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PERU'S AMAZONIAN WILDERNESS

Macaw Licks, Harpy Eagle & Specialities

Birdquest’s Peru's Amazonian Wilderness birding tour explores the richest area for birdlife on our planet! Yes, the rainforest of southeastern Peru is the place with the greatest diversity of breeding bird species anywhere on earth! This extraordinary and still largely pristine region still holds Harpy Eagles, Orinoco Geese, Razor-billed Curassows and Pale-winged Trumpeters, all of which we have a good chance of seeing, as well as the most spectacular ‘macaw clay lick’ in all Amazonia. Among a truly amazing number of Amazonian birds in total, the region holds many specialities, ranging from White-throated Jacamar and Scarlet-hooded Barbet to Black-faced Cotinga.

Tuesday 13th August — Tuesday 27th August 2019
(15 days)


Leaders: János Oláh and local bird guides

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

Protecting Peru’s best rainforests, the huge Tambopata National Reserve and the adjoining Bahajua-Sonene National Park with their abundant wildlife and dramatic scenery offer the richest birding experience in Amazonia.

It has been said on many occasions by ornithologists, and for some time, that the rainforests of southeast Peru harbour the greatest biological diversity on earth, and this is undoubtedly true. Almost any unspoilt lowland location in this region holds in excess of 570 species of birds, most of which are resident breeding species! Not only that, this quarter of the vast expanse that is the Amazon basin is the least exploited and was the last to be colonized by people. It is therefore the least disturbed of all the Amazon’s great forests and as a result is one of few places where larger birds like curassows, guans and trumpeters and mammals such as Brazilian Tapir can still be seen with relative ease.

Created out of the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved zone and the Sanctuario Pampas del Heath, the Bahajua-Sonene National Park protects an area of 15,000 square kilometres (5792 square miles) while the Tambopata National Reserve covers another 2747 square kilometres (1061 square miles), stretching from puna grasslands through verdant cloud forests and lowland rainforest to the open cerrado of the Pampas del Heath, making it the most diverse protected area on earth (being even more diverse than the nearby Manu Biosphere Reserve).

Exploring the lowland rainforests of this superb protected area provides an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy the prolific birdlife and abundant mammals in this richest of Neotropical rainforest environments. The area we will be focusing on not only gives visitors the opportunity to see a tremendous variety of birds, but also offers some truly mesmerising wildlife spectacles including the biggest ‘Ccollpa de Guacamayos’ or Macaw clay lick, a number of Harpy Eagle territories, tranquil oxbow lakes that are home to family groups of Giant River Otters, a superb canopy tower, excellent trail systems through all forest types from riverine forest to bamboo thickets and terra firme forests, all set against the backdrop of the Andes, the snow-capped peaks of which can be seen on a clear day.

Perusing the list of species found in the upper Tambopata rainforests, which remarkably is over 5% of the world’s birds, it is indeed a daunting task to single out the highlights and specialities when there are so many.

As the upper Tambopata has remained isolated and undisturbed, the regal Razor-billed Curassow is still fairly numerous and may be seen along the river banks along with the now rapidly-declining Orinoco Goose. The various river journeys during the tour and our visits to known territories at Posada Amazonas give us several chances of seeing the massive Harpy Eagle, the world’s most powerful raptor. The extraordinary macaw lick near Tambopata Research Center, for which the area is justly famous, draws us to this jungle river for the spectacular views of Blue-and-yellow, Scarlet, Red-and-green and Blue-headed Macaws along with Black-capped Parakeets, White-bellied Parrots and Amazonian Parrotlets. The dazzling splashes of colour on a 45-meter-high river cliff are sure to make for a big highlight of the tour. Hunted out throughout much of its range, the Pale-winged Trumpeter is increasingly hard to find, but here we have a good chance of seeing it as we walk the many and varied trails.

Forest and forest edge habitats should give us a chance to see the diminutive Amazonian Pygmy Owl, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, the mind boggling Scarlet-hooded Barbet or more elusive Pavonine Quetzal. A well studied element of the region’s forests is the extensive Guadua bamboo thickets as they hold a suite of habitat specialists that will occupy us for several early morning sessions. The cathedral like architecture of this extraordinary habitat provides home for Rufous-breasted Piculet and the lovely Rufous-headed Woodpecker, along with a long list of range-restricted sub-oscines including Bamboo and Brown-rumped Foliage Gleaners, Peruvian Recurvebill, Bamboo Antshrike, White-lined, Goeldi’s, Striated and Manu Antbirds, Bamboo Antwren (split from Ihering’s Antwren), White-cheeked Tody Flycatcher and Dusky-tailed Flatbill. Working our way through these habitat specialists and searching for the elusive Rufous-fronted Antthrush will certainly keep us busy during our time exploring the trails.

We shall also work through some notably large and busy flocks from the canopy tower, which should reveal both Chestnut-shouldered and Sclater’s Antwrens and possibly the stunning Purple-throated Cotinga or even that most accomplished of all mimics the Lawrence’s Thrush. The canopy here also holds the odd looking Casqued Oropendola and both Yellow-crested Tanager and Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak, for all of which we shall be diligently searching. Circumnavigating oxbows lakes here can be very productive and should yield Pale-eyed Blackbird, and Black-billed Seed-Finch amongst a host of more common and widespread species, including the bizarre Hoatzin.

In addition, we may also be very lucky and find some of less frequently seen inhabitants of Amazonia such as Crested Eagle, the very rare Long-tailed Potoo, the rarely seen Pavonine Cuckoo or even the localized Brown-banded Puffbird, although we would count ourselves fortunate to see any of these.

However, it is not simply the birds that draw biologists to this region as there are twelve species of primate commonly found here. We have a good chance of catching sight of the now localized Giant River Otter at a favourite cocha (oxbow lake). We may also see Brazilian Tapir and we even have a reasonable chance of seeing a Jaguar resting along one of the river banks.

We will also explore the Amazonian lowlands beyond Puerto Maldonado, towards the frontier with Brazil, in search of an impressive array of range-restricted species. We will also find a great many more widespread inhabitants of Amazonia.

Stands of Guadua bamboo in this area are home for a series of bamboo-specialists, including the rare Fulvous-chinned Nunlet, that most stunning of all the woodpeckers, the Rufous-headed Woodpecker, the poorly-known Peruvian Recurvebill, Dusky-cheeked Foliage-gleaner, Bamboo Antshrike, White-lined and Goeldi’s Antbirds, Striated Antbird, the patchily-distributed Manu Antbird, Bamboo Antwren (split from Ihering’s), the endemic White-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, Dusky-tailed Flatbill, the recently-described Rufous Twistwing and the rather uncommon Long-crested Pygmy Tyrant. Interestingly, the Yungas Tyrannulet has recently been recorded here and we will be keeping a sharp ear out for its calls, although we would be very lucky indeed to come across this recently-described species.

As if that were not impressive enough, the Cecropia and Gynerium dominated riverine habitats hold the near-endemic White-throated Jacamar and Scarlet-hooded Barbet, as well as the uncommon Black-faced Cotinga. We will also be searching heliconia thickets for the localised Rufous-fronted Antthrush which is only found in south-east Peru.

In addition to these species, we shall also work the trails in search of a such additional regional specialities as Black-capped Parakeet, Semi-collared Puffbird, Plain Softtail, Humaita Antbird and Sclater’s Antwren. During the course of our stay we might also find a troop of Pale-winged Trumpeters as they pick about on the forest floor. This extension is focussed on finding the bamboo specialists and a number of other regional endemics but will nevertheless yield a great selection of more widespread Amazonian species.

Birdquest has operated tours to Peru since 1982.

Accommodation & Road Transport: Posada Amazonas, Tambopata Research Center and Refugio Amazonas are delightfully-situated and comfortable but fairly simple jungle lodges. (Electricity is provided by generator. After the generator stops at night, lighting is provided by paraffin lamps.) The very limited road travel is by small coach or minibus and the roads are reasonable. River transport is by reasonably comfortable motorised canoes with seats.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, occasionally moderate.

Climate: Rather variable, but usually warm to hot with intermittent rain showers. It can, however, get rather cool during a ‘Friaje’. This is a cool austral wind which funnels along the base of the Andes north to central Peru and can last for several days.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £4790, €5650, $6270 Puerto Maldonado/Puerto Maldonado. Single Room Supplement: £686, €810, $899. Deposit: £600, €720, $780.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Western Striolated Puffbird is one of the many specialities we will likely find from a forest canopy platform (Pete Morris)

Western Striolated Puffbird is one of the many specialities we will likely find from a forest canopy platform (Pete Morris)

The Tampopata is THE place for macaws with greater numbers here than any other part of the Amazon. Only in southern Peru does one find clay licks visited by large numbers of macaws such as these Red-and-green Macaws providing one of the Amazon’s great spectacles (Matt Denton)

The Tampopata is THE place for macaws with greater numbers here than any other part of the Amazon. Only in southern Peru does one find clay licks visited by large numbers of macaws such as these Red-and-green Macaws providing one of the Amazon’s great spectacles (Matt Denton)

The waterbird spectacle along the sandbars of the Tambopata River always includes the beautiful Orinoco Goose (Pete Morris)

The waterbird spectacle along the sandbars of the Tambopata River always includes the beautiful Orinoco Goose (Pete Morris)

One of the classic Neotropical raptors is the snake-hunting Laughing Falcon (Pete Morris)

One of the classic Neotropical raptors is the snake-hunting Laughing Falcon (Pete Morris)

Ladder-tailed Nightjars often roost along the brushy edges of the oxbow lakes (Pete Morris)

Ladder-tailed Nightjars often roost along the brushy edges of the oxbow lakes (Pete Morris)

Chestnut-fronted Macaw (Pete Morris)

Chestnut-fronted Macaw (Pete Morris)

Little Cuckoo is a skulking denizen of second growth forest edge (Pete Morris)

Little Cuckoo is a skulking denizen of second growth forest edge (Pete Morris)

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Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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