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The Birds of Northern Peru

Tour Code: PER01

An 18-day holiday combining the best of northern Peru's birds, wildlife and culture.

18 days from £4795(inc flights) Land Only Price: £4195 SRS: £495

We will explore northern Peru on this adventurous tour, travelling from the verdant Amazonian lowlands to the breathtaking Maranon Canyon, across the Western Cordillera of the Andes, through dry foothills and desert, then to the Tumbesian lowlands and crashing surf of the Pacific coast. Northern Peru is home to some of South America’s most iconic wildlife as well as rich in endemic birds and other wildlife. From the Marvellous Spatuletail to Spectacled Bear, river dolphins and the pyramids of ancient peoples, northern Peru is perhaps the overlooked highlight of a diverse and spectacular country … and on this comprehensive tour we’ll go in search of its many natural and cultural treasures.

  • Marvellous Spatuletail, Andean Cock-of-the-rock & Amazonian Umbrellabird
  • Tumbesian rarities such as White-winged Guan & Tumbes Tyrant
  • Spectacled Bear possible at Chaparri
  • Sechuran Fox, White-tailed Deer & many monkey species
  • Hummingbirds, tanagers, sunangels & vultures
  • Visit the stunning Maranon Canyon & pre-Inca pyramids at Pomac
  • The Chachapoya fortress of Kuelap (rivals Machu Picchu’s grandeur)
  • Stay in Amazonian lodges & explore on foot & by boat
  • Led by expert naturalist guides


All included in the price.


A mixture of the best available lodges and hotels, some very comfortable, some more rustic though clean; most with private facilities.

Yellow-scarfed Tanager (Rob Wilson)

Yellow-scarfed Tanager (Rob Wilson)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Lima

Day 2/3 Chaparri Ecological Reserve

Day 4 Jaen

Day 5/6 Leimebamba

Day 7/9 Puerto Pumas

Day 10 Moyobamba

Day 11/13 Muyuna Lodge

Day 14 Zungarococha Lodge

Day 15 Reserva Alpahuayo

Day 16 Iquitos

Day 17 Lima

Day 18 Arrive London

Northern Peru is arguably the overlooked highlight of a truly diverse and spectacular country. With a mountainous backbone dissected by the mighty Marañon River and its tributaries, this vast region is a biogeographic jigsaw that is surely yet to reveal many hidden wildlife secrets. We will explore it on this adventurous tour, as we travel from the midst of the verdant Amazonian lowlands to the breath-taking Utcubamba Canyon, over the Western Cordillera of the Andes, and through desert and dry foothills before concluding at Chaparri Lodge and the crashing surf of the Pacific.

This will be a spellbinding journey offering a wealth of opportunities to enjoy the region’s spectacular scenery and rich archaeological heritage, as well as an ornithological feast that may include such legendary gems as the remarkable Marvellous Spatuletail, endemic Incafinches, the endangered White-winged Guan (which was thought to be extinct for over 100 years), and a huge variety of more widespread species such as Andean Condor, King Vulture and Andean Cock-of-the-rock. Without doubt, this is one of the world’s most tantalising birding destinations!

We begin our tour with a flight to Iquitos, from where a short boat ride will deliver us to a well-appointed Amazonian lodge which allows us to embark on our holiday in style! Here we will explore a variety of Amazonian habitats, seeking the birds and wildlife of the region. We will pay special attention to an area of rare white-sand forest where there are several endemics, some only recently discovered, and to the inhospitable habitats on the islands in the river where several specialist species have also evolved. We should also see monkeys, river dolphins, caiman and much more as we explore this region on foot and by boat.

We next spend two days exploring the humid forests to the east of the Andes, home to such species as Royal Sun-angel and huge mixed species flocks teeming with colourful tanagers. The lower elevations here also accommodate such sought-after species as Andean Cock-of-the- rock and Amazonian Umbrellabird. We’ll eventually bird our way up to the high pass of Abra Patricia. The stunted forests around the pass, amidst the most awe-inspiring scenery of the tour, are home to some of Peru’s least known species. The birders’ lodge here, Owlet Lodge, is ideally placed overlooking the forested ridges falling away to the east, and will be our base for the next two nights. The Long-whiskered Owlet (after which our lodge is named), is one of the great ornithological mysteries of the continent. Discovered in 1976, it was for many years only ever encountered by a handful of mist-netting researchers. Finally, in February 2007, it was discovered naturally by researchers and has been seen by a regular trickle of keen birders since then.

Remaining in the Andes, we next explore the drainage basin of the mighty Marañon, one of Peru’s principal Amazonian tributaries. The area comprises an incredibly complex topography and it is here in these mountains that another suite of endemic species has evolved. Travelling up the spectacular Utcubamba Valley to the Andean town of Chachapoyas, we will, over the course of two days in the region, explore the area for birds, and also sample the remnants of the incredible Chachapoya culture which include the fortress of Kuelap (considered by many to rival Machu Picchu for its grandeur and location).

After crossing the Marañon itself, we will spend a night in the town of Jaen to search the nearby areas for such endemics as Marañon Thrush and Little Inca-finch. Next, we cross the lowest pass in the Andean chain (at just 2,200 metres) and, leaving the Andes behind, move on towards the dry coastal lowlands of the Tumbesian region of Peru, one part of the most diverse centre of bird endemism on the planet. Based at the rustic and charming Chaparri Ecological Reserve (run by the local community), the traditional cabins provide a comfortable base from which to go in search of such species as the critically threatened White-winged Guan and the endemic Tumbes Tyrant, as well as such mammals as White-tailed Deer and Sechuran Fox.

This coastal plain was once also home to a diversity of pre-Inca civilisations, including the Muchik who left behind a rich heritage of fine gold and silver jewellery in their adobe pyramids. We will see some of these huge structures at the Pomac Archaeological Sanctuary (which is also home to many of the endemic birds of the region) and, during a short visit to the Tumbas Reales Museum in Lambayeque, we will be able to marvel at the treasures of the Lord of Sipan. These were discovered as recently as 1988 and are now displayed in a splendid new museum that was recently named as one of the world’s 10 best small museums by the Art News magazine of New York.

Blue-and-Yellow Macaws (Roger Wasley)Cock-of-the-Rock (Mike and Karen Galtry)Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (Chris Hutchinson)Sword-billed Hummingbird (Daniel Uribe)King VultureKuelapKuelapAndean Cock-of-the Rock (Peter Price)Saechuran fox(David Allison)Party birding near the entrance to Chaparri Lodge(David Allison)White winged Guan (David Allison)Grey River Dolphin (Rob Wilson)Amazon River Dolphin (Lee Morgan)Yellow-scarfed Tanager (Rob Wilson)White-tailed Jay (Rob Wilson)Emerald ToucanetSaffron-crowned Tanager (Peter Price)Yellow-throated Tanager (Rob Wilson)Lulu's Tody-Tyrant (Rob Wilson)Inca TernOilbirdsFlame-faced TanagerSparkling VioletearBlack-Crowned Night Heron (Kevin Elsby)Plumbeous Rail (John Caddick)Puna SnipeGreat Grebe (Roger Wasley)Many-coloured-rush-tyrantGolden-tailed SapphirePeruvian Booby (Peter Price)Peruvian Pelican (Roger Wasley)Marvellous SpatuletailLong Whikered Owlet (Alex durand Torres)
Mr & Mrs P.
A really good birding holiday with excellent cultural interest. Alejandro very good. His birding skills are superb and his group management and communication very good - top leader!
The major plus points were the superb leader Alejandro Solano, the itinerary which stayed just the right amount of time in each locality and the excellent accommodation. Alejandro could not be faulted as a leader as he has superb birding skills together with a desire for everyone to see each species. His scope abilities to get everyone on to each target (species) were exceptionally quick.Obviously the quality and quantity of species also made this tour particularly memorable. Easily the best birding experience in 40 years of tours.
Alejandro is probably the best guide I've travelled with, which is saying a lot. Overall, possibly the best trip I've ever done.
This was intended as an opportunity to see a wide range of common species of birds characteristic of certain habitats plus localised endemics. The leader was outstanding in spotting and identifying birds as well as explaining about their ecology and taxonomic relationships.
This was a really excellent tour with spectacular scenery - it more than lived up to what we had expected/hoped for. Sitting in a boat in the middle of the Amazon with a picnic breakfast and observing the pink river dolphins was magical.
Overall the tour was excellent, covering a wide variety of habitats, birds and mammals, and with a bit of culture thrown in for good measure. The lodges we stayed at were fantastic - beautiful locations, friendly and obliging staff, and very good food.
The Lord of Saipan Museum was quite stunning which was an unexpected highlight. The trip to Kuelap was also a very memorable day: a very impressive ruin in a stunning setting.
Alejandro was the best field guide I have ever travelled with.
The Reserves for the Long Whiskered Owlet and the Marvellous Spatuletail are doing a great job and provided great views of these special rare birds. It was good to see the native people working to save their own flora and fauna and they were pleased to have foreign visitors to see their work.
Having been on your Macaws and Machu Picchu trip I was particularly keen to see more of Peru and this visit to Northern Peru was exactly what I had hoped for. It covered a wide range of habitats, which gave rise to a stunning variety of birds, animals, insects, plants and fungi. Northern Peru deserves to be far better known and appreciated. The scenery is magnificent, its archaeological remains easily comparable to those found further south, the people are delightful and friendly, and the hotels, I think without exception, were comfortable and welcoming. True there was a lot of travelling but what better way to see the country and appreciate its strengths and problems. The travelling was no more than on the Macaws and Machu Picchu trip and if the pre-trip information uses the word pioneering you know more or less what to expect and its not Hilton hotel-style luxury or lazy days spent by a swimming pool (thankfully). Of course a trip like this is busy at times but the rewards are enormous and well worth the effort. Rob was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic leader, the local guides were generous in sharing their considerable expertise and very proud of what their country had to offer. Ive been lucky enough to have two Naturetrek holidays this year and both have been excellent. I like the way you arrange the trips and your organisation is first-class. I also like the fact that you dont ignore local culture and history; the tours are well rounded and diverse. Of course there will be hitches but when they occur they are dealt with efficiently, quietly and quickly. It is also very encouraging that you listen to your customers and take note of what they say. I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this Northern Peru trip and Naturetrek to anyone and I look forward to travelling with you again in the near future.
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Wed 10th October 2018 - Sat 27th October 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4195 More info

Room sharing options: Female sharing is available More info

Wed 9th October 2019 - Sat 26th October 2019



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Peru

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A really good birding holiday with excellent cultural interest. Alejandro very good. His birding skills are superb and his group management and communication very good - top leader!
Mr & Mrs P., Devon