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NORTHERN PERU

Peru Birding Tours: our Northern Peru bird watching holiday is a classic among a diverse series of Peruvian bird watching trips that we offer. Our exciting Northern Peru birding tour focuses on the many species found in the northern part of the country, home to numerous endemic birds and other specialities. These include White-winged Guan, the weird Long-whiskered Owlet, the stunning, recently-described Scarlet-banded Barbet, Pale-billed Antpitta and the extraordinary Marvelous Spatuletail. This is the most comprehensive Northern Peru tour available.

Saturday 4th November — Thursday 23rd November 2017
(20 days)


Leader: Eustace Barnes

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and mostly comfortable accommodations (but two nights basic)

The remarkable Marvellous Spatuletail is certainly one of the most extraordinary birds in existence. It is uncommon in its tiny range but thankfully shy males like this one are now regular at a couple of stake-outs that even include feeders (Pete Morris)

The remarkable Marvellous Spatuletail is certainly one of the most extraordinary birds in existence. It is uncommon in its tiny range but thankfully shy males like this one are now regular at a couple of stake-outs that even include feeders (Pete Morris)

One of the most topographically complex countries on earth, Peru boasts an immense avifauna with a staggering total of not far short of 1800 species. While most attention has traditionally focused on southern Peru, ignoring much of the central and northern regions of this huge country, South American aficionados increasingly long to explore the lesser-known regions of this fabulous country and this is just what our northern Peru birding tour itinerary is directed at.

No country has seen the discovery of so many birds new to science in the last few decades as Peru, and in the late seventies and early eighties new species were described at an average rate of two per year. Since they were usually found in isolated mountain ranges and remote areas, the full-scale expeditions that led to their discovery greatly increased our knowledge of South American birds in general, and more was learnt about many birds that, until then, were only known from a few old specimens mouldering away in distant museums. However, in spite of this extensive fieldwork, many of the country’s birds are still poorly known, and there are still several species that remain practically unknown in life.

This adventurous tour focuses on the largely mountainous northern tier of the country, a fantastic treasure chest of endemic, localized and poorly known birds. With a mountainous backbone sliced up by the mighty Marañon River and its tributaries, this region is a biogeographic jigsaw puzzle that still has not given up all its secrets. Our journey will take us from the deserts and foothills along the Pacific coast inland to the eastern Cordilleras, where we will explore the forested humid flanks of the outlying slopes of the Andes and its extraordinarily diverse foothills, and from there into the breathtaking Marañon Canyon, where the headwaters of the Amazon run through an arid mountain valley for over 600 miles (1000km). After crossing this immense biogeographic break in humid Andean habitats, we then explore the arid inter-montane valleys and upland Andean habitats of the western cordilleras on our way to Cajamarca.

During our travels we will search for some near-mythical species. Whilst focusing on the many specialities, we will also see a large variety of more widespread birds and enjoy some scenery that is among the most spectacular in South America.

With the addition of the Amazonian foothills in the Tarapoto region, and a good chance of seeing the stunning yet only recently-described Scarlet-banded Barbet, as well as a series of additional specialities, this is the most comprehensive Northern Peru tour available.

Starting our exploration of this region in the bustling coastal city of Chiclayo located in the Pacific coastal lowlands and adjacent foothills where, in addition to searching for the famous White-winged Guan, we will look for Peruvian Plantcutter, Piura Chat-Tyrant, Rufous Flycatcher, Chestnut-collared and Tumbes Swallows, Sulphur-throated Finch and a number of other desert and deciduous forest specialities.

Next we head inland to Jaen in search of endemics in the Chinchipe drainage, including the spectacular Maranon Crescentchest, before we descend into the spectacular Marañon Canyon where endemics and near-endemics such as Yellow-faced Parrotlet, Peruvian Pigeon, Chestnut-backed Thornbird, Marañon Thrush, Piura Hemispingus and Grey-winged and Buff-bridled Inca-Finches, make their home.

Next we will traverse rugged mountain ridges towards Cajamarca, looking for such specialities as Striated Earthcreeper, the cajamarcae form of the Rufous Antpitta, White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Jelski’s Chat-Tyrant, Black-crested Tit-Tyrant and Rufous-webbed Tyrant.

Near the colonial city of Cajamarca, where centuries ago Pizarro captured Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, we shall search for the endangered Grey-bellied Comet and visit a valley where the endangered Great Spinetail inhabits arid montane scrub.

Retracing our steps to Leymebamba, we will look for the rarely seen Koepcke’s Screech-Owl before climbing the infamous Abra Barro Negro (which means ‘Black Mud Pass’). Here we will look for Coppery Metaltail, the recently rediscovered Russet-mantled Softtail and a number of other high elevation specialities.

Pomacochas is located in the heart of the range of what may be the world’s most spectacular hummingbird, the amazing endemic Marvelous Spatuletail, and is also the starting point for our search for the endemic Pale-billed Antpitta.

Not far away, Owlet Lodge will be our base for exploring the diverse birdlife of the cloud forests on the jagged mountain ridges of Abra Patricia and the luxuriant foothill forests of Affluente lower down. Here we will look for such legendary birds as Long-whiskered Owlet, Royal Sunangel, Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant and Bar-winged Wood-Wren, while also sampling the rich east Andean cloudforest avifauna, including scores of colourful tanagers.

Lower down, around Moyobamba, the foothill forest of Quebrada Mishquiyacu holds the rare Ash-throated Antwren and the San Martin form of the Mishana Tyrannulet, which may represent a distinct species.

Our next port of call is Bellavista (near Tarapoto), en route to a new site in the foothills, Flor de Café, where the recently described Scarlet-banded Barbet has been found. Developing our itinerary to search for this mega-bird in a truly remote site also gives us a great opportunity to search for additional exciting species such as the rarely seen Andean Laniisoma and Grey-tailed Piha amongst others.

Retracing our steps to Tarapoto, we have a last chance for some birding in the Amazonian foothills before our great adventure come to an end.

Birdquest has operated tours to Peru since 1982.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/guesthouses are mostly of good or medium standard. The hotel at Celendín is simple but adequate, while Owlet Lodge at Abra Patricia is surprisingly pleasant with good food and comfortable beds (but each bathroom is shared between two rooms). The ’barbet building’ is indeed basic but every effort will be made to ensure the comfort of all. Although no camping is required on our tour, staying in the barbet building is but one remove from it. Road transport is by small coach or minibus and roads are very variable in quality (sometimes poor, with several long drives on bumpy surfaces).

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, sometimes moderate, but there are two optional harder walks at Abra Patricia.

Climate: Rather variable. At low and middle elevations many days are warm or hot, dry and sunny, though on other days it can be cool and overcast. At high altitudes conditions range from cool to decidedly cold in the early morning. It may well rain at times and it will be rather humid at lower altitudes.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Tour Price: £5750, €6780, $7530 Lima/Lima.

Price includes all transportation (including the Lima-Chiclayo and Tarapoto-Lima flights), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Single Room Supplement: £396, €468, $519 (excluding the two nights at Flor de Café).

Deposit: £600, €800, $900.

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.

The Yellow-faced Parrotlet, endemic to a small section of the impressive Maranon canyon, appears to be recovering from precarious numbers (Pete Morris)

The Yellow-faced Parrotlet, endemic to a small section of the impressive Maranon canyon, appears to be recovering from precarious numbers (Pete Morris)

Similarly, populations of the critically endangered White-winged Guan appear to have stabilized, and our walk into Quebrada Limon for wild guans (rather than the more easily seen, tame, re-introduced birds elsewhere) is always one of the tour highlights (Pete Morris)

Similarly, populations of the critically endangered White-winged Guan appear to have stabilized, and our walk into Quebrada Limon for wild guans (rather than the more easily seen, tame, re-introduced birds elsewhere) is always one of the tour highlights (Pete Morris)

This Buff-bridled Inca-Finch from the Maranon canyon is one of three endemic inca-finches we will see along our route (Pete Morris)

This Buff-bridled Inca-Finch from the Maranon canyon is one of three endemic inca-finches we will see along our route (Pete Morris)

This distinctive Maranon Thrush is another example of how divergent many of the Maranon endemics are and further evidence of the impact this mighty river had on bird evolution (Pete Morris)

This distinctive Maranon Thrush is another example of how divergent many of the Maranon endemics are and further evidence of the impact this mighty river had on bird evolution (Pete Morris)

The recently described Johnson’s (Lulu’s) Tody-Tyrant is one of the many gems from the Abra Patricia cloud forest (Pete Morris)

The recently described Johnson’s (Lulu’s) Tody-Tyrant is one of the many gems from the Abra Patricia cloud forest (Pete Morris)

This Grey-bellied Comet is one of several birds along our route that were practically unknown in the wild until only recently (Pete Morris)

This Grey-bellied Comet is one of several birds along our route that were practically unknown in the wild until only recently (Pete Morris)

Montane hummers such as this Chestnut-breasted Coronet are on display at a few different feeding stations (Pete Morris)

Montane hummers such as this Chestnut-breasted Coronet are on display at a few different feeding stations (Pete Morris)

The cloud forest of Abra Patricia is the only accessible site for the restricted-range Cinnamon Screech-Owl (Pete Morris)

The cloud forest of Abra Patricia is the only accessible site for the restricted-range Cinnamon Screech-Owl (Pete Morris)

Likewise the endemic Koepcke’s Screech-Owl is restricted to the arid canyons along our route (Pete Morris)

Likewise the endemic Koepcke’s Screech-Owl is restricted to the arid canyons along our route (Pete Morris)

The Maranon Screech-Owl is just one of the many Maranon endemics (Pete Morris)

The Maranon Screech-Owl is just one of the many Maranon endemics (Pete Morris)

…which also include the superb Maranon Crescentchest (Pete Morris)

…which also include the superb Maranon Crescentchest (Pete Morris)

…the Little Inca-Finch from the desert plain (Pete Morris)

…the Little Inca-Finch from the desert plain (Pete Morris)

…and the Maranon (or Peruvian) Pigeon from the Maranon canyon (Pete Morris)

…and the Maranon (or Peruvian) Pigeon from the Maranon canyon (Pete Morris)

The endangered Peruvian Plantcutter will be a major highlight from the algarrobo woodlands of the Chiclayo area (Pete Morris)

The endangered Peruvian Plantcutter will be a major highlight from the algarrobo woodlands of the Chiclayo area (Pete Morris)

... habitat which also holds this unique Myiarchus: Rufous Flycatcher (Pete Morris)

... habitat which also holds this unique Myiarchus: Rufous Flycatcher (Pete Morris)

Other Tumbesian endemics include the Cinereous Finch (Pete Morris)

Other Tumbesian endemics include the Cinereous Finch (Pete Morris)

... and Plumbeous-backed Thrush (Pete Morris)

... and Plumbeous-backed Thrush (Pete Morris)

The Peruvian Thick-Knee is surprisingly cryptic amidst the coastal terrain (Pete Morris)

The Peruvian Thick-Knee is surprisingly cryptic amidst the coastal terrain (Pete Morris)

At Abra Patricia we will seek the rarely seen White-faced Nunbird (Pete Morris)

At Abra Patricia we will seek the rarely seen White-faced Nunbird (Pete Morris)

... and the spectacular and jay-like White-capped Tanager (Pete Morris)

... and the spectacular and jay-like White-capped Tanager (Pete Morris)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

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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