Peru: Northern Highlights ~Women-Only~

This exciting tour explores the diverse range of habitats found in Northern Peru, from the coast to the Amazon rainforest. From Inca Tern and Many-coloured Rush-tyrant to Marvelous Spatuletail, Scarlet-banded Barbet, Huallaga Tanager and many other spectacular and highly coveted Peruvian endemics, we will see some of the very best birds in the world among gorgeous landscapes off the tourist trail. Designed by women, for women, this trip is guaranteed to be an adventure like no other!

Next dates

1-14 December 2024

Tour length: 14 days

Group size limit: 7


Donna Belder and Doris Valencia

Spaces available

Day 1: Upon arrival in Lima, transfer to hotel in the quiet Miraflores district. Night in Lima.

Day 2: We spend our first morning birding south of Lima, visiting the Villa Marshes for Great Grebe, adorable Many-coloured Rush-tyrant, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Peruvian Meadowlark, and possibly Peruvian Thick-knee. We continue further south to the village of Pucusana for Humboldt Current specialties such as Inca Tern, Red-legged Cormorant, the endemic Surf Cinclodes, Peruvian Pelican and Peruvian Booby. Night in Lima.

Day 3: Early morning transfer to airport for a short flight to the Amazonian city of Tarapoto. Upon arrival, we will visit the nearby Cerro La Escalera Reserve, which is home to a breathtaking array of Amazon specialties such as Golden-headed Manakin, Gilded Barbet, Paradise and Dotted Tanagers, the recently split Western Striolated Puffbird, and the rare Plumbeous Euphonia. We will also visit a local hummingbird garden for the endemic Koepcke’s Hermit, as well as many other hummingbirds such as Great Sabrewing, Gould’s Jewel-front, Violet-headed Hummingbird and more. Night in Tarapoto.

Day 4: Morning birding in the dry forest on the banks of the Huallaga River. Here, we will be looking for Rufous Casiornis, Greenish Elaenia and Northern Slaty Antshrike. Other specialties include the famously bizarre-looking Hoatzin, the fabulous Spangled Cotinga, and others. Mid-afternoon drive to the town of Bellavista. Night in Bellavista at a basic but comfortable hotel.

Day 5 : Early morning departure in our 4X4 vehicles to remote Flor de Café. This drive could take up to 5 hours depending on the road conditions but will be anything but dull, with stops on the way for Snail Kite, Blackish Pewee, Lemon-throated Barbet, various species of swallows, Chestnut-eared Aracari, White-eyed Parakeet, and more. We will arrive by mid-afternoon in time to search for our main target for this section of the trip: the fabulous endemic Scarlet-banded Barbet. In the evening, those who are keen may go owling for Band-bellied Owl and Foothill Screech-Owl. Night in Flor de Café.

Day 6: Continuing our adventure in Flor de Café, we will enjoy a full day of birding at this unique location. We will have additional chances for Scarlet-banded Barbet, possible sightings of the very localised Cordillera Azul Antbird, as well as Wing-barred Piprites, White-fronted Nunbird, Lanceolated Monklet, Foothill Schiffornis, Painted Manakin, Scaled and Fiery-throated Fruiteater, and so much more. Night in Flor de Café.

Day 7: We return to Bellavista in the morning and then transfer to Waqanki Lodge, where we will spend the next two nights. On the way, we will make stops to look for additional species and have another chance at species we may have missed in the previous days. Late afternoon arrival to lodge. Night at Wakanqi Lodge.

Day 8: Full day birding at and around Waqanki Lodge looking for specialties such as the endemic Mishana Tyrannulet and Huallaga Tanager. The lodge has a fabulous hummingbird garden where we hope to find the astonishing Rufous-crested Coquette, Black-throated Hermit, Violet-headed Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, and numerous others. Owling may produce Tropical Screech Owl, Striped and Stygian Owls, as well as possible views of Blackish and Rufous Nightjars. Night at Wakanqi Lodge.

Day 9: In the morning, we will visit the Morro de Calzada Conservation Center, a short drive from Wakanqi Lodge. Here, we will be targeting Russet-crowned Crake, Golden-collared Toucanet, Huallaga Tanager and Zimmer’s Antbird, as well as the fabulous Painted Manakin. Departing Waqanki, we embark on a pleasant drive towards the Mayo Valley and our next destination: Abra Patricia. Along the way, we will look for Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Grey-mantled Wren, Equatorial Graytail, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, and the incomparable Andean Cock-of-the-rock, and we should enjoy colourful mixed-flocks of tanagers, warblers, antbirds, and more. We arrive at the lodge in the afternoon, with ample time to enjoy Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Greenish Puffleg, Long-tailed Sylph, and other hummingbird species at the feeders. Tonight, we may have the opportunity to try for the enigmatic endemic Long-whiskered Owlet – to be advised by lodge staff, who monitor the whereabouts of this species. Night at Abra Patricia Lodge, where we spend the next 3 days.

Days 10–12: These days are spent comprehensively birding the incredible surroundings of Abra Patricia. Targets include various endemics and local specialties: Black-throated Toucanet, Inca Flycatcher, Unstreaked Tit-tyrant, Bar-winged Wood Wren, Lulu’s (or Johnson’s) and Black-throated Tody-Tyrants, Vermilion, White-capped and Yellow-throated Tanagers, Olivaceous Piha, Maroon-belted Chat-Tyrant, Saffron-crowned, Yellow-scarfed, Red-hooded and Grass-green Tanagers, White-collared Jay, Peruvian Tyrannulet, Olive Tufted Flycatcher, Rufous-vented Tapaculo, Streak-headed Antbird, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, and the rare Russet-mantled Softail to name a few. Various feeding stations and hummingbird feeders could yield many other endemics, including Rusty-tinged and Chestnut Antpittas, Peruvian Racket-tail, Royal Sunangel, Napo Sabrewing, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Green Hermit and many more, plus the incredible Sword-billed Hummingbird. An unforgettable highlight of our time around Abra Patricia will be visiting the Huembo Interpretation Center for the awesome Marvelous Spatuletail, one of the most beautiful hummingbirds in the entire world! Nights at Abra Patricia Lodge.

Day 13: Last morning around Abra Patricia Lodge for Green-and-black Fruiteater, Rufous Spinetail, Blue-naped Chlorophonia and others. We then drive to our next location, the Arenas Blancas Reserve, with various stops along the way in search of other specialties. Mid-afternoon arrival to lodge with time to enjoy the hummingbird garden and feeding station, where Wire-crested Thorntail, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Blue-fronted Lancebill, the endemic Huallaga Tanager, Black-faced Tanager, and others are often seen. Night at Arenas Blancas Lodge.

Day 14: An early morning visit to the lodge’s feeding station will give us chances at Grey-fronted Dove, Rufous-breasted Woodquail, Little Tinamou, Orange-billed Sparrow, and more. Around mid-morning, we start our drive back to Tarapoto. Along the way, we will make a special stop to see extraordinary Oilbirds at the most accessible colony of this species our guides know of! We return to Tarapoto in time for a late afternoon flight back to Lima and international connections.


Tour details

Cost: $ 5,600
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 500

Accommodation: Mostly good or medium standard, although the guesthouse at Flor de Café is quite basic.

Walking difficulty: Mostly easy, sometimes moderate, but there will be a couple of optional harder walks in the San Lorenzo and Abra Patricia areas, as well as at Flor de Café, where the muddy trails can be challenging.

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.