The North Peru Circuit: Tumbes and Maranon Endemics and the Magnificent Fortress of Kuelap

Russet-bellied SpinetailWhite-winged-GuanPhotographer: Hugo Arenal

WHAT A GREAT TOUR!

Manu Expeditions first visited northern Peru in the mid-1980’s when Barry Walker travelled with Dr. Niels Krabbe, who was researching his milestone book “Birds of the High Andes”. We have built on that experience over the last 25 years, initially with Barry re-finding “lost" species and carefully researching where the more sought-after endemics are to be found. In our opinion, this is THE most comprehensive birding tour of the northern part of Peru. We use only the best hotels in each town and NO camping is involved. Many other tour companies have copied our itinerary over the years but we still pride ourselves on our tour being the best one available!

Day 1: ARRIVAL IN LIMAArriving in Lima our staff will transfer you to our selected hotel where you will spend the night.
Day 2: CHICLAYO AND POMAC FORESTWe will take a morning flight from Lima to the coastal city of Chiclayo. On arrival we will head to Pomac or Batan Grande where we will spend the whole day birding the protected Carob woodland, looking for the endemics Rufous Flycatcher and Peruvian Plantcutter, as well as such species as Tumbes Swallow, Necklaced Spinetail, Baird’s Flycatcher, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Tumbes Tyrant, Supercilliaried Wren and Coastal Miner.

In the late afternoon we will head to our special country hotel, next to the pre-Colombian pyramid of Tucume. The hotel garden is very birdy and we might find West Peruvian Screech-owl here. B: L: D
Day 3: LA VIÑA AND TUMBESIAN ENDEMICSToday we will spend the morning exploring the La Vina wetlands. Afterwards we will make a stop at the hotel where we will be spending the night. In the afternoon we will drive north of Olmos to continue our search for Tumbesian endemics before returning to our hotel where we will spend the night. B: L: D
Day 4: WHITE-WINGED GUANS AND QUEBRADA LIMONToday will be spent exploring the canyon at Quebrada Limon, where one of the thought to be extinct White-winged Guan populations was found. Amidst superb scenery we will look for the endemics White-winged Guan, Tumbes Tyrant and Gray-breasted Flycatcher. Amongst many others we might also see Henna-hooded and Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaners, Ecuadorian Piculet, Ecuadorian Trogon, Purple-collared Woodstar, Tumbes Hummingbird, Cinereous Finch, Tumbes Sparrow, Sulphur-throated Finch, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Gray and Gold Warbler, Sooty-capped Flycatcher, Gray and White Tyrannulet and Pacific Elaenia. We’ll return to our hotel in Olmos B: L: D
Day 5: ABRA PORCULLAToday we will set off early, leaving the coastal strip behind, as we head for Abra Porculla which is one of the lowest passes in the Andes. We will be making selected stops along our way, in particular stopping at a side-trail where we have seen the very rare and endemic Piura Chat-tyrant. Other birds we might see during the morning include Black-cowled Saltator, Andean Tinamou, Elegant Crescentchest, Three-banded Warbler, White-winged and Bay-crowned Brush-finches, Chapman’s Antshrike, Rufous-necked and Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaners, Ecuadorian Piculet and Yellow-bellied and Black and White Seedeaters.

After lunch we drop over the east side of the pass before driving straight through to our hotel in the bustling town of Jaen, on the lip of the Maranon canyon. Night at our hotel in Jaen. B: L: D
Day 6:JAEN Today we will make a pre-dawn start, driving to a side road where we have had spectacular success with the endemic Marañon Crescentchest. After taking a field breakfast 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 Marañon races of Speckle-breasted Wren and Black-capped Sparrow are here too, as well as Tataupa Tinamou and, surprisingly, Miltary Macaw.
After lunch we will head for Pomacochas, with a stop for Little Inca-finch along the way. After exploring an area of rice fields looking for Spotted Rail and Paint-billed Crake, we will continue up the Utcubamba river, keeping an eye-out for Fasciated Tiger-heron and Torrent Duck.
We will then pass through Pedro Ruiz before heading on to Owlet lodge at Abra Patricia where we will spend the next 4 nights. Night at Owlet lodge. B: L: D
Days 7 to 10: ABRA PATRICIA AND OWLET LODGEWe will spend the next 4 days in the Abra Patricia area, based at the comfortable Owlet lodge, birding various altitudinal zones between 1000 and 2200 meters. This famous collecting site is home to what were some of the least-known Peruvian birds.

The lodge itself has an extensive trail system, enabling us to better look for understory birds whilst White-throated Screech-owl and Rufous-banded Owl can both be found in the lodge garden. At this lodge and nearby Alto Nieve Antpittas come in to worm feeders including Ochre-fronted and Rusty-tinged Antpittas and Hummingbird feeders at both locations provide a myriad of species.

Some of the Peruvian endemics that we hope to see during our stay here include the aforementioned Antpittas, Rufous-vented Tapaculo and Fine-barred Piculet. This is also the type locality for Long-whiskered Owlet and we will certainly be trying hard to see this bird, both at the lodge and at Alta Nieve.

Mixed flocks might contain tanagers such as Blue-browed and Metallic-green. Exploring side trails, we may see the new Johnson’s Tody-Tyrant, Tyrranine Woodcreeper and both Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails. Other species we have seen here include Ash-throated Antwren, Cinnamon-breasted Tody-tyrant, Bar-winged Wood-wren, Royal Sunangel, Equatorial Graytail, White-capped and Scaly-naped Parrots, Straw-backed, Metallic-green, Blue-browed and White-capped Tanagers, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Montane Woodcreeper, Streak-headed Antbird, Golden-faced, Sulphur-bellied and Ecuadorian Tyrannulets, Fiery-throated and Scaled Fruiteaters, Cock-of-the-Rock, Lanceolated Monklet, Barred Becard, Sharpe’s Wren, Black-crested Warbler and Bicolored Antvireo.
One day we will spend the early part of the morning birding at Abra Patricia’s lower elevations. We then plan to visit a small private reserve where the hummingbird feeders produce quite a show. Possibilities here will include White-chinned Sapphire, White-necked Jacobin, Grey-breasted Sabrewing, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Black-throated Hermit, Rufous-crested Coquette and much, much more!

Night birding should be good here with Rufous-banded Owl, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Rufous-bellied Nighthawk and Cinnamon Screech-owl all being possibilities. All nights spent at Owlet lodge. B: L: D
Day 11: HUEMBO AND THE MARVELOUS SPATULETAILToday will be kept as flexible as possible, enabling us to concentrate on finding both Marvelous Spatuletail and Pale-billed Antpitta.

At dawn we will take a field breakfast at the San Lorenzo trail, which is known to hold Pale-billed Antpitta and Rusty-tinged Antpitta, as well as Russet-mantled Softtail. Patches of good cloud forest still remain here and other species that we might encounter include the endemic Inca Flycatcher, as well as Mountain Velvetbreast, Golden-headed Quetzal, Versicolored Barbet, Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, White-tailed and White-banded Tyrannulets, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, White-collared Jay, Andean Solitaire and Silver-backed, White-capped and Straw-backed Tanagers. We have also seen Russet-mantled Softail here too

Later in the day we will visit the Huembo Marvelous Spatuletail reserve where we will give priority to this Hummingbird, which comes to the feeders here. Other hummingbirds that are also here include Little Woodstar, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Andean Emerald, Bronzy Inca and White-bellied Woodstar.

In the afternoon we will drive to a new hotel alongside the Utcubamba river, near Chachapoyas. Night birding here may get us the rare Buff-fronted Owl and Koepcke’s Screech-owl. Night at the Hotel Casa Hacienda Achamaqui. B:L:D
Day 12: KUELAP TO LEYMEYBAMBAAfter breakfast at our country hotel we will do some birding in the hotel gardens before setting off towards Leymeybamba. We will make a couple of stops along the way, especially for the endemic Buff-bellied Tanager.

Today there will also be an opportunity, for those who wish, to visit the impressive Chachapoyan archaeological site of Kuelap by cable car.

Arriving in the pretty Andean town of Leymeybamba, we will visit the hummingbird feeders at the Leymeybamba museum, where we could find male Marvelous Spatuletails, as well as Sword-billed Hummingbird and up to 12 other species of hummingbird. Here we will also have a chance at Maranon Thrush. Other species to be found here include Lafraneye’s Piculet, Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper. Night at our hotel in Leymeybamba. B:L:D
Day 13: ABRA BARRO NEGROToday we will head out early, to spend the day birding the remnant patches of cloud forest and the farmland around Abra Barro Negro, taking along a picnic lunch. We will make selected stops to look for the endemics Coppery Metaltail and Russet-mantled Softail. Other birds we will be hoping to find today include the endemic Yellow-Scarfed Tanager, as well as White-chinned Thistletail, the obscura race of Rufous Antpitta, Blackish Tapaculo, Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan, Shining Sunbeam, Collared Inca, Mountain Cacique, Purple-backed Thornbill, White-collared Jay, Rainbow Starfrontlet and Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. We may stay out late to look for Swallow-tailed Nightjar, Yungas Pygmy-owl and Rufous-banded Owl.

We will then return to our hotel in Leymeybamba for a second night. B: L: D
Day 14: ABRA BARRO NEGRO - BALSAS - CELENDINWe may start the day by taking a field breakfast in a canyon not far from our hotel. We will then drive over the Barro Negro pass and look for Neblina Tapaculo before dropping down into the spectacular Maranon canyon. Here we should see the endemic Buff-bridled Inca-finch in the open Bombax forest and there is a healthy population of the endemic Maranon Thrush to be found in the mango groves.
Other birds that we will be hoping to encounter today include Puna Hawk, Andean Lapwing, Andean Flicker, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Great Sapphirewing, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Baron’s Spinetail and Yellow-tailed Oriole. We will see large groups of the endemic Peruvian Pigeon as they assemble in the evening.

We will arrive at our hotel in Celendin in the early evening, where we will spend the night. B: L: D
Day 15: BALSAS AND HACIENDA LIMONToday we will spend the whole day birding the west side of the Maranon canyon. Initially birding the riverine and agricultural vegetation, we should see the endemic Peruvian Pigeon. In the Bombax woodland there should be the endemic Buff-bridled Inca-finch and the endangered endemic Yellow-faced Parrotlet.
We will slowly bird up the valley side to Limon, where the endemics Chestnut-backed Thornbird, Gray-winged Inca-finch and Buff-bellied Tanager will be our main targets. The afternoon will be devoted to searching for the endemic Jelski’s Chat-tyrant, along with other commoner Andean species. In the late afternoon we will return to our hotel in Celendin where we will spend a second night. B: L: D
Day 16: CELENDIN TO CAJAMARCAToday we will make an early start, birding in remnant humid forest and Polylepis scrub. On this road we will make selected stops to look for some Andean species that we may not have yet seen, such as Peruvian Sierra-finch and Shining Sunbeam. We will also stop on the high puna grasslands for assorted cinclodes, canasteros, pipits, ground-tyrants and Sierra-finches. Here we may also find Rainbow Starfronlet, Black-crested Warbler, Maranon Tit-tyrant and Many-striped Canastero. We will make a special effort to find the cajamarcae race of Rufous Antpitta, which is a sure-fire future split!

In the Polylepis we will 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 will go to our special stake-out location where we hope to find the rare endemic Gray-bellied Comet.
In the afternoon we will go to our special stake-out location where we hope to find the rare endemic Gray-bellied Comet.

We will then head to Cajamarca, a beautiful historic, colonial city nestled in a dry intermontane valley. We will be staying for the next 2 nights in a hotel near the beautiful and world-famous Plaza de Armas. Night at our hotel in Cajamarca. B: L: D
Day 17: SAN MARCOSToday we will make an early morning excursion to look for the range-restricted endemic Great Spinetail. Other birds that we hope to see today will include the endemics Buff-bridled Inca-finch and Plain-tailed Warbling-finch, as well as White-winged Black-tyrant, Lesser Goldfinch, Fasciated Wren, Rufous-chested Tanager and Streak-throated Bush-tyrant.
We will then return to Cajamarca and, if time permits, do some more birding around town. We will then spend a second night in our hotel in Cajamarca. B: L: D
Day 18: THE SUNCHUBAMBA ROAD To-day we head over Abra Gavilan (Hawk Pass) and make a detour to the Sunchubamba road to look for the endemics Unicolored Tapaculo, Russet-bellied Spinetail, Piura Chat-tyrant and Black-necked Woodpecker. Other possibilities here include Rufous-backed Inca-finch and Piura Hemispingus. We’ll return to our hotel in Cajamarca. B: L: D
Day 19: CAJAMARCA TO CHICLAYOToday we will make an early start as we will be driving off the Andes and down to the coast. A further planned stop may produce Great Inca-finch and Bay-crowned Brush-finch. We may make a stop along the coast. We will arrive at a reasonable hour in Chiclayo where we will spend the night. B: L: D
Day 20:Today we will make a relaxed start before heading out to the coast and the wetlands of Eten, where Peruvian Tern is always possible along with Gull-billed Tern, assorted marshland species and seabirds.
After having a farewell lunch in a traditional restaurant, we will head for the airport for the afternoon flight to Lima, which should arrive in Lima at around 3:30PM for connecting international flights. Those of you in a hurry today may alternatively take the 7AM flight to Lima. B.L
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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