Celebration! 25 years in Peru.


Sorry for such long time since any updates from me. 2015 has been such a busy year for Kolibri Expeditions, with lots of trips, including:

  • Birdquest’s North Peru right now.
  • Dutch BirdingBreaks in Manu.
  • a Swedish group in Pantanal.
  • 3 weeks in Peru with new BIG YEAR record holder Noah Strycker.
  • a large Chinese group with bird photographers in North Peru and Manu.
  • many small private groups to North Peru and Southern Circuit.
  • myself leading for Swedish Jambo Tours in Ecuador and Galapagos, Brazil Bolivia, Argentina and Peru.
  • American Birding Expo in Columbus, Ohio.
  • And private travel with my wife (20 years together) to Boston (Boston Marathon) and Buenos Aires and with my family to Piura and to Panama.

Guess what? I had totally forgotten that it is 25 years since I first came to Peru to birdwatch. Between 1990 and 1997 I did yearly trips to Peru often for several months in a row. In 1998 I moved to Peru for good. By that time I was spending more time in South America than in Sweden anyway.

Here is how it all started. In August, 1990, I landed in a foggy and cool Lima, after having spent a week on Cuba in tropical climate.  The climate in Lima was not what I expected!  It did me in and I immediately caught a cold and was in bed for two weeks.

As soon as I was fit again I headed to La Punta, Callao with my telescope, my camera and a photocopy of the Lima section of Peter Alden & John Gooders  “Finding Birds around the World”. This is where I saw my first Inca Terns.

Some Snowy Herons were taking off from mudflats on the south side of La Punta peninsula, and I was just about walking over there, when a local guy whistled to get my attention. He was waving his forefinger back and forth in the air and shaking his head as to tell me: NO, DON’T GO THERE!  When I looked his way, he passed his forefinger across his throat as if it was a knife.  He did not have to say anything more.  Callao and some parts of Lima were not places to wander around back then. I jumped into the nearest taxi and got out of there.

Those barb-wired tall walls with watchtowers and machine gun armed guards I saw along the avenues were not prisons, as one may have thought, but factories and warehouses protecting themselves against terrorists and criminal attacks.  Even the large supermarket Wong on Benavides Avenue had sand sacks on the roof and armed guards pointing their guns to the street.  The sidewalks and parts of the streets in Lima were full of people selling things, there were hardly room for the cars as the pedestrians had to walk on the streets to get anywhere. 

Things have certainly changed for the better since then.  I live in Lima and I feel safe! Lima is a modern town and as safe as any big city.  And La Punta, Callao is now one of the nicest neighborhoods in all Lima well worth a visit for its excellent Ceviche restaurants and the Poza Arenillas mudflat, which is now a reserve. La Punta is also the port for the Lima pelagic birdwatching tours.

A quarter of a century! 25 years of birding in Peru!  It calls for a celebration.  Celebrate with me in Peru. For the rest of 2015 we offer 10% discount on the great tours we have lined up. Take advantage of this offer to hear more of my tales from Peru and see some of our wonderful birds.  I am eager to share this celebration with you.

We are introducing some of our novel 5 days tours which can be standalone tours for those with little time or combined into mega-diverse trips by combining short tours to different parts of Peru. Perhaps a get-away for Thanksgiving? Or a trip over Christmas and New Year? Or get away from the worst Christmas rush at home and escape to the Amazon rain forest just before Christmas?

To celebrate the 25 years in Peru I shall over the next 7 days to tell you one story per day with some anecdotes and tales from the past and a little bit of Peruvian birding history.  So it is a short intense diversion from the relatively infrequent activity on this blog.  I really hope to seed some inspiration, so that I would soon see you in Peru or elsewhere in South America . If you don’t have time to read now, please bear with me. Soon everything will be back to normal, with very irregular blog posts and rare shout-outs.


Although you can find everything on the Kolibri Expeditions Calendar I thought I’d share a few words on the upcoming trips to give you a useful overview.

Nov 23. The Last Pelagic.

It is possibly the last Lima pelagic ever.  Or at least for a very long time. The only commercial boat in Lima which is able to go to deep waters will not be doing any more deep sea Pelagics. The last pelagic is on Nov 23.  The owner has decided that he makes more money letting people bob around in orange life-wests right in front of the huge Palomino sea lion colony a.k.a. “swimming with the sea-lions” and does not want to make the extra effort of going out 32-35 nmiles.  Take advantage of this opportunity with 10% off and an extra-long pelagic with 3 hours of chumming.

Nov 24 Pelagic contingency day. Lima Excursion.

If the weather for any reason does not allow for a pelagic on the 23rd we shall use this day. And if the pelagic does fall into place, we will do a Lima excursion. Let us know your Lima targets. Perhaps a trip to Diademed Sandpiper Plover and White-bellied Cinclodes?

Nov 25-29. 5 day Manu road.  Thanksgivings Special.

It is unlikely that anyone will come to Peru only for one day of Pelagics although we have had a few dedicated pelagic lovers who have done so in the past. To complete the week, we offer a short trip to the Manu road over Thanksgivings.  In five days we shall visit Cock-of-the-rock-Lodge in the subtropics, Amazonia Lodge in the lowlands – the most bird species rich lodge in the world with over 600 bird species – and Waqanki in the subtropics. It is an extremely species rich five days with many possibilities.

Nov 30-Dec 4. Central Peru. 5 day Unchog, Carpish and Junin

The star targets on this 5 day trip are Junin Grebe, Junin Rail and Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager.

Dec 5-9 Central Peru. 5 day Satipo road and Oxapampa

The second Central Peru trip goes to Satipo road and Oxapampa with a number of endemics species and some that are not even described to science yet. Here are “Pasco Antpitta”, Cloud-forest Screech-Owl, Creamy-bellied Antwren, Black-spectacled Brush-Finch, Junin Tapaculo, “Mantaro Wren”, “Mantaro Thornbird”, “Millpo Tapaculo”, Fire-throated Metaltail and Eye-ringed Thistletail.

Dec 10-11. Santa Eualia, Marcapomacocha road and Ticlio.

A two day add-on to Central Peru with many endemics and special birds such as Great Inca-Finch, Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch, White-cheeked Cotinga, Bronze-tailed Comet, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover and White-bellied Cinclodes and many more.

Dec 12-20. Iquitos program. Three modules.  10 days in total or in parts.

We visit three different parts of the Amazon rainforest near Iquitos each with special set of birds.  Near Iquitos is White-sand forest with many unique species, North of Iquitos is ExlplorNapo with a canopy walkway and the best place for Black-necked Red-Cotinga and Nocturnal Curassow. South of Iquitos has a different set of birds, such as Great Curassow.  We shall also be visiting many river-islands for specialists of this young habitat with Gynerium cane, Tessaria shrub and Cecropia trees.

Dec 21-24. Scarlet-banded Barbet Expedition

The newly described Scarlet-banded Barbet which used to be extremely inaccessible and included a three day river trip and a two day hike, can now be seen a couple of hours from Tarapoto battling a muddy 4WD track with specially prepared 4x4s.  This stunning bird is the cover species of the Birds of Peru Field Guide.

Dec 25-Jan 3. Christmas and New Year’s North Peru. 10 days.

Christmas is a time for family and joy, but for those who does not have a family to share Christmas or those with other cultural or religious background, Christmas can become quite annoying, stressful and mentally painful. Therefore it is also a good time to go birding. Join us on an epic trip from Tarapoto to Chiclayo over 10 days sampling some of the most exciting birds in Peru including the Long-whiskered Owlet and the Marvelous Spatuletail.

Jan 4-12. More birding in Piura and Tumbes

Should you want to do more birding in January, 2016 we have loose plans of making an extension to Piura and Tumbes to sample birds that are not usually part of the Kolibri Expeditions itineraries.  The exact  details are not set yet, but we would like to include a search for Gray-headed Antbird in Canchaque, Peruvian Martin at Isla Foca near Piura, Peruvian Tern at Manglares de Vice, do a North Peru Pelagic from Los Organos (to target Galapagos Shearwater and other birds from the Galapagos and North Pacific) and finally a 3-4 full days in Amotape National Park, which is fantastic this time of year with Ochre-bellied Dove, Pacific Royal Flycatcher and Black-and-White Tanagers everywhere, as well as specialties such as Gray-backed Hawk and Blackish-headed Spinetail.

Let me know if this extension is of interest and I shall send you the details.


Gunnar Engblom is a Swedish birder who lives in Peru since 1998, where he operates birdwatching and nature tours for Kolibri Expeditions. He is popular guide both for hard core birding groups, as well as for groups who combine nature and culture. He is also a dedicated 3:14 marathon runner, right now training for Buenos Aires Marathon on October 11.

Connect with Gunnar on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe for bi-weekly newsletter