Question: When is the best time to visit Peru for birding? Answer: Anytime – Any week!
So you are thinking about Peru? Machu Picchu, the Inca Culture, all the iconic birds, the amazing food, and perhaps a Pisco Sour? Maybe you could make a dash to Peru for a week? Your time is limited and your time frame to be away is very narrow. You start looking around on the webpages of your favorite birding companies. Invariably, the trips are too long and the wrong time of year for you. Why are there not short birding tours to Peru every week? You are about to give up, and then a friend tells you about Kolibri Expeditions in Peru!
Did you know that Kolibri Expeditions runs 5 day modules to various parts of Peru and that they will run these anytime you want, as long as there is a minimum of two people?
That is exactly what you have been looking for. There is even a tour that takes you to the most important archeological sites while you are birding.
Machu Picchu most popular even for birders!
So which are the most popular areas to visit in Peru? Machu Picchu is #1 by all categories of course. You know, it is like Egypt. You cannot visit Egypt without seeing the pyramids, right? The same with Peru. You have to include Machu Picchu.
Can you include Machu Picchu and also do birding? Of course you can. Many people don’t realize this. At the birding festivals I have attended recently, I have met countless people telling me that they have already been in Peru and seen Machu Picchu. Then they add…..”, eh….but it was not a birding trip”. What? That seems so strange to me! Why not combine? Birding and Culture!
The crux of the matter is of course who you travel with. If you travel with a hardcore birder, you will be birding at sunrise, not looking at ruins. The ruins will still be there in the afternoon or in the middle of the day and can be visited then.
If you are a photographer, you probably want to stay at the comfortable, but somewhat expensive lodges which are the best for bird photography.
Finally, if your partner or friends are not birders and you also would like the maximum cultural experience, you would need a program that contains more cultural elements and which puts the whole Inca experience into perspective.
Guess what? We offer three different Machu Picchu programs. All three of them also contain Abra Malaga and Apurimac valley. Just differences in where you stay and how long time allocated to each place. Check them out.
- Machu Picchu for serious hardcore birders – all the endemics!
- Machu Picchu – birds and culture. Archeology and Birding
- Machu Picchu for bird photographers. Deluxe accommodation, feeders, and great photography opportunities.
Machu Picchu can be visited at any time of year. It rains more between December-March. That will not destroy you experience, but rather enhance it. There are fewer people and the shift of light as the clouds move through, makes it even more magic.
Apart from Machu Picchu there are two other areas that are visited a lot by birders in Peru. North Peru and Manu road.
Manu road – the most species-rich area in the world.
Manu road is the most species-rich road in the world that cuts through the east Andean slope from the inter-Andean valleys and highland plain with wetlands, scrub and grass habitat of the temperate zone, down through the temperate forest and subtropical cloud forest, to reach the upper tropical zone of terra firme rainforest with bamboo grooves that contain many restricted-range species. Finally, the road reaches Alto Madre de Dios river with floodplain lowland rainforest and isolated oxbow lakes with palm swamps. Over 1000 species of birds have been recorded along this road. Obviously in 5 days we will not see all of these, but the lodges have hummingbird feeders and fruit feeders for the tanagers. One is bound to see some mixed-species flocks and many iconic birds such as Cock of the Rock, Torrent Duck, Hoatzin, Sunbittern, and Horned Screamer. There are also some hides for Amazonian Antpitta and Tinamous such as Black-capped Tinamou.
Perhaps best avoided between mid-December to mid-March, as the frequent rains make the road prone to landslides.
Check out the Birding Peru Anytime 5 day Manu road program.
North Peru – home of Marvelous Spatuletail.
I’m sure you have seen pictures of the amazing Marvelous Spatuletail. I can truly say it is the best hummingbird of them all. The problem is that most tours to see it are too long. The big companies do trips of three-week trips to Northern Peru (Kolibri Expeditions offers that too of course), and naturally, if you want to clean up on all the endemic birds in this area, that is what you need.
But if you content yourself with just Marvelous Spatuletail, Royal Sunangel, Rufous-crested Coquette, Hoatzin. Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant, Long-whiskered Owlet, Pale-billed Antpitta, Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, Chestnut Antpitta, Oilbird, Golden-headed Manakin, and over 40 additional hummingbird, you can fit in all those in just 5 days. Amazing!
Northern Peru can be visited any time of year, but note that males of Marvelous Spatuletail mostly lack rackets in August.
Check out our Birding Peru Anytime 5 day North Peru trip.
Now, do your friends a favor and send this blog post to them. They will thank you!
Photos: Cock of the Rock by Carlos Altamirano. Inca Tern by Kevin Bartlett. Marvelous Spatuletail by Dustin Chen. Machu Picchu by Gunnar Engblom
Gunnar Engblom is a Swedish birder who lives in Peru since 1998, where he operates birdwatching and nature tours for Kolibri Expeditions. In October 2018 Gunnar lead a trip in Peru recording 1006 species in a Big Month. Gunnar is also a dedicated 3:04 marathon runner, and just starting training for Lima Marathon in May 2020 and Berlin Marathon in September 2020. In 2016, Gunnar re-launched his rock’n’roll singer career with his band Guran Guran, and in 2019 they released a new video – Feels Like Some Summer – also available on Spotify and other digitial outlets.
I like to bird in January, 2 to 3 weeks. One reason I’ve never birded in Peru is that I’m always told that’s not a good time to go there, that the weather is bad then, etc. If January isn’t good, what’s a good time to go there?
If you keep to the North, Iquitos and the coast then the weather in January is fine… And you can easily fit in 2-3 weeks of birding keeping to these areas.
The areas to avoid in January are Manu road in the south and central Peru. Risk of landslides.
I’ll send you an email so we can continue this discussion if you are considering coming this January.
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