Peru offers the opportunity to discover new species in remote zones hardly explored or unexplored at all. In 1973 only 1,542 bird species were known in the country; today this figure rises up to 1,816 species. This is a considerable increase for 30 years and several of them have been described as new ones.
On the other hand, Peru offers renown places for birdwatching, from the Pacific shores and the mangrove swamps to the dry forests, the high Andes and the Amazon.
SOME RENOWN PLACES
In my opinion, the most spectacular places are Paracas National Reserve, Tumbes, the Junín Lake, the Titicaca Lake, Pacaya - Samiria National Reserve and Madre de Dios.
Paracas National Reserve and its surroundings are the ideal place to watch marine birds, especially at the guano islands as well as on the desert. As a Ramsar site it is also an interesting spot to watch migratory birds. In the area it is possible to observe around 200 species and also the bird populations of the guano islands.
Tumbes is ideal to watch the birds of the mangrove swamps and the tropical Pacific coasts as well as birds from the equatorial dry forest in the Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary. Here it is possible to watch more than 60 bird species that are endemic to the dry forests and the Pacific tropical forests.
The Junín Lake is located in the central highlands and can be reached by car from Lima. It is one of the places to observe Andean aquatic birds, among them the endemic Junin Grebe as well as numerous species of the high Andean plateau around the lake.
The Titicaca Lake is one of the most interesting places to watch Andean aquatic and land birds, with more than 80 species. The Short-winged Titicaca Grebe, an endemic species, and the widest variety of ducks are outstanding.
The Pacaya - Samiria National Reserve in Loreto is a paradise for Amazon aquatic and forest birds. Here it is possible to watch more than 450 species, besides other fauna as dolphins, otters, primates and many others. It can be reached from the city of Iquitos.
Madre de Dios has numerous and spectacular places for bird watching from the Manu National Park to the Tambopata River. It is one of the regions in the world with the highest diversity of birds: In one square km it is possible to observe nearly 500 species. This is the ideal place to watch Macaws and the Harpy Eagle.
ROUTE 1: CHICLAYO - CHAPARRÍ (CHONGOYAPE) - OLMOS - PIURA - TUMBES.
This route offers the possibility to watch dry forest birds in the Private Area of Chaparrí (70 km away from Chiclayo, with 187 species, being 47 of them endemic); the breeding place of the endemic White-winged Guan in Olmos; birds from the tropical sea in the mangrove swamps in Tumbes; and birds from the dry forests and tropical forests in the Tumbes Reserved Zone. Estimated time: At least one week.
ROUTE 2: CHICLAYO - CHAPARRÍ - OLMOS - MARAÑÓN VALLEY - POMACOCHAS - RIOJA - MOYOBAMBA - TARAPOTO - YURIMAGUAS.
One can get there driving on asphalt roads. This route is ideal to watch the birds from the coastal deserts and the dry forests, even those from the Marañón valley (with endemic species), the Amazon cloud forests and the Yurimaguas low jungle. From here it is possible to navigate the Marañón and the Amazon rivers until reaching Iquitos. This route offers numerous endemic species from all ecological levels, among them the marvelous spatuletail. Estimated time: At least two weeks.
ROUTE 3: LIMA - HUARAZ - CHAVÍN DE HUANTAR - HUARI AND HUASCARÁN NATIONAL PARK.
This route offers birdwatchers the Konococha Lagoon, the Polylepis forests of the Huascarán National Park, the birds related to the Puya Raimondi and the regions of the Andean mountain range. In Chavín and Huari it is possible to watch birds from the interandean valleys as well as from the Marañón dry forest. Estimated time: At least one week.
ROUTE 4: LIMA - OROYA - JUNÍN - HUÁNUCO - CARPISH - TINGO MARÍA - PUCALLPA.
This route is spectacular to observe birds from the coastal desert, the Andean slopes, the Junín Lake, the high Andean plateau, the dry valley in Huánuco, the high altitude forests in Carpish, the cloud forest in Tingo María (including the oilbird) and even the low jungle in Pucallpa. Estimated time: At least one week.
ROUTE 5: LIMA - OROYA - CHANCHAMAYO - OXAPAMPA - POZUZO - PALCAZÚ.
This is a route with a great variety of birds, where it is worthwhile the visit to the Vitoc Valley (Chanchamayo). Along the route from Oxapampa to Pozuzo you have to drive through the Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park, that has 435 registered species (among them the Peruvian cock-of-the-rock). From Pozuzo it is possible to go to the Palcazú Valley and Puerto Mairo, in order to watch birds from the cloud forest and the low jungle. Estimated time: At least ten days.
ROUTE 6: LIMA - PARACAS - NASCA - PUNTA SAN FERNANDO - MARCONA - PAMPA GALERAS - ABANCAY - CUSCO.
This route is ideal to watch marine birds (Paracas) from the desert valleys (Nasca), the sea (Marcona and Punta San Fernando with condors), the high Andean plateau (Pampa Galeras), the interandean forests (Abancay, Ampay with endemic species) and the dry valleys of Apurímac. Estimated time: At least one week.
ROUTE 7: LIMA - JULIACA - PUNO - CUSCO - PUERTO MALDONADO.
In this route one can observe birds from the Titicaca Lake, the high Andean plateaus and the Madre de Dios jungle. It is worthwhile to go from Puerto Maldonado to one of the many lodges in the forest along the Tambopata River. One can also watch the giant otter of the Amazon (Sandoval and Tres Chimbadas lakes) and other species such as primates. It is possible to visit the palm savannas along the left margin in the Heath River in the Bahuaja - Sonene National Park. Estimated time: At least one week.
ROUTE 8: LIMA - CUSCO - PAUCARTAMBO - PILCOPATA - SHINTUYA - MANU NATIONAL PARK.
This is an ideal route to watch the birds of the interandean valleys and the cloud forest on the eastern slope of the Andes, between Akanaku and Pilcopata. This is the best place to observe the Peruvian cock-of-the-rock and other birds.
In the lower region 500 bird species from the tropical Amazon forests can be seen. From Cusco one can go to Machu Picchu and watch unique birds in the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, close to the archeological site, besides more than 300 orchid species. Estimated time: At least two weeks.
There are around 50 million birdwatchers in the world. If only 1% on them would visit Peru, tourism would considerably increase. Let us work together and promote Peru internationally as THE COUNTRY FOR BIRDWATCHING.
* ANTONIO BRACK EGG,
UNDP Advisor specialized in environmental issues.
He had published several books and articles about natural resources, biodiversity and other themes related to environment. He has also been Advisor of many international institutions such as FAO, COTESU, USAID, DSE, GTZ, and IADB, and an UNDP Director for projects in Surinam, Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.