Rob Williams was a brilliant guide in all respects. Throughout the three weeks, he gave the group his all. He is outstanding, and we would love to travel with him again.
The 2018 tour price is provisional
The Cordillera Blanca (White Mountains), a veritable Andean Switzerland, are an impressive range of snow-capped and glacier riddled mountains some 200km north of Lima. Popular amongst the adventure sports fraternity for the excellent granite rock faces, we however will remain rather more tethered to the ground. During this extension we take in both the arid desert coast en route to higher ground, and then bird through stunning Polylepis forests and paramo grasslands before returning to Lima for one of the worlds premier pelagics and a host of endemic coastal species. Aside from the spectacular scenery, a number of restricted species occur here including White-cheeked Cotinga, Ancash Tapaculo, Giant Conebill, Black Metaltail, Stripe-headed Antpitta and a host of endemic coastal species.
Puna Teal, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Peruvian Thick-knee, Black-necked Woodpecker, Mountain Parakeet, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Giant, Oasis, Amazilia & Spot-throated Hummingbirds, Shining Sunbeam, Peruvian Sheartail, Purple-collared Woodstar, Black Metaltail, White-browed & Giant Conebills, White-cheeked Cotinga, Coastal, Thick-billed & Greyish Miners, Ancash (Pale-tailed) & Canyon Canasteros, Striated & Plain-breasted Earthcreepers, Least Seedsnipe, Peruvian Thick-knee, Dark-faced Ground Tyrant, Black-crested Tit-Tyrant, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Baron’s Spinetail, Ancash Tapaculo, Blue-mantled Thornbill, D’Orbigny’s & Piura Chat-Tyrants, Rufous-webbed Tyrant, Tit-like Dacnis, Scrub Blackbird, Great & Rufous-backed Inca Finchs, Rufous-eared Brush Finch, Band-tailed Sierra Finch, Rufous-breasted & Plain-tailed Warbling Finchs, Raimondi’s Yellow Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater, Yellowish Pipit, Peruvian Meadowlark, Hooded Siskin, Peruvian Seaside Cincoldes, Blackish Oystercatcher, Peruvian Pelican, Red-legged & Guanay Cormorants, Humboldt Penguin, Peruvian Booby, Waved, Salvin’s & Buller’s Albatross, Grey, Belcher’s & Swallow-tailed Gulls, Inca Tern, Chilean Skua, Peruvian Diving Petrel, Markham’s, Elliot’s (White-vented), Ringed (Hornby’s) & Wedge-rumped Storm Petrel (with chances for Band-rumped, Least & Sooty)
Taruca, South American Sea Lion, South American Fur Seal, Marine Otter, Long-beaked Common & Dusky Dolphins, chances for Bryde’s, Sei and Fin Whales
Polylepis forests, cactus-studded scrubland, agricultural lands, mountains, lakes, open ocean
moderate to relaxed
exceptional scenery including Nevado Huascarán (Peru’s highest mountain at 6,768m (22,200 ft) and the world’s highest tropical peak).
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
Today we arrive in Peru’s capital city of Lima. A Rockjumper representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to our comfortable city hotel. An afternoon stroll along Miraflores promenade is highly recommended, before meeting up with the group and your Rockjumper tour leader this evening for a welcome dinner.
Day 2: Lima to Huaraz via Lomas de Lachay
We depart Lima early this morning on our Peru birding tour, heading along the northern coastline to the ‘mist oasis’ of Lomas de Lachay. Located only a few kilometres from the Pacific Ocean, Lomas de Lachay is a remarkable site. It is completely dependent on capturing moisture from ‘mist clouds’ rolling in off the ocean, such that in summer, it is a dry and inhospitable place much like the rest of the coastal littoral in Peru. However, a transformation takes place during the winter, and our visit here is timed to behold what should resemble a cloud forest, with tall green vegetation dripping with moisture. Driving slowly along the dirt access road, we should have our first encounters with Least Seedsnipe, Burrowing Owl, the endemic Coastal Miner, Peruvian Meadowlark and with a little luck, Tawny-throated Dotterels and Peruvian Thick-knees. Flowering scrub holds a number of ‘hummers’, including Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail and Purple-collared Woodstar.
Short walks among the surrounding vegetation may turn up the endemic Thick-billed and Greyish Miners, small flocks of the endemic Raimondi’s Yellow Finch, Dark-faced Ground Tyrant, Yellowish Pipit and Band-tailed Sierra Finch.
After an excellent start to our Peruvian adventure, we will drive northwards along the coast before turning east and climbing into the Andes. While much of the afternoon will be spent driving to Huaraz, we may have time for the odd birding stop en route. Species of interest in the foothills include Black-necked Woodpecker, Spot-throated Hummingbird, Piura Chat-Tyrant and Scrub Blackbird. We can expect to arrive at our hotel in Huaraz just before dark.
Day 3: Huaraz to Yungay, birding Huaylas & Puerto Libre
We will depart Huaraz this morning and head further north to Yungay some 60km away. Passing Yungay, we traverse a pass towards the town of Huaylas. While seemingly unappealing, the scrubby habitat on the hillsides is home to two of the five endemic Inca-Finches, Great and Rufous-backed. Separated by little more than altitude, we will search for Great Inca Finch at lower elevations before climbing higher for Rufous-backed Inca-Finch. The higher reaches of the pass are home to Mountain Parakeet, Canyon Canastero and Greenish Yellow Finch. The rare Rufous-breasted Warbling Finch is known from the area, while we can also expect to see Band-tailed Seedeater and Band-tailed Sierra Finch.
We will return to Yungay for lunch and a short rest before heading out to nearby Puerto Libre. While there may not be a huge number of species in the cactus-studded scrublands, it is home to an undescribed form of Pale-tailed Canastero (tentatively known as Ancash Canastero). The bird is not uncommon here and we should also find flocks of Greenish Yellow Finch and Drab Seedeater. Hummers are represented by Shining Sunbeam and Giant Hummingbird, while Black-crested Tit-Tyrant and Plain-tailed Warbling Finch are also present.
Returning to Yungay, we can bird the local scrub patches and take in the spectacular views around us. While we bird the local surrounds, it is sobering to consider that we are birding in the ‘new’ Yungay, the old town being some 1,500 metres to the south. The old town of Yungay was erased from the map by the 1970 Ancash Earthquake that caused a huge debris avalanche (15 million cubic tonnes) burying the town and more than 20,000 people in a matter of minutes. The ‘old’ town is now a national cemetery and no excavation has ever been permitted.
Day 4: Lagunas Llanganuco & Abra Portachuelo
An early start this morning on our Peru birding tour will see us heading high above the town of Yungay and into Parque Nacional Huascarán. The imposing Nevado Huascarán is not only Peru’s highest mountain at 6,768m (22,200 ft) but also the world’s highest tropical peak. Named after the 16th century Incan emperor Huascar, the summit lays claim to the smallest gravitational force on earth. As we stand on the dirt road a little over 3,000m above sea level, consider that the mountain right next to us is almost 4km higher! Aside from the spectacular peaks and two emerald green lakes, the park has some of the most extensive and intact Polylepis forest in all of South America. We will leave the lakes and surrounding forests for a little later and head further into the park to reach Abra Portachuelo.
Abra Portachuelo is one of the best sites to find White-cheeked Cotinga, a scarce and generally tricky bird throughout its fragmented range. While the cotinga is the primary point of focus, we will also have plenty of other species to keep our appetites occupied, including Tit-like Dacnis, Striated Earthcreeper, both White-browed and Giant Conebills and even a chance for the rare Rufous-breasted Warbling Finch. The recently split and endemic, Baron’s Spinetail, is rather common, as is Plain-tailed Warbling Finch and Stripe-headed Antpitta. As we head back towards Lagunas Llanganuco, we will make various stops in the paramo grasslands to search for the endemic Ancash Tapaculo, Blue-mantled Thornbill, D’Orbigny’s Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-webbed Tyrant and Plain-breasted Earthcreeper. The picturesque lakes do not play host to many species, but residents include Crested Duck, Puna Teal and Andean Duck.
Having sampled some Polylepis species around Abra Portachuelo, we hope to gorge ourselves on even more of these specialities. Walking along the spongy paths through these slow growing trees is liable to turn up the endemic Black Metaltail, Rufous-eared Brush Finch, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Hooded Siskin, Giant Hummingbird, Shining Sunbeam and more chances for Giant Conebill and Stripe-headed Antpitta. After what is sure to be the highlight day of this short extension, we will then make our way back down the mountain to Yungay for a celebratory final dinner and to discuss our forthcoming birding in Southern Peru.
Day 5: Yungay to Lima
Today on our Peru birding tour, we have a fairly time-consuming drive back to Lima and much of our time will be spent travelling. Depending on our progress, we may make the odd birding stop en route to our hotel for the next two nights. We expect to arrive in Lima late this afternoon with enough time for a good rest before tomorrow’s much anticipated pelagic!
Day 6: Lima Pelagic
There are only a handful of truly necessary, classic pelagics around the world, and Lima is certainly one of them. The high concentration of seabirds here is a direct result of the upwelling of the cold Humboldt Current, considered the most productive marine ecosystem in the world. Due to Peru’s short continental shelf, the upwelling occurs relatively close to land, meaning we need not travel much more than 30km to get into prime pelagic environment. Leaving the harbour, we can expect to see large numbers of Inca Terns, Red-legged and Guanay Cormorants and our first true pelagics in the form of Peruvian Diving Petrel, Pomarine and Chilean Skuas and Long-tailed Jaeger.
Chumming will begin as we start to approach the appropriate water depths, drawing in large numbers of pelagic species that include both Sabine’s and Swallow-tailed Gulls, the much sought-after ‘banana-yellow-billed’ Waved Albatross that breeds on the rather more tropical Galapagos Islands, while there is also potential for any number of other albatross species, including Black-browed, Salvin’s, Buller’s and Grey-headed. The true highlight of this pelagic trip, however, are the masses of Storm Petrels, which are liable to include Markham’s, Elliot’s (White-vented), Ringed (Hornby’s), Wedge-rumped and Wilson’s, while Band-rumped, Least and Sooty are outside possibilities. There is likely to be a smattering of other species floating about, with Southern Giant Petrel, Southern Fulmar, White-chinned and Cape Petrels and Sooty Shearwater.
After much entertainment, we will head back to dry land, passing the Palomino Islands that play host to thousands of South American Sea Lions and numerous Peruvian Boobies and Pelicans. We can look forward to an excellent dinner this evening before getting ready for the next leg of our Peru birding tour with an early flight to Cusco the following morning.
Day 7: Lima to Pucusana & San Pedro Fields
We complete our extension with a day trip south of the capital city. The seaside fishing village of Pucusana offers some easy birding while also hosting a number of endemic and important species. A short stop in the coastal scrublands should yield a cornucopia of hummers, including Peruvian Sheartail, Amazilia and Oasis Hummingbirds and Purple-collared Woodstar. Long-tailed Mockingbird, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Harris’s Hawk, Croaking Ground Dove and Short-tailed Field Tyrant make up the balance of the interesting birds here.
Coastal mist is an oft-prevalent weather phenomenon in the early mornings, keeping the impending heat at bay for a few hours. Shifting our focus to the seaside, we can expect to see masses of Inca Tern, Peruvian Pelican and all three species of cormorants to be found in Peru, Red-legged, Guanay and Neotropic harassing the fishing boats for their catch in the harbour.
A short hike up a sand dune will put us in prime position to scour the surf and rocky shore for Humboldt Penguin, the endemic Peruvian Seaside Cincoldes and Blackish Oystercatcher. From our elevated position, we can often see Peruvian Booby in our eye line. Walking along the promenade, we will search the sandy beaches and inlets for Grey, Belcher’s and Franklin’s Gulls interspersed by Elegant, Cabot’s and more Inca Terns.
After lunch, we will head back towards Lima with occasional stops at any likely looking habitat until we reach the San Pedro Fields. While seemingly unprepossessing, these abandoned agricultural fields can be a minefield of birding activity. Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-throated Dotterel and Peruvian Thick-knee will be high on our priority list, while other denizens include Tschudi’s Nightjar (formerly a sub-species of Band-winged) Yellowish Pipit, Grassland Yellow Finch, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Dark-faced Ground Tyrant, Drab and Chestnut-throated Seedeaters as well as another chance for Amazilia Hummingbird and Peruvian Sheartail. If we have time, we may also visit the nearby seashore for Black Skimmer and the off chance of finding a Chilean Skua or Parasitic Jaeger. We expect to arrive back in Lima later this afternoon, with enough time for a short siesta before meeting up with any new participants over dinner for the start of the main tour.
What our clients say about tours to Peru
- TE, Northern Peru 2015
Rob Williams is the best guide I have ever birded with – wonderful birding and people skills.PM, Peru
The tour met all of my expectations. Rob Williams is an excellent tour guide – knowledgeable, manages logistics well, interacts with participants in a fun and caring way, and strives to find the birds that are on participants’ “wish lists”.RH, Peru
Our guide, Rob Williams, was exceptionally well qualified, good humoured in all circumstances and remarkably diligent in accommodating all levels of birding skills within our group. He went out of his way to make sure that each member of the group realised their expectations for the trip. We would welcome the opportunity to join him on additional trips; he is a quality individual with sound values and a superb representative of Rockjumper Birding Tours.JH & CH, Southern Peru
Rob Williams is right up there among the very best tour leaders. His vast experience from lots of research and conservation projects and intimate knowledge of the country add lots of value compared to a tour leader who is “just” a good organiser, birder and guide. He is also great company, with a sublime sense of humour.UA, Peru