Iquitos: The Ultimate Amazonian Birding 14 days

Iquitos lies in the heart of western Amazonia, on the banks of the Amazon River itself. This makes it the perfect base for finding specialties north and south of mighty river, as well as for visiting the unique white sand forests southeast of the city. On this trip we visit four different lodges to explore the diversity of the area’s habitats. From Wattled Curassow to Rufous-necked Puffbirds around Tahuayo, Iquitos Gnatcatcher and others in the famous Allpahuayo-Mishana reserve, river island specialties near Otorongo Lodge and Ochre-striped Antpitta and the incredible canopy walkway at ACTS, there are exciting possibilities at every stop. Join for 2 weeks of the ultimate Amazonian birding.

Iquitos: The Ultimate Amazonian Birding Itinerary

Day 1: Allpahuayo Mishana area

We’ll begin our tour by heading southeast from Iquitos to the Allpahuayo-Mishana Reserve, famous for its unique bird species but also notorious for rather low overall activity, due to the nutrient-poor environment. On this morning’s brief visit, we’ll especially look for a few of local specialties, including Allpahuayo and Zimmer’s Antbirds, Mishana Tyrannulet, Saffron-crested Tyrant-Manakin, Zimmer’s Tody-Tyrant, Citron-bellied Attila, and others. Later in the day we’ll make a boat trip up the Amazon River to Tahuayo Lodge, our base for the next few days of south bank birding.

Day 2 - 3: Tahuayo Lodge

We’ll have two whole days around Tahuayo Lodge. Targets here are many, but include Red-headed and Orange-crowned Manakins, Amazonian Black-Tyrant, and with luck White-bellied Dacnis. Of course there are lots of antbirds to look for here too, such as Dot-backed Antbird and Saturnine Antshrike. On at least one afternoon we’ll do some boat birding and hope to find Varzea Schiffornis, Band-tailed Antbird, Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, and others.

Day 4: To Muyuna Lodge

In the morning we'll look around Tahuayo for the near-endemic Black-tailed Antbird as well as Varzea Thrush, White-shouldered Antbird, Black Bushbird, and Yellow Tyrannulet. In the afternoon we'll make a boat trip to Muyuna Lodge, looking for Yellow-hooded Black and others en route. A night boat trip here could produce Great and Common Potoos as well as Boat-billed Heron.

Day 5: Muyuna Lodge

This morning we'll make a search for one of the trip's most spectacular birds: the endangered Wattled Curassow. Other species we might find include Rufous-capped Nunlet, Festive Parrot, and Horned Screamer. In the afternoon we'll make a boat trip back to Iquitos.

Day 6: White Sand Forest

Today we’ll spend the day at Allpahuayo-Mishana again, this time searching for canopy flocks in the best area for the extremely rare Iquitos Gnatcatcher. In the same flocks where we hope to find this recently-discovered gem, we’ll also look for Ancient Antwren, Yellow-throated Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, and others. We also have a good chance of encountering Paradise Jacamar and Brown Nunlet today.

Day 7: To Otorongo Lodge

After a bit of morning birding around Iquitos, we’ll make the boat trip to Otorongo Lodge through the late morning. After lunch we’ll do a bit of birding around the lodge where we may find Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Orange-eyed Flycatcher, Plain-breasted Piculet, and others.

Day 8: Otorongo area

This morning will be mostly dedicated to filling up our list of river island specialties. This unique community of bird species is perhaps best sampled in this area, and we hope to find a variety of sought-after birds including Zimmer’s Woodcreeper, Castelnau’s Antshrike, Leaden Antwren, Black-and-white and Ash-breasted Antbirds, Pale-billed Hornero, Lesser Wagtail-Tyrant, and Parker’s Spinetail. In the late afternoon we have the option of visiting a nearby backwater where we may encounter White-eared and White-chinned Jacamars, Long-billed and Striped Woodcreepers, Hoatzin, Slender-billed Kite, and many others.

Day 9: Otorongo to ACTS

We’ll spend the morning birding wherever we’re missing our most-wanted around Otorongo Lodge, then take two boats to reach Sucusari Creek off the Rio Napo. In the late afternoon we’ll walk in to ACTS, our main north bank destination, birding en route – this will be our first good chance for the spectacular Black-necked Red Cotinga, among others.

Day 10 - 11: ACTS

The forest around ACTS is the most accessible large, relatively intact patch of terra firme forest north of the Amazon River in Peru, and we’ll have two full days to explore it. A trip highlight will be the opportunity to visit the famous canopy walkway, where we’ll hope for Dugand’s Antwren, Lanceolated Monklet, Black-faced Hawk, and a variety of other rarely-seen species. On the trails, we’ll be kept busy working through understory flocks and trying for skulkers like Ochre-striped Antpitta, Striated Antthrush, Fulvous Antshrike (formerly part of Undulated Antshrike, now split), Banded Antbird, and Rusty-breasted Nunlet. Of course, this is one of the best places in the world to see the enigmatic Nocturnal Curassow, but even so we’ll need to be extremely lucky on our night walks!

Day 12: To Explore Napo

Today we know we will sleep at ExplorNapo – just an hours’ walk from ACTS – but where we bird will depend on the group’s wishes and what we’ve seen (and missed!) so far. We may spend more time in the terra firme around ACTS, looking for rarities like Blackish-headed Antbird, Red-billed Ground-Cuckoo and Grey-winged Trumpeter, or we may opt for the varzea around ExplorNapo Lodge where we can look for Black-chinned Antbird and Spotted Puffbird among others.

Day 13: Explore Napo forest

Again, we’ll have most of the day available for birding around ExplorNapo, perhaps checking out some river islands for missing species, heading back into the terra firme behind the lodge, or spending more time along the nearby creek in varzea – just trying to fill in those annoying gaps in the list! In the afternoon, we’ll make the boat trip back to Iquitos and spend the night there.

Day 14: White Sand Forest

Seeing all the specialties at Allpahuayo-Mishana is nearly impossible, even with multiple or prolonged visits. Today we’ll be back there again looking for anything we’re still missing, perhaps including Pompadour Cotinga or Brown-banded Puffbird, or if we’ve had enough of white sand we can try some “normal” forest birding where Short-billed Leaftosser, Ash-throated Gnateater, and others are among the possibilities. Later we’ll catch afternoon or evening flights back to Lima.