Paracas Peninsular and the High Andes of Peru
16 Days / 15 Nights

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Day 1: Arrive in Lima and transfer to our hotel in Miraflores. If time permits an optional excursion to the nearby Villa Marshes can be arranged. Night at a Hotel in Lima.
Day 2: Today we will visit the Lomas de Lachay, an area of low coastal hills that are covered in a unique ‘fog vegetation’ (i.e. the sparse plant life obtains its moisture almost entirely from condensation in this almost rainless landscape). Bare desert en route to the Lomas is home to the endemic Coastal Miner, whereas higher up in the hills we may find Greyish Miner and the endemic Thick-billed Miner. At times Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-throated Dotterel and Yellowish Pipit nest in this area, while other birds we may find on the green slopes of the Lomas are Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Variable Hawk, American Kestrel, Eared Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Oasis and Amazilia Hummingbirds, Vermilion Flycatcher, Blue-and-white Swallow, Hooded Siskin, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Peruvian Meadowlark. If we are fortunate we will even find the rare and nomadic Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch in this area. A short distance away is a desolate desert canyon, where among the sparse cacti and large boulders we shall look for the endemic Cactus Canastero, and in more open areas we shall keep an eye out for the small desert race nanodes of the Burrowing Owl. On the return journey we shall diligently search recently plowed fields for the cryptic Peruvian Thick-knee and the diminutive Short-tailed Field-Tyrant, while in hedges and brushy areas we may find Groove-billed Ani, as well as Parrot-billed and Chestnut-throated Seedeaters. A brief visit to the Pacific Ocean shore will enable us to watch the numerous seabirds that feed in the nutritious waters of the cold Humboldt current, including the huge Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian Booby, Guanay Cormorant and Band-tailed, Grey and Kelp Gulls. We’ll return to the south of Lima for the night.
Day 3: To-day we drive south of Lima towards Paracas. Our first stop will be a small nature reserve on the outskirts of Lima, Villa Marshes. Here we wills see Andean Coot, Puna Ibis, Great and White-tufted Grebes, Cinnamon Teal, White-cheeked Pintail, Franklin’s Gull, Bay-winged and Red-backed Hawk. We will make selected stops along the way in agricultural areas particularly for Peruvian Thicknee and Slender-billed Finch. Other possibilities include a variety of Seedeaters including Drab (endemic), Parrot-billed and Chestnut-throated as well as Short-tailed Field-tyrant. Night at a hotel at Paracas.
Day 4: This morning we will spend on a pelagic trip to the Ballestas Islands. On the way out we will be on the lookout for inshore and pelagic species. depending on the time of year and weather we could see any of the following - Giant Petrel, Markham's Storm-petrel, Wilson's Petrel, White-rumped Storm-petrel, Wedge-rumped Storm Petrel, Cape Petrel, Peruvian Diving-petrel, Swallow-tailed Gull, Waved Albatross . Continuing on to the Ballestas Islands, the spactacle of these guano islands covered with tens of thousands of nesting Guaynay Cormorants and Peruvian Boobies is a stunning sight, not to mention the large colonies of South-American Sea-lion and Southern Fur-seals . Our targets here are the lovely Inca Tern, red-legged Cormorant, Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes and Humboldt Penguin. We'll return for an early lunch and on to the Paracas Bay in search of Great Grebe and shorebirds on the mudflats. We have seen Snowy-crowned Tern and Rufous-chested Dottrel here in the past. In the evening we will look for Peruvian Thicknees in the irrigated desert scrub. Night at our hotel at Paracas.
Day 5: This morning we'll spend at the Pisco marshes sorting thru mixed flocks of Gulls, Terns and Shorebirds. We will surely see a variety of Herons and Waterfowl. Setting off for Lima we'll make selected stops in the arid littoral for selected species. Night at our Hotel in Miraflores, Lima.
Day 6: Very early start for the drive to Huaraz in the breathtaking Cordillera Blanca. We'll break the journey with selected stops for Great Inca Finch, Piura Chat-Tyrant, Peruvian Sheartail, Bay-crowned Brush-Finch. In the late afternoon we'll stop at lake Conococha for typical Andean waterfowl including Andean Goose, Giant Coot, Silvery Grebe and White-tufted Grebe. We'll arrive in the early evening at our comfortable Hostal Andino in Huaraz, frequented more often by mountain climbers than birders!
Day 7: Full day trip with a picnic lunch to Lake Llanganuco. A more astounding setting cannot be imagined. Towering above the lake is the magnificent peak of Huascaran, the highest mountain in Peru. We'll be looking for Canasteros and Ground tyrants and in the mature Polylepis woodland, we'll be on the lookout for Giant Conebill, Tit-like Dacnis (which abounds) and the shy Jelski's Chat-tyrant (endemic). Other possibilities include Rusty-crowned Tit-spinetail (endemic), Southern Line-ckeeked Spinetail (endemic), Rufous-eared Brush-finch (endemic), Black-crested Tit-tyrant, Black Metaltail (endemic). Selected stops include a search for the Rufous-backed Inca-finch (endemic) and Pale-tailed Canastero (endemic) which we have seen with regularity before. Night Hostal Andino in Huaraz.
Day 8: Retracing our steps of the previous day we drive past lake Llanganuco and up into the higher patches of Polylepis forest. Our two target birds to-day are the rare mistletoe specialist - White-cheeked Cotinga (endemic) and Plain-tailed Warbling Finch(endemic). We'll also hope to see Tawny Tit-spinetail, Ancash Tapaculo and Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant (endemic). We’ll visit a particular patch of Polylepis where we have been lucky in finding a roosting Koepcke’s Screech Owl on several occasions. In the afternoon we'll bird slowly back to Huaraz looking for Andean Condors along the way. Night at Hostal Andino in Huaraz.
Day 9: Drive from Huaraz to Lima to connect with the afternoon flight to Arequipa and transfer to our hotel in the city.
Day 10: Full day birding the salt lake of Laguna Salinas and the surrounding puna grasslands. We'll take a picnic lunch and take it very slowly at the altitude of over 4000 meters. Priority will be given to the salt flats where we hope to see three species of Flamingo - Andean, Puna and Chilean. These Flamingoes present a dramatic picture flying against a backdrop of snow-covered peaks. Here also we will see Puna Plover and Andean Avocet. On the surrounding grasslands we will be looking for a host of high alltitude Furnarids, Ground-tyrants and Sierra-finches, but in particular for Ornate and Puna Tinamou, Rufous-bellied and Gray-breasted Seedsnipes, White-throated Sierra-Finch, Andean Condor and Golden-spotted Ground-dove. We'll return to Arequipa for the night. Night in hotel in Arequipa.
Day 11: We’ll drive to the Colca Canyon this morning. Making various stops at lakes, grasslands and bogs, we’ll be looking for Andean Avocet, Golden-spotted Ground Dove and a wide variety of Canasteros, Sierra-finches, Waterfowl and Ground-Tyrants. In the afternoon we’ll plan to arrive early at the Colca Lodge which boasts its own private hot springs. Night at Colca Lodge.
Day 12: To Cruz del Condor for Andean Condor. The Colca Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world, surpassing the Grand Canyon in the USA. As the air warms and thermals develop, Andean Condors lazily drift up from their roosting sites in the canyon and circle over your head. They come so close you can feel the rush of wind as they pass. Anyone can photograph Condors here. Other Birds of Prey take advantage of the thermals as well including: Puna Hawk, Aplomado and Peregrine Falcons and Mountain Caracaras. Canyon Canastero is in the brush. After a leisurely lunch we’ll head back to Arequipa for the night, stopping for any interesting birds along the way.
Day 13: To-day we'll visit the Scrub/Polylepis zone above Chiguata. Specialities here include: White-throated and Straight-billed Earthcreepers, Black-hooded Sierra-Finch, Dark-winged Canastero (endemic), Canyon Canastero (endemic), Thick-billed Miner, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Giant Conebill and the rare Tamarugo Conebill. Working back down to Arequipa in the afternoon after a picnic lunch we'll bird the scrub - possibilities include Peruvian Sheartail, Black Metaltail, Aplomado Falcon, Slender-billed Miner. We plan to get the evening flight from Arequipa to Lima and drive to our hotel in Santa Eulalia. Night at Hotel in Santa Eulalia.
Day 14: An early start along the dusty but spectacular Santa Eulalia road will take us high into the mountains above Lima. After crossing a bridge over a tremendous chasm we shall reach a shrubby hillside and small ravine where the rare and endemic Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch is still regularly seen. As the early morning sun hits the slopes we will be sorting through flocks of the much more numerous Mourning Sierra-Finches in the hopes of finding this elusive speciality. Lower down we will enter a mosaic of small farms with irrigated fields and hedgerows, where we will check flowering bushes for the endemic Bronze-tailed Comet. Other endemics we will try to find here are Black-necked Woodpecker, Striated Earthcreeper, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Canyon Canastero and Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch. Tall groves of introduced Eucalyptus trees often hold the diminutive Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, and depending on weather conditions the majestic Andean Condor may take to the air. Descending farther, we reach the arid cactus-clad slopes which are the home to another highly-prized endemic, the Great Inca-Finch. Other birds we will look for in the course of the day are Bare-faced Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Andean Swift, Sparkling Violetear, Peruvian Sheartail, Purple-collared Woodstar, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, House Wren, Long-tailed Mockingbird, White-capped Dipper, Chiguanco Thrush, Cinereous Conebill, Blue-capped Tanager, Mourning Sierra-Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater, Golden-bellied Saltator and Scrub Blackbird.
Day 15: Providing a stark contrast to the arid coastal plain only a few dozen kilometers away, the cold high-elevation bogs of Marcapomacocha are home to one of the world’s most highly sought-after shorebirds, the exquisite Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. We shall grasp for air as we will be birding at an elevation of over 4500 meters, but the superb set of special birds to be found here will make our physical efforts well worth their while. The scenery is without comparison, and at this time of year we can expect sun and a scattering of snow. Another odd wader we will look for is the large Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, which often feeds among the peaceful llama and alpaca herds at our favorite birding bog. However this partridge-like bird can, in spite of its size, blend in amazingly well with its inhospitable environment. We may well flush a startled Puna Snipe as we search through this often waterlogged habitat, hoping to find four high-altitude endemics: among boulder-strewn grassy areas we will look for the huge White-bellied Cinclodes (one of the most spectacular furnariids), flat areas hold Dark-winged Miner, the sparse flowers attract shimmering Black-breasted Hillstars, whilst in thick bunchgrass we will look for the strikingly-patterned Junin Canastero. Olivaceous Thornbills often walk on matted grass in search for their scarce insect prey, and other birds we may find in this scenic area include Andean Goose, Crested Duck, Mountain Caracara, Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, Andean Lapwing, Andean Flicker, Slender-billed Miner, Plain-breasted Earthcreeper, Bar-winged Cinclodes, Streak-throated Canastero, Puna, Plain-capped, Cinereous, White-fronted and Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrants, Andean Swallow, Correndera Pipit, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, White-winged Diuca-Finch and Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch.After this fantastic days birding amidst wonderful scenery, we return to our hotel in Lima.
Day 16: Transfer to the Lima airport to connect with international flights.
2012 Rates per person: Prices are available upon request