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Peru Tours

Southern circuit - Classic Peru culture and natural history


Southern Circuit, Inca Culture, WIldlife, Birds and Food. 

We introduce the Southern circuit. This is a slow pace birding trip that also takes you to archaeological sites, splendid scenery, plants, wildlife, wine, food, etc along the most popular route of Peru. On this trip you do not have to be an expert birdwatcher. In fact you may just have started looking at birds at your feeder back home. On the other hand if you are into seabirds this is the trip for you with several opportunities to do sea watching and a short pelagic where the Humboldt Current is close to the Peruvian mainland. Your best trait to bring with you at the start of this trip is the desire to learn more. You bring with you an exploring spirit and we will supply the rest. 
The main concept of this trip is that it is NOT an ordinary birdwatching trip. It contains much more that is NOT birdwatching. Still some 300-400 bird species will be seen well by all participants on this trip including most endemics and regional birds. But you may just as well join this trip for splendid scenery and historical sites. You do not have to know a single bird before coming out on this trip or be a particularly experienced birdwatcher. The birds are easy to see and the guides are patient. You should have a general interest in nature. Some participants will have very little experience of South America or may only just have got into birds by watching birds at their feeders back home. Other participants will be close to expert birders traveling with non-birding spouses. 
We follow principally the same circuit followed by hundred of thousands of visitors to Peru yearly to contemplate the Andes and experience the land of the Incas and their ancestors. Lima, Paracas, Nazca, Arequipa, Colca, Titicaca, Cuzco and Machu Picchu. But we give more. Kolibri Expeditions is unique in offering this trip as an ultimate natural history and cultural experience providing expert guides. Rarely one person knows everything so there will often be two guides with different background. The key ingredient on these trips is the exploring spirit. What is the name of the lizard? There is a dragon-fly! Are there many possible species in range? An interesting church! Obviously churrigueresque baroque! Do you prefer the pisco made of the Quebranta or the Italia grape? No question is too strange to ask or to try to find an answer to.
After the trip we share our photos and try to put names on plants, butterflies, birds, lizzards and so forth.
We find Facebook very useful for post trip investigations and to build our community. Have a look at Kolibri Expedtions Friends our Facebook page. Write Gunnar if you need tips how to set up your Facebook account. kolibriexp@gmail.com
During the trip the guide(s) will have various small talks prepared on different subjects that will be delivered from the bus (usually). There will be talks on i.e. history, archeology, politics like i.e. the Phenomenon Fujimori or The Shining Path, the mating biology of sea-lions, continental drift and the formation of the Andes, wine and Pisco -making in Peru, Peruvian cinema and authors, Peruvian food, etc.
When looking at the birds, the animals and the plants, we will not just tell you what they are, but we will tell you something about them. We will pay attention to behavior. We will watch the birds and enjoy them. 
In general pace is slow, but we are still starting with early mornings. We will do everything in our might however to get to our overnight destination when it still is daylight. On the tour we cover more than 2200 km (1370 miles). Lunches will often be served on the bus or during picnics not to lose precious traveling time.
The trip can be initiated with days in Lima. Short Lima excursions for birds can be arranged prior to (or after) the main trip if you want to add days. Check the pelagics schedule (good also for whales, dolphins and sea-lions), Tinajas valley (good also for cactus), Santa Eulalia (good for plants), Ticlio/Marcapomacocha (good also for scenery and highland plants) and Lomas de Lachay (also good for plants).
For the September departure we recommend a full day (at least) in Lima to sample the Mistura Food Festival (offical website). Here is a blogpost in English about Mistura 2013. Cost is $100 including entrance, hotel and transport for the extra day. Food tickets are additional. 

The tour is offered in two comfort levels. Our Kolibri Pro level with carefully selected mid-range hotels and MST level with the 4-5 star hotels throughout. 

No Departures for this Tour

If the departure dates don't fit you, please suggest another date.


Day 1. Arrival.

Most people will use this day for arrival (especially those coming from Europe), but if you arrive early check out the excursions available from Lima. Rendezvous at 19.30 at Hotel Mariel for briefing and a welcome drink.  Dinner on your own (not included).

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Mariel 
Marvelous: Casa Andina Private Collection

Day 2. Lima museums, Puerto Viejo lagoons and drive to Pisco.

An introduction to birds in urban Lima at in a MIraflores park before breakfast. After breakfast we'll visit the Archeological Museum where Peruvian treasures of civilizations prior to the arrival of the Spaniards are displayed. This gives us the necessary framework to put the rest of our exploring journey in Southern Peru in its right context. Soon we are on our way south on the Pan American Highway. Our first stop is the marshes of Pantanos de Villa This species rich wet-land has been proposed to become a private reserve. We continue to Paracas for an overnight stay. B.L.D.

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Gran Palma. 
Marvelous: Hotel Paracas.

Day 3. Paracas Peninsula-Ica-Nazca

We shall do a short boat trip to the Ballestas Islands in the morning and later we will explore the Paracas Peninsula. On the islets we shall encounter Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants, Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian Booby, perhaps a few overwintering Blue-footed Boobies and Humboldt Penguin. With luck we shall also spot the small passerine Peruvian Seaside (Surf) Cinclodes and Blackish Oystercatcher. On the south shores of the peninsula there are chances to spot pelagic species, as well as South American Fur Seals. The Paracas desert is a play with sunlight on the different colored sand formations. Flocks of Gray Gulls are often seen roosting in the desert.

On the north side the Bay of Paracas attracts hundreds of Chilean Flamingos and Black Skimmers. There is a nice small museum on the site that will be visited.

On the way to Ica about an hour away, we will visit a vineyard where we learn about the wine and Pisco industry, which in many cases are still artisanal. In Ica we visit the small, but excellent municipal museum, which has nice displays of the Paracas, Nazca and Wari cultures that were important cultures of Ica department. We will be shown the art of trepanation and deform sculls practiced by the ancient cultures in this region. There is a small model of the Nazca Lines that gives an idea what the lines will look up from the air.

We continue to Nazca. We stay at a nice hotel where it is possible to relax by the pool in the afternoon or make an excursion to the interesting pre-inca aquaducts outside of town. Always good chance to do some birdwatching. Birds possible include Pacific Parrotlet, Mountain Parakeet, Drab, Chestnut-throated and Parrot-billed Seedeaters.  Slender-billed Finch and Peruvian Pygmy-Owls have been seen here. B.L.D.

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Agucho 
Marvelous: Hotel Casa Andina

Day 4. Nazca lines - Puerto Lomas

We shall do some birdwatching in the early morning looking for Slender-billed Finch, Collared Warbling Finch and Peruvian Pygmy-Owl. Back to the hotel for breakfast and check-out.  You may fly over the Nazca lines (cost 100$). While waiting for our turn to fly, we'll visit a nearby pottery, where we are shown how the Nazca ancestors made their polychromatic pottery. After the morning activities we continue to Puerto Lomas, where we  stay at a beautiful hotel overlooking the sea at Puerto Lomas. We can scope Blackish Oystercatchers and Guanay Cormorants from the hotel. B.L.D.

Kolibri Pro: Lomas Beach
Marvelous: Hotel Caprichos de Verano

Day 5. Puerto Lomas to Arequipa.

The next stop will be to bird the Lomas de Atequipa an area with Lomas vegetation with possibilities to see Least Seedsnipe, Common (Lomas form) and Coastal Miner, Raimondi's Yellow-finch as well as Sechura Fox.   It is a long travel day to Arequipa along the wild Peruvian desert coast. But sometimes we make rare encounters. In 2012 we spotted a Marine Otter playing near the coast.

Most of today is a travel day. In the afternoon we will arrive to Arequipa. The Santa Catalina cloisters are one of Arequipa's finest tourist attractions. Serenity and calmness reigns here and it makes a fine afternoon stroll with volcano Misti in the background. Often the hummingbird Peruvian Sheertail is seen in the gardens. B.L.D.

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Casa de mi Abuela.
Marvelous: Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection. 

Day 6. Full day excursion to Chiguata and Laguna Salinas or city tour and shopping.

Above Chiguata there is Polylepis scrub that holds the local White-throated Earthcreeper, Tamarugo Conebill and Dark-winged Canastero. Continuing to the back side of the Misti Vulcano the high plains of the altiplano unfold covering an immense area towards Titicaca lake and south through Bolivia and we find the Salinas salt lake - a good site for three species of Flamingos of the Peruvian highlands. Andean Avocet and Puna Plover are other specialties in this area. Flocks of alpacas gives a characteristic touch to the scenery.

Those that want may instead have an easy day in Arequipa visiting the Cathedral and the fine Compania church of the Jesuit order. Arequipa city gives excellent opportunity for shopping of high quality Alpaca goods. At night we pay a visit at Gaston Acutio's fine restaurant Chichas. This is Peruvian Cuisine at its best. B.L.D.

Kolibri Pro: Hotel Casa de mi Abuela. 
Marvelous: Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection. 

Day 7. Colca Canyon.

Early morning start to Chivay at Colca Canyon. We will pass beautiful scenery with roaming wild vicuñas (lama-relative) and plenty of birds.

There are for example places where one can search for Flamingos and the mythical Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. It time permits we will do a trip to the Condor lookout in the afternoon. Since most tour groups come here in the morning to catch the short window when the condors lift from their night roost, we would like to experience the mighty Colca Canyon in complete serenity without crowds. And it is quite likely with some perseverance that we will also get fantastic views of Condors. Should we not, then we could always come back the next day. B.L.D. 

Night at Hotel Kuntur Wasi  in Cabanaconde. We like this hotel option as it places us just below 3300m rather than at 3700m of Chivay and is much closer to the Condor lookout point. Although it is "only" a 3 star hotel, the service has been excellent in past tours here.  Private groups may want to consider an update to Colca Lodge Spa, but it is not possible to have different accommodation on our Fixed departure tours which mix lodgings. 

Day 8. Colca-Altiplano-Titicaca lake.

Colca Canyon is not only one of the best places in Peru to observe Condors, but it is also an area of exceptional beauty and an area where the locals have taking pride in conserving their traditional ways. Here terraces are prepared by neighbors helping one another. The women dress in traditional clothing. The scenery is awe-inspiring. Birds and Andean plants are plentiful and there are lots to explore.   

After an early start with some additional exploring of the Colca region we will set off for the Titicaca lake. We will make many stops en route. It is in part a rough road, but the scenery is breathtaking. We should see herds of Vicuñas (wild ancestors of the alpacas) and possibly Viscachas (rabbit like rodents with long tails) that live in rocky areas. In the early afternoon we will reach the Colla burial site of Sillustani with the tall chullpa burial towers that overlooks the bird rich Umayo lagoon. Some interesting plants can also be seen here including a beautifully red Loasa. Don't pick it up, it is a sort of nettle!! B.L.D

Night at at Hotel Tierra Viva, Plaza.  For private Marvelous Spatuletail  groups we may upgrade to Hotel Libertador, Isla Esteves, Puno

Day 9. Titicaca lake

We shall explore birdwatch the shore of Titicaca Lake in the early morning before breakfast and after breakfast make a visit to the famous floating islands of the Uros. The star bird to look out for today is the Titicaca Flightless Grebe. There is time to do an additional excursion in the afternoon after lunch. B.L.D.

Night at at Hotel Tierra Viva, Plaza.  For private Marvelous Spatuletail  groups we may upgrade to Hotel Libertador, Isla Esteves, Puno

Day 10. Puno-Cusco travel.

In spite this day is mainly a travel day, there are several interesting stops en route and the route is very scenic. The main attractions are cultural however. We will stop at Raqchi where there are the remains of a grandiose temple attributed to the creator god Viracocha and in Andahuaylillas there is the small St Peter's church, whose interior often is called "the Sistine chapel of South America". It is quite unique. Not far away and just before reaching Cusco there is also good birdwatching to do at the Huacarpay lake. The star bird is the endemic Bearded Mountaineer, but many waterbirds can also be seen. B.L.D.

Kolibri Pro:  Best Western Los Andes de Americas
Kolibri Marvelous:  Casa Andina Private collection. 

Day 11. Cusco city tour and travel to Ollantaytambo and on to Machu Picchu.

We will visit the main square of Cusco and Sacsayhuaman fortress in Cusco before we leave for Urubamba and the sacred valley. In Urubamba we will enjoy a buffet lunch and in Ollantaytambo we will make a visit at the ruins overhanging the village, before we board the train to Machu Picchu. We will look out for Torrent Duck which can often be seen from the train as we pass the raging Urubamba River. The comfortable Pueblo Hotel which has a fantastic garden with Hummingbird feeders and a collection of orchids is our home when we arrive. Birdwatching here is very rewarding. B.L.D.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. 

 Day 12. Machu Picchu.

Birdwatching in the morning and then a visit at the citadel of Machu Picchu. The setting on a saddle between to mountains with Urubamba river doing a half circle around 500 meters underneath and many protruding peaks all around makes Machu Picchu a magic place even if there would not have been any ruins there. It is obvious that the site is carefully selected for observations of the heavenly bodies and the surrounding mountain peaks that the Incas considered deities. The birdwatching can be rewarding with species like Inca Wren (endemic), Masked Fruiteater (endemic), White-eared Solitaire, Black-streaked Puffbird, Highland Motmot, Gould´s Inca and others. In the late afternoon we return to Ollantaytambo for an overnight stay. B.L.D.

Kolibri Pro:  Ollantaytambo Village.
Kolibri Marvelous:  Hotel Pakaritampu

Day 13. Abra Malaga.

A full day excursion along the road to Quillabamba. We will have breakfast on the wet slope where flocks contain Marcapata Spinetail, Diademed Tapaculo and Parodi's Hemispingus. Often the spectacular Sword-billed Hummingbird is seen in this area. In midmorning we move up to the pass where a patch of Polylepis woodland can be visited holding some of the rarest birds of Peru including Royal Cinclodes, White-browed Tit-Spinetail and Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant. We may walk down the valley to be picked up at the other side. The walk is strenuous but it is downhill.

Lots of interesting plants may be seen and the people of the area conserve their ways and traditional customs cultivating potato and taking care of Alpaca herds.

On the bushy dry slope as we continue back to Ollantaytambo the endemic White-tufted Sunbeam and Creamy-crested Spinetail can often be seen. We will travel back to Cusco to arrive around dusk. B.L.D.

Kolibri Pro:  Best Western Los Andes de Americas
Kolibri Marvelous:  Casa Andina Private collection. 

Day 14.  Birding the trails at Refugio Amazonas

We fly to Puerto Maldonado in the morning and immediately transfer to Refugio Amazonica. The lodge has proven very good for Harpy Eagle in recent years and makes a good base for exploring some fantastic Peruvian rain-forest and excellent birding. B.L.D.

Refugio Amazonas.

Day 15. Refugio Amazonas

Full day´s birding at the trails of Refugio Amazonas. Don't be surprised if the birdlist creeps up towards 150 species in a day!  B.L.D.

Refugio Amazonas.

Day 16.Tres Chimbadas Lake

In the morning we shall  travel to Posada Amazonas and visit 3 chimbadas lake. We shall visit a small parrot clay lick and Cocha Tres Chimbadas oxbow lake and with some luck locate the resident group of Giant Otters. Also at the lake we shall watch out for Sungrebe, Snail Kite and a recent new addition to the Peruvian list - Unicolored BlackbirdThe trail to the lake is very good for bamboo specialists as the trail is lined with bamboo. Large-headed Flatbill, Goeldi's Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye and many more.  Night at Posada Amazonas. 

Day 17.  Flight to Lima.

Before flying back to Lima, we will do some birding in Savanna like habitat near Puerto Maldonado where we usually can spot Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Red-bellied Macaw and Puru’s Jacamar.  Flight to Lima and end of service. 


DAY 1 Arrival in Lima
DAY 2 Lima museums, Pantanos de Villa lagoons and drive to Pisco.
DAY 3 Paracas Peninsula-Ica-Nazca
DAY 4 Nazca lines-Puerto Lomas
DAY 5 Puerto Lomas-Arequipa
DAY 6 Full day excursion to Chiguata and Laguna Salinas or city tour and shopping.
DAY 7 Colca Canyon.
DAY 8 Colca-Altiplano-Titicaca lake.
DAY 9 Titicaca lake and altiplano excursion in search of Puna Rhea.
DAY 10 Puno-Cusco travel.
DAY 11 Cusco city tour and travel to Ollantaytambo and on to Machu Picchu.
DAY 12 Machu Picchu.
DAY 13 Abra Malaga.
DAY 14 Birding the trails at Refugio Amazonas.
DAY 15 Refugio Amazonas.
DAY 16 Tres Chimbadas Lake. Posada Amazonas
DAY 17 Flight to Lima.

Option: Southern circuit 17 days Days: 17
Price: US$ 4577 (Minimun 5 people).
Less than 5 people: (see pricing)
1 pax: 8164 US$ - Find a friend. We will help.
2 pax: 6447 US$
3 pax: 5512 US$
4 pax: 4883 US$
Single supplement: 460 US$

Includes guiding, meals acording to details in the itinerary, transport, entrance fees as indicated, 
Does not include some excursion and meals as indicated in the program, drinks at restaurants, tips and other personal expenses. 



Copyright © 2012 Kolibri Expeditions. All rights reserved.
Telephone: +51-1- 652 76 89. From the US: 011-51-1- 652 76 89. Cell: 988 555 938 (Gunnar) or 999 007 886 (Elia Gallo) - Email: kolibriexp@gmail.com