DAY 1. Lomas de Lachay and Paraiso.
With a 5 AM start, we shall be at the south side of Lomas de Lachay in the early morning to look for Cactus Canastero (E), while our driver is preparing breakfast. In the same area, we also look for Grayish Miner, Thick-billed Miner, and Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch.
Later we’ll enter the main track to the reserve and look for Coastal Miner, Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Peruvian Pipit (newly split), Peruvian Meadowlark, Oasis Hummingbird and many more. We continue north and will do some birding at Paraiso Lagoon where there are Chilean Flamingos, a number of waterbirds, and sometimes Peruvian Tern. We’ll spend the night in Pativilca not to divert from the Panamerican Highway too much just before tomorrow’s ascent to the Cordillera Blanca. Night at Hostal Pativilca or similar.
DAY 2. Patavilca valley via Conococha lake to Caraz.
The Patavilca valley is seldom birded but there are some good records from here recently such as Peruvian Plantcutter, Rufous Flycatcher, Piura Chat-Tyrant, Baird’s Flycatcher and Bay-crowned Flycatcher. We shall spend most of the first part of the day at a moderate altitude looking for specialties. These are species of Northern Peru, so unless we have specific stake-outs by the time of travel, we should perhaps not hold our hopes too high.
In any case, we ascend to Conococha lake at 4000m above sea level and make a quick stop for Streak-backed and Cordilleran Canasteros, as well as Giant Coot and several ducks.
The altitude will take the better out of us so the stop will be short before we continue down the Huaylas valley, with a stop for Green-headed Hillstar, passing Huaraz on the way. Night in Caraz at moderate 2250m at Oasis Hotel/Restuarant or similar on the main square.
DAY 3. Quebrada Llanganuco.
We start the morning beyond the pass with breakfast as the sun hits the Polylepis forest and the best time of day for White-cheeked Cotinga. Afterward we backtrack to Laguna Llanganuco looking for Tit-like Dacnis and Ancash Tapaculo on the way. The open areas have D’Orbigny’s Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-webbed Tyrant, Rufous-naped, and Puna Ground Tyrant. We continue down Doña Josefa trail for Black Metaltail (E), Rufous-eared Brush-Finch, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail (E), and Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch. Night in Caraz at Oasis Hotel/Restuarant or similar on the main square.
DAY 4. Pueblo Libre and looong drive to Huanuco.
Just outside Caraz near Pueblo Libre there is an undescribed form of Pale-tailed Canastero, which likely is a good species, and when it is formally described, it will likely be classified as Critically Endangered as there are few know places where it occurs and its cactus habitat has been converted to goat grazing areas. Also here is Spot-throated Hummingbird.
The rest of the day we shall drive to Huanuco via La Union where we cross the Marañon. We shall not have a lot of time for birding en route, and we should count on arriving way past 8-9 pm… perhaps even later. Night in Huanuco. Hotel Bahia or similar.
DAY 5. Full day birding Bosque Unchog
Need to do a very early morning to increase the chance of Rufous-browed Hemispingus in the flocks lead by Citrine Warblers. We should arrive at dawn to hear displaying Jameson’s Snipe and Swallow-tailed Nightjar. Our main additional targets are legendary Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager (E), Bay-vented Cotinga (E), and Pardusco. It is also one of the best places for Large-footed and the newly described White-winged Tapaculos, Line-fronted Canastero and plengei race of White-chinned Thistletail. Lower down there are flocks with White-banded Tyrannulet, White-throated Tyrannulet, Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Barred Fruiteater, Blue-backed Conebill and Golden-collared Tanager. We also see Sword-billed Hummingbird in this area. As we walk back we shall look for Red-rumped Bush Tyrant, Paramo Pipit, Coppery Metaltail, and Neblina Tapaculo.
On the ride back to Huanuco we shall look Brown-flanked Tanager (E), Baron’s Spinetail (E), Black-crested Tit-Tyrant, and Mountain Velvetbreast. Night in Huanuco. Here is an ebird barchart checklist for Bosque Unchog.
Hotel Bahia or similar.
DAY 6. Bosque Unchog
Another full day at Unchog. Night in Huanuco. Hotel Bahia or similar.
DAY 7. Drive to Junin Lake.
We may do some birding at the Carpish tunnel in the morning, although the area has been completely trashed the last couple of years. The same birds are available near La Merced and on Satipo road, so a better strategy is probably to leave for Junin, and hit Rufous-backed Inca-Finch (E) and Brown-flanked Tanager (E) en route, and bird the good Polylepis forest near La Quinua which has Giant Conebill and Striated Earthcreeper (E) possible. We shall try for Junin Rail in the later afternoon or early evening Night in Junin at Hotel Orvel.
DAY 8. Junin Grebe and Junin Specialities
We’ll take a boat trip on Junin lake for the Critically Endangered Junin Grebe. Other birds on the lake include White-tufted Grebe, Silvery Grebe, Puna Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Duck, Puna Ibis, and Andean Gull, and often Chilean Flamingo.
We shall also keep search for Andean Avocet, Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant and Plumbeous Rail, The waterlogged fields and bogs hold Short-billed and Correndera Pipits. Common Miner and Dark-winged Miner, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, Andean Flicker, Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch, and Andean Negrito. On the bushy slopes, we also find Black-breasted Hillstar (E).
Then we head to La Merced to allow for some birding in the late afternoon in the hills above the town and wait for Cloud-Forest Screech-Owl to start calling. Night in La Merced. Hotel TBD.
DAY 9. Birding Hacienda Armorique.
The list for Hacienda Armorique above La Merced is steadily increasing, but some specialties are here include Creamy-bellied Antwren (E), Cerulean-capped Manakin (E), Masked Fruiteater (E), Ocellated Piculet and many more. We’ll spend the full day exploring this area. Hotel TBD.
DAY 10. Villa Rica or Alto Pichita.
Our exploratory trip in August-September will be decisive for what we do this day. We may do a circuit to Birding Bosque Shollet and Laguna Oconal in Villa Rica, but we could also opt to bird an area above San Ramon called Alto Pichita. The idea is to target more difficult species such as Black-winged Parrot, soon to be described Pasco Antpitta, Military Macaw, and Peruvian Treehunter. Here is the not yet conclusive ebird list combined for Hacienda Armorique and Alto Pichita areas.
Laguna Oconal has Least Grebe that may be worth that detour - or not.
In any case, we shall continue to Satipo in the late afternoon trying to get Sand-colored Nighthawk at dusk on at the lowest point of the river before arriving to Satipo. We stay in town to stock up on food needed for the following days on the Satipo road. Hotel in Satipo TBD.
DAY 11. Satipo road
Satipo road has been coined as the poor birder’s Manu road. That is the birding is just as diverse as the Manu road with a gradient of forest between 1000 meters to 3600m, as well as access to a lake on top. It would be a route for anyone planning to do a Mega Big Day. Perhaps even in range for a world record with enough scouting.
The list of birds is too long to relate to here, but classic birds like Sunbittern, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Andean Cock-of-Rock, Andean Motmot, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals, Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, Black-and-Chestnut Eagle, Solitary Eagle, Lyre-tailed, and Swallow-tailed Nightjar and loads of colorful tanagers and tanagers will keep us very busy.
Here is the ebird list for the Satipo road area.
Night in Colibri Cloud Forest Lodge at Apaya village, where Kolibri Expeditions is running a conservation and lodge project with the local community.
DAY 12. Andamarca valley.
We will make an excursion into the drier Andamarca valley in the Mantaro drainage with several stops on the way. A number of endemic birds have been along this stretch, including some taxa that are not officially named such as Black-spectacled Brush-Finch, “Mantaro” Wren (undescribed), “Mantaro” Thornbird (undescribed), Fire-throated Metaltail (E), Eye-ringed Thistletail (E), Jalca Tapaculo (recently described - used to be known as "Milpo Tapaculo"), Junin Tapaculo, Koepcke’s Screech-Owl, Marcapata Spinetail weskei race (E) and an undescribed form of Azara’s Spinetail. Night in Colibri Cloud Forest Lodge.
DAY 13. Satipo road
Full day Satipo road. Picking up things we may have missed and looking for mixed-species flocks. Either we stay overnight again on Apaya or pull out to sleep in La Merced.
DAY 14. Cloud forest - drive to Ticlio bog for White-bellied Cicnclodes
Cloud forest birding in AM and then drive to Ticlio Bogs Aug 13. We will early have some birding along the road leaving the cloud forest on our way to the Andes to be in time for our first chance at Ticlio bogs for our target species like White-bellied Cinclodes (E), Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, White-winged Diuca-Finch, Puna Snipe, Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, Andean Goose, Crested Duck, and many others. We will arrive at nightfall to San Mateo and hotel Chez Victor or similar.
DAY 15. Birding upper Santa Eulalia Canyon
Diademed Sandpiper is likely still needed as it not that easy to be found at Ticlio. However, along the road to Marcapomacocha and the Milloq pass, there are some excellent points for the species. Other birds we shall be looking for include Dark-winged Miner, Olivaceous Thornbill, Junin Canastero (E), Black-breasted Hillstar (E), Mountain Caracara, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Andean Flicker, Slender-billed Miner and Plain-breasted Earthcreeper. Also a large number of Ground-tyrant such as White-fronted, Ochre-naped, Puna, Taczanowski’s, Cinereous and Rufous-naped. Even Black-fronted Ground-Tyrant has been seen as a southern migrant occasionally, After passing two passes at around 4900m altitude and looking out for Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and Puna Tinamou, we will descend to the Milloc area with Junin Canastero and Rufous-webbed Tyrant on the way to the Polylepis Woodland. Most likely there is very little we need here as the overlap with the Cordillera Blanca is almost 100%. Special birds include White-cheeked Cotinga (E), Thick-billed Siskin, Rusty-crowned TIt-Spinetail, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, Black Metaltail, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Black Siskin, Yellow-rumped Siskin, Striated Earthcreeper, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, etc.
Lower down we may add Canyon Canastero, Bronze-tailed Comet (E), White-winged Cinclodes, Before arriving at Huachupampa, we shall look out for Condors coming into roost as well as being alert for any Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch for more endemic species. Night in the village hotel of Huachupampa.
Day 16. Birding Santa Eulalia Canyon.
We continue to look for Santa Eulalia specialties we may have missed such as Great Inca-Finch (E), Mourning Sierra Finch, Giant Hummingbird, Black-necked Woodpecker (E), Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch (E), Bare-faced and Black-winged Ground-Doves, White-collared and Andean Swifts, Peruvian Sheartail, Pied-crested, and Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrants, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Spot-billed Ground Tyrant, White-capped Dipper, Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Collared Warbling-Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater, and Greenish Yellow Finch before heading to Lima. Here is an ebird checklist for Santa Eulalia and Ticlio.