Central Peru Butterflies 14 days

Central Peru has some of the country's best butterflying destinations, and on this tour we hit a few of our favourites. Pampa Hermosa is perhaps the crown jewel of the route with its amazing concentration of firetips, while the road above Pozuzo has an excellent variety of habitats and overwhelming diversity of species from all families. For high-elevation fanatics (a.k.a. satyr-lovers!) Bosque Shollet is an excellent destination. Although we do not visit any true lowland sites on this trip, we expect a great variety of butterflies and wonderful photography opportunities.

Our basic layout for this - and other butterfly - tours is to spend several days at each site, rather than rush around in the typical birder's fashion. First of all, you can't try to clean-up on "target" species by playing tape (though we will be putting out bait to attract bugs), and besides, with butterflies you're always finding new species even after several days in the same area.

Central Peru Butterflies Itinerary

Day 1: Over the Andes

We'll leave Lima early and make the 7 hours drive over the spectacular Andes to Oxapampa, a pleasant town on the east slope. Though we'll make a couple scenery stops and short walks if people wish, this is basically a travel day. Night in Oxapampa.

Day 2: Oxapampa to Pozuzo

We'll have the whole day to work the upper part of the beautiful road through Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park where we should find, among other things, a variety of dartwhites (Catasticta). We'll settle in to our pleasant hotel on the edge of Pozuzo town in the afternoon.

Day 3 - 5: Pozuzo and Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park

Three days will barely be enough to explore the road back up into Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park. Between the town and park boundary there is a mosaic of pastures and forested gullies that can be very productive for lowland and foothill species, while the park itself, with its intact forest and rushing streams, is home to more typical Andean butterflies. Given decent weather, we can expect a wide variety of species from all families both along the roadside and on a few forest interior trails.

Day 6: Pozuzo-Bosque Shollet

We'll have a final day along the Pozuzo-Oxapampa road, spending time wherever we feel it will be most productive; in theory, we'll have covered the lower elevations and will concentrate on some of the stream crossings toward the upper end of this wonderful transect of montane forest. In the afternoon we'll move in to our cabins in the heart of Bosque Shollet.

Day 7 - 8: Bosque Shollet

As we're staying right in the habitat here, there should be lots to find within walking distance of our beds - weather permitting, as always at this elevation (around 2000 m.)! We'll be looking for some high Andean forest specialties here, such as Dalla skipperlings, falcon-satyrs (Corades), Juneas, and perhaps even the enigmatic Ghostwing (Styx infernalis) which we've seen here on a previous trip, and of course a plethora of satyrs we'll struggle to identify!

Day 9: Bosque Shollet-Pampa Hermosa

Today will mostly be a travel day as we head for our final destination of the tour, but we'll make a stop along the way for a picnic lunch at a productive major river crossing where we may encounter some lowland species that are absent at other sites we're visiting. In the afternoon we'll transfer into tough 4x4 vans to take us to the remote Pampa Hermosa Lodge.

Day 10 - 12: Pampa Hermosa

Pampa Hermosa, for some reason, is a butterfly photographer's paradise. Everything comes together - a rushing river, a nearly undriven gravel road with stream crossings, a nice forested trail, and of course a beautiful lodge - to make for the ideal final stop on this tour. The big attraction here is the variety of gorgeous firetips - up to 15 species are reasonably possible on one visit - but there is no shortage of other stuff to chase down too, aside from myriad other skippers: from hairstreaks to morphos and swallowtails to metalmarks, this place has it all.

Day 13: Pampa Hermosa-Tarma

After a final morning we'll reluctantly leave Pampa Hermosa, bounce out to the main road and drive up to Tarma, where we'll spend the cool night in a classy hotel (especially given the rough Andean surroundings!).

Day 14: Back Over the Andes

Today will be a driving day as we cross back over the continental divide and head back down to Lima in time for a late afternoon arrival to conclude the tour.