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Northern Peru

Fabulous birding from the Peruvian Pacific to the Andes, with optional Machu Picchu extension

2025 Dates
  • 07 Oct - 20 Oct 2025
Duration14 Days
Guides joined by another Heatherlea guide with seven or more clients
2025 Price
Price TBC
Max Group Size12

Peru is one of the most important birding destinations in the world, containing so many wild and hard to reach places in difficult habitats, that new bird species are still being discovered and described every year. Many areas remain unexplored by birdwatchers, and only recently have some fascinating places, with rich bio-diversity and a large concentration of species, become available to western enthusiasts. Peru is a wonderful country for any visitor, featuring breathtaking scenery, an impressive cultural heritage, and friendly and courteous people. You will enjoy travelling in remote places and seeing some of the world's most fascinating birds, while experiencing a taste of the rich culture and staying in good quality accommodation.

It would be virtually impossible to cover the avifauna of Peru in a single visit, so we offer two very different holidays. This tour concentrates on the very important northern birding corridor, offering a long list of birds many of which will be new to most visitors, including some iconic and breathtaking species.

Our itinerary is exceptionally good for hummingbirds, including Koepcke’s Hermit, Black-throated Hermit, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, White-chinned Sapphire, Rufous-crested Coquette, Reddish Hermit, Blue-fronted and Green-fronted Lancebills, Violet-fronted Brilliant, Long-tailed Sylph, Speckled Hummingbird, White-bellied Woodstar, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Collared Inca, Andean Emerald, Whitebellied Hummingbird, Purple-throated Woodstar, Purple-throated Sunangel, White-bellied Woodstar, Royal Sunangel, Tawny-bellied Hermit and not forgetting Marvellous Spatuletail, perhaps the most spectacular hummingbird in the world. You can also expect tanagers, toucans, raptors, finches and fruiteaters, as we visit unspoilt forests where many brightly-coloured birds can be expected in the canopy. There are also chances of unforgettable Andean Condor and Cock-of-the-Rock, We also include an easy-going day to see Humboldt's Penguin and Inca Tern, and an extension to Machu Picchu can be added on request (see below for outline).

The holiday is carefully planned so you have enough time to enjoy spectacular birding, though we restrict ourselves to the more accessible areas. The committed 'world-lister' will need to visit locations not included here, where conditions might be more demanding. Should you wish to visit the southern part of the country, please see our Peru - Birding and Machu Picchu itinerary.

Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!

Day 1:   
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we fly from the UK to Lima. We stay at a very comfortable hotel to recover from our long flight, and enjoy a good buffet breakfast the following morning. Overnight for two nights at Hotel El Tambo Dos de Mayo

Day 2:  Pucusana and Puerto Viejo
A gentle day to introduce you to Peruvian birding, this morning as we drive south of Lima hour to Pucusana. Here we take a boat trip to search the Pacific coast and the ocean cliffs for Guanay Cormorant, Red-legged Cormorant, Inca Tern and Humboldt Penguin. On our return journey we visit Puerto Viejo's marshes, a protected wetland, where the main attractions are Great Grebe, Peruvian Thick-knee, Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant and Grassland Yellow-Finch. On the beach it is usually easy to find Surf Cinclodes flying around the rocky areas. We return to Lima, where we stay at our comfortable hotel for a second night.

Day 3: Thursday 5 October - Lima - Tarapoto
After breakfast we take the morning flight to Tarapoto, then transfer straight to the hotel for lunch. We spend our afternoon birding the shores of Ricuricocha Lake our first birding site. We enjoy a few stops along the road to have a first taste of tropical birds including Planalto Hermit, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Rufous Casiornis, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Ashy-headed Greenlet and so many more!
Overnight for two nights at Hotel La Patarashca.

Day 4:  Tarapoto
This morning we drive for about 30 minutes to a Cock-of-the-Rock location in the mountains of Cordillera Escalera Reserve. We observe the birds from the roadside, not from the lekking area, which is inaccessible. This area is also good for Wattled Guan, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet and Maroon-tailed Parakeet. Nearby is the Koepcke’s Hermit Conservation Center, another private reserve created to protect this endemic hummingbird. The bird is usually easy to see at the feeders inside the reserve along with many other species including Gould’s Jewelfront, Black-throated Brilliant and more. We take lunch at spectacular Pumarinri lodge by the Huallaga River, about one hour from the Koepcke’s Hermit Conservation Center. Possible birds in the lodge gardens are Black-fronted Nunbird, Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper, or Green-backed Trogon. A memorable day! ​

Day 5:  Tarapoto - Moyobamba
Our day begins with a drive towards the city of Moyobamba, where our next lodge is located. On route we will make a short stop at Puente Quiscarrumi to look for a colony of Oilbirds that live under a bridge.

Waqanki is a family-owned reserve in the montane forests near the city of Moyobamba. We have a whole day at Waqanki, taking time to thoroughly explore the lodge surroundings, with lots of attention given to the hummingbird feeder station. Here the main attractions include Black-throated & Great-billed Hermits, Black-throated Mango, Violet-headed Hummingbird ,White-necked Jacobin, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, White-chinned Sapphire, and fantastic Rufous-crested Coquette; this is one of the best hummingbird locations we have seen anywhere in the world, with up to 20 species possible. A real feast for the eyes!
The forest around the feeders is extremely productive, and from the canopy tower there are good chances to see Mishana Tyrannulet, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Crested Oropendola, and many others. In the gardens of the lodge there are some feeders with fruit attracting different species of tanagers, which may include Tataupa Tinamou, Green-backed Trogon, mixed flocks including Paradise, Black-bellied, Blue-necked, Guira, and Golden Tanagers.
The evening, we will spend time driving the short road near the lodge trying to find owls like Tropical Screech-Owl, Striped Owl, Black-banded Owl, or Band-bellied Owl.  Overnight at Waqanki lodge.

Day 6:  Moyobamba
Just after breakfast we visit the Tahuishco Tower, in the city centre of Moyobamba. At this place, we could find Yellow-browed Tody-flycatcher, Lettered Aracari, Blue-headed Parrot, Pale-breasted Thrush, and more.
Next, we move to the Morro de Calzada reserve, which has a lone mountain in the middle that rises above the valley. Many exceptional birds can be found at its base, Our targets here are birds like Fiery-capped Manakin, Painted Mankin, White-shouldered Tanager, Lafresnaye’s Piculet, and many more.

During the afternoon we will explore the rice fields of the Mayo valley, looking for birds like Pale-eyed Blackbird, Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Chestnut-bellied Seedfinch, Paint-billed Crake, and others. Overnight at Waqanki lodge.

Day 7: Moyobamba – Arena Blanca - Abra Patricia
Today we plan to spend the day birding along the Mayo Valley as we head towards the renowned Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge, our base for the next 5 nights.
The first stop is back at the Morro de Calzada reserve, but this time our targets reside in the humid forest here. We search for Painted and Fiery-capped Mankins, broad-billed Motmot, Channel-billed Toucan, Blue-headed Parrot, Turquoise Tanager among others.

The Fundo Don Laureano reserve is our next destination, where we look for Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Little Woodpecker, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, and eventually, Pale-eyed Blackbird, or Black-billed Seed-finch.

After a busy morning we aim to arrive at Arena Blanca in the early afternoon for a well-earned lunch, after which we spend a relaxed afternoon at the hummingbird feeders. Birds we could see here include Rufous-crested Coquette, Wire-crested Thorntail, Blue-tailed Emerald, Violet-fronted Lancebill, and maybe some other 20 species of hummingbirds.

We head off again to our accommodation and once at Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge, you will once again have some time to enjoy the hummingbirds coming to the feeders: Long-tailed Sylph, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, White-bellied Woodstar, Speckled Hummingbird, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Collared Inca, are all regular visitors here.

Day 8: Arena Blanca - Abra Patricia
Early in the morning we drive back to Arena Blanca for the Tinamou feeders. Regular visitors are Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Little and Cinereous Tinamous. Furthermore, Northern Chestnut-tailed (Zimmer’s) Antbird, Huallaga (Black-bellied) Tanager, Dark-breasted Spinetail, are quite common and easy to see in the reserve trails. We will drive back to the lodge for lunch.

Afternoon birding along the road, looking for mixed species flocks, with lots of Tanagers. If lucky, we could find Andean Cock-of-the-Rock on our way back to the lodge.
Overnight at Abra Patricia Owlet lodge.

Day 9:  Abra Patricia,
This morning starts with a walk along the “Grallaria trail”, the hike starts on the upper part of the lodge, goes down the hill and back to the lower part of the lodge. It takes about two and a half hours to hike the entire trail, though we take this at a relaxed pace with plenty of stops to search for our targets! Possible birds here are Bicolored Antvireo, Sharpe’s Wren, Golden-headed Quetzal, Chestnut-crested Cotinga. For the lucky ones, a Chestnut Antpitta might show up.

In the afternoon we walk around the lower area of the trail near the parking lot, looking for Johnson’s Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-Scarfed Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Black-throated Tody-tyrant, Rufous Spinetail – a whole array of possible birds to add to our list.

Day 10:  Abra Patricia
Today we intend to spend a full day visiting the Fundo Alto Nieva reserve. Here feeders attract Booted Racket-tail, Royal Sunangel, Violet-fronted Brilliant, Tawny-bellied Hermit, and other hummers.
We take lunch back at the lodge, where the Hummingbird feeders will again be a constant distraction and the close-by forest is good for Bar-winged Wood-wren, Rufous-vented Tapaculo, Cinnamon-breasted Tody-tyrant, Yellow-throated Tanager.

In the afternoon we take a drive looking for mixed species flocks with Blue-browed Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, and others being top targets. White-capped Tanagers might also be in the area. Then, we will enter Fundo Alto Nieva again, this time for a visit to the Ochre-fronted Antpitta feeding station. Before heading back to the car, we make our first attempt (optional) to find enigmatic Long-whiskered Owlet, a tiny owl endemic to this mountain range. We walk down a trail for about an hour and wait for darkness, when the Owlet becomes active. We may also find Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Bicolored Antvireo and White-fronted Nunbird along the trail.

Day 11:  Abra Patricia - Moyobamba
This morning is spent exploring a different area of the Alto Mayo nature reserve. This protected area is at a lower altitude and will certainly see us find different bird species to add to our list.
First, we stop at the Mirador, looking for Bar-winged Wood-wren, Subtropical Cacique, Andean Solitare and Yellow-throated Tanager. Then, we will be birding near the town of El Afluente, looking for birds like Slaty Antwren, Blue-cowled (Versicolored) Barbet, Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Olive-chested Flycatcher, Golden Tanager, Equatorial Greytail, and more.

We head back to the lodge for lunch after which we will walk the “Tino trail”. We will be looking for Variable Antshrike, Masked Trogon, White-backed Fire-eye, and flocks of multicoloured tanagers. Also, some people have seen mammals here like Yellow-tailed Woolly-Monkey and Andean Night-Monkey.

Day 12. Abra Patricia - Huembo - Chachapoyas
This morning we leave the mountains of Abra Patricia and journey to the Utcubamba valley, a very different type of habitat from our previous days.

Our first stop at the Huembo Conservation Center, a nature reserve created to protect endemic Marvellous Spatuletail, perhaps the most spectacular hummingbird in the world. Other hummers attending the feeders might include Andean Emerald, Brown Violetear, White-bellied Hummingbird, Purple-throated Woodstar, Purple-throated Sunangel and White-bellied Woodstar. The forest inside the reserve is also an excellent place for Sickle-winged and Andean Guans, Southern (Black-billed) Emerald Toucanet, Speckle-chested Piculet, Rufous-capped Antshrike, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Silvery Tanager and more.

Then, we drive along the Utcubamba valley, towards the city of Chachapoyas. This is a dry valley and a very different habitat, with interesting species like Little Woodstar, Black-necked Woodpecker, Marañon Crescentchest, Peruvian Pigeon and Speckle-chested Piculet. Overnight at Hotel La Ensenada.

Day 13.  Kuelap
Today, we will visit the impressive Kuelap Fortress. One of the largest ancient monuments of the Americas, this imposing fortified citadel was built on the edge of a deep cliff. The remains of the settlement sit 3,000 meters above sea level and the original fortress covered 15 hectares. Recent archaeological research points out that this could have been an important religious centre dedicated to the Chachapoyans gods, probably the god of thunder and rain. An impressive 2,000 feet long wall surrounds the citadel, the gates or main entrances are constructed as narrow walled passageways that continue to narrow as they reach upwards and into the fortress, so the income would remain restricted to the complex. Interesting birds like Purple-throated Sunangel or Green-tailed Trainbearer are also possible whilst we are here. Overnight at hotel La Ensenada.

Day 14.    Chachapoyas - Jaén - Lima
This morning sees a day of travelling with our journey to the city of Jaén. This drive won’t be wasted and we take the opportunity with regular stops along the road to look for typical birds of the Marañon valley like Little Inca-finch, Red-crested Finch, Marañon Antshrike, Marañon Gnatcatcher. After having lunch in Jaén, we head to the airport for the flight where we catch our internal flight to Lima, where we stay overnight. Overnight at Hotel El Tambo Dos de Mayo

Day 15.  Lima
After breakfast we have a private visit to the city centre of Lima, with some time for sightseeing and shopping before lunch. A bus will take us to the Lima Historical Centre where we can visit the Main Square, enjoying views of the XVIIc buildings, palaces, and churches. Later we can enjoy the Larco Museum, which exhibits one of the most spectacular collection of silver and gold artifacts from pre-Incan times before transfering to the airport. Those taking the Machu Pichu extension fly on to Cuzco, with everyone else flying back to the UK, arriving the following morning (Day 16).


Machu Picchu Extension - Price TBC
This extension can be taken directly after the holiday above, or at any other time; please contact our office for details.

Day 15.                        Lima - Cuzco
We take the later afternoon flight and arrive into Cuzco where we drive straight to our hotel. If time allows, we will walk the hotel grounds where the birding is excellent with Hummingbirds such as Giant Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing, or Shining Sunbeam among the possibilities on our doorstep. Overnight for two nights at Hotel Los Portales.

Day 16:  Cuzco
A morning devoted to the historical heart of the city of Cuzco. Our first stop is at the Sun Temple, known as the Qorikancha; this temple, with its once gold-covered walls, was one of the most important buildings in the Inca civilization, built to honour the Sun God, Inti. We then visit the colonial style Main Plaza and the Cuzco Cathedral, which is rich in religious artworks. In the afternoon we head to the archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán, one of the finest and most amazing architectural constructions of the Inca empire. As part of this excursion, we have the chance to find some special birds such as Andean Flicker, Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch, or Cinereous Conebill.

Day 17:  - Aguas Calientes
After an early breakfast we drive to the railway in the town of Ollantaytambo from where we take the Expedition train for the two hour journey to the town of Aguas Calientes. We arrive mid-morning and check into our hotel, acclimatise, and after lunch we head into the forests below Aguas Calientes looking for Green-and-white Hummingbird, Andean Motmot, Ocellated Piculet, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Masked Fruiteater and many more. Overnight Hotel El Mapi.

Day 18:  The incredible Machu Picchu!
This morning we visit the world-famous Machu Picchu archaeological site. Situated at the peak of a mountain surrounded by the mighty Urubamba River, which runs east through the canyon almost half a mile below the citadel. Our guided visit includes the Temple of the Sun, The Tower, the Priestly Mansion, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Central Temple, the Plaza, and the fountains and channels that forms the “Inca Baths”. During our visit, we keep our eyes (and ears) open for wildlife, with chances to see special birds including Inca Wren and a range of tanagers. After enjoying the site, we take the afternoon train back to Cuzco. An incredibly scenic journey with much to see before we arrive at our hotel in time for dinner. Overnight Hotel Los Portales.

Day 19: Cuzco - Lima
We have the morning at leisure, with free time for shopping and walking around the city centre at your own pace. We have an early lunch in Cuzco before the flight to Lima. On arrival in Lima we have a few hours before our international connection home, arriving in London the following morning (Day 20).

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

What's included in your holiday price:

  • scheduled return flights between London and Lima, domestic flights as listed on your itinerary, airport taxes. Please contact us for prices involving connection from a different UK airport.
  • ground transportation as outlined including all transportation in Peru in a modern and spacious air-conditioned vehicle.
  • accommodation and all meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • the services of your leaders.
  • entrance fees to parks and reserves, and tips to hotels and restaurants.
  • departure taxes.
  • The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more...

FREE! ‘Birds of Peru’ field guide by Thomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O'Neill, Theodore A. Parker III,  is included in your holiday price. One copy per room booked.​

What's not included in your holiday price:

  • personal insurance, drinks and other personal expenses, visa costs where necessary, optional tips to the driver and local guide, and any other costs not specified as 'included'.

Your Leaders:

Carlos is a Peruvian naturalist, with more than 10 years of experience as tour leader of both birding and cultural trips in Peru. Past President of the Peruvian Ecotourism Association and President of the NGO Plantando Futuro, Carlos has guided extensively across the country and is looking forward to showing you his home country.

Carlos is an Official Tourism Guide who lives in northern Peru. He has been birding for over 10 years and after working for coffee production cooperatives, he learnt much about the wildlife and environment practices in his country. After finding a passion for conservation, Carlos has worked on many projects focussing on birds of Peru and botany. A keen photographer, Carlos is looking forward to guiding you in Northern Peru.

More holiday information:

Accommodation is en-suite in comfortable hotels & lodges. Hotels in Lima and Cuzco are comfortable to a higher standard than those in the biosphere, where some of the lodges are less luxurious but nevertheless very comfortable.
Food Breakfast is usually served as a buffet, with a wide choice. Dinner is usually a plated meal, again with a choice, and traditional and local dishes are included. Lunches are generally taken in the field, though sometimes we will stop at restaurants and hotels. Vegetarian and other diets are welcome.
Walking is generally light/moderate. There is some uphill track and road walking, and an average level of fitness is required. More strenuous walking (eg at Abro Patricia), is optional, and in many places easy birding is readily available at feeders close to our accommodation.
Weather will be mixed. Mostly the temperature will be warm, with the possibility of rain. In some locations the weather is hot and humid, in others hot and dry, and at altitude can be cool and wet.
Insects There are biting insects, though not usually as a major problem.
Group size is restricted to 12 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, we will be happy to arrange this for you.

Other birding and wildlife holidays in Peru

Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in the Americas?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).

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The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248