This independent trip went very well without problems; the Valqui's Guide Book to Peru is full of details and we had many others information on the web, so we'll just give brief notes or add useful infos that we couldn't find before the trip. By the time 1€ was about 4 Nuevo Soles (S).
We rent a SUZUKI JIMMY for 83 days on SIXT's website for 38 euros per day, it was perfect for our trip; we had only 1 spare wheel but 2 could be advisable as we had 7 punctures during the trip (2 the last day). Many police controls but always friendly.
The bird activity was definitely slower in November, with few responses to the tape, and the rains became frequent in mid-November, while some landslides began along the roads in early December.
The Valqui's book is essential, and check Kolibri expeditions website full of interesting things; excellent too is the Hesse's reports on birding-peru.com. The Andrew Spencer's trip report was the best with good details and GPS waypoints. Birdquest's trip reports with checklist are always of good help with the last information about the splits, although we found that they freely added regional subspecies or regional endemics to their list, growing up much the final list, that we didn't do.
We saw 797 species of birds (69 endemics), covering Lima-Cuzco road, Cuzco-Manu Road until the Amazonia Lodge, the North, and the Central Andes that we couldn't do correctly due to the rainfalls.
We list each visited site following the order of Valqui's book, adding our information when needed.
CHAPTER A- THE SOUTH EAST p57
THE MANU ROAD p58 to 68
First of all this road had more traffic than expected and it was sometimes very annoying; but there was no problem of spaces for parking the car or crossing the trucks, the road is generally large enough. We saw very few campable places, and are not sure about the safety to stay along the road by night.
We didn't book any lodge along the road, all are very expensive. From Huacarpay we followed the dirt road (being paved) until Tres Cruces (p60), the beginning of the Manu Road. A ticket is required at the entrance of this reserve, and we slep in the car along the track close to a patch of forest than to camp because it was too cold and wet; after a big storm at dusk we had a fantastic dawn and a good birding (Diademed + Puna Tapaculo, Puna Thistletail...)
From Tres Cruces to the Bioiogical Station wich is signposted there are 41km. We parked and went inside the station, and asked to one of the staff (Julian) if we could camp on the football terrain a bit further down the road, he said yes and asked 20Soles. The rooms there are expensive, about 70$. On our way back up some days later, the football terrain had been fenced and it was raining a lot. We asked to Julian if we could stay in the small wooden cabin wich is along the road at the entrance of the station, he agreed for an expensive 60S but we were happy anyway to have a dry place; the cabin was dusty with 2 bunk beds, and they provided the sheets. Some good birds along the road in this area.
The 2 TUNNELS are a few (maybe 3) kms further down the Biological Station. Many birds between the 2 tunnels and after the second.
PILLAHUATA, (p62) 8km from the Biological Station, didn't produce a lot, and this area did not inspire us for camping, it is just a house in the bend and the police was often here. It is at 8km from the Biological Station. But stops along the road when the vegetation is inspiring can be productive. The concrete bridge mentionned p63 is about 6,7km further down.
The bridge of the MANU CLOUD FOREST LODGE (p63) is about 24km further, and 4km after is the COCK-OF-THE-ROCK LODGE (p65). This lodge also called COTRL is very nice with feeders full of hummingbirds; we asked if we could camp (there is a campsite on the other side of the road) but all was booked by reseachers and students. The birding along the road before the COTRL can be very good, they have a Cock-of-the-rock's lek along it wich is fenced but you can hear them in early morning and we saw several along the road. Don't miss between the lek and the lodge a small trail on the right in the bamboos where there is a lek of Yungas Manakin.
A few meters after the COTRL, after a bend is the PARADISE LODGE with rooms at 70$/pers full board, we stopped there and asked for camping, they accepted on a small grassy area and we could use the toilets of a room, we bargained for the two of us at 83S diner included; the lodge was empty and the garden is small and not so birdy. There is also the SAN PEDRO LODGE a little bit further on the right side of the road, wich is not signposted but there is a small wooden stake at the entrance of a trail; it is owned by the Pantiacolla Lodge and their guests make stops there on the way to the Lodge. It is possible to camp there if you arrange it by advance but it is 30$/pers. We didn't visit the place.
Then the road is going down for 32km, becoming flat to PILCOPATA p66, a small town with several shops, hotels and restaurants, and a market. We stayed on the way in at the basic but correct Hostal Manu, 25S (but many insects are attracted in the evening by the lights inside the room), and on the way back at the better Hostal Gallito Das Rocas, 45S, where there is an internet café. From Pilcopata, it is just half an hour of driving until the river at ATALAYA where the boats leave to the AMAZONIA LODGE p66. Once in Atalaya wich is only a few houses along one street, there is on the left a store hold by Señora China, she is the person to pay for the boats. It was about 80S per person way back included, we just had to tell her to pick up us at the lodge 5 days later and the boat was there. We left our car in the street and she cared after it for free. In front of the store is a small restaurant for lunch while waiting for the boat. The boat trip until the lodge is short, so we can say that the course is well paid... Apparently Senora China can organise boat trips, and it could be very advisable to try to join her and ask some prices, sadly no website but a telephone n° : 084-830412 or 830413.
3.1 - AMAZONIA LODGE p66
We had booked on the website and paid 5 nights 70$/pers (29 sept to 3 oct); the lodge is nice and simple with a few good trails, feeders and flowers in front of the terrace. The staff was very nice, we asked for having something prepared in advance that we could eat at dawn, avoiding to come back for breakfast hour during the best birding time. For the price the meals are really a shame, with more tin box food than fresh food, and few in the plate; sure if you stay one month you'll loose some weight...! We had not the birding expected, and other groups met like Tanager Tours, or Tucan Tours, seemed a bit disappointed too, and we had 12 hours of heavy rain wich is not normal at this time of year and made birding impossible. Anyway it was a great place to stay and we enjoyed it.
To go the the Pantiacolla Lodge you need to go further than Atalaya, until Shintuya, it is not very far but there are some rivers to cross and a bigger 4x4 is recommended in case of heavy rain. We expect to go there in a next trip.
CHAPTER B – CUZCO AND SOUTHERN INTERANDEAN VALLEYS (p91)
1 - HUACARPAY p91
Easy to find from Cuzco once you have found the Avenida de la Cultura, and it is always straight on the road to Puno. If you don't want to sleep in Cuzco wich is big and with too much traffic, we saw an hotel along the road to Huacarpay, and the restaurant along the lake has a campsite; we stayed in Cuzco, it is expensive, and a nightmare in the morning to find our way without detailed map. We didn't see the Bearded Mountaineer at the lake, but on the way to Manu road in an eucalyptus tree.
Note that you can go from Huacarpay to Ollantaytambo avoiding Cuzco by taking the nice paved road passing through Pisco.
2 to 2.3-ABRA MALAGA p94-96
We stayed in the touristic Ollantaytambo at the Hotel Munay Tika, 85S, but there are much cheaper hotels in town; most of the restaurants are expensive but we found a very cheap one for locals with meals at 5S.
Every morning we headed to the beautiful road passing by Abra Malaga, making numerous stops. It is paved and well maintained. Several days are required to bird several spots until the pass, bird the beautiful polylepis patch at the Royal Cinclodes trail (signposted), excellent the 2nd time we got there, and bird the road down to San Luis after the pass. The restaurant (p98) doesn't exist anymore, but we parked there and the birding was fantastic along the road.
We didn't visit the Machu Picchu ruins for 2 reasons : living ourselves in a very touristic place it took us several days to decide if we were going to pay such a price to take part of the hords of tourists, having had such fantastic mountains sightings on the Abra Malaga road, and when we decided to go anyway there was no place in the cheaper train, and the Lonely Planet guide says that the entrance of the site is to be booked in advanced... we gave up.
4-THE NAZCA-CUZCO ROAD p102
4.1- NAZCA VALLEY p102
Once in Nazca we took south until the Wasi Punko Lodge (signposted) where we camped for 15S/pers. We found the birds mentionned in Valqui, the 2 Peruvian Thick-knee were in the dry fields behind the lodge. The garden is very good. The kms indicating birds on page 103 are still good and the Cactus Canastero was seen at km23,5 and Thick-billed Miner at km36.
4.2 - PAMPAS GALERAS p103
Like said in Valqui, on the road toward Puquio, we turned left at KM84 on the dirt road, after the 16kms we saw some sparses polylepis ( after a small bridge on the left just before a right bend) and wondered if birds were still possible in such a few concentration of trees; anyway we walked there and had Streaked Tit-Spinetail, Plain-breasted Earthcreeper, Giant Conebill and a pair of responsive Dark-winged Canastero effectively different from the book, very dark;
We asked at the park headquarters if we could stay there, they agreed for free, and showed us an poor dirt room that we could use; no electricity, and freeze garanteed, we didn't stay and prefered an hotel in Puquio (Hotel de los Andes, 45S).
Back on the Puquio's road, we had a small productive trail at km137 along the river with Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch. And between km 137 and 138 there is a dirt road signposted to San Juan, in early morning in the first 2 kms: Ornate Tinamou, Oasis Hummingbird and Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch again, and others.
4.5 - LAGUNAS YAURIVIRI p104
The road after Puquio is very nice; we saw some waterfowl on the lagunas but nothing special for us, but the best is this dirt road going on the left before the lagunas, Valqui indicates that it is going to Andamarca but it is signposted to Cabana. Here we had Tawny-breasted Dotterel, Puna Plover, Grey-bellied Seedsnipe and others;
5 – BOSQUE AMPAY p105
22-23 sept. Once in Abancay, it is not signposted and not so easy to find, but people easily give indications. The road goes up and becomes a track, there is no more arch; once we saw a sign of the Santuario, we still followed the track, but got lost because we had to go left at a right hairpin bend with no indications. Once at the station we met the guard, and we camped 2 nights there for free, and had a flushed toilet and tap water. We think that rooms are available too. Very good birding on the trail up, but slow in the afternoon. We found many specials, but 2 days were not enough for this place; the ascend takes some time and is birdy, so we arrived too late upthere.
THE MOUNTAINS EAST OF ABANCAY p106
From Abancay we took the road to Runtacocha, leaving from the town stadium; just ask for it, once at the stadium follow the dirt road; at a right bend wich should make thinking that you have to follow it, just go straight, following the river and then going up in the mountains. If in doubt just ask to the locals; the end of the road is at 41km from Abancay; sadly we didn't take much time to bird along because it was the afternoon and that we hurried to arrive until the top. Here we walked straight to a patch of polylepis on the right handside, and we found the Royal Cinclodes that we had missed at Abra Malaga.
CHAPTER C – SOUTH-CENTRAL PACIFIC SLOPE p115
1. NORTHERN LIMA COAST
1.1 – LOMAS DE LACHAY
17 Oct. Apart the fact that we arrived a Sunday afternoon and found the camping areas full of noisy persons, we liked the place and were alone for camping (20S) when they all left at 5pm. The entrance road is well signposted and the birding was excellent with Least Seedsnipes, Chestnut-collared Swallows and others. Good walk inside the reserve too. For the Grayish Miner you have to go to another place, still in the reserve but from a different road : go back to the Lima road, and at the roundabout take the tarred road on the left. After a while you'll see a small guard house on the left, just show your ticket entrance and drive to this dry rocky and mountainous area; after a while we saw a big group of Grayish Miners.
4 – SOUTHERN LIMA COAST p124
Stops along this highway are not always evident, and several resorts are being built along the coast, the wet areas are really endangered, but we picked up some birds here and there following the book's indications until Pucusana.
4.3 – PUCUSANA p126
We spent the first night of our trip here, we forgot the name of the hotel but there were 2 quite basic and similar at 40S near the port. It was very cold. In the morning we saw a Surf Cinclodes on the beach of the port while many Inca Terns and Peruvian Pelican were around the fishing boats.
5 – PARACAS p129
Pisco to Paracas road had no interest, the shore has apparently been destroyed by an earthquake; Paracas was partially destroyed too and they are rebuilding. We had a very good new hotel Brisas de la Bahia bargained 60S along the main entrance road just before the port, but there are others hotels to choose;
5.3 – RESERVA NACIONAL DE PARACAS p133
This is a beautiful reserve to visit as well for birds than for the sightings, it was just magic. We saw a Surfbird along the shore around km33.
5.4 – ISLAS BALLESTAS AND PELAGIC TRIP p135
We were scared by the idea of being with a group of tourists, but we survived and it was worth it. We bought our tickets at the (good) restaurant wich is just near our hotel for the next morning, asking for the first boat. They leave only from 9am, too late but there is no choice; at the harbour it is very well organised and all the tourists are in files waiting for the embarkment, about 40 persons per boat. They leave one by one waiting about 10mn between each other. Once you are facing the colonies you forget the others and enjoy all the colonies of Penguins, Boobies and Cormorants.
CHAPTER D - CENTRAL ANDES TO THE AMAZON p147
1.1 - SANTA EULALIA VALLEY p147
We had some problems to bird this area, that we kept for the end of our trip the 6th of December. We came from the north on the dirt road turning left on the Marcapomacocha way, and signposted. We had snow up there, but with the sun coming we decided to take this track down to Santa Eulalia, which was not too bad, but the strong wind spoilt the birding, until the big bridge on the left over the canyon. Crossing on the bridge, the road is going up (p149), and then on the left in a right bend to Huachupampa (that's were Kolibri Expedicion goes for Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch). It was so narrow and vertiginous that we couldn't go further, and as the rainy season had begun we found it too risky to continue. We came back and drove until Santa Eulalia where there are several hotels; once there we saw that we had 2 punctures, the following day was a Sunday and it was long to repair, then we had to go back to Lima for our flight. We were glad that we had given up for Huachupampa, and it will be for another trip during the dry season.
The road to Marcapomacocha was easy to find from the tarred road, we had spent the night in San Mateo (Hostal Americas, 40S). Following the track up in the mountain, we arrived at an intersection, Marcapomacocha is on the right. Along the beginning of this road we had nice views of Dark-winged Miners building their nest (5/12), White-bellied Cinclodes and others in the bog of the right hand side. Back to the intersection, we parked 500m after it on the Santa Eulalia road, and walked down to the bog for the Sandpiper-plover, we dipped after a hard search. Back the following morning for a few hours again, we can't describe our disappointment to miss it.
1.2 - CENTRAL HIGHWAY P151
This road is good but heavy traffic. We spent 1 night in La Oroya (San Martin, 58S) and 2 nights in San Mateo. Tried several trails from the road leading to bogs around Ticlio (km129), no Sandpiper-plover, but Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes.
3 - LAGO DE JUNIN p154
It was raining so much when we arrived in the area (1/12) that we gave up, and went to Villa Rica instead, we just had time to see the Black-breasted Hillstar from the shore when we arrived to Junin from Huanuco.
4.2 - VILLA RICA p159
The valley along the road to Villa Rica is superb, and the road until Villa Rica was in good conditions. There are several hotels, we stayed at Alojamiento Turistico Villa Rica, 35S, it is in the main street and we could park the car inside. The birding sites were not all easy to find, the continuous rain and the road works made the birding difficult even with our small 4x4. We mostly birded Laguna Oconal and the Coffee plantations south of town; we had great difficulties to find the Hacienda El Carmen, asking to local people, once we found the way it was too slippery. We found the Creamy-bellied Antwren (very responsive to tape) in one of the first coffee plantation on the left-hand side south of town after Laguna Oconal. The road to La Cumbre was cut. The road to Canal de piedras was difficult to find, although the map p160 is good, just ask for the dirt road going to Oxapampa and follow the kilometers of the map.
5 - HUANUCO AREA
We didn't find any hotel between Huanuco and the Carpish Tunnel, so we slept in Huanuco where there are many good and cheap hotels, particularly outside town (to save time in the morning) because the center is too busy.
5.1 - CARPISH TUNNEL p165
Easy to find, a few forest left but still a good birding site, several visits.
5.2 - PATY TRAIL p167
Easy to find too after the tunnel, better the week-end because during the week donkeys carrying goods go up and down. Difficult at times, but very good.
5.3 - BOSQUE UNCHOG p167
Visited 2 times. The best road saving a few kms is taking the road from Huanuco to the pay-toll, but after 17km in a place called TARUCA, turn left at a small blue sign saying CASCAY on a dirt road, after the bridge take right and follow until Cochabamba, the road is good (and there are taxis on it); a 4x4 is needed to go from Cochabamba to Bosque Unchog, it wasn't too muddy and our small Suzuki was good. Once in Cochabamba we met a man who described the way up, he said that we would have to pay on the way back, but we never found where to pay and when we asked to the people nobody knew this; just follow the dirt road up the village, at the 1st fork take left, at the 2nd fork take right. There is a house at the end with a family working at their fish pond.
Pass through the house, and follow the trail, with the bogs on the right, then going down through some forest where we had a very good flock. Once on the flat part you walk until you pass a big rock, and have a slope down on each side; the right side, more or less from the rock and for about 100m is the place to look for or hear the Golden-collared Tanager (a Kolibri group was there and that's what they were doing), we missed it the 2 times. Getting down the valley (still on the right) to the bushes bordering the forest is where to look for the Rufous-browed Hemispingus, we had 2 of them. Rufous Antpitta and Neblina Tapaculo here too but didn't come to view.
8 - CORDILLERA BLANCA p180
8.2 - LAGUNAS LLANGANUCO p183
18-19/10 - Very good and nice birding site. We stayed in Yungay at Hostal Sol de Oro, 25S. The dirt road to Huascaran NP is just before Yungay entrance (from south). The birding is from the road and the Valqui's map is good. Good birding before and after the barrier at the park entrance (Ancash Tapaculo).We saw Striated Earthcreeper an Many-striped Canastero on the left side between Llanganuco lakes and Yurac corral.
8.3 - ABRA PORTACHUELO p182
Still in the national park, the road goes up steeply after Yurrac corral and becomes very narrow at the pass (very misty), then goes downhill. Very quiet during our visit.
8.4 - PUEBLO LIBRE p184
The description in the book is good; we took right just after the town in late morning, and not very far we had a quick response of the Great Inca-finch, and subspecies of Pale-tailed Canastero, and saw Black-necked Woodpecker.
8.5 - HUAYLAS p185
At about 7-8km there is a small purple shrine on the left; here a small path goes uphill in the ravine, Great Inca-finch. We saw the Rufous-backed Inca-finch easily around km12.
To go back to the main road don't pass through Huaylas and prefer the way back, because the road after Huaylas is in hairpins and very, very long.
CHAPTER E : THE NORTHWEST : TUMBES AREA p189
4.2 - LIMON p201
One of our best birding site (1-2/11). In Olmos we stayed in the good Hospedaje Monterrico, 40S. The road has changed so the book is wrong. From Olmos take the road to Piura, at the km marker 115 on the left, you'll see a sign "Quebrada Frefolillo" on the right. Take right and follow the sandy track, passing in acacia bushes remembering african savanna. Several stops gave good birds; once in the small village of Limon, ask for the house of Lino Rico, who is the person who will show you where the birding site is. If he is not here, follow the main road and just before the cemetery there is a big sign Quebrada Frejolillo on the right. Take this track which becomes gravelled for about 1,300km, but it is not so obvious sometimes. We drove there guided by Lino, we installed our tent here, and then went for a walk with him further on until some trails where we dipped on the Guan, but it was a hot afternoon. Lino left us and we birded alone in the evening and saw 1 White-winged Guan, Scrub Nightjar and others. Lino came back at dawn and we spent the morning with him, an excellent birding with more guans, Tumbes Tyrant, White-edged Oriole and many others. Lino fixed the price at 100S.
4.3 - ABRA PORCULLA p203
Follow the book; at Limon de Porculla take on the left on a track going up with a sign "San Pedro de Landa". We saw most of the specialities at 1km400 from the beginning of the track.
5.1 - MOCUPE p205-206
Very good site, but the book is confusing. Coming from Mocupe to Chiclayo, you'll see the road to Zana on the right before Nuevo Mocupe; further on the left there is a good asphalted road going to Rafan, before the km marker 748. Drive for 8km and you arrive in a little zone of bushes where we spent 2 great hours watching most of the specials and more.
6.1 - CHAO p210
The map is good, we didn't see any plantcutter, but the Spinetail and Tyrant site is still OK, although a few vegetation is remaining; Band-winged Nightjar easy on the ground inside the bushes;
6.2 - SINSICAP p211
The description of the road is good, but for the Spinetail site in Sinsicap the best is to follow the trip report Hesse 2006; there was nothing written anymore on the big concrete board at Sinsicap entrance, but the trail is obvious and Hesse's description is very good, Russet-bellied Spinetail very responsive. No hotels in Sinsicap, someone proposed us a repulsive room that we refused, but the policemen offered us to camp on their terrain for free, they were very nice with us and we used their bathroom, there is a small restaurant in front of the station. They have some rooms too and they would give us one, but there was a festival for the week-end and they had more collegues arriving.
We then followed the road to San Ignacio and Otuzco until the Trujillo, but we were a little bit nervous because it was very long (but beautiful), rough at times, and with several crosses without indications. No Tinamou seen, but a few other birds.
CHAPTER F : MARANON AND UPPER HUALLAGA p219
1.1 - RIO CHONTA p220
You can join the site from Cajamarca, going to the airport following the road passing around and following Combayo. We prefered to stay in Baños del Inca, Hostal Posada del Inca, 25S. On the Celendin road turn left after 2km at the sign ACP.Otuzco, follow always straight and you'll recognize the site; we went there 3 times (25-26+30/10) and missed the Gray-bellied Comet. The best flowering zone was at the end of the canyon just before the dam. A few other birds, but always a very strong wind.
1.2 - SAN MARCOS p222
We slept in Celendin. The description of the site is good, but the trail is at km57. We followed it straight on, taped the Buff-bridled Inca-Finch on the right side along the ravine, a pair answered and came from the other slope to us. Further on the trail, we found the area burnt and were hopeless for the Spinetail, but at the end of the burnt zone one answered quickly.
1.3 - EL MOLINO p223
24/10- Before taking this road we slept in Huamachuco at Hostal Huamachuco, 50S. This was a very long trip (El Molino is at 80km from the road split from Sausacocha lake); it could have been different if we had more details, for example we discovered that there is a basic hotel-restaurant in Yanasara at 20km from the lake split before the river crossing. That's where we stayed on the way back, Hotel Tracy 30S. But further on at halfway there is a town called Chagay where there are some hotels too (we repaired a puncture there). They are improving the road so we were stopped by the roadworks, but most of the road was very bumpy. Anyway we joined El Molino at midday and parked at the small trail on the left 500m after the village, we quickly found the Purple-backed Sunbeam and had Unicolored Tapaculo and Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch.
1.6 - CRUZ CONGA p225
Spencer's trip report describes the site quite well, but despite our efforts we didn't find the Antpitta, because we forgot to take the sound of the cajamarcae subspecies on Xeno-canto, and it is different from the others. White-tailed Shrike-tyrant easy along the road.
2.1 - CELENDIN p227
We tried 2 hotels, the older Hostal Celendin 40S and the modern Hostal Imperial 30S, both have a car park. Between our 2 nights in Celendin we spent 2 nights in Leimebamba. The map p228 is good.
Note that we stopped for the night the 30/10 in Tembladera about 100km south of Cajamarca, at Hospedaje Don Lucho, 50S. From our room, in the main street, we saw several Tumbes Swallows perched on the electric wires at the end of the afternoon.
2.2 - HACIENDA LIMON p229
Follow the road from Celendin to Balsas; we lost some time at the Thornbird site for nothing, the best is to go until Hacienda Limon, in fact the place is called Lucma. From the junction there are 6km to drive until Lucma where we parked our car at the end at the football terrain. We followed the indications of Hesse and Spencer, took a small trail on the left from the football ground until the waypoint S6°50'01" W78°05'15" and saw the Gray-winged Inca-finch there. Andean Emeralds, Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet in the area too. Chestnut-backed Thornbird in the trees before Lucma entrance.
2.3 - BALSAS p229
Following the road, Buff-bridled Inca-Finch easy in the bombax forest, a flight of Yellow-faced Parrotlet in the same area. Good birds along the river before the bridge which is at km336,5.
2.4 - BALSAS TO LEIMEBAMBA p231
We put on km0 at the bridge before Balsas. At 42,5km from the bridge, between marker 378 and 379, there is a stream on the left side : Blackish Tapaculo and Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. At the end of the car park at marker 390 before 2 yellow stakes on the left, a Coppery Metaltail responded to the tape. At marker km408 there is a trail on the left leading to a good patch of forest. We missed the Russet-mantled Softtail, sadly we had not found the sound on Xeno-canto probably because we made a mistake when taping the name. All the road was OK and not muddy when we were ther, the 27-28/10. We stayed 2 nights in Leimebamba (wich is at km425) at Hostal La Congona 30S.
2.5 - UTCUBAMBA VALLEY p232
From Leimebamba we took the Pedro Ruiz road, bordering the river during several kilometers, we saw Marañon Thrush and Torrent Duck (with chicks). We drove until the Kuelap ruins, that we found without interest, but we saw a few nice birds in the trees inside the archeological site, all seen in other sites anyway. So we don't recommend this trip unless you love ruins. Sadly we discovered later that close to the ruins is the Estancia Chillo, a hotel where the groups go and see the Koepcke's Screech-Owl at a daytime roost. Before Leimebamba entrance, don't miss Kentikafe, wich is in front of the museum. Here you can drink a coffee and enjoy several feeders full of hummers, with the Marvelous Spatuletail.
3.1 - LAGO POMACOCHAS p235
We stayed at Hostal Camajicita in La Florida, 35S, and left our car in the street in front of the nearby police station with the agreement of the policemen. We didn't take the time to visit the lake shore.
3.2 - THE MARVELOUS SPATULETAIL SITE p235
Although we had seen the bird in Leimebamba we visited the few remnant forest of this site, we didn't see the Spatuletail here but had some good birds anyway.
3.3 - RIO CHIDO TRAIL p236
Wake up early to go there, it's a long walk. Spencer's trip report is essential for this site, but we just have to change the waypoint of the departure of the trail. South of La Florida we took the dirt road and followed it along the river until an obvious trail on the left WP 05°49'50" W78°00'05". Take this trail and just follow Spencer's explanations wich are good. Once arrived at the clearing wich is just before the bamboos, there is a house there. We asked to the young women if we could pass and visit the bamboos, she agreed. We spent some time along the ravine on the left side, Large-footed and Ash-colored Tapaculo, White-capped Tanager, Plain-tailed Wren , Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher and others, but no Antpitta. We missed the Softtail too as we still had not the sound to tape it. After several hours we came back to the house as there was a man looking at us, we went to meet him; he is used to see birdwatchers looking for the Antpitta, and we heard one calling not far from the house while we were speaking; we followed him until the place and went inside the bamboos, he saw the bird wich flew away before we saw it; we stayed a long time taping it, it was close but we couldn't find it so it was a real disappointment.
4.1 - ABRA PATRICIA (THE PASS) p238
7 to 11/11. We followed the main road from La Florida, quite busy with trucks. Once at the pass there is the Owlet Lodge on the left. We stopped here and spoke to the guard Domingo. The 1st good news is that he is the owner of the restaurant El Bosque at km361 before the pass, and that he is OK if we put our tent here for free. That's what we did one night, but it was so noisy (restaurant, traffic, dogs) that the other nights we camped under a shelter at his brother in law's house (km362), Roberto, who is a very good guide of the Owlet Lodge. The 2nd and very good news is that you can bird the trails inside the lodge, you just have to pay an entrance fee of 15$ only once even if you stay several days. This includes some walks with Roberto (anyway when we were there, the lodge was empty), and we planned a walk with him at dusk for the Long-whiskered Owlet (We had to walk 2,5km in the forest). It was a bright clear evening, and we were very hopeful. As we were leaving for the walk, a birder (we won't say his name)arrived to the lodge and asked us if he could join us, we politely agreed, but we quickly had some regrets as he wasn't very fit and stopped several times for smoking, so we had to wait. When we arrived on the site, Roberto, who knows the bird very well, prefered to wait until 11pm for taping the bird, during this time he showed us a Rufescent Screech-Owl; then we taped the Owlet very slowly and the bird answered. Roberto said that the bird is very shy so the sound has to be very low; but the other birdwatcher put it loudly and was very noisy when moving; anyway after a while the bird came just above us and Roberto began to spotlight and trying to find it, we vere very confiant because he has very good eyes, who could have thought that the other guy would put his strong torch on, wich flushed the bird and made him sweared loudly! This happened so fast, and we were so petrified of what happened, that we couldn't believe it! Roberto was really upset, we tried another site on the way back but had no answer, and Roberto was very disappointed... so were we.
Note : Ciro, the manager of the lodge is a very nice and interesting person, giving us informations although we were not his guests, and he had no worries about the fact that we camped in Roberto's house.
Oche-fronted Antpitta was on the small trail in front of the entrance gate of the lodge, ask to the guard. We taped and the bird came straight above us on a branch.
We birded several parts of the road after the pass, but the traffic is dense and it is really not pleasant at times.
4.3 -CAMPAMENTO GARCIA p240
We didn't see all these trails shown on the book around Alto Nieva; when you follow the road until km373, you see a small gate and the area is fenced; it is owned by the Owlet Lodge and you have to ask them for the key; we went there 2 times alone passing under the fence, and another time with Roberto for some owling. We stayed a long time on the hill on the left waiting for the Royal Sunangel in vain. We saw it quite easily at km371,5, when the road passes between 2 rocky hills (explained in Goodle's report). We climbed the rocks (short and easy) on the left side and quickly saw the bird in the flowers upthere.
4.5 - AFLUENTE p242
A good site, birding is along the road but interesting even if we missed the Ash-throated Antwren. The car park is at km389, bring some food as the restaurant is now closed (but sells petrol), but the birding is between km388,5 to 390,5. After the km390 there is a trail on the left leading to a Cock-of-the-Rock lek that we can hear from the road.
4.6 - AGUAS VERDES p244
12/11 - The town of Aguas Verdes is at km401. We stayed at Hotel Molino, 30S in Nuevo Cajamarca (km449) wich is quite far after this site, but we saw an Hospedaje at km408 at Aguas Claras.
As you cross Aguas Verdes coming from Afluente, turn left at the end of town on a straight large street where there is a shop at the corner (and a restaurant just before it). Follow this street and stop before it crosses a stream, don't cross it because you'll be stuck! Park here, put your boots on and go ahead after the stream, passing 3 houses; we asked to the people here and they showed us the trail, on the right after the houses through the fields, there is a small sandy and wet path in the grasses, it follows a stream. The vegetation is very interesting here, and leads to a small forest; it was quiet because it was late in the morning and hot, but we had Zimmer's Antbird and a few others; a Moriche Oriole in the palm trees.
5 - MOYOBAMBA AREA p245
This site is not in the Valqui's book, but is in Spencer's report, and was recommended by Ciro from the Owlet Lodge. From Moyobamba we took the road to the thermal pools at about 4km; before the fork on the right you'll see a track with a sign Orquideario Wakanqui, owned by Ciro's parents, and they are building some rooms in their garden. They have feeders for hummers. If you follow the main track, leaving the orquideario on the right, you pass some plantations and arrive in a good forest, this track was very promising and Ciro told us that there is a long birdlist here; sadly we saw very few birds during our full day here.
Just before the entrance of the thermal pools on the right is the Hotel Rumipata where we stayed 4 nights (15 to 18/11) in a good bungalow for 50S. The owners are japanese and we had each day very good diners; food is sold from stalls at the therms entrance, easy for lunch. We explored some trails from the road at the back of the hotel (the road to Jepelacio, on the right of the fork), and had Uniform Crake and Chestnut-throated Spinetail.
5.1 - RIOJA p246
2 nights at Rioja in the very good Hotel Bombonaje, 50S. Our birding was at the Complejo Turistitico Yacumama (http://www.yacumama.com.pe/), wich is signposted on the right side of the road from Moyobamba to Rioja, about 10km before Rioja. This complex offers a restaurant open for lunch, some pools, a river and a good choice of habitats; we saw the Point-tailed Palmcreeper after the entrance gate on the right side at the rear of the 2nd pool. Many birds to find, inside and outside the complex, one of the best birding of our trip. There is a hotel just nearby with bungalows, but during the weekends it is full and very noisy. It could be a good choice in week days.
5.2 - MORRO DE CALZADA p247
Easy to find with the Valqui's explanations, and signposted. Good site and nice trail to the top, we had a good list, probably better to avoid weekends.
6 - TARAPOTO p253
We had a nice room at Hotel El Mirador, 60S from 19 to 21/11. We explored the sites from here.
6.1 - JUAN GUERRA p254
Good description of the site in the book; Northern Slaty-Antshrike huallagae race and Stripe-chested Antwren very responsive;
6.2 - QUEBRADA UPAQUIHUA p255
Rather good birding in the most mosquitoes infested area of the trip; that combined with the heath made us stop the birding at 11am, but we saw several species not seen elsewhere.
From Tarapoto we took the road called CARRETERA DE LA SELVA CENTRAL south until Tingo Maria, after having contacted several policemen who told us that it was safe. The road was tarred until Buenos Aires, then gravel but good. We slept in a basic but good hotel in the middle at Puerto Pizarro (Alojamiento Oasis, 15S), making several good birding stops (for ex. colony of Sand-coloured Nighthawks along the river). There is no more forest after Puerto Pizarro.
6.3 - THE TUNNEL p256
A nice tarred road all along to Yurimaguas passes through some forest and the tunnel is easily joined. We took a small trail going up on the right before the tunnel at km18. We went there 3 times, we had rain, mist and a strong wind each time and the birding was lost. We managed to see a few birds but none of the target species.
7 - MIDDLE MARANON p257
7.1 - BAGUA CHICA p258
We spend 1 night (4/11) at Hotel Emperador, 35S. It was very hot. Before the entrance of Bagua Chica you'll see the km14; 200m after there is a track on the left going up to the scrub area, or there is a short cut on foot 600m on the road after the track at a white concrete thing. A pair of Little Inca-Finch answered to the tape on the top at WP S05°37'28" W78°32'21".
7.5 - LAS JUNTAS (TAMBORAPA) p262
We stayed 1 night in Jaen at Hostal Internacional, 50S. From there we took the road to Tamborapa until the km67, and 650m after there is a small trail in a bend on the left just before the guardrail, and a place to park on the right of the road just before it. The birding was interesting, with Marañon Spinetail, Marañon Crescentchest, Pallid Dove and many others.