The Central Peru Birding Route. More Endemics at less cost

Central Peru, in spite of being one the first birding routes in Peru that was promoted for birders, in a seminal three part article by legendary Ted Parker in ABA’s Birding Magazine about the Central Highway in the early 1980s. (Check details), it is strangely enough perhaps the least known itinerary for birders today. And this is a shame. With 25 years since Ted Parker’s demise in a tragic air accident in Ecuador, it is about time the Central Peru Birding Route gets its place on the map.

From Parker’s days, albeit the habitat has been more affected by deforestation, the route has far better infra-structure and most of the birds are still there. The best part about Central Peru is that one does not have to fly to get there. There are frequent comfortable sleeper long haul busses, that can take you to tropics in 8-10 hours while you are sound asleep and this way get a gradual exposure to the altitude. Also, it saves you a fair bit of money both that there is no need for domestic flights as well as the lodging, even though it often is very comfortable, often costs considerably less than in Southern or Northern Peru. Having said that, you could also fly to Huanuco for the northern arm of Central Highway if you prefer that, but if you are part of a group that travels overland you would need one more day.

There are four distinct areas to mention for Central Peru which require a minimum of days noted in parenthesis. 1. Junin Lake/Carpish/Unchog/Tingo Maria (5 days), 2. Chanchamayo/Oxapampa/Villa Rica/Satipo road (5 days), 3. Santa Eulalia Canyon&Ticlio/Marcapomacocha road (2 days) and Cordillera Blanca (3 days). Tour agencies typically put all areas together in a three week trip, but some tour companies also offer a smorgasbord approach where you can combine shorter trips put back to back or stand-alone if you lack the time. What follows here are short descriptions of the different areas.

Text by Gunnar Engblom.