Southern Peru Circuit 15 days

Southern Peru Circuit Itinerary

Day 1: Chiguata Road

We'll spend the morning birding above Arequipa, looking especially for Tamarugo Conebill (mainly present April-September), White-throated Earthcreeper, Straight-billed Earthcreeper (rare), Black-hooded Sierra-Finch, and others. In the afternoon we'll drive down to the coast, making birding stops as time allows

Day 2: Pelagic

Today we'll spend the day at sea, and though there are no fast, modern boats available, we can expect to see a good variety of pelagic species from a fishing boat, possibly including Ringed, Elliot's, and Markham's Storm-Petrels, Waved and Black-browed Albatross, and several others. Of course, time of year and water conditions make for surprises, so you're never really sure what might show up an a pelagic trip!

Day 3: Coastal Arequipa

Today we'll bird our way along the coast and up into the western foothills of the Andes. We'll spend the morning at the Lagunas de Mejia picking up a variety of shorebirds and waterfowl and some passerines hopefully including Grassland Yellow-Finch, Peruvian Meadowlark, and even the distinctive rufescens race of Bran-coloured Flycatcher. In the afternoon we'll drive on to Moquegua, looking for the threatened Slender-billed Finch en route.

Day 4: High, dry Puna

Above 4000 m. in extreme southern Peru, one finds few birds, but they're interesting! Among our targets for the day are Lesser Rhea, Puna Miner, Puna Yellow-Finch, White-throated Sierra-Finch, Puna Canastero, Golden-spotted Ground-Dove, and even the poorly-known (in Peru) Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail. We'll spend the night in Juliaca - in the last decent hotel for the trip

Day 5: Huancane Lakes to Sina

We'll spend the morning looking for any missing high Andean waterbirds, including Andean Avocet and Titicaca Grebe, before driving on towards the east slope. In the early afternoon we'll arrive in the small town of Sina and walk down the valley to our pleasant campsite for the night. On the way, we'll have our first chance for Light-crowned Spinetail and Orange-browed Hemispingus among others.

Day 6: Sina Valley

We'll spend the day searching the high-elevation cloud forest for special birds like Hooded Mountain-Toucan, the two targets mentioned for yesterday afternoon, and more widespread birds such as Scaled Metaltail, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, and Trilling Tapaculo. We've also encountered an antpitta here that is probably Rufous-faced (currently considered a Bolivian endemic), but we have so far heard only call notes so can't be sure - there are exciting discoveries awaiting in this remote valley. In the afternoon we'll walk back up to Sina for the night in a very basic hotel, or camp outside town if the group prefers

Day 7: High, humid Puna

Today we'll drive up above Sina, through the puna again, and down to Sandia. Along the way, we'll pick up some new birds; we hope to find Stripe-headed Antpitta, Puna Tapaculo, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, a variety of ground-tyrants, and Short-tailed Finch among others. We'll spend the night in a slightly nicer hotel in Sandia - still a very basic place, but at least we'll have our own bathrooms!

Day 8: Abra Marancunca

An early departure will put us at this famous site for the morning's birding. The biggest target here is the extremely difficult Scimitar-winged Piha - we saw it on our 2011 visit, but it is easy to miss, especially since the trails through the forest are largely overgrown. Otherwise we may be lucky to encounter White-throated or Ochre-breasted Antpittas, or flocks potentially containing Buff-banded and Sclater's Tyrannulets, Versicoloured Barbet, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Slaty Tanager, and others. In the afternoon we'll make our first visit to the Porompata area (see tomorrow's description for targets). We'll again be in a very basic hotel in Yanahuaya tonight.

Day 9: Porompata

The Porompata track is a rough road (supposedly soon to be improved) that is home to many interesting birds. We only recently discovered this site; two half-day visits so far have revealed an exciting suite of birds including Slaty Gnateater, Band-tailed Fruiteater, Variable and Rufous-capped Antshrikes, the local variety of Yellow-olive Flycatcher, a good variety of flycatchers, tanagers, and hummingbirds, and - most excitingly - an undescribed species of Herpsilochmus antwren similar to Creamy-bellied and Ash-throated Antwrens as well as an undescribed Cnemotriccus flycatcher (a genus otherwise represented only by Fuscous Flycatcher). We'll either spend all day at this site, or head back to Abra Marancunca for the afternoon. Night again in Yanahuaya, in the same extremely basic hotel (camping is always an option for those that prefer peace and quiet!).

Day 10: Upper Tambopata Valley

Driving down this valley today, we'll make frequent birding stops to look for the new Herpsilochmus antwren if we still need it, as well as other species such as Upland Antshrike, Lanceolated Monklet, Bar-breasted Piculet, Rufous-crested Coquette, Ochre-cheeked Spinetail, and of course more colourful tanager often including Swallow Tanager. Though camping is recommended again, we have the option of another basic hotel tonight.

Day 11: Palmerani Track

Exactly how we work today will depend on bridges and river levels, but one way or another we'll bird the Palmerani Track all day. This is a pleasant dirt road through shade coffee; birding is often spectacular. On just two previous visits, we've already recorded such species as Rufous-winged and Ashy Antwrens, Red-billed, Cinnamon-faced, and the recently-described Yungas Tyrannulet, Yungas Manakin, Brownish-headed Antbird, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Orange-breasted Falcon, Military Macaw, White-bellied Pygmy-Tyrant, Wing-barred Piprites, Golden-bellied Warbler, and of course a great variety of tanagers including Yellow-crested. This is also the only area in Peru where Bolivian Recurvebill has been found, but it has eluded us so far! We'll return to our same sleeping place as last night

Day 12: back Yanahuaya

There is much to explore in this area, so we've allowed this and the next day to complete about 5 hours of driving back to Sandia. Though it cannot be confirmed, local suggest that there are curassows with blue "bills" in the area - possibly Horned Curassow??? And who knows if we might run into a Bolivian Recurvebill or some other unexpected goodie?

Day 13: back to Sandia

Most likely we'll spend this day at either Porompata or Abra Marancunca, depending what birds we're still missing - some possibilities include Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater, White-eared Solitaire, Cloud-forest Screech-Owl or even Buff-fronted Owl (both collected in the area), and Bolivian Tapaculo. Somewhere in there, we'll pick up one of the trip's main targets if we haven't yet - Green-capped Tanager: a very localized species, but common in disturbed habitats in the Sandia area.

Day 14: back to Juliaca

This is our "drive out" day, heading back to the airport in Juliaca for a late flight to Lima. On the way we'll have time for a few birding stops, maybe looking for Puna Thistletail, Diademed Tapaculo, or missing puna species.


  • -Birdwatching specialist guide in English and Spanish
  • -Transportation Arequipa-Juliaca private bus (Birdwatcher-driver)
  • -Overnights in Hotels
  • -Meals (breakfast, lunch/Picnic and dinner)
  • -Water at any time/snack
  • -Bird checklist by zones
  • -Field Guide Birds of Peru
  • -Entrance fee

Not Included

  • -Soft drinks and beers
  • -Personal expenses
  • -Tips


  • Binoculars
  • Flashlight
  • Day pack
  • Plastic bags (to keep everything dry
  • Rain gear
  • Sweater, fleece or light jacket
  • Long pants, long socks and long-sleeved shirts
  • T-shirts/Shorts
  • Bathing Suit
  • 1 pair of hiking boots, 1 pair of light shoes or sandals and rubber boots.
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sun block
  • Insect repellent (with at least 35% 'deet') and after bite
  • Toilet paper
  • Water bottle
  • Passport
  • Money for soft drinks or beers and handicrafts