Birding Chile – North Chile: Lauca NP and Pelagic

The arid coast of the Atacama Desert and the high Andes

11birdPhotographer: Fabrice Schmitt

Scenically breathtaking with stunning birdlife, the Andes conjure up a mouth-watering birding feast. Soaring Andean Condors above high peaks in clear blue skies and Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers on mineral-rich bogs with the sound of Seedsnipe echoing in the valley. These are the magical experiences of this trip. In just few days we shall visit, not only the high Puna grasslands but also the arid Pacific coast with its endemic species, the stunning Lauca National Park and fit in a Humboldt Current pelagic trip and look for the critically endangered Chilean Woodstar.

Day 1: Arrival to Santiago Trip participants arrive. After arrival to Santiago’s airport hotel we will have dinner and meeting with the guide, who will give you all the instructions for the trip. D
Day 2: Birding in the Arica ValleysEarly in the morning we fly from Santiago to Arica on the Peruvian border because today we will be birding in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions on earth, but through which flow several rivers. Although these are only small rivers carrying melt-water down from the Andes, their well-cultivated flood plains form a rich oasis in this harsh environment. Our most important target species today will be a trio of hummingbirds: the sturdy Oasis Hummingbird, the entertaining Peruvian Sheartail and the diminutive Chilean Woodstar (one of Chile's rarest and most threatened birds, whose world population is now believed to number no more than 2000). We will have our best chance today for the rare Tamarugo Conebill and we shall also be searching for the impressive Peruvian Thick-knee, Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Groove-billed Ani, Burrowing Owl, Andean Swift, White-crested Elaenia (the form here is sometimes split as Peruvian Elaenia), Vermilion Flycatcher, the local race of Bran-coloured Flycatcher (a strong candidate for a future split), Cinereous Conebill, Chestnut-throated Seedeater, Blue-black Grassquit, Slender-billed Finch and Peruvian Meadowlark. After our lunch in Valle de Azapa, we will be birding along the coastline and at the estuary of the Lluta River. Our main targets will be shorebirds, and we hope for Killdeer, Snowy Plover, American and Blackish Oystercatchers, Surfbirds, Willet and a selection of Gulls and Terns.

We spend the night in a comfortable hotel near to the ocean in Arica and dinner in a good nearby restaurant. B: L: D

Day 3: Pelagic Trip at morning and birding on the way to Putre A full morning's pelagic trip out of Arica. We sail out in the early morning and enjoy 6 hours on the ocean in the Humboldt Current, which allows us to see sub-Antarctic seabirds and warm water Petrels. We hope to find Salvin's, Buller's, and Black-browed Albatross, Northern Giant-Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwater, Elliott´s Storm-Petrel, Chilean Skua, Swallow-tailed Gull and Peruvian Diving Petrel. Inshore species should include 3 species of Cormorants, Inca and South American Terns, Peruvian Boobies, Peruvian Pelican and Humboldt Penguin. Then to Putre, with some birding stops on the way. We will also be searching for the impressive Peruvian Thick-knee, Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Groove-Billed Ani, Burrowing Owl, Andean Swift, Peruvian Elaenia (the form here of White-Crested Elaenia), Vermilion Flycatcher, local race of Bran-Coloured Flycatcher (a strong candidate for a future split), Cinereous Conebill, Chestnut-Throated Seedeater, Blue-Black Grassquit, Slender-Billed Finch and Peruvian Meadowlark. B: L: D
Day 4: Full day at Lauca National ParkThe Lauca National Park is a place of outstanding natural beauty. The towering snow-capped volcanos of Pomerape and Parinacota soar to over 6300 metres and reflect perfectly in the deep blue waters of Chungara and Cotocotani Lakes. This is our venue today and the highlight is Lake Chungara, one of the highest altitude lakes in the world with its hordes of birds including Silvery Grebe, Puna Teal and Giant Coot along with ducks and often Andean Gulls. On our way up to the lakes we will search the high altitude bogs for the stunning and difficult to find Diademed Sandpiper Plover. Other birds today are Puna Rhea, Andean Flicker, White-winged Cinclodes, Black Siskin, Puna Tinamou, Puna Ibis, Andean Goose, Mountain Caracara, Andean Lapwing, Puna Plover, Andean Avocet, Andean Gull, Puna Miner, Puna and White-fronted Ground-Tyrants, Andean Negrito, the White-winged Diuca-Finch and White-throated Sierra-Finch. We'll also be looking for Flamingos and with luck we'll be able to approach within range to identify three species here: Chilean, Andean and Puna. At the end of an excellent and adventurous day´s birding we return to our hotel in Putre and stroll out to another local restaurant for dinner. B: L: D
Day 5: Birding morning at Putre and back to Arica We'll spend the morning around the village and we'll be looking for Bare-faced Ground-Dove, White-throated Earthcreeper, Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, Canyon and Dark-winged Canastero, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Cream-winged and White-winged Cinclodes, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, D'Orbigny's and White-browed Chat-Tyrants, Chiguanco Thrush, Black-throated Flower-piercer, Golden-billed Saltator, Black-hooded and Ash-breasted Sierra-Finches along with Greenish Yellow-Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater and also maybe Ornate Tinamou and Spot-winged Pigeon. We will then drive slowly down the winding mountain road back to Arica looking for any birds we may have missed on the way up. We then return to our hotel and spend the night in our comfortable Arica hotel with dinner at a restaurant near the ocean. B: L: D
Day 6: Birding around Arica, fly to SantiagoThis morning we will travel to the south of Arica, until Caleta de Camarones, where we will look for Pied-crested Tit-Tytant, Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch and Tamarugo Conebill. After our lunch, we will return to the airport and fly to Santiago. B: L: D
FINISH TOUR OR JOIN THE CENTRAL CHILEAN ENDEMICS TOUR
Does not include air Santiago - Arica - Santiago 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.LAN.com & www.skyairline.cl

Customer Testimonials

Ron Jensen - Canada

I want to say thank you very much for a wonderful birding experience, your enthusiasm and seemingly endless energy for finding those hard to see species. I hope to have the opportunity to participate in another birding trip which you are involved. I would like to hear of your trips with potential for others to join.

Kevin and Janie Vaughan

Your support guys on the Birdquest trip were a good team and certainly added to the enjoyment of the trip and we had a most enjoyable visit with the guys you organized for us in Chile. Appreciated the fact that the vehicles had seatbelts for the passengers. found Silverio a great guide and had a great trip with him

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Comments

Your support guys on the Birdquest trip were a good team and certainly added to the enjoyment of the trip and we had a most enjoyable visit with the guys you organized for us in Chile. Appreciated the fact that the vehicles had seatbelts for the passengers. found Silverio a great guide and had a great trip with him

I want to say thank you very much for a wonderful birding experience, your enthusiasm and seemingly endless energy for finding those hard to see species. I hope to have the opportunity to participate in another birding trip which you are involved. I would like to hear of your trips with potential for others to join.

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