Trip Report – February 2017
Please note that I only list life-birds on this daily itinerary.
Day 1: We arrived in Lima early in the morning, checked into our hotel at the airport and decided to head straight out with our guide. Quite a long drive through Lima traffic madness to Pucasana. We took a boat out around the harbour and had fantastic views of a number life birds:- Peruvian Pelican, Belcher’s & Grey Gulls, Humboldt Penguin, Guanay & Red-legged Cormorants, Puna Ibis, Peruvian & Inca Terns, Peruvian Booby, Peruvian Martin and Surf Cinclodes. Good start and good lunch beside the harbour.
Then even more species at the Villa Wetlands on the way back into town. Great Grebe, Peruvian Thick-knee, Plumbeous Rail, Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-tyrant and lots of the usual wetland birds. A great, if tiring, first day but with a much needed beer back at the hotel. Night at Cost Del Sol Hotel.
Day 2: Early morning flight to Tarapoto – and straight on the road to the Koepke’s Hummingbird reserve.
Several stops along the way provided quite a number of species including lifers for us:- White-tipped Swift and Chestnut-bellied Seed-finch and then at the reserve itself we had Koepke’s Hermit, Grey-breasted Sabrewing, Peruvian Tyrannulet and Yellow-breasted Flycatcher.
After a roadside picnic lunch we headed on towards Myobamba with a great stop at the bridge about 30 minutes before town for wonderful views of Oilbirds. It is a well knows roost and it was spectacular – also had 3 other lifebirds White-eyed Parakeet, Rufous-fronted Thornbird and Black-faced Tanager. Stayed at Waqanki Lodge (leaves a bit to be desired) which has wonderful hummingbird feeders and lots birds in the grounds. (Went into town after dinner for some owls but no luck!)
Day 3: Decided to spend the day in the grounds of the lodge to avoid more driving and it was well worth it.
The hummingbird feeders delivered lifers of Black-throated & Long-tailed Hermits along with Sapphire-spangled Emerald and a Bluish-Fronted Jacamar nearby. It was a nice relaxing morning and after breakfast we walked up the trail behind the lodge. Peruvian-Warbling Antbird, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Variegated Flycatcher and Black-bellied Tanager.
After lunch we went out onto the road in front of the lodge and birded about a kilometer further out of town. It wasn’t very birdy but we managed one life bird – Purple-throated Euphonia. Nice dinner at the lodge – dipped again on the owls. Night at Waqanki Lodge.
Day 4: Early morning drive to Arena Blanco for tinamous. The Little didn’t show but the Cinerous was wonderful. it is a great set-up and the hummingbird feeders gave us some more new species Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Little Woodstar, Rufous-throated Sapphire, Green-backed Trogon – which we enjoyed while having our breakfast.
On towards our next accommodation with a fabulous stop at a bridge over the Rio Agua Verdes – what a great spot – the canopy is at eye
level and the mixed flock moving through was stunning Lemon-browed Flycatcher was our only lifer but the view of Paradise Tanager were the best we have ever had.
Next was Llantera Reserve which is a little truck stop where the son has set up hummingbird feeders to attact the Ecudaorian Piedtail. Got Spotted Tanager while we were there. Then another stop at the Ranger Station for more hummingbirds!!! Reddish Hermit and Blackish Pewee.
Reached our accommodation in the late afternoon and after the shock of what a dump it was, (Fundo Alto Mayo Reserve) we went to the hummingbird feeders which were spectacular. Royal Sunangel, Yellow-crested Tanager, Yellow-bellied Tanager and Bronze-green Euphonia.
Day 5: Birded in the grounds of the ‘lodge’. It is a large reserve and we added 3 life birds to our list – Variable Antshrike, Rufous-vented Tapaculo and Mottle-cheek Tyrannulet. We had insisted that our guide find us different accommodation so we left and worked our way towards the small town of Florida. Couple of stops along the way didn’t produce very much (White-collared Jay) so we checked into our
new hotel, had lunch and headed to the Marvelous Spatulettail reserve. We didn’t actually get the hummingbird but there were tons of other hummers and it was quite birdy in general – new species for us were Large Elaenia, White-bellied Hummingbird and Mitred Parakeet. Stayed at the Puerto Pumas.
Day 6: Headed back to the Spatulettail Reserve and managed to see them displaying at their lek – worth getting up so early for! Then birded along the road nearby which added a few things for us Violet-fronted Starfrontlet, Buff-bellied Tanager and Citrine Warbler. Back to our hotel for brekkie before taking on a very adventurous hike for Pale-billed Antpitta. We had spectacular views of the bird and saw a fair number of other species on the way up and down – although nothing new for us.. This hike
is not for the feint of heart but the reward was worth it. Treated ourselves to a well deserved rest in the afternoon was great. Stayed at the Puerto Pumas.
Day 7: Today was about working our way back to Tarapoto to catch our flight to Lima but a few stops delivered life birds on the way. Johnson’s Tody-flycatcher and Ash-brown Spinetail were the species of the day. We then tried to find Comb Duck on a lake near the airport but no luck. The short flight took us to Lima where we checked into a fabulous hotel (Swissotel) and joined the VENT group for the next leg of our trip.
Day 8: We had a lazy day today in Lima enjoying the hotel, wandering around the area and repacking for our Amazon Cruise which was coming up next.
Day 9 – 15: We don’t normally bird with groups but we did this part with VENT and it was excellent. Once we arrived in Iquitos and boarded our fabulous cruise boat, the Estrella, the days were all quite similar. We went out 3 times each day on small boats and went down estuaries, pushed our way under trees in to flooded and terra-firma forests and enjoyed amazing views of the birds – better than
walking in the forest in many ways. This was a truly fabulous cruise – everything about it was great, the food, accommodation, staff, organization, everything. The list of life birds for us was long and spectacular including:-
Black-and-white Hawk-eagle, Black-collared Hawk, Plumbeous Kite, Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, Striped Owl, Sand-colored Nighthawk, Amazonian Swift, Olive-spotted Hummingbird, American Pygmy Kingfisher, White-eared, Yellow-billed and Paradise Jacamars, Scarlet-crowned and Lemon-throated Barbet, Lettered Aracari, Plain-breasted Piculet, Red-stained, Cream Colored and Chestnut Woodpeckers, Red-thraoted Caracara, Tui and White-winged Parakeet, Short-tailed Parrot, Blue-winged Parrotlet. Red-bellied and Red-and-green Macaw, Castelnau’s and Amazonian Antshrike, Moustached Antwren and Amazonian Streaked-Antwren, Black-tailed, Band-tailed, Black-and-white, Black-throated and Ripiarian Antbirds, Short-billed Leaftosser, Cinnamon-throated, Long-billed, Amazonian-barred, Striped and Zimmer’s Woodcreepers. Point-tailed Woodcreeper, Pale-legged and Lesser Horneros, Orange-fronted Plushcrown, Parker’s, Speckled,
Red-and-white and White-bellied Spinetails, Yellow-crowned Elaenia, River Tyrrannulet, Lesser Wagtail-tyrant, Spotted Tody-flycatcher, Fuscous Flycatcher, Riverside Tyrant, Dull-capped Attila, Short-crested and Three-striped Flycatchers, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Purple-throated Cotinga, Varzea Schiffornis, Brown–chested Martin, Coroya Wren, Varzea Thrush, Hooded and Orange-headed Tanagers, Pearly-breasted Conebill, Caqueta Seedeater, Oriole Balckbird, Velvet-fronted Grackle, Solitary Cacique and White-vented Euphonia.
Day 16: We woke up on the boat back in Iquitos but had time for a boat trip to the river islands to pack in a few more lifers before leaving. Striped Owl, Lesser Wagtail-tyrant, River Tyrannulet and White-bellied Spinetail all turned up for us. We then spent some time in Iquitos at the water front area ( which is really interesting) and then departed to the airport for our trip via Lima. Here we said goodbye to the VENT group and continued on our own to Cuzco. Night at the Palacio Del Inka.
Day 17: A lazy start to the day – and then a trip up to the ruins of Sacsaywamon for some sight seeing. Wandered around the old town for the rest of the morning before deciding to enjoy our hotel and relax for the rest of the day before starting our birding again tomorrow. Night at the Palacio Del Inka.
Day 18: Our new guides met us early and we drove out to Huarcapay Lakes. Lots of activity and a number of life birds which boded well for this leg of our trip. Puna and Speckled Teal, Andean Plover, Spot-winged Pigeon, Magellanic Horned Owl, White-backed Stilt, Andean Swift, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Bearded Mountaineer, Rusty-fronted Canestero, Chiguanco Thrush, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Greenish Yellow-finch, Golden-billed Saltator and Yellow-winged Blackbird.
Continued on towards Ollantaytambo in order to bird the Abra Malga for a few days. Stayed at the El Auberge.
Day 19: Drove up to the pass at Abra Malga and birded over the other side. The weather was not great so we didn’t get all our target lifers but the list was pretty good anyway and the scenery lovely (when you could see it). Blue-mantled Thornbill, Mountain Caracara, Cream-winged and White-winged Cinclodes, Puna Thistletail, Marcapata Spintetail, Unstreaked Tit-tyrant, Inca Wren, Parodi’s Hemispingus, Chestnut-bellied Mountain-tanager, Golden-collared Tanager, White-browed Conebill, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Peruvian and Ash-breasted Sierra-finches, White-winged Duca-finch and Cuzco Brushfinch. On the way back we stopped by a small lake at the summit for Paramao Pipit which we got great views of and
then heading back down to the town we lucked out with White-tufted Sunbeam and Puna Tapaculo. Another night at El Aubergue.
Day 20: What a fabulous day! We drove back up to the pass at Abra Malaga (Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch, Creamy-crested Spinetail and Rust-and-Yellow Tanager on the way) and hiked over the top into an amazing valley on the other side where we spent the entire morning walking and watching wonderful birds in the polyipis forests on the slopes. Stripe-headed Antpitta, White-browed Tit-spinetail, Line-fronted and Junin Canesteros, Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant, Royal Cinclodes, Giant Conebill and Thick-billed Siskins.
Then a walk through the valley delivered 5 species of ground tyrant (Taczanowski’s, Puna, Cinerous, Rufous-naped and White-browed) along with Andean Goose, Andean Flicker and Rufous-webbed Bush-Tyrant. Fabulous scenery and just a wonderful experience. A quick stop for Black-backed Grosbeak and Andean Parakeet then back to the hotel for a snooze. El Auberge.
Day 21: The day started by catching the train to Aguas Calientes. This was pretty simple because our hotel was actually on the train platform!. Easy ride up and then transfer to a bus to reach Machu Picchu. What a stunning place. It wasn’t too busy and the weather really co-operated!. Not to miss an opportunity, we did focus in on birding for a little while and were rewarded with Highland Elaenia and Ocellated Piculet. But then we really had to focus on the ruins and the incredible accomplishment of building this town. Definitely a life time experience!. Enjoyed the afternoon and evening at the Pueblo Hotel. The gardens are beautiful and there are plenty of birds but nothing we hadn’t already seen on this trip so justified being lazy.
Day 22: Walked the train line from Aguas Calientes for about 5km which gave us some great lifers – Black-streaked Puffbird, Masked Fruiteater, Pale-legged Warbler, Dusky-green Oropendola, Slaty Tanager. Enjoyed lunch back in town after the return 5kms in the rain and then a lazy afternoon before catching the train back to Ollantaytambo. Night at the Pakaritampu .
Day 23; This was our last day and we spent it working our way back to Cuzco – stopping at Piuray Lake and doing the usual road side
birding. Ended with some more wonderful species – White-tufted and Silvery Grebe, Black-faced Ibis, Bare-faced Ground-dove, Yellow-billed Tit-tyrant, White-browed Chat-tyrant, Band-tailed Sierra-finch and Short-billed Pipit before arriving at the airport for a long overnight trip back to Vancouver.
General comments: We were disappointed by Northern Peru – the infrastructure is not great and the birds weren’t as numerous as expected.
The Amazon cruise was excellent (pricey!! but great). The birding in the Machu Picchu area was great but accommodations a bit disappointing – especially considering the prices!
Lima- Airport – Costa Del Sol Hotel
Myobamba – Waqanki Lodge
Abra Patricia – Fundo Alto Nievo
Florida – Puerto Pumas
Lima- Milaflores – Swissotel
Cuzco – Palacio Del Inka
Ollantaytambo – El Auberge
Aguas Caliente – Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Ollantaytambo – Pakaritampu Hotel
Guides & Resources
Field Guide – The Birds of Peru – Schulenberg, Stolz, Lane. There is also a great App that you can download which is really handy in the field.
Guides – Northern Peru guide was Saturnino Llactahuaman from Amazon Birding. Recommended.
Amazon Cruise was through VENT – excellent!
Machu Picchu area guide Manu Expeditions – not recommended.
Lonely Planet Guides for Peru.