8 Nights and 9 days
This epic tour has a unique itinerary covering of different elevations in northern Peru, ranging from the lowland tropical rainforests up to the Andean Highlands thus yielding a very diverse variety of birds. It begins in the city of Tarapoto, in the San Martin province of the San Martin Department in central Northern Peru, east of the Andean mountains, 356m or 1,168ft above sea level. This region has relatively constant rainfall throughout the year and it has a short dry season from June to September.
From there we will travel north-west through Lamas, Moyobamba and Rioja to enter the Department of Amazonas. The Northern Andes of Peru are part of the Tropical Andean Biodiversity Hotspot, so named for high levels of endemism which includes the three endemic primate species of Peru – Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey, San Martin/Rio Mayo Titi Monkey and the Andean Night Monkey. Some of the endemic birds that you can expect to see and photograph during this tour include – Yellow-faced Parrotlet, Royal Sunangel, Marvelous Spatuletail, Coppery Metaltail, Gray-bellied Comet, Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, Pale-billed Antpitta, Rufous-vented Tapaculo, Speckle-chested Piculet, Long-whiskered Owlet, Koepcke’s Screech Owl, Johnson’s Tody-flycatcher, Ash-throated Antwren, Mishana Tyrannulet, Great Spinetail, Russet-mantled Soft tail, Chestnut-backed Thorntail, the Inca-finches, Plain-tailed Warbling Finch, Black-bellied Tanager, Yellow-scarfed Tanager and others.
During the tour, you will be guided by a naturalist photographer whose profound knowledge of birds and wildlife would enable you to come back with a great portfolio of the rare and lesser known avian wonders of the region. This itinerary can be combined with the Peruvian Amazon (Tambopata) and the Machu Picchu – Inca Trail. Talk to us to start planning your birding expedition.
Arrive from Lima in Tarapoto.
Have a private transfer to the lodge. After check-in, dinner and overnight.
Heading out of town and into the nearby Cordillera Escalera hills. Ascending the winding route on the lookout for birds, particularly the mixed species foraging flocks, but the main target of the day is the endemic Koepcke’s Hermit hummingbird along with other hummingbird species and tanagers. Arriving around mid-morning at a rest site with hummingbird and banana feeders in their garden to spend time birding and doing bird photography, taking lunch here as well.
After several hours here, in the early afternoon we will continue the journey along the road to the second site of the day, an association protecting habitat for the endemic Koepcke’s Hermit, classified as Near Threatened by IUCN. Their sugar-water feeders and nectar-producing garden flora help attract this and other hummingbird species into view. Here we also hope to see and photograph the Golden-headed Manakin.
As the day ends, return to your lodgings in the city of Tarapoto. Dinner and overnight in Tarapoto
Heading out early for a morning of travel westerwards and upwards. Approximately 1.5hrs from Tarapoto the road takes you past a small narrow cañon which is home to the curious, bizarre sounding, nocturnal, cave dwelling, daily migrational oil birds who roost there during the day. Photography of the birds perched on the rocky ledges of the dark cañon is difficult but worth seeing these unique birds. The sloping terrain also puts tree tops at eye level and flocks of White-eyed Parakeets often pass through, perching at close range.
From here it is but a 30 minute drive to reach your next lodgings on the outskirts of Moyobamba. The lodge and its surrounding forests are home to an incredible diversity of not just birds, but over 250 species of orchid, butterflies and amphibians. The area is also known for its production of café for coffee lovers. A botanical garden, humminbird observation area, trails, viewpoints and waterfalls mean this place has something for everyone. One of the key attractions of this place is that it’s home to the stunning Rufous-crested Coquette hummingbird and worth spending the time waiting for a fully mature male to show up. This area is also home to the endemic Mishana Tyrannulet.
Photographers will best spend their time in the lodge gardens waiting for birds to visit the feeders and flowers in good light, whilst birders may prefer to explore the trails in search of new species.
The morning will be spent travelling the 2.5 hour journey to the next lodge with a stop on route to a spot just off the highway where the young son of a local business owner has set up a hummingbird feeding station.
Along the way, there is a Cock-of-the-rock Lek which we would visit and then continue to the Lodge.
From here it is just 30 minutes to the lodge which is part of a reserve run by ECOAN (Association of Andean Ecosystems) established to help protect the habitat of the endangered, endemic Long-whiskered Owlet, Peru’s smallest owl species. Lunch and birding and photography in the lodge gardens where there are hummingbird feeders. The reserve is also home to several species of endemic and range-restricted Antpitta.
Dinner and night walk in search of the Long-whiskered Owlet and other owls and nocturnal species. Overnight at the lodge.
If an early bird catches the worm, then an early birder catches the bird. Backtracking slightly to get to a small local site which is visited by Cinerious and Little Tinamou as well as Rufous-breasted Wood Quail in the early morning. The garden is also filled with flowers and other birds to enjoy.
Return to the lodge for lunch, photography around the gardens. In the afternoon going to visit a private, locally owned reserve which helps contribute to the protection of the Long-whiskered Owlet and its habitat, as well as lots of other different birds including one of the best places locally to see and photograph the male Booted Racket-tail hummingbirds. Before spending a session in their garden however, we will head into the woods on a gentle 20 minute or so walk to an area for a chance to see the two endemic Rusty-tinged and Ochre-fronted Antpittas.
Dinner at the lodge. Option for guests to try again for the Long-whiskered Owlet or other owls. Overnight at the lodge (Owlet Lodge).
A prompt breakfast to get on the road for the 1 hour drive to the final destination of the trip in time for the morning activity and good light for hummingbirds, most particularly the spectacular peruvian endemic, the Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird. It’s tail has just four feathers, the outer two of which are impressively long filaments over 10cm long, ending in iridescent blue discs, or spatules, which are part of their arsenal in their quest to impress the opposite sex.
Lunch at the lodge and continue birding and bird photography, making the most of the only place with reliable sightings and photography of the Marvelous Spatuletail as well as a number of other hummingbird species.
Dinner and overnight at the lodge (Huembo). Full day at Huembo
Departing from the lodge around mid-morning (9am) for the 5.5hr drive back to Tarapoto in time for afternoon flights to Lima.