Wildlife and Birding Peru Tours
Whether you are an independent wildlife traveller – following your own path and letting yourself be swept along by the natural wonders of Peru – or someone who prefers a more structured experience, there are local tour companies that can ensure the ultimate wildlife experiences in a variety of different ecosystems in Peru’s national parks.
Choose tropical rainforest, high Andean montane forests, coastal plains or the marine environment around off-shore islands and you will encounter each locations unique animal life. The country’s national parks and protected reserves will deliver the wildlife and birding Peru experience of a lifetime.
Lima is the customary starting point for international visitors for all Peru tours. From the city, you can travel to the coastal wildlife watching sites or go inland, to Cuzco in the south or Iquitos in the north, gateways to the Amazon rainforest, the high Andes and the Amazon River in search of the natural wonders of Peru.
Lima and surrounds
Photo credit: Manu Birding Lodge, Andean Cock-of-the-rock
Protected areas north of Lima:
Huascarán National Park
High mountains, glacial lakes and puna grasslands, for 120 bird species, spectacled bears, pumas and vicuñas.
Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park
Rainforest and cloud forest for jaguars, pumas, spectacled bears. The only known habitat of the Ctenophryne barbatula bearded frog.
Tingo Maria National Park
Montane forest which contains the Cueva de las Lechuzas cave where the unique oilbirds nest – a treat to see on a birding Peru trip. Also known for Andean cock of the rocks, South American coatis, ocelots, and kinkalous.
Protected areas south of Lima:
Photo credit: Manu Birding Lodge, Humboldt Penguins
Accessible on boat trips from the town of Paracas for sea lions, cetaceans and Humboldt penguins.
Paracas National Reserve
Desert, marine and coastal ecosystems for whales, dolphins, sea lions, Andean condor, Chilean flamingos, Humboldt penguins, and many wading birds.
Wildlife Specialist Tip
Along the Peruvian coast the cold waters of the Humboldt Current bring vast amounts of food, attracting large numbers of seabirds. Amongst the boobies, pelicans and gulls is one species considered a ‘must-see’ bird on any visit to Peru’s national parks and protected areas: the Inca tern. This bird’s elegant shape, dark plumage and long, whiskery feathers behind the bill make it easy to identify. It can often be seen resting on the buildings in fishing villages along the coast, and also perched on rocks, or even cruising along beside your boat. It truly is one of the natural wonders and joys of birding Peru.
Pampas Galeras Barbara D’Achille National Reserve
A vicuña sanctuary high in the mountains where you can also see Andean condors.
Outside of the reserves, birding sites near Lima include Pucusana fishing port where you can see Humboldt Penguin, Peruvian Diving Petrel, Peruvian Booby, Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants, Blackish Oystercatcher, Grey Gull, Inca Tern, and Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes.
Lomas de Lachay and the surrounding area where Peruvian Thick-knee, Least Seedsnipe, Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail, Coastal, Greyish and Thick-billed Miners, Cactus Canastero, Collared Warbling Finch and Raimondi’s Yellow Finch occur.
Laguna Paraiso on the Pacific coast, which is a good place for waders, gulls including Belcher’s and Grey, and terns including Peruvian.
A pelagic boat trip out of the port of Callao adds another dimension to a birding Peru trip. The range of possible seabird sightings include Waved Albatross, Hornby’s Storm Petrel, Swallow-tailed Gull and many other species of birds.
Further Reading on Peru’s National Parks
- Natural areas for Birdwatching Peru
- Birds of Peru: a gift to the world
- Birding in Peru: Where to Go and the Best Times to Visit
- A Guide to Amazon Rainforest Tours in Peru
Photo credit: Rainforest Expeditions, Brazilian Tapir in one of Peru’s national parks
Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve
Low hills and Amazon rainforest that floods seasonally creating important wetlands. Species here include South American tapirs, spider monkeys, Amazonian manatees, jaguars, pumas, giant otters, harpy eagles, scarlet and blue-and-yellow macaws, and swallow-tailed hummingbirds.
Wildlife Specialist Tip
The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, covering an area of more than two million hectares, is located at the confluence of two large rivers, the Marañón and the Ucayali. There, between meandering waters and torrential rains, you should get good views of South America’s largest stork: the Jabiru, another of the country’s natural wonders to enjoy when birding Peru.
Cordillera Azul National Park
Mountain valleys and highland swamps with harpy eagles, South American tapirs, jaguars, common opossums, sunbitterns, king vultures, tiger herons and bush dogs.
Rio Abiseo National Park
A river basin surrounded by montane forests, puna grasslands, tropical alpine, and dry forests. A place of high humidity and the only known location of the yellow-tailed woolley monkey. Also found there are jaguars, spectacled bears, Andean guans, hairy long-nosed armadillos and yellow-browed toucanets.
Cutervo National Park
This park was the first area to be protected in Peru, established in 1961. It contains montane forest and paramo grasslands, home to spectacled bears, mountain tapirs, giant anteaters, golden-headed quetzal and Andean cock of the rocks.
Photo credit: Explorer’s Inn, White Cayman
Amotape Hills National Park and Tumbes National Reserve
Dry forest and the Tumbes River valley where you can find ocelots, jaguars, American crocodiles, mantled howlers, neotropical otters and grey-backed hawks.
Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Regional Conservation Area
Flooded forest run through by many rivers, this is a wildlife-rich area that features pink river dolphins as well as 240 species of fish, 77 amphibians and 45 reptiles, sloths, jaguars, manatees, giant river otters and giant armadillos. Although it does not have quite as many bird species as other birding Peru areas, it is a place to see harpy eagles and hoatzins.
Outside of the reserves, Amazon River trips set off from the city of Iquitos and travel as far as the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
Photo credit: Explorer’s Inn, Anhinga Snake Bird
Manú National Park
A wide-ranging mix of Amazon rainforest, cloud forests and puno grasslands, famous for its clay licks, which contain a huge range of animals including over 1,000 species of birds, around 160 mammals, 155 amphibians and 132 reptiles. Star species, depending on which ecosystem you visit, include jaguars, giant otters, giant anteaters, spectacled bears, Andean cock of the rocks, Andean condors and giant hummingbirds.
Tambopata National Reserve
A young rainforest reserve, only established in 2000, but still important for conservation as it provides an important wildlife corridor in the region and is packed full of interesting animals. Here you can catch a glimpse of jaguars, pumas, ocelots, giant otters, jaguarundis, two types of sloths, harpy eagles and many different parrots and macaw species.
Photo credit: Green Tours, Macaws Clay Lick, one of the natural wonders of Peru
Bahuaja-Sonene National Park
This reserve shares a border with Tambopata and so provides the same habitats of lowland rainforest, river terraces and low mountains with harpy eagles, South American tapirs, marsh deer, maned wolves, giant otters and bush dogs.
Are you interested in visiting Peru’s national parks?
For more information, contact one of our Peruvian Wildlife Specialists to book directly your next wildlife adventure in search of the natural wonders of Peru.
Sponsored by PromPeru
Peru Export and Tourism Board
Originally Published on: 17 Sep 2019