Birdwatching Tour to Colca Canyon, Southern Peru
This 2-day Colca Valley birding tour is a moderately paced trip designed to get good sightings of many of the most exciting Andean bird species. On average we would expect to see between 60-80 bird species on this tour. Depending on the time of the year this could include three endemics (Black Metaltail, Black-necked Woodpecker and Bronze-tailed Comet) that have a range restricted to Southern Peru.
At 3,400 meters, the Colca Valley is one of the two deepest canyons in the world. It was 're-discovered' in 1929 by two Americans, Robert Shippee and George Johnson when they were performing aerial surveillance for the Peruvian Government. They later published an article in the January 1934 issue of National Geographic magazine in which Shippee referred to it as “the lost valley of the Incas”.
Our Colca Valley Birding Tour begins and ends in Arequipa, a city founded by the Spaniards more than 470 years ago. It is known as the White City as all of its old buildings are made of a white volcanic rock called Sillar. While birding in the Colca Valley you will encounter two different ethnic groups - the Cabanas and the Collaguas - easily differentiated by the traditional hats that they wear. They make their living from agriculture and cattle herding.
In this remote area, you can expect to be amazed by some incredible scenery, terraces, old churches, hot springs and the active Sabancaya volcano. The mining of silver during the Spanish settlement enabled the building of some impressive churches that can still be seen in every village. From a wildlife point of view, on this Colca Valley tour, you will visit a quite diverse range of habitats as you travel through different altitudes.
Our expert bird guide will accompany you for the duration of the tour ensuring you don't miss any of the most important bird species. Avian highlights include Black Metaltail and Black-necked Woodpecker, both endemics. There is also the possibility of a rarity in the Colca Valley, such as the Horned Coot seen at Jancoccota Lagoon a few years ago, which is normally only found in Argentina and Chile.
Colca Valley Birding Tour Highlights include:
- Jancoccota Lagoon: a high altitude lake
- Toccra and Chucura Bogs with their special set of birds
- Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world
- Colca Valley with its people, history, old churches, scenic landscapes and terraces.
- The origin of the Amazon River, which is traced to a stream on the northern slope of the Mismi volcano.
- The Sabancaya volcano that has been rumbling for more than 20 years. Dark clouds of ash can be seen but there is no physical danger.
Alternative Tour Name: Birding Colca Canyon
After picking you up from the Alfredo Rodriguez Ballón Airport or Hotel, we proceed straight to the Pampa Blanca Lagoon, here we could see vicunas, they have the finest wool of the world (1kg could worth more than 400 $), and some peeps and yellow finches. Then we proceed to Patahuasi, here we could see: Cordilleran Canastero, Gray-breasted Seedsnipe, Puna Ibis, Puna Yellow-Finch. Our next stop will be Vizcachani bogs, the birds that can be seen here are Ornate Tinamou, White-winged Diuca Finch, Andean Goose, Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Andean Negrito.
Following our trip, we take a small detour to the Jancoccota lagoon, here we could see: Puna Power, Andean Avocet, Cordilleran Canastero, Chilean and Andean Flamingos. Even once the vagrant Horned Coot was seen here. We proceed to Toccra Bogs: Giant Coot, Andean Gull, Puna Teal, Crested Duck, Andean Negrito.
Our next stop will be Chucura bogs, for: the mythical Diademed Sandpiper Plover, Puna Snipe, 3 or 4 different species of Ground Tyrants, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Puna Snipe, Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch, Streak-throated Canastero.
Then we proceed to Chivay for a late lunch, after that we go to our hotel or hostel in Cabanaconde, around 1 hour away.
Before Breakfast we do some birding on the Antesana Mountain. After breakfast, we return towards Chivay, to the Cruz del Condor, just a 15 minutes drive from Cabanaconde. Here will be trilled seeing the majestic Andean Condor, the heaviest flying bird, swooping sometimes 2 m. Above your head! Other birds that can be seen here: Black Billed Shrike Tyrant, Giant Hummingbird, as it name implies, the biggest hummingbird in the world; Andean Hillstar, Canyon Canastero, Andean Swift, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Variable Hawk, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, Mountain Parakeet.
Our next stop will be the Pucro Lagoon, were we could see: Slate-colored Coot, Silvery and White-tufted Grebes, Wilson´s Phalarope, Black-necked Woodpecker (endemic), some ducks. Then we proceed to Chivay for lunch. Then we drive back to Arequipa, making some other stops if it is allowed by the time, to drop you at the Alfredo Rodriguez Ballón Airport or your hotel. Another option is to take a bus service to Puno.
Some of the wildlife species expected to see:
The endemics Black Metaltail, Black-necked Woodpecker and Bronze-tailed Comet, at its southern extreme range; Andean Condor, Black-hooded Sierra-Finch, Andean Avocet, Puna Plover, Puna Snipe
From a mammal point of view, we expect to see: Vicuna, Vizcacha, Andean Deer (Taruca) and Big Ear Mouse.
On average we see between 60-80 bird species on this tour.
What is included?
- All accommodation
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Drinking water in vehicle
- Air-conditioned Vehicle
- Transfer from Alfredo Rodriguez Ballón International Airport
- Full-time services of a personal Nature Travel bird guide
What is not included?
- Items of a personal nature
- Comprehensive Travel Insurance
- Visa Fees
- International or local flights
- Tourist Ticket
- All drinks
- Anything that is not mentioned in "What is included"
This birding tour is offered as a small group or private tour, which offers some of the best birding in southwest Peru. Your expert bird guide will be with you for the full duration of the tour, guiding you to all the top birding spots to maximise your chances of seeing your target birds.
All accommodation is mid-range from 1 to 3 stars depending on your preferences. The vehicle used for this tour is a 4x4 pick-up.
All travel is done via road (tar and dirt road). Bird watching activities are done by vehicle and on foot.
Our groups have a maximum of 4 travellers to ensure an exclusive birding experience.
Yes, airport pick up and drop off are included.
If you want to start your tour straight from the airport it is advisable to arrive early in the morning (first flight from Lima or Cusco), if not you have to allow an overnight stay in Arequipa. Also if you don’t have any previous experience with high altitude birding it is advisable to stay at least one night in Arequipa in order to acclimatize to the altitude.
Normally you have to confirm your flight 48 hours in advance to the flight from Alfredo Rodriguez Ballón International Airport. You have to be 2 hours before the departure time for the check-in.
No, we do not change the tour leader or itinerary. Should this happen, we will contact the client immediately with the updated tour leader, accommodation or itinerary.
Yes, but it must be arranged in advance. Some hotels have rooms that can accommodate three adults in a room (depending on availability). Should the hotel or hostel not offer triple accommodation, two rooms will be booked and the single supplement will be applicable
All meals are included on this tour.
The best time for birdwatching is between March and November each year. In order to avoid the rainy/snowy season.
The tour is a bit strenuous, a basic level of general fitness is needed as some of the days are long and a basic level of fitness can be helpful. We are going to do some moderate walking on level ground or with a bit gradient, at high altitude (around 4800m or 15750 feet).
We welcome clients of all ages on our birding tours but as the days are generally quite long and tiring, we do not recommend that children under 12 join the birding tour except if they have experience of joining trips like this before.
Most hotels offer Wi-Fi but it cannot be guaranteed as it is not very reliable. Please note that there are areas on this tour where there is no phone reception or Wi-Fi.
Yes, we can arrange accommodation as well as trips extension as part of your tour.
No, it is not provided. It is compulsory for each client to obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance, beside repatriation arrangements for the tour at the time of booking. We highly recommend that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance at the time of paying a deposit. The policy should provide cover for loss of deposit, cancellation and additional expenses, medical expenses and repatriation and loss or damage to baggage and valuables. You are responsible for making any special or increased insurance arrangements which you deem are necessary.
A 30% deposit is needed to confirm the tour. Payments can be made by bank transfer. The balance of the payment is due 60 days before the start of the tour.
We will send a comprehensive packing list once the tour has been booked but to give you an idea of the general items to bring, see the list below. General packing: • Neutral coloured clothing • Warm jacket, gloves and hat for early morning and high altitude activities • Sturdy closed walking shoes (trainer type shoes are fine) • No need for any formal clothing, most dinners are casual and informal • Binoculars • Camera • A small daypack • A refillable water bottle Medical: • Please bring some basic medication for headache, nausea etc with you as well as any prescription medication you might need during your tour. • All of our guides carry a basic first-aid kit with them but it is best to bring your personal medication with you. • Please contact your closest travel clinic for information on malaria and other medical information you might need. • Currently yellow fever certificate is needed to travel to the Jungle part of Peru.
No, it is not necessary for the majority of countries. But most nationalities from Asia and Africa does. Please check this link: https://www.gob.pe/institucion/rree/informes-publicaciones/279522-convenios-de-visas-para-ciudadanos-extranjeros and download the PDF about information on visa requirements.
Drinks are not included (except for drinking water in the vehicle) but your guide will assist you with arranging to buy some drinks during the day en-route. Lunches are usually either packed or your guide will stop at a small restaurant en-route where you will be able to enjoy a meal of your choice.
Most hotels cater for special dietary requirements, please let us know at the time of booking and we will let them know in advance. Should you have a severe food allergy, please carry the necessary medication with you at all times in case this is needed.
Credit Cards (Mastercard and Visa) are accepted at most hotels, but hostels only accept Peruvian Soles. We advise to bring some amount of cash in small bills (10, 20 and 50 Peruvian Soles bills) for smaller purchases like drinks, laundry, souvenirs, tips etc. Your guide can also assist with arranging a stop at an ATM in Arequipa. For this tour you will need US Dollar (only bills in very good condition, bills in bad shape are not accepted). The exchange rate is around 3.36 Peruvian Soles per 1 US Dollar (Feb 2021).