The Peruvian Amazon - The River of Friends

Russet-bellied SpinetailCredit to: Gerhard Bräunlein

The rainforests of southeastern Peru have been studied since the late 1960’s mostly on the Tambopata River but on this trip, we take you to the Rio de Los Amigo’s (The River of Friends) via the Madre de Dios River for a week-long immersion into pristine Amazon Rainforest.

Starting in the Carabaya and Vilcanota Andean ranges, several rivers drain from the Andes into the Madre de Dios River and continue on into nearby Bolivia and eventually the Amazon. On their way to the Amazon, these rivers pass through the Manu Biosphere Reserve and pass the mouth of the Rios de Los Amigos (which itself is a lowland river not born in the Andes). The Los Amigos Conservation Concession protects the watershed of the Los Amigos River and 360,000 acres of old-growth Amazonian forest and is surrounded by even larger areas of pristine rainforest. Exploring some of the 60-kilometer trail system we’ll cover an amazing variety of habitats, from Amazonian river beaches to closed oxbow lakes, seasonally flooded forest to terra firma upland forest. The area is characterized by large stands of Guadua bamboo and we will spend time looking for some specialties of this micro-habitat. In short birding shall be fantastic and very comfortable. With Giant Otters, Harpy Eagles, Jaguars, 13 species of primates, and over 550 bird species. Come indulge in a true and wild Amazon rainforest experience at Los Amigos!


Los Amigos is a most remote location and features 7 cabins with basic accommodations: We will stay in comfortable beds (your choice of single or double) with mosquito nets, private bathroom with hot water, luggage and clothes rack, a deck with hammock or lounge chairs, and 24-hour solar powered electricity.

Day 1: ARRIVAL IN LIMAOn arrival in Lima you will stay at an airport hotel right outside arrivals, or if you are coming off our Machu Picchu and Abra Malaga Tours you will be overnighting in Cusco
Day 2: LIMA/CUSCO TO LOS AMIGOSWe fly from Lima to the busy jungle frontier town of Puerto Maldonado. From the airport It’s a 45-minute bus ride to the port in the town of Laberinto on the Madre de Dios River. There we will board our private boat, and begin the 4.5-hour ride to Los Amigos. The trip will give us excellent opportunities to spot birds along the river’s edge and in the overhanging vegetation. We’ll look for Cocoi and Capped Herons, American Wood Storks, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, Collared Plovers, Pied Lapwings, Sand-colored Nighthawks, and Amazon and Ringed Kingfishers along the shore. We’ll also keep eyes out for Great Black Hawks, King Vultures, a variety of Macaws, Mealy Parrots, White-throated Toucans Chestnut-eared Aracaris flying over the river, among others. We will arrive at Los Amigos around sunset and everyone will have an opportunity to settle in to their cabin, freshen up, and get familiar with the lodge. B.L.D
DAYS 3 – 9: LOS AMIGOSLos Amigos Research Station and Birding Lodge is situated at the confluence of the Los Amigos and Madre de Dios Rivers. The biological station is part of a watershed that includes millions of acres of protected wilderness in southeastern Peru. The landscape is a mosaic of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, including palm swamps, bamboo thickets, oxbow lakes, and various types of flooded and non-flooded forests. Large stands of Guadua bamboo coupled with the extensive várzea (a wet forest inundated during the peak of the rainy season), terra firme (a forest occurring on higher ground that never gets flooded), and mature transitional floodplain forest ensure a huge variety of birdlife at Los Amigos. A casual day of birding on foot could easily yield 200 species

Over the week we have plenty of time to visit the various habitats. A small sample of the birds we may see here include along the lakes: Hoatzin, Sungrebe, Striated Heron, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Greater Ani, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Amazonian Streaked- Antwren, Silvered and Band-tailed Antbirds, Black-capped Donacobius, and Pale-eyed Blackbird. Watch above for birds such as Plumbeous Kites, Red-throated Caracaras, Scarlet Macaws, Red-bellied Macaws, and Crimson-crested Woodpeckers flying over.
Local lodge residents include Black-tailed Trogon, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Black-fronted Nunbird, White-winged Becard, Boat-billed Flycatcher, and the White-browed Antbird. The towering forest is great for mixed flocks with species such as the Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Bluish-slated Antshrike, Dusky-throated Antshrike, White-flanked Antwren, Pygmy Antwren, and the Red-stained Woodpecker.
We will spend time in the Bamboo. This dense habitat will give us the chance to spot many bamboo specialists, including the Bamboo Antshrike, Peruvian Recurvebill, Striated Antbird, Ihering´s Antwren, Dusky-cheeked Foliage-gleaner, White-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant, Long-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and many others. Birding amongst Brazil nut trees in the terra firme (upland forest that doesn’t flood) we may find Pavonine Quetzal, Pale-winged Trumpeter, White-fronted Nunbird, White-throated Jacamar, Sclater´s Antwren, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Royal Flycatcher, and the Fiery-capped Manakin. A palm swamp filled with moriche palms, locally known as an aguajal, will give us great opportunities to spot residents such as Blue and-yellow Macaws, Point-tailed Palmcreepers, Sulphury Flycatchers, as well as Agami Herons, American Pygmy Kingfishers, and large families of Hoatzins. We’ll always be on the lookout for mixed flocks, hoping to spot some target species like White-winged Shrike-Tanager, Red-billed Pied Tanager, Chestnut-winged Hookbill, Red-necked Woodpecker, Golden-collared Toucanet, and Broad-billed Motmot. We’ll look for regular visitors to the gardens such as Undulated Tinamous, Reddish Hermits, White-necked Jacobins, Blue-crowned Trogons, Lettered Aracaris, Paradise Tanagers, Black-faced Dacnis, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Dusky-capped Greenlet, and Bare-necked Fruitcrow. We’ll also search the nearby forest for Black-faced Antbird, Olive-backed Foliage-gleaner, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin, and Green-backed Trogon. Lastly, we’ll scan mixed flocks for new birds, hopefully including Rufous-tailed Foliage-gleaner, Spot-winged Antshrike, and Long-winged Antwren amongst others.

We’ll certainly look for the especially rare and local Rufous-fronted Antthrush and Black-faced Cotinga.

Thirteen species of primates are known from the reserve, and we’ll surely see a good selection of some of them, and possibly even rarer mammals such as Jaguar, Giant Anteater, and Short-eared Dog.

Night birding may produce Potoos, Mottled and Spectacled Owls, and Ocellated Poorwill, as well as a good chance for fascinating nocturnal invertebrates, tree frogs, and Amazonian Tree Boa, the only snake with a bright eyeshine. Nights at Los Amigos. B.L:D
DAY 10: LOS AMIGOS TO PUERTO MALDONADOWe’ll leave the station early in the morning by boat for Puerto Maldonado. As we navigate the river we’ll look for anything we may have missed coming down, such as Jabirus, White-winged and White-banded Swallows, Black Skimmers, Gray Hawks, Red-and-green Macaws, and White-tailed Kites. As we leave the river and continue along the highway we’ll look for anything we can spot on the way to the airport such as Red-breasted Blackbirds and Southern Lapwings. Once we reach Puerto Maldonado we’ll check in to our air conditioned hotel B:L:D
DAY 11: SPECIALIST BIRDING NEAR PUERTO MALDONADOVery early start to get to an area where we have seen the recently described Rufous Twistwing and Acre-Tody-Tyrant. We will spend the day here with a picnic lunch. Rusty-margined Flycatcher occurs at the edge of its range here, and several species have spread into Peru from Bolivia in this area including Grassland Sparrow, White-tailed Kite, White-tailed Hawk and more. You never know what you’ll see. We’ll return to our hotel in Puerto Maldonado for a farewell dinner. B:L:D
DAY 12: FLIGHTS TO LIMA AND CONNECTIONS HOME ( or join Birding the Andes Tour)Transfer to the airport for flights to Lima and connections home or to Cusco if you wish joining the Birding the Andes Tour). B.