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Hummingbird Photography: Marvellous Spatuletail Tour, Peru - 5 Days

Hummingbird Photography: Marvellous Spatuletail Tour, Peru

Marvelous Spatuletail-Focused Hummingbird Photography Tour

This moderately paced, 5-day, on request Hummingbird Photography: Marvellous Spatuletail Tour promises spectacular chances for taking award-winning shots of hummingbirds, with a special focus on the endemic Marvelous Spatuletail. This species of hummingbird has been nominated as most wanted by birders and particularly wildlife photographers. The tour is available weekly as a set departure (or available request) where you can expect to see around 250 species of bird, including a dozen or so endemics

If you don't have the time for a full two week's birding in the field, this short trip can still promise you Marvelous Spatuletail as well as possibly 40 or more other species of hummingbirds. However, to catch a male Spatuletail in full plumage you have to choose the right time of year. Spatuletail leks are active between October and May and perfect males can usually be seen most of the year except for late July to August. This is generally the moulting season, which makes observation of males with full spatulas more problematic.

"I have been on several tours with Gunnar. I feel that he is the Crocodile Dundee of South America! I always give him a very specific list of hummingbirds I want to see and he makes it happen. I've been on trips in Peru (amazing Marvelous Spatuletail) and Brazil with him and my next trip is jaguars in the Pantanal and Iguazu Falls. Gunnar knows how to get what you are looking for in South America and now the rest of the world! " - Maria L Hedrick

The Hummingbird Photography tour takes you to Huembo Lodge in northern Peru and the Marvelous Spatuletail display site nearby. There are several specialist feeding stations along the way, providing lots of spectacular photo opportunities.

We also visit the feeders at Waqanki Lodge and stay at the legendary Owlet Lodge.  It is possible to upgrade to stay at Waqanki and Huembo lodges.

The tour usually runs weekly, from Monday to Friday, with a minimum of two people. You will find a few set dates have been established but you can request the tour at any time. Quoted prices are based on there being five people on the tour. If there are fewer guests then the price will be adjusted accordingly. For example if you are only two people in the end the total additional cost is only $500 ($100/day), and $250 additional with three people in the group ($50/day).
There are some community and reserve fees that you pay directly to the reserves. These range from $7 to $30 per visit.

In addition to hummingbirds, there will be many more birds to photograph along the Northern Peru birding route between Tarapoto and Jaen. The Golden-headed Manakin lek at AKONABIKH reserve and the Tinamous and Woodquail hide in Arena Blanca provide great photography moments. Fruit feeders also encourage colourful tanagers to come out into the open to pose for the lens. In addition, this hummingbird photography tour is very good for seeing the enigmatic Long-whiskered Owlet as well as other night birds.

This video from MINCETUR gives details about the hummingbird route. English subtitles can be activated.


Although hummingbird photography is the main focus, the tour is also suitable for more traditional birders who want to tick off as many as possible of the important endemics within the region in a very short time. It is also possible to add on extra days for other special species you wish to see. Just contact Kolibri directly  and adapt the program to suit your desires, time and budget.

Hummingbird Photography: Marvellous Spatuletail Tour highlights include:

  • Visit to a Marvelous Spatuletail lek (time-dependent)
  • Visit to a Golden-headed Manakin lek at AKONABIKH reserve
  • Chance to see Long-whiskered Owlet and other night birds
  • Many of the important endemics of the northern region of Peru

If you want to consider an even more thorough birding tour, have a look at our Complete Manu Road Peru Birding Tour.

Alternative tour name: Photographing Marvelous Spatuletail in Peru Tour
Day 1
Day 1 - Tarapoto-Rioja. Birding Yurimaguas Road, Tunnel Area and Morro Calzada. Dotted Tanager and Oilbird

Most people shall have flown in the previous night in order to start birding at first light. The hotel in Tarapoto is included.

Travel to the tunnel area on the Yurimaguas road. Here we find a number of special upper tropical species such as Blackish Pewee, Dotted Tanager and with luck the localized Plumbeous Euphonia. We also often see Andean Cock of the Rock, Swallow-tailed Kite and Paradise Tanagers. Later we continue to AKONABIKH where there are hummingbird feeders that attract Koepcke's Hermit and Gould's Jewelfront, and many more. A short hike take us to a lek with Golden-headed Manakins.

Around noon we continue towards Moyobamba. On the way we shall stop to look at Oilbirds at the Quiscarumi gorge. We finish the afternoon at Morro de Calzada, a strange rock formation on the Moyobamba-Rioja plateau. This area is good for Mishana Tyrannulet, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail and sometimes Spot-fronted Swift and White-chested Swifts which come to roost. It is also a good spot for nightjars at dusk with Spot-tailed, Rufous, Blackish and Little Nightjars and often calling Common Potoo, as well as Stygian Owl.

Night in Moyobamba or Waqanki Lodge (for a surcharge).

Day 2
Day 2 - Birding Waqanki to Fundo Alto Nieva

Those who are fit may want to try the ridge trail above Waqanki for Scarlet-breasted and Fiery-throated Fruiteaters, Ash-throated Antwren, Chestnut-throated Spinetail and many more.

The hummingbird-feeders at Waqanki are fantastic. It is often possible to get over 15 species of hummingbirds in only a couple of hours. The star species is Rufous-crested Coquette and Black-throated Hermit.

We continue over the Myobamba/Rioja plain checking out ponds and rice paddies for Pale-eyed Blackbird, Black-capped Donacobius, Least Grebe and Black-billed Seed-Finch.

Later at the new birding resource at Aguas Verdes called Arena Blanca. Here the is a fantastic feeding station for Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail and Little and Cinereous Tinamou. Also Yellow-billed Sparrow comes to the grains provided from the feeding station. There is also an area set up for hummingbirds. The speciality here are Green-fronted and Blue-fronted Lancebill, as well as Wire-crested Thorntail, but there are loads of other hummers too.

The white-sand forest is very interesting with Northern Chestnut-tailed (Zimmer's) Antbird, Varzea Thrush, Mishana Tyrannulet and Black-bellied (Huallaga) Tanager.

We end the day at Fundo Alto Nieva with the hummingbird feeders which often attract Royal Sunangel and Rufous-vented Whitetip. the feeding station for Ochre-fronted Antpitta, and at night a first try for Long-whiskered Owlet at the Owlet Lodge. 

Night at Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge

Day 3
Day 3 - Abra Patricia Afluentes - Abra Patricia area.

The trails at the Owlet Lodge are good for Chestnut Antpitta, Barred Antthrush, Wattled Guan, White-faced Nunbird, etc. The feeding flocks contain Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Blue-backed Conebill, Spectacled Whitestart, Pearled Treerunner, White-throated Tyrannulet, Blue-and-Black Tanager and Metallic-green Tanager.

Midmornig we transfer to the birdy Afluentes area. The flocks in the subtropical roadside forest can be very impressive. Vermilion Tanager, Subtropical Cacique, Speckle-chested Piculet, Montane Woodcreeper, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Parasdise, Golden, Blue-necked and Bay-headed Tanagers and the endemic Ash-throated Antwren and many other birds. Sometimes we have seen Black-billed Toucan, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Umbrellabird and Andean Cock of the Rock in this area.

We shall get a second chance for Long-whiskered Owlet if necessary or try for Cinnamon Screech-Owl. 

Night at Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge. 

Day 4
Day 4 - Birding at Long-whiskered Owlet Lodge. Ochre-fronted Antpitta and Lulu’s Pygmy-Tyrant

Another morning at the Owlet Lodge.

The feeders have Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Peruvian Rackettail, Bronzy Inca, Violet-fronted Brilliant and Collared Inca. From the lookout one may often see White-capped Tanager.

We continue mid-morning to Pomacochas where we spend some time practicing bird photography at the Hummingbird feeders at Huembo with close-up views of the Marvelous Spatuletail and other hummers such as Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Sparkling Violet-ear, White-bellied Woodstar, White-bellied Hummingbird and Bronzy Inca. A rare visitor is Little Woodstar.

Those who are fit enough may want to try for Pale-billed Antpitta up the track to San Lorenzo. Also you can take the vehicle all the way to San Lorenzo, other birds that may be encountered, are Chestnut-crowned Cotinga, White-capped Tanager, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, schulenbergi race of Plain-tailed Wren and Russet-mantled Softtail.

Night in a modest, but clean, hotel with private bath and WIFI, or at Huembo Lodge with a surcharge.

Day 5
Day 5 - Hummingbirds at Huembo and Pomacochas and drive to Jaen.

We shall be visiting a lek site for Marvelous Spatuletail in the morning or have some additional time for photographing the Spatuletail in the morning. The lek is active on and off between November to April but some luck is also needed.  Later we drive to Jaen with selected stops on the way for Peruvian Pigeon, Marañon Thrush and perhaps Buff-bellied Tanager.  

We arrivie to Jaen for a late lunch in the field while we look for Little Inca-Finch, Marañon Crescentchest, Marañon (Northern) Slaty-Antshrike, Chinchipe Spinetail and with luck Marañon Spinetail. 

The flight to Lima is at 17:15.

If you have more time, add a night to look for Peruvian Screech-Owl and have a better chance for Little Inca-Finch the next morning before the flight to Lima. 



The idea is that this program shall be run every week. In order to make the operation as cost effective as possible and avoid exessive driving the order will be reversed every other week. 

The reversed program looks like this. 

Day 1. Flight to Jaen at 5:19 AM. Jaen to Pomacochas. Night in Huembo. 

Day 2. Huembo-Abra Patricia

Day 3. Abra Patricia area

Day 4. Alto Nieva - Waqanki, Moyobamba

Day 5. Waqanki-Tarapoto. Flight to Lima in the late afternoon or early evening. To bird ACONABIKH one would have to add a night in Tarapoto.

Top 5 birds on the short North Peru birding tour are:

Marvelous Spatuletail, Long-whiskered Owlet, Rufous-crested Coquette, Royal Sunangel, Ochre-fronted Antpitta

Additional endemic bird and near-endemic species on the route

Koepcke’s Hermit, Ash-throated Antwren, Bar-winged Wood-Wren, Zimmer’s Antbird, Mishana Tyrannulet, Painted Manakin, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, Chesnut Antpitta, Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Pale-billed Antpitta, Buff-bellied Tanager, Marañon Thrush, Speckle-chested Piculet, Marañon Spinetail, Marañon Crescentchest, Little Inca-Finch

What is included?

  • Hotels
  • All food
  • Expert Guiding
  • Transport
  • eBird checklist at the end of the day
  • Safe treated water (bring water container to fill up)

What is not included?

  • Flight to start and back from end of tour. We can get domestic flights for you!
  • Huembo Lodge - we stay at more economical lodging in Pomacochas. Huembo lodge can be reserved at an additional cost.
  • Waqanki Lodge - we stay at more economical lodging in Moyobamba. Waqanki lodge can be reserved at an additional cost.
  • Entrance fees to reserves and feeding stations (approximately $70-$100 depending seasonally which ones we visit)
  • Bottled drinks
  • Tips
  • Personal expenses.
  • Anything that is not mentioned in the itinerary and "what is included"
Wildlife Reviews
4.89 stars
- based on 3  reviews
  1. South America with Kolibri Expeditions
    Maria L Hedrick12 Oct 2019







    I have been on several tours with Gunnar. I feel that he is the Crocodile Dundee of South America! I always give him a very specific list of hummingbirds I want to see and he makes it happen. I've been on trips in Peru (amazing Marvelous Spatuletail) and Brazil with him and my next trip is jaguars in the Pantanal and Iguazu Falls. Gunnar knows how to get what you are looking for in South America and now the rest of the world!
  2. NE Peru solo tour
    Shawn Hayes07 Aug 2013







    I had a great time exploring NE Peru and finally see some key target birds for me such at the Long-whispered Owlet and the Spactulatail. Gunnar also took me to the old LSU trail. Hiking in the footsteps of some of the greatest ornithologists was also a unique experience.
  3. Kolibri Expeditions North Peru 5 days
    Paul Hobson01 Mar 2018







    The Guide Carlos Altimirano was excellent and very professional in his organisation and problem solving. Gunnar is a great guy and full of stories, humour and music prowess, and we enjoyed our pelagic trip with him. Alejandro Tello guided us on the 2 day short trip into the high Andes and looked after us very well. His birding knowledge was very good.

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Why book with Kolibri Expeditions?

Our 5 day birding North Peru tour featuring Marvellous Spatuletail runs every Monday-Friday or on request. It is very time efficient program to maximise your birding time. If you have little time and a keen interest in hummingbirds and endemics this is a trip for you. It is a suitable trip both for beginner birders and bird photographers, since the birds at the many feeders we visit are easy to see and to get photos of. It is also a great trip for serious traditional birders with little time, since there are many endemics and iconic birds on the route and very high species diversity. Serious birders can make extensions suggested on the text. We have included flights and premium lodges in this tour which is why price per day may seem a bit high to you.

What group size tours do we offer?

Normally group size is 2 to 7 pax. However larger groups with two guides, and from 9 with two vehicles, giving more flexibility can be offered.

When is the best time of the year to go on this tour?

Anytime of year is good. But note that Marvelous Spatuletail often lacks spatules Jul-Aug. Marvelous Spatuletail lek is sometimes active between Oct-May, but rarely guaranteed.

Are there any restrictions on age or fitness?

Suitable for all ages, but fitness required for longer hikes. It is always possible to spend more time with hummingbird feeders if hiking is not an option.

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5 Days

Price & Availability

USD1,365 / per person
Single Suppliment USD 130
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
Refer to Group Discount Terms
This tour is operated by: Kolibri Expeditions
4.76 based on 13 reviews

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Operator Review Summary

4.76 Based on 13 reviews

Tour Facts

  • North Peru (starts Tarapoto or Jaen)
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 2 to 8 pax per guide. Larger groups with two guides, and from 10 with two vehicles, giving more flexibility.
  • 5 days
  • Anytime of year is good. Note that male Marvelous Spatuletail often miss rackets from end of July through August in our experience. Lek of MST occur between Nov-April but it is not guaranteed. Refer to FAQ's.
  • Suitable for all ages. Refer to FAQ's.
  • Moderate
  • No
  • English, Spanish, Swedish (Good knowledge in Norwegian and Danish too), Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Mandarin (with translator)
  • Airport Cad. FAP Guillermo del Castillo Paredes
  • Jaen Airport