Northern Peru: Tumbes and Maranon Endemics and the Magnificent Fortress of Kuelap

Russet-bellied SpinetailRusset-bellied SpinetailPhotographer: Fabrice Schmitt

We first visited North Peru in the mid 1980’s when traveling with Dr. Niels Krabbe who was researching the milestone book “Birds of the High Andes”. We have built on that experience for the last 25 years, initially with Barry Walker re-finding lost species and carefully researching where the more sought after endemics are to be found and have, with years of experience, come up with the most comprehensive tour of the northern part of Peru. We use only the best hotels in each town. No camping is involved. On this tour field our experienced camp cooks prepare breakfasts and lunches. We use comfortable folding tables and chairs. Many have copied this trip over the years but we still pride ourselves on having the best and most comprehensive North Peru Tour available, and the opportunity to visit the impressive Chachapoyan archaeological site of Kuelap by cable car

Day 1: Arrive in Lima and transfer to our hotel in Lima. Night at our Hotel in Lima.
Day 2: Morning flight from Lima to the coastal city of Chiclayo. On arrival we’ll head to Batan Grande. Here we'll bird the protected Carob woodland for Tumbes Swallow, Rufous Flycatcher (endemic), Necklaced Spinetail, Peruvian Plantcutter (endemic), Baird’s Flycatcher, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Tumbes Tyrant, Supercilliaried Wren, Coastal Miner, and more. WE’ll soend the whole day here and stay at our special country hotel next to the pre Colombian pyramid of Tucume. The garden is very birdy indeed and West Peruvian Screech Owl is here B: L:D
Day 3: We’ll visit the La Vina wetlands this morning then continue north of Olmos to continue our afternoon search for Tumbesian endemics after stopping by our hotel. B: L: D
Day 4: Full day at Quebrada Limon. This is superb scenery and where one of the thought to be extinct White-winged Guan populations was found. We’ll spend the day slowly working the canyon where we may see any of the following. Henna –hooded and Rufous-necked Foliage-Gleaners, Ecuadorian Piculet, Ecuadorian Trogon, Purple-collared Woodstar, Tumbes Hummingbird, Other specialties here include the endemic White-winged Guan, Cinereous Finch, Tumbes Tyrant We'll bird the scrub and some of the possibilities include: Tumbes Tyrant (endemic), Tumbes Sparrow, Sulphur-throated Finch, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Gray-breasted Flycatcher (endemic), Gray and Gold Warbler, Sooty-capped Flycatcher, Gray and White Tyrannulet, Pacific Elaenia and more Night Olmos. B: L: D
Day 5: Leaving the coastal strip behind we'll set off early heading for one of the lowest passes in the Andes – Abra Porculla. Making selected stops along the way, we will pay particular attention to a side trail where we have seen Piura Chat-tyrant, a very rare and local endemic. Other birds we may see include: Black-cowled Saltator, Andean Tinamou, Elegant Crescentchest, Three-banded Warbler, White-winged and Bay crowned Brush-Finch’s Chapman’s Antshrike, Rufous-necked and Henna-hooded Foliage-Gleaners, Ecuadorian Piculet, Yellow-bellied and Black and White Seedeaters. Dropping over the east side of the pass for lunch, we'll drive straight through to our hotel. Arriving in the bustling town of Jaen on the lip of the Maranon canyon we'll transfer to our hotel. Night Hotel in Jaen B: L: D
Day 6: Pre-dawn start and breakfast in the field at first light. We'll drive to a side road where we have had spectacular success with the endemic Maranon Crescentchest. Here we will look for other Maranon endemics including- Buff-bellied Tanager, Chinchipe Spinetail, Marañon Slaty Antshrike, Sooty-crowned Flycatcher, Marañon Spinetail, Marañon Thrush and Yellow-cheeked Becard. The distinct Maranon races of Speckle-breasted Wren and Black-capped Sparrows are here too as well as Tataupa Tinamou and, surprisingly, Miltary Macaw. After lunch we’ll head for Pomacochas with stop for Little Inca Finch along the way, then on to an area of rice fields to look for Spotted Rail and Paint-billed Crake. We continue up the Utcubamba river, keeping an eye out for Fasciated Tiger-heron and Torrent Duck passing through Pedro Ruiz and onto the Owlet Lodge at Abra Patricia for a 4-night stay B: L: D
Day 7-9: Three days at Abra Patricia area. Staying at the new lodge will give us access to an extensive trail system enabling us to better look for Antpittas etc. This famous collecting site is home to what were some of the least known Peruvian birds. We’ll base ourselves at the comfortable Owlet Lodge, which has White-throated Screech Owl and Rufous-banded Owl in the garden. We may bump into mixed flocks with Blue-browed, Metallic-green and other Tanagers. Exploring side trails we may see the new Johnson’s Tody-Tyrant, Tyrranine Woodcreeper, Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails. During the three full days we have here, we'll bird various altitudinal zones between 1000 and 2200 meters.
We have seen Ash-throated Antwren here. Target birds - some very rare -we hope to see include; Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Bar-winged Wood-wren, Royal Sunangel, Equatorial Graytail, White-capped and Scaly-naped Parrots, Straw-backed, Metallic-green and Blue-browed Tanagers, White-capped Tanager, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Crimson- mantled Woodpecker, Montane Woodcreeper. We may hear or see if we are lucky Ochre-fronted (endemic) or Rusty-tinged Antpittas (endemic). Streak-haeded Antbird, Rufous-vented Tapaculo (endemic), Golden-faced Tyranulet, Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Fiery-throated and Scaled Fruiteaters, Cock of the Rock, Lanceolated Monklet., Fine-barred Piculet (endemic), Barred Becard , Sharpe’s Wren, Black-crested Warbler, Bicolored Antvireo. Night birding should be good here with Rufous-banded Owl, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, and Cinnamon Screech Owl. This is also the type locality for Long-whiskered Owlet and we will certainly be trying for thisvery hard at both the lodge and Alta Nieve. Nights Owlet Lodge B: L: D
Day 10: Early morning birding at Abra Patricia and then onto Puente Aguas Verdes Further down slope from Abra Patricia, near the tiny settlement of Afluente, the road passes through beautiful lower upper tropical forests where another set of new and exciting birds will await us in excellent roadside habitat. The most noteworthy specialties are the tiny Speckle-chested Piculet and the canopy-dwelling endemic Ash-throated Antwren.
Until recently the latter was only known from the outlying mountain ridge above Jesus del Monte (further east), but in the course of 1999 this highly localized species was also found here by us at Afluente. We have excellent chances of seeing the flame-colored Andean Cock-of-the-Rock shooting across the road or indulging its taste for fruit, and of seeing the Ecuadorian Piedtail, a lek-forming hummingbird here reaching the southernmost limit of its range. The endemic Huallaga (Tanager is fairly common here and the rather modestly-adorned Yellow-throated and Ashy-throated Bush-Tanagers make their rounds in noisy family parties. We shall carefully scrutinize mixed parties for the beautiful Varicolored Barbet, the noisy Yellow-breasted Antwren, the restless Grey-mantled Wren and the easily overlooked Equatorial Greytail, a Warbler-like member of the Furnariidae here at the southern extremity of its range.
Other birds we may find in this ‘purple patch’ include Ruddy and Plumbeous Pigeons, White-eyed Parakeet, Red-billed Parrot, Black-mandibled Toucan, Golden-olive, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Olivaceous and Olive-backed Woodcreepers, Ash-browed Spinetail, Montane and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaners, Streaked Xenops, Lined Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Rufous-rumped Antwren, Blackish Antbird, ‘Northern’ White-crowned Tapaculo (though the taxonomic position of the form concerned remains to be determined), Golden-winged Manakin, Slaty -capped, Ornate and Olive-chested Flycatchers, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Plumbeous- crowned and Ecuadorian Tyrannulets. Later we shall continue on our journey, and a few stops in remnant Mauritia Palm savanna areas may well produce open country and second growth species including Point-tailed Palmcreeper. Some night birding may get us Stygian Owl or Band-bellied Owl. Night at Wakanki Lodge. B: L: D
Day 11: Morning in the area where we can see an un-described race of the endemic Misahana Tyrannulet, Lesser Elaenia, Stripe-necked Tody-tyrant, Pale-breasted and the recently described Varzea Thrush, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail and more. We plan to get to a small private reserve where Hummingbird feeders produce quite a show. The hummer garden is amazing: with many species possible there including White-chinned Sapphire, White-necked Jacobin, Grey-breasted Sabrewing, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Black-throated Hermit, Rufous-crested Coquette and much much more. In the afternoon we’ll move onto Pomacochas and we’ll concentrate on species we are missing. If any! We’ll spend the night at the Hotel Puerto Pumas overlooking Pomacochas Lake B: L: D
Day 12: A flexible day. We'll give priority to Marvelous Spatuletail and Pale-billed Antpitta. Dawn and breakfast will find us at the San Lorenzo trail, which is known to hold Pale-billed Antpitta & Rusty-tinged Antpitta as well as Russet-mantled Softtail. Patches of good cloud forest remain. Possibilities here that we have seen in the past include: Torrent Duck, Speckled Hummingbird, Mountain Velvetbreast, Colared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Golden-headed Quetzal, Versicolored Barbet, Gray-breasted Mountain- toucan, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, White-tailed and White-banded Tyranulets, Inca Flycatcher (endemic), Chestnut-crested Cotinga, White-capped Tanager, White-collared Jay, Andean Solitaire, Silver-backed and Straw-backed Tanagers plus lots more. We have seen the newly described Johnsons Tody-tyrant, here in the chusquea bamboo. Later we’ll visit the Huembo Marvelous Spatuletail reserve and we'll give priority to Marvelous Spatuletail, which comes to the feeders along with Little Woodstar, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Andean Emerald, Bronzy Inca and White-bellied Woodstar amongst others. In the afternoon we’ll drive to a new hotel alongside the Utcubamba River. Night birding here may get us the rare Buff-fronted Owl and Koepcke’s Screech Owl. Night in the country near Chachapoyas. B:L:D
Day 13: Today we continue to Leymeybamba for the night. We'll have a hotel breakfast and some birding in the hotel gardens before make a couple of planned stops along the way, especially for the endemic Buff-bellied Tanager. Today there will be an opportunity for those who wish to visit the impressive Chacaapoyan archaeological site of Kuelap by cable car. We plan to be in the pretty Andean town of Leymeybamba before dusk. We have our first chance at Maranon Thrush. Others include Lafraneye’sPiculet, Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper. We will want to visit the Hummingbird feeders at the Leymeybamba Museum which has at present male Spatuletails attending, Sword-billed Hummingbird and 12 other species. Night Leymeybamba. B:L:D
Day 14:Early start for Abra Barro Negro. We'll slowly bird the remnant patches of cloud forest and farmlands here and make some planned stops for certain species, such as Coppery Metaltail (endemic) and Russet- mantled Softail (endemic). Other birds here include White-chinned Thistletail, Yellow-scarfed Tanager (endemic) the obscura race of Rufous Antpitta, Blackish Tapaculo, Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, Shining Sunbeam, Collared Inca, Mountain Cacique, Purple-backed Thronbill, White-collared Jay, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. With a picnic lunch we may stay out late for Swallow-tailed Nightjar, Yungas Pygmy Owl and Rufous-banded Owl.. Night in Leymeybamba. B: L: D
Day 15:We may spend some time in a nearby canyon with a field breakfast and then we'll drive over Barro Negro Pass and drop into the spectacular Maranon canyon. We should see the pretty Buff-bridled Inca-finch (endemic) in the open Bombax forest and the mango groves hold a healthy population of Maranon Thrush (endemic). Other birds to look out for on this day include - Puna Hawk, Andean Lapwing, Andean Flicker, Violet-throated Startfrontlet, Great Sapphirewing and Rufous-capped Antshrike, Baron’s Spinetail, Yellow-tailed Oriole Peruvian Pigeons (endemic) assemble in large groups in the evening. In the early evening we’ll arrive at our hotel in Celendin. B: L: D
Day 16: Today we'll spend the whole day birding the west side of the Maranon canyon. Initially birding the riverine and agricultural vegetation, we should see Peruvian Pigeon (endemic). In the Bombax woodland there should be Buff-bridled Inca-finch (endemic) and the endangered Yellow-faced Parrotlet (endemic). We'll slowly bird up the valley side to Limon, where Chestnut-backed Thornbird (endemic) and Gray-winged Inca-finch (endemic) are our targets. Buff-bellied Tanager (endemic) is here too. The afternoon we’ll devote to searching for Jelski’s Chat-tyrant (endemic) and commoner Andean species. In the afternoon we’ll return to Celendin for the night in the same hotel at Celendin. B: L: D
Day 17: Early morning birding in remnant humid forest and Polylepis scrub. On this road we'll make planned stops for some Andean species we may not have seen - Peruvian Sierra-finch, Shining Sunbeam and also stop on the high puna grasslands for Cinclodes, Canastero’s, Pipits, Ground-tyrants and Sierra-finches, Rainbow Starfronlet, Black-crested Warbler, Maranon Tit-tyrant, Many-striped Canastero. We’ll make a special effort for the Cajamarcae race of the Rufous Antpitta (a for sure split). In the Polylepis we’ll search for Black Metaltail, Jelski’s Chat-tyrant, Baron’s Spinetail, Striated Earthcreeper and Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail.
This stretch of road is also one of the best places to see the very rare White-tailed Shrike-tyrant. In the afternoon we’ll go to our stakeout for the endemic Gray-bellied Comet we’ll spend the afternoon looking for this rare endemic and others. Cajamarca, a beautiful colonial city nestled in a dry intermontane valley. It was here that Pizarro ambushed and captured Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, and we will stay for two nights in a hotel near the beautiful and world famous Plaza de Armas. Night at our hotel in Cajamarca. Night at our hotel in Cajamarca. B: L: D
Day 18: Early morning excursion for the endemic range restricted endemic Great Spinetail. Easier to see species are Buff-bridled Inca-Finch (endemic) White-winged Black Tyrant, Lesser Goldfinch and Fasciated Wren. Other birds we may see include the endemic Plain-tailed Warbling Finch Rufous-chested Tanager and Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant. After seeing the birds we’ll return to Cajamarca and if time permits do some more birding around Cajamarca. Another night in Cajamarca on the historic main plaza. B: L: D
Day 19: Early start today we drive off the Andes and down to the coast but first we’ll make detour to Sunchubamba and look for the endemic Unicolored Tapaculo. Our main target is the endemic Russet-bellied Spinetail but here also are the endemic Piura Chat-tyrant, Black-necked Woodpecker and we have seen Rufous-backed Inca Finch and Piura Hemispingus here too. Other stop may produce Great Inca Finch and Bay-crowned Brush-Finch. We’ll arrive late in Chiclayo. Night in Chiclayo B: L: D
Day 20: Relaxed start to-day – we’ll head out to the coast and the wetlands of Eten where Peruvian Tern is always possible along with Gull-billed tern marshland species and seabirds. After farewell lunch in a traditional restaurant we’ll head for the airport for the afternoon flight to Lima arriving around 4 pm for connecting international flights. Those in a hurry may get the 8 am flight. B.
Does not include air Lima - Chiclayo - Lima but we will do this on request – the price depends on when we get your full name, deposit and passport numbers – you can check current prices at www.LATAM.com and www.Avianca.com

Customer Testimonials

Charlotte and Marchal Fuller, USA

Dear Barry, This e-mail should have been written last fall. I believe that I have the names right: Donato was our cook and Americo was our driver on a trip wit into NW Peru last September. Both Marchal and I want you to know how outstanding these two are. They were helpful above and beyond and always pleasant. Each did his job professionally and with excellence. This added enormously to our sense of security and pleasure. The trip was a huge success, and both of these men played a significant part in it. Many thanks to all three of you.

Alistair McGiven - United Kingdom

I just wanted to let you know that I had a really fantastic trip. We saw over 340 species in 7 days including all the main target species - Plantcutter, White-Winged Guan, Marvelous Spatuletail, both Crescentchests, Little Inca-Finch etc. The guide was really nice company and a top class birder. His knowledge of birdsong was invaluable, particularly for the flycatchers. I enjoyed travelling with him.

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Comments

I just wanted to let you know that I had a really fantastic trip. We saw over 340 species in 7 days including all the main target species - Plantcutter, White-Winged Guan, Marvelous Spatuletail, both Crescentchests, Little Inca-Finch etc. The guide was really nice company and a top class birder. His knowledge of birdsong was invaluable, particularly for the flycatchers. I enjoyed travelling with him.

Dear Barry, This e-mail should have been written last fall. I believe that I have the names right: Donato was our cook and Americo was our driver on a trip wit into NW Peru last September. Both Marchal and I want you to know how outstanding these two are. They were helpful above and beyond and always pleasant. Each did his job professionally and with excellence. This added enormously to our sense of security and pleasure. The trip was a huge success, and both of these men played a significant part in it. Many thanks to all three of you.

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