These two areas can be visited as separate day tours from Lima, but due to the extreme altitude of the latter localities it makes more sense to save these areas to the end of the Central Peru trip so that one is more accustomed to the altitude, or as an add-on after birding elsewhere in Peru at higher altitudes. In the Santa Eulalia and Rimac drainage there are no less than 15 endemic species. Some of the most sought are Great Inca-Finch, Rufous-breasted Warbling-FInch, White-cheeked Cotinga, Bronze-tailed Comet, Black-necked Woodpecker, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, Rufous-belled Brush-FInch, Black-breasted Hillstar, Dark-winged Miner and Junin Canastero.
The lower part of the valley as it narrows into a canyon change from riverine agricultural orchards with avocado and chirimoya to steeper xerophytic steep slopes with scrub and cactus, is where you look for the Inca-Finch and Thick-billed Miner. It is also a good area for the special hummingbird - Peruvian Sheartail. Higher up closer to the villages San Pedro de Casta and Huachupampa (both have basic lodging) there are denser scrub areas that are needed for the Warbling-Finch. Close to the top there is a Polylepis Woodland with White-cheeked Cotinga and Black Metaltail can be seen. Between Huachupampa and the Polylepis woodland one needs to look out for Condors which is surprisingly abundant here only some three hours from Lima.
Once passing the first pass it opens up close to the Marcapomacocha turn-off with several peat bogs that are good for White-bellied Cinclodes and Dark-winged Miner. Here we take a right turn to get back to the main Central Highway above Casapalca. Along this stretch is the best place to look for Diademed Sandpiper-Plover and just before coming out on the main road there is thorny scrub on the side of the road that often attracts Black-breasted Hillstar.
Text by Gunnar Engblom.