Scenically breathtaking with stunning birdlife, the Andes conjure up a mouth-watering birding feast. Soaring Andean Condors above high peaks in clear blue skies and Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers on mineral-rich bogs with the sound of Seedsnipe echoing in the valley. These are the magical experiences of this trip. In just few days we shall visit, not only the high Puna grasslands but also the arid Pacific coast with its endemic species, the stunning Lauca National Park and fit in a Humboldt Current pelagic trip and look for the critically endangered Chilean Woodstar.
29th Oct - 3rd Nov 2018
28th Oct - 2nd Nov 2019
Request price and itinerary on “Contact Form” or email
This tour is limited to a group of 6 to 10 participants with one tour leader.
Pre-Tour: Easter Island or Robinson Crusoe Island
Private trips can be organized as request
North of Chile
Lauca National Park and North Chile specialties
29th OCT ARRIVAL IN SANTIAGO
Most international flights to Santiago of Chile are during the night. As they arrive early morning participants will be able to spend a relaxing first day in a hotel close to the airport. During the afternoon their guide will meet them at the hotel in order to explain, discuss and answer last questions regarding itinerary or any necessary detail before beginning this fantastic trip.
DAY 1. 30th OCT. BIRDING IN ARICA VALLEYS
Early in the morning we will fly from Santiago to the city of Arica which is right next to the Peruvian border. This first portion or northern extreme of Chile is known as the “Big North” containing the vast Atacama Desert and the High Andean steppes of the Altiplano.
Although located in the driest desert on earth we will start birding in Arica´s surroundings. This is only possible because of the existence of rivers and small water courses fed by runoff from the High Andes allowing the existence of fertile valleys, well-cultivated flood plains that form rich oasis in this harsh environment.
Our most important target species will be hummingbirds (Trochilidae): Sturdy Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail and the critically endangered Chilean Woodstar (world’s population estimated at 350 individuals) (The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017). In order to look for this scarce and stunning little bird it will be necessary to visit Camarones Valley in southern Arica where an important part of the population of Chilean Woodstar occurs.
In this same valley participants will be able to sight other unique birds species like Pied-crested Tit-Tytant, Tamarugo Conebill and the new species of bird described for Chile Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch.
After lunch, birding will take place along the coastline at the estuary of one of the most important rivers in the region, Lluta River. The main target species here will be shorebirds, hopefully Killdeer, Snowy Plover, American and Blackish Oystercatchers, Surfbird, Willet and a beautiful species selection of Gulls and Terns.
DAY 2. 31st OCT. PELAGIC TRIP AND BIRDING ON THE WAY TO PUTRE
This day´s schedule starts with an enjoyable 6 hours pelagic trip. Sailing into the Humboldt Current will allow visitors to spot many sub-Antarctic species of seabirds and warm water Petrels.
During navigation it is possible to find Salvin's, Buller's and Black-Browed Albatross, Northern Giant-Petrel, White-Chinned and Westland Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Elliott´s Storm-Petrel, Markham's Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving Petrel, Humboldt Penguin, Chilean Skua and Swallow-tailed Gull. Inshore species should include Red-Legged and Guanay Cormorants, the splendid Inca Tern, Peruvian Boobies and Peruvian Pelican.
A tasty lunch at a restaurant on the beach will be waiting for the group after the pelagic trip. Later, with birding stops on the way, the plan considers heading to the arable areas outside Arica and then to the town of Putre. During this ride we will be searching for some specialties like the impressive Peruvian Thick-knee, Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Groove-Billed Ani, Burrowing Owl, Andean Swift, Peruvian Elaenia (the form here of White-Crested Elaenia), Vermilion Flycatcher, local race of Bran-Coloured Flycatcher (a strong candidate for a future split), Cinereous Conebill, Chestnut-Throated Seedeater, Blue-Black Grassquit, Slender-Billed Finch and Peruvian Meadowlark and much more.
After this intensive birding day we will spend the night in the beautiful town of Putre. With an altitude of 3.500 m a.s.l. (11.483 ft) Putre will be the gateway for next day’s adventures at the high elevation Andean ecosystems.
DAY 3. 1st NOV. FULL DAY AT LAUCA NATIONAL PARK
In the heart of the Altiplano of the region of Arica-Parinacota and about 50 kilometers away from Putre it is possible to find Lauca National Park a spot of outstanding natural beauty. It was declared part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) in 1981. The towering snow-capped volcanoes of Pomerape and Parinacota soar to over 6.300 m a.s.l. (11.811 ft) and they reflect perfectly in the deep blue water of Chungara and Cotacotani Lakes, both, important attractions of the park. However, the highlight of this excursion is the dazzling Chungara Lake one of the highest altitude lakes in the world. It delights visitors with its impressive landscape and its hordes of amazing and unique species of birds.
Some of the birds present in this habitat are; Andean Grebe (the form here of Silvery Grebe), Puna Teal and Giant Coot along with a variety of species of ducks and Andean Gulls. While driving up to the lakes we will search in the high altitude bogs for the stunning and difficult to find Diademed Sandpiper Plover. Other target birds for this area are; Puna Rhea, Andean Flicker, White-Winged Cinclodes, Black Siskin, Puna Tinamou, Puna Ibis, Andean Goose, Mountain Caracara, Andean Lapwing, Puna Plover, Andean Avocet, Andean Gull, Puna Miner, Puna and White Fronted Ground-Tyrants, Andean Negrito, White-Winged Diuca-Finch and White-Throated Sierra-Finch. We will also be looking for Flamingos, and with some luck we will be able to spot all three of its species: Chilean, Andean and Puna. At the end of an excellent and adventurous day we return to our lodge in Putre.
DAY 4. 2nd NOV. BIRDING IN PUTRE AND RETURN TO ARICA
We will spend the morning around the andean village and we will be looking for Bare-Faced Ground-Dove, White-Throated Earthcreeper, Yellow-Billed Tit Tyrant, Canyon and Dark-Winged Canastero, Blue-and-Yellow Tanager, Cream-Winged and White-Winged Cinclodes, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, D'Orbigny's and White-Browed Chat-Tyrants, Chiguanco Thrush, Black-Throated Flower-Piercer, Golden- Billed Saltator, Black-Hooded and Ash-Breasted Sierra-Finches along with Greenish Yellow-Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater and maybe Ornate Tinamou and Spot-winged Pigeon. We will then drive slowly down the windy mountain road back to Arica looking for any birds we may have missed on the way to Putre. We will then return to our hotel in Arica.
In the early morning of this day we will visit for the last time the Luta river estuary. After this we will take our flight back to Santiago.
Night in Santiago.