along with other species like Rainbow Starfrontlet, Yungas Pygmy-owl, Grass-green Tanager, Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan, Moustached Flowerpiercer and more.
Around the mountain pass of Barro Negro (locally known as Calla Calla, at an elevation of 3600 meters) we will be looking for Neblina Tapaculo (endemic), White-chinned Thistletail, Coppery Metaltail (endemic), and Rufous Antpitta (obscura subspecies).
During the long and windy drive down the spectacular road to the dry upper Marañon Valley bottom we will have more chances to see Russet-mantled Softtail, along with other birds like Azara’s Spinetail, Line-cheeked Spinetail, Purple-throated Sunangel, Red-crested Cotinga, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager, and more.
After a field lunch we will cross the Marañon river in the town of Balzas, at an elevation of 1000 meters. We will stop here for Peruvian Pigeon and the tricky Yellow-faced Parrotlet (endemic) and nearby we will have our first chance to pick up Buff-bridled Inca-finch (endemic). Then we gain elevation again to reach the El Limón and El Utco areas, the only known accessible places for the endemic Grey-winged Inca-Finch and Chestnut-backed Thornbird. Other special birds in the area are Marañon Thrush, Streaked Saltator, Buff-bellied Tanager, Tropical (Marañon) Gnatcatcher, and Mouse-colored Tyrannulet (maranonica sub-species, sometimes split as “Tumbes Tyrannulet”). Night in Celendin.
Day 13 - After breakfast we will drive towards the city of Cajamarca, with a few stops along the road to look for Jelski’s Chat-Tyrant, Rufous Antpitta (endemic cajamarcae subspecies), Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch (endemic), Rufous-eared Brushfinch (endemic), Paramo Pipit, and White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant. We will be passing through high-elevation pasture and puna grasslands which hold Mountain Caracara, Cream-winged Cinclodes, Streak-throated Canastero and Rufous-naped Ground-tyrant. We will also likely spot a few Andean Gulls.
After lunch in historic Cajamarca we will drive to the nearby dry Chonta valley to look for the extremely range-restricted endemic Grey-bellied Comet, Black Metaltail (endemic), Giant Hummingbird, Rusty-crowned Tit-spinetail (endemic) along with many other interesting possibilities such as Black-crested Tit-Tyrant, Tyrian Metaltail, Andean Parakeet, Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Andean Flicker, and more. Night in Cajamarca.
Day 14 - This morning we drive southeast for a little over an hour to the town of Jesus, currently the most reliable place for the endemic Great Spinetail and where we will enjoy a field breakfast. Other interesting birds in the area are Black-necked Woodpecker (endemic), White-winged Black-tyrant, Buff-bridled Inca-Finch (endemic), Spot-throated Hummingbird, Purple-collared Woodstar, Green-tailed Trainbearer, and more.
Then we will take the road towards Chiclayo where we will make a couple of stops on the road to look for two more tricky endemics, Unicolored Tapaculo and Rufous-backed Inca-Finch. A short detour from the main road can produce Bay-crowned Brushfinch, Black-cowled Saltator, Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, Piura Chat-tyrant (endemic) and more and here we will have a field lunch prepared for us.
Descending down to the dry coastal lowlands we will arrive at our hotel in Chiclayo around 7-8pm, in time for a late dinner. This will be a fairly long travel day but the great scenery and several short birding excursions will help break it up.
Day 15 - The morning will be spent birding the famous Bosque de Pomac National Sanctuary after a field breakfast prepared on site. The top target here is the endemic Peruvian Plantcutter while other special birds are Rufous Flycatcher (endemic), Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Collared Antshrike, Superciliared Wren, Pacific Parrotlet, White-tailed Jay, Pacific Hornero, White-edged Oriole, Cinereous Finch (endemic), and more. A short drive to a more arid section of dunes will hopefully produce Tumbes Swallow.
After lunch we will drive for about 2.5 hours to the Chaparri Communal reserve in the foothills. Along the road we could spot birds like Peruvian Thick-knee, Ringed Kingfisher, Savana Hawk, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Burrowing Owl, Sulphur-throated Finch and more. We will spend the remaining daylight birding around the lodge and in the evening we can try for Peruvian Screech-owl. Night at Chaparri Lodge.
Day 16 - The morning will be spent birding around the lodge. Typical birds of the area include Short-tailed Woodstar, Tumbes Sparrow, Tumbes Tyrant, Tumbes Hummingbird, Elegant Crescentchest, Gray-and-gold Warbler, Collared Warbling-Finch, Parrot-billed Seedeater, White-headed Brushfinch and more. We will be on particular lookout for the reserve’s flagship bird the extremely restricted endemic White-winged Guan which is common here as well as the elusive Ochre-bellied Dove.
Common mammals around the lodge are Sechuran Fox, Hog-nosed Skunk, Collared Peccary and Peruvian White-tailed Deer while if we are very lucky we may spot Spectacled Bear (seen on 2019 tour!).
After lunch and some relaxing at the lodge we will head out mid-afternoon in the van to visit the Tinajones dam, looking for birds like Comb Duck, Yellow-billed Pintail, Peruvian Thick-knee, Collared Plover, Grey-hooded Gull, Wood Stork, Black-faced Ibis, Plumbeous Rail and more.
Day 17 - Early in the morning we will drive up the mountains to the town of Casupe. The dry forest around here is good for Grey-chinned (Porculla) Hermit, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Ecuadorian Piculet, Ecuadorian Trogon, Red-masked Parakeet, Chapman's Antshrike, Henna-hooded and Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaners, Gray-breasted Flycatcher, Piura Chat-Tyrant (endemic), and more.
After lunch we will drive to the Chiclayo airport for our afternoon flight to Lima where we will say our farewells at the Lima airport before your international flights home.