Peru's Central Birdwatching Route offers an interesting alternative to the Northern and Southern routes and requires less time. This is basically an altitudinal transect that covers a series of zones of life which are, in several cases, exclusive to the central section of our highly diverse country.
This route is accessible overland from the city of Lima (with no need to fly) and depending on the time available it is possible to extend the exploration eastwards, descending down to the Amazonian plain that surrounds the city of Pucallpa. In general, the route goes from west to east, gaining height rapidly as it crosses the Central Andes.
This route offers a wide range of alternatives for birdwatching, thanks to the number of zones of life and habitats that can be found along the way. The accommodation is mostly made up of simple hostels located in the major cities and towns, as well as campsites in the more isolated destinations.
At various points along the route it is possible to see interesting endemic species, such as the Golden-backed Mountain Tanager (Buthraupisaureodorsalis) and the Junin Grebe (Podicepstaczanowski). In the 1980s, the legendary North American field ornithologist Ted A. Parker III made the route of the Central Highway famous, including Santa Eulalia Canyon, Marcapomacocha Lagoon, the Milloc Bog, Ticlio, or Abra Anticona, at more than 4,800 masl, Lake Junin, Unchog Forest, Carpish Tunnel and mountains, Tingo María National Park (with the accessible Guácharos Caves) and the lowlands of the Amazonian plain that surrounds Pucallpa, located on the banks of the River Ucayali, one of the two main tributaries of the River Amazon.
From Pucallpa it is possible to travel to the Cerros del Sira, a chain of mountains separate from the Andes, where the Sira Tanager (Tangara phillipsi) can be found, or towards the basin of the River Cushabatay, in search of the Scarlet-banded Barbet (Capito Wallacei).
Other destinations on this route are those places that can be explored on a day trip from the city of Lima.
From Lima there are several options:
- Excursion from the ports of Callao or Pucusana (50 km south) to observe pelagic and semi-pelagic birds.
- Visiting the protected area of Pantanos de Villa on the southern edge of the city;
- The Ventanilla Wetlands, on the northern edge of the city (near the airport);
- Lomas de Lachay National Reserve, 100 km to the north and/or the beach and wetlands of Paraíso (km 130 from the Pan-American Highway North).
- This route also takes us to the Valley of Chanchamayo and its towns (San Ramón, La Merced, Oxapampa, Villa Rica and Pozuzo). By traveling along the west-east transept from the coast, it is possible to observe the changes as you cross the peaks of the central chain of the Andes and descend towards the Andean Piedmont of the eastern flank, which is much more humid and diverse than the western slopes.