Birding Chile – North Chile: Lauca NP and Pelagic

The arid coast of the Atacama Desert and the high Andes

Chilean WoodstarChilean Woodstar

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 0. 26th OCT ARRIVAL IN SANTIAGO
After arrival, we will transfer to Santiago’s airport hotel, where we will have dinner and our introductory meeting. Night in the Santiago airport hotel. D
DAY 1. 27th OCT. BIRDING THE ARICA VALLEYS
This morning we will take an early flight from Santiago to Arica on the Peruvian border.

Today we will be birding in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions on earth. There are a few small rivers which flow through this desert, carrying melt-water down from the Andes, and 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. This latter is one of Chile's rarest and most threatened birds, whose world population is now believed to number no more than 2000.

We will also have our best chance today for the rare Tamarugo Conebill. Other birds that we might encounter during the morning include 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 lunch in Valle de Azapa, we will bird along the coastline and at the estuary of the Lluta river. Our main targets here will be shorebirds and we might encounter Killdeer, Snowy Plover, American and Blackish Oystercatchers, Surfbird, Willet and a selection of gulls and terns.
We will spend the night in a comfortable hotel near to the ocean in Arica, enjoying dinner in a good nearby restaurant. B: L: D
DAY 2. 28th OCT. PELAGIC TRIP AND BIRDING ON THE WAY TO PUTRE
This day ́s schedule starts with an enjoyable 6 hours pelagic trip. Sailing into the Humboldt Current will allow visitors to spot many sub-Antarctic species of seabirds and warm water Petrels. During navigation it is possible to find Salvin's, Buller's and Black-browed Albatross, Northern Giant-Petrel, White-chinned and Westland Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Elliott ́s Storm-Petrel, Markham's Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving Petrel, Humboldt Penguin, Chilean Skua and Swallow-tailed Gull. Inshore species should include Red-legged and Guanay Cormorants, the splendid Inca Tern, Peruvian Boobies and Peruvian Pelican.

A tasty lunch at a restaurant on the beach will be waiting for the group after the pelagic trip. Later, with birding stops on the way, the plan considers heading to the arable areas outside Arica and then to the town of Putre. During this ride we will be searching for some specialties we may have missed yesterday.

After this intensive birding day, we will spend the night in the beautiful town of Putre. With an altitude of 3.500 m a.s.l. (11.483 ft) Putre will be the gateway for next day’s adventures at the high elevation Andean ecosystems. B : L : D
DAY 3. 29th OCT. FULL DAY AT LAUCA NATIONAL PARK
Today will be spent exploring Lauca National Park, a place of outstanding natural beauty. Here, the towering snow-capped volcanos of Pomerape and Parinacota soar to over 6,300 metres and reflect themselves perfectly in the deep blue waters of Chungara and Cotocotani lakes. The highlight for us will be lake Chungara, one of the highest altitude lakes in the world, which holds 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 we will hope to find today will include Puna Rhea, Andean Flicker, White-winged Cinclodes, Black Siskin, Puna Tinamou, Puna Ibis, Andean Goose, Mountain Caracara, Andean Lapwing, Puna Plover, Andean Avocet, Puna Miner, Puna and White-fronted Ground-tyrants, Andean Negrito, White-winged Diuca-finch and White-throated Sierra-finch. We will also be looking for flamingos and with luck we will be able to approach close enough to identify three species here: Chilean, Andean and Puna. In the late afternoon we will return to our hotel in Putre and stroll out to another local restaurant for dinner. Second night in our hotel in Putre. B: L: D
DAY 4. 30th OCT. BIRDING IN PUTRE AND RETURN TO ARICA
This morning will be spent exploring around the village, where we might see Bare-faced Ground-dove, White-throated Earthcreeper, Yellow-billed Tit-tyrant, Canyon and Dark-winged Canasteros, 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 Flowerpiercer, Golden-billed Saltator, Black-hooded and Ash-breasted Sierra-finches, 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 that we may have missed on the way up.

We will return to the same hotel where we stayed on previously, taking our dinner in a restaurant near the ocean. Night in our comfortable hotel in Arica. B: L: D
DAY 5. 31st OCT. BIRDING AROUND ARICA AND FLIGHT TO SANTIAGO
In the early morning of this day we will visit for a final time the Luta river estuary. After this we will take our flight back to Santiago. Night in Santiago at the Santiago airport hotel B:L:D
DAY 6. 1st NOV. FLIGHTS HOME :
Transfer to the airport for flights home B.
NOTE PRICE EXCLUDES:Internal Flights (Santiago-Arica-Santiago)

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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