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Are you interested in a short Peru birding tour?  Given that Peru is one of the most bird-rich countries in the world, with more than 1,800 different species, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth, you might imagine that you’d need to spend at least three weeks to do justice to a birding tour in Peru.

It’s true that length of time would enable you to cover most of the regions of this incredibly country, but for many people that’s simply not possible – either in time or money. You may be visiting Peru on business, or you want your holiday of a lifetime to cover history, culture and heritage as well as other wildlife, so you only want to plan on a short birdwatching trip.

If that’s the case, here is our suggestion for a short Peru birding tour – seven days in all, with the option to extend it to 12 if you have a particular interest to explore. It should give you the chance for all the key target species, and although it won’t allow you to visit every location possible in this diverse country, it will nevertheless provide a real variety of locations, habitats and birds.

Days 1-2 of the Peru Birding Tour: Lima

The classic place to start is in and around Peru’s capital, Lima. Situated on the Pacific coast, which is washed by the cold waters of the Humboldt Current, this is a great location for species you won’t see anywhere else on the tour, such as Inca Tern and Peruvian Thick-knee, as well as a range of gulls, terns and other coastal species. A range of day-long tours, including whale watching and offshore trips should provide excellent views of seabirds such as the Humboldt Penguin, Peruvian Pelican and a host of other species.

Inca-TernPhoto credit: Inca Tern, a species to look out for on the first part of our Peru birding tour. Kolibri Expeditions

Days 3-4: Cuzco and Machu Picchu

No birding trip to Peru is truly complete without a visit to the 15th century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, about 2,400 metres above sea level, the site is also excellent for birds. There is an assortment of high-altitude species, including a suite of sought-after hummingbirds such as Booted Racket-tail, Gould’s Inca and Long-tailed Sylph, and there are Torrent Duck on the nearby rivers.  Tours options are designed to track down the area’s specialties while also allowing time to enjoy the culture of this unique location.

a Peru birding tour can also include a visit to the amazing Machu PicchuPhoto credit: a Peru birding tour can also include a visit to the amazing Machu Picchu, Green Tours

Days 5-7: Manu National Park

With over 1,000 different species of bird – that’s more than Europe and North America combined in an area the size of Switzerland – Manu has justifiably been described as the best place for birding anywhere in the world. Accessible only by boat along the Madre de Dios and Manu Rivers, this really is a way of getting away from it all while still living in comfort in one of the area’s many lodges.

Enjoy a host of rainforest species unique to this region, plus more familiar bird families such as herons and raptors, and other specialities such as Orinoco Goose. Manu is also one of the best places in Peru to see mammals and although the ultimate prize – the Jaguar – is very elusive, you have a good chance of seeing tapirs, Capybaras, Giant River Otters and a host of monkeys. A series of small-group tours are available, led by expert guides, to show you the delights of this pristine location.

Explorer's Inn Tambopata Lodge - SlothPhoto credit: Sloth, Explorer’s Inn

If you have time, we suggest three optional extensions, each of which will provide new birding experiences in very different locations and conditions.

Days 8-12 – Optional Peru Birding Tour Extension 1: Northern Peru

A short flight from Cusco or Puerto Maldonado, via Lima, takes you to the far north of Peru and the city of Iquitos. The area is full of birds found here and nowhere else on the planet, including White-winged Guan, Long-whiskered Owlet, Scarlet-banded Barbet and Marvellous Spatuletail Hummingbird. Several short tours are available in the area, aiming to see the key species.

Read More: Taking the Northern Peru Birding Route

Marvellous spatuletailPhoto credit: a top key species for a Peru birding tour, Marvellous spatuletail, Kolibri Expeditions

Days 8-12 – Optional Peru Birding Tour Extension 2: The River Amazon

From Iquitos you can also take a cruise up the mighty River Amazon, home to a whole range of species not found in the south of the country.

birding tour to peru - Explorers InnPhoto credit: Explorers Inn

Days 8-12 – Optional Peru Birding Tour Extension 3: Ecolodge Experiences

At the end of a busy birding tour in Peru, what better way to relax than to stay in an environmentally friendly eco-lodge. In Manu National Park and also Tambopata National Reserve, close to the border with Bolivia in the southeastern part of the country, you will find many such lodges.

Chuncho Lodge, Manu Birding Lodge and Explorer’s Inn offer exceptional eco-lodges experiences where guests can immerse themselves in unique Peruvian nature and wildlife from their doorstep and contribute to conservation efforts in the area.

As always, the Blue Sky Wildlife local wildlife specialists based in Peru have the combination of up-to-date area knowledge and expert English-speaking guides who will make sure that you have the very best chance of catching up with the key species you want to see.

Are you interested in a Peru birding tour?

For more information and to book your next birding tour to Peru with a local wildlife specialist in Peru, click here.

Author: Stephen Moss
Birder, author and wildlife TV producer, who leads beginners’ birding tours for Somerset Birdwatching Holidays

Originally Published: 14th July 2018 | Article Updated: 8th November 2021
Inca ternMachu PicchuMarvelous SpatuletailSloth

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