Peru: Central Andes

From White-cheeked Cotinga, White-bellied Cinclodes and Junin Grebe east of Lima to the stunning Golden-backed Mountain Tanager at Bosque Unchog and recently described Antpittas and Tapaculos plus all the Satipo endemics. The Andes of Central Peru hosts a vast array of fantastic endemic species! This tour covers all habitats, including high Andes, coastal deserts and Amazonian foothills, dedicated to finding as many endemics and other great birds as possible!

Next dates

14-30 November 2023

Tour length: 17 days

Group size limit: 6


Julien Mazenauer and local leader

Tour full

14-30 November 2025

Tour length: 17 days

Group size limit: 6


Daniel Aldana Schumann and local leader

Spaces available

Day 1: Participants will be met in the evening at Lima airport, from where we will transfer to our hotel and have an introductory dinner.

Day 2: This morning we will visit Lomas de Lachay, an area of low hills and deserted canyons in search of some regional specialties such as Cactus Canastero, Coastal, Thick-billed and Greyish Miners and, with luck, Raimondi’s Yellow Finches or Tawny-throated Dotterels. We will then transfer to Huachupampa in the Santa Eulalia Valley for two nights, starting exploration of this endemic-rich canyon east of Lima this afternoon.

Day 3: We will have one full day in Santa Eulalia Valley, given a number of difficult birds occur here and are unlikely to be found later on. Our prime targets of this scenic canyon will be the Endangered and poorly-known Rufous-breasted Warbling Finch (certainly one of the hardest Wabling Finches) and the rare White-cheeked Cotingas. We are likely to find at least one of these megas, but many other endemics occur in that area and we will make a special effort to see as many of them as possible! They include Black-breasted Woodpecker, Great Inca Finch, Bronze-tailed Comet, Black Metaltail, Rusty-bellied Brushfinch, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail and more widespread species.

Day 4: We will have a second chance for the rare targets listed above and then continue higher at Marcapomacochas Bogs, an area of humid, mossy grasslands, where we have good chance of finding the unique Diademed Sandpiper-Plover! We will also already look for the Critically Endangered White-bellied Cinclodes, Grey-breasted and Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes, near-endemic Olivaceous Thornbill (which has a habit of feeding on tiny flowers on or near the ground!), Dark-winged Miner and more. The night will be spent in a nearby village a little lower down.

Day 5: This morning, we’ll visit the famous Ticlio Bog, the best site to get good looks at White-bellied Cinclodes and other high elevation specialties. We will then continue to Villa Rica, in the foothills east of the Andes, where we will start our exploration.

Day 6: In the Villa Rica area, we will be birding a variety of habitats and look for the localized Creamy-bellied Antwren and Cerulean-capped Manakin, two species hard to find elsewhere. Many more species will be encountered today as we are in the Amazonian foothills and we may find Tataupa Tinamou, the scarce Wattled Guan, Red-throated Caracara, Versicoloured Barbet, Blue-banded Toucanet, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, Dusky-green Oropendola and many more. We will also be looking for Band-bellied Owl at night.

Day 7: We will be leaving Vila Rica early and try our luck on the rarely-seen Cloud-forest Screech-Owl at Bosque Shollet, where we might also find the cracking Rufous-banded Owl. After dawn, we will have a second chance on Bay Antpitta, and we might well find one or two of the rarer specialties of the area, including Black-winged Parrot, “Maroon-belted” Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-backed Treehunter, Masked Fruiteater or Black-and-chestnut Eagle. We will then drive to Ulcumano Lodge, our home for the next two nights.

Day 8: Ulcumano Lodge must be one of the very best sites to find Cloud-forest Screech-Owl, so if missed at Shollet, we will make a special effort in locating this enigmatic species. Other nightbirds could include White-throated Screech-Owl, Rufous-banded Owl and Swallow-tailed Nightjar. We will spend the rest of the day birding different trails and look for Golden-browed Chat-Tyrant, Peruvian Tyrannulet, Oxapampa and Bay Antpittas, “Eastern” Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, Rufous-vented Tapaculo, Peruvian Wren, amongst others.

Day 9: We will then transfert to Apalla via the Satipo road for a two-nights stay at the recently established Colibri Cloud-forest Lodge. There will be some birding stops on the way for sure, and we’ll certainly have time to seek our first “Satipo” endemics!

Day 10: The day will be spent in the Andamarca Valley, where several species new to science were discovered as recently as 2006. We will focus on finding these endemics, namely Oxapampa and Junin Antpittas (both described in 2020, from the Rufous Antpitta complex), Black-spectacled Brushfinch, Eye-ringed Thistletail, “Mantaro” Thornbird, “Mantaro” Wren, “Mantaro” Screech-Owl, Jalca and Junin Tapaculos, Fiery-throated Metaltail, Creamy-crested Spinetail, amongst a vast array of foothill and montane specialties.

Day 11: After some final birding in the Andamarca area, we will start our journey down the Satipo Road (also known as the “poor-man’s Manu Road”), which indeed has some excellent stretches of foothill forests and we’ll certainly find large mix-species flocks of tanagers. Specialties of the area include the Endangered Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Band-tailed and “Huanuco” Green-and-black Fruiteaters, the endemic Bay Antpitta and many more goodies. We will then embark on a journey towards Lake Junin, where we will spend the next two nights.

Day 12: We will spend the morning on lake Junin, where our prime target will be Junin Grebe, a species suffering a catastrophic decline the past decades. We will take a boat ride through the lake and stand very good chances of encountering this rare endemic. Later on, we will be birding along the shores and, depending on water level, might have a chance to see “Junin” Black Rail, which is split by some authorities and would hence be the second endemic of Junin lake. Other species we’ll be looking for today are the stunning endemic Black-breasted Hillstar, endemic Junin Canastero, Puna Snipe, superb Many-coloured Rush Tyrant and Wren-like Rushbird, Andean Negrito, Short-billed Pipit and maybe Andean Avocet.

Day 13: After some final birding at Junin we will travel to Huanuco for a three night stay. Along this very scenic route, we will make a couple stops and look for Rufous-backed Inca Finch in a dry canyon, Brown-flanked Tanager, Giant Conebill, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Striated Earthcreeper and more. We will have time for some initial exploration of the Huanuco area.

Day 14-15-16: We will spend most of our time near Huanuco at Bosque Unchog, a site made famous since the discovery of three new species to science in the 70s. The stunning jay-like Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager is certainly the highest prize of the region (and arguably one of the most stunning birds in South America), so we will not leave the site without views of it! Bosque Unchog has some really tremendous birding, and we will be looking for Bay-vented Cotinga and Pardusco, both recently discovered here too. Other excellent birds include Coppery Metaltail, Rufous-browed Hemispingus (hard to find anywhere else), Neblina, Tschudi’s, recently described White-winged and Large-footed Tapaculos, Undulated and Chachapoyas Antpitta (another recently described species from the Rufous Antpitta complex), marvelous Yellow-scarfed Tanagers and many more.

We will also visit a different site on the other side of the valley and look for the recently described Panao Antpitta (yet another Rufous Antpitta split!), and the Carpish Tunnel lower down for some rare species like Orange-breasted Falcon and Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, which are not guaranteed but which we have a good chance on finding.

Day 17: We might have time for some final birding in the Huanuco area, before taking a flight back to Lima, where this tour ends in the afternoon.

Tour details

Cost: $ 6,500
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 380

Accommodation: Simple but comfortable hotels throughout, all with private facilities.

Walking difficulty: Easy to moderate throughout the tour on a mixture of trails and roadside birding.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.