Guided by Nick Athanas. This was a custom tour that also included some sites in central Peru.
Spatuletails, sandpiper-plovers, inca-finches, antpittas… This will go down as one of the most memorable birding trips I’ve done. The sheer number of rare and endemic species that we saw (and the good luck we had with all but a few of them), the incredible and varied scenery, the friendly and easy-going group, all combined for a terrific experience. This tour mixed the best parts of the “traditional” Northern Peru circuit of the upper Marañon Valley, the Andean east slope, and the Tumbesian region with some sites normally visited on a Central Peru tour like the Cordillera Blanca and the high Andes east of Lima. We added visits to a few sites rarely visited by birders like Sinsicap, one of the most reliable sites for the rare Russet-bellied Spinetail as well as a hummingbird that is likely a new species to science. We made the long hike up the Chido trail in search of Pale-billed Antpitta (which we saw, though some better than others) and scored Rusty-tinged Antpitta as a bonus prize. There were few disappointments: White-cheeked Cotinga was the worst, but we could not find any mistletoe and maybe they were elsewhere, and where the heck were the Great Inca-Finches? We tried in five places and spent hours looking to no avail after having an easy time with the other four. But that’s birding for you, and I’ll remember the successes long after the dips are forgotten.