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 covering a series of life zones that are, in several cases, unique 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, rising rapidly as it crosses the Central Andes.
The route offers a wide range of opportunities for birdwatchers, thanks to the number of life zones 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 (Buthraupis aureodorsalis) and the Junin Grebe (Podiceps taczanowskii). In the 1980s, the legendary North American field ornithologist Ted A. Parker III made the route of the Carretera Central (Central Highway) famous, including Santa Eulalia valley, Marcapomacocha Lagoon, the Milloc bog, Ticlio or Anticona pass, 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 surround Pucallpa, located on the banks of the Ucayali river, 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 Cushabatay river, in search of the Scarlet-banded Barbet (Capito wallacei).
Other destinations on this route include 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 on the Panamericana Norte).
- This route also takes us to the Valley of Chanchamayo and its towns (San Ramón, La Merced, Oxapampa, Villa Rica and Pozuzo). By travelling 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 foothills on the eastern slopes, which are much more humid and diverse than the western slopes.