Northern Andes & Marañon Endemics Birding 6-Day Tour

  • Six-day Birding Tour taking in huge variety of altitudes, eco-systems and bird species

  • Based in lodge overlooking Gocta Waterfall and at museum-hotel in Leymebamba

  • Includes visit to magnificent Gocta Falls & option to see Kuelap Ruins, 'Machu Picchu of North' 


Day 1: Arrive Cocachimba. Overnight at Gocta Lodge.
Day 2: Gocta Falls (High Path). Overnight at Gocta Lodge.
Day 3: Rio Chido & Huembo. Overnight at Gocta Lodge.
Day 4: Kuelap or Gocta Falls (Low Path). Overnight at Casa Mallqui, Leymebamba.
Day 5: Abra Negro & Upper Marañon. Overnight at Casa Mallqui, Leymebamba.
Day 6: Atuen Valley & Leymebamba.


Below prices are per person, based on double occupancy. All accommodation, transport, excursions, stated meals & English-speaking birding guide included.
NB. Discounts for larger groups.

ItineraryLengthPrices From
6 Days£1,640 / $2,100


6-DAY Northern Andes & Marañon Endemics Birding Itinerary:

Day 1: Cocachimba: Arrival (Dinner)

On arrival at Cocachimba, you are welcomed with a cold drink. The rest of the day is free to enjoy the stunning natural surroundings. 

Dinner & overnight at Gocta Lodge

Gocta Falls, with the high path to the left.

Gocta Falls, with the high path to the left.

Day 2: Gocta Falls (The High Path) (All meals)

A first visit to Gocta Falls today, starting with a drive up to the village of San Pablo, visible across the valley from Gocta Lodge. 

Armed with a packed lunch, we walk through varied habitats to a viewpoint and on to the centre point of the Falls, where the first drop forms a spray-shrouded pool.

Dinner & overnight at Gocta Lodge. 

Possible birds: Yellow-bellied and Black & White Seedeaters; Maranon Thrush; Azara’s Spinetail; Rufous-capped Antshrike; Chestnut-crested Cotinga; Chestnut-crowned Antpitta; Montane Woodcreeper; Golden-winged & Lulu’s Tody-Tyrants; Flavescent Flycatcher; Lineated Foliage-gleaner; Rusty-winged Barbtail; White-eared Solitaire; tanagers.

Day 3 - Rio Chido Trail & Huembo (All meals)

Marvellous Spatuletail Hummingbird at Huembo Reserve.

Marvellous Spatuletail Hummingbird at Huembo Reserve.

Early morning drive east from Cocachimba to the Rio Chido Trail at San Lorenzo for some special bird rarities including several antpittas.

We continue to Huembo Reserve, a conservation area of 39 hectares of scrub-covered hillside, in the afternoon for a variety of hummingbirds including the rare and beautiful Marvellous Spatuletail. As well as hummingbirds, there are other specialities like the Sickle-winged Guan.

Dinner & overnight at Gocta Lodge. 

Possible birds: Pale-billed, Rusty-tinged & Rusty-breasted Antpittas; Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant; Variable Hawk; Rufous-capped Antshrike; Smoky Bush-Tyrant; Mountain Velvetbreast; White-capped Tanager; Peruvian & Speckle-breasted Wren; Torrent Duck; Marvellous Spatuletail Hummingbird; Chestnut-breasted Coronet; Green & Sparkling Violetears; Bronzy Inca; Green-tailed Trainbearer; White-bellied & Little Woodstars; Andean Emerald; Sickle-winged & Andean Guan; Masked Trogon; Emerald Toucanet; Speckle-chested Piculet; Rufous-vented Tapaculo; Gray-breasted Wood-Wren.

Day 4: Kuelap or Gocta Falls (All meals)

Today, you can choose your activity from two true highlights: 

  • Option 1: Gocta Falls (The Low Path)

Emerald Toucanet on the path to Gocta Falls.

Emerald Toucanet on the path to Gocta Falls.

The spectacular falls are visible from the lodge. Walk directly from Lodge to foot of Gocta Falls (c.4 hours but birding will make it longer), take packed lunch. Evening walk in nearby scrub. 

Possible birds: Andean Cock-of-the-Rock; Maranon Thrush; Andean Solitaire; Smoky Brown Woodpecker; White-bellied Hummingbird; Golden-bellied Grosbeak; Hooded Siskin; Golden-rumped Euphonia; Russet-backed & Crested Oropendolas; Olive-backed & Montane Woodcreepers; Emerald Toucanet; Blackish Tapaculo; Rufous-winged Tyrannulet; Mitred Parakeet; Buff-bellied, Blue-necked, Beryl-spangled & Flame-faced Tanagers; Sparkling & Green Violetears.

  • Option 2: Kuelap Archaeological Site

Leave early for a day at Kuelap Ruins, in the company of a local guide.

A birding group at Kuelap Ruins.

A birding group at Kuelap Ruins.

Kuelap is an ancient Chachapoyan settlement - on a par with Machu Picchu in terms of size, age and historical fascination, but differing from the ancient Inca sites in the shape and nature of the buildings.

It is reached by a driving up the Utcubamba Valley, before transferring to Peru's only cable car, which carries passengers up to the ruins located on a prominent ridge, at 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above sea level.

Not only is this archaeological site fascinating in its own right, offering superb views over the surrounding valleys and mountain ranges, it is also a haven for a range of high altitude birds.

Lunch in the village of Nuevo Tingo, at the bottom of the cable car, following the tour of the ruins.

Birds to look for: Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle; Barred Hawk; Aplomado Falcon; Purple-throated Sunangel; Black-tailed & Green-tailed Trainbearers; Streaked Tuftedcheek; Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner; White-browed & Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrants; Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager; Black-throated & Bluish Flowerpiercer; Plumbeous Rail; Band-tailed Pigeon; Mountain Caracara; White-banded Tyrannulet; Rufous-naped Brush-Finch; Sword-billed & other hummingbirds; Shining Sunbeam.

View of Leymebamba, and surrounding countryside.

View of Leymebamba, and surrounding countryside.

After each tour, we drive further up the Utcubamba Valley to the peaceful town of Leymebamba, a small town at 2,300m (7,500 ft), on the route southwards towards the Andean town of Cajamarca, and onwards to the coast. It is famous for its Museum containing original remains of the mummies found in the surrounding mountains, and is a great base from which to explore a range of habitats and altitudes.

Dinner & overnight at Casa Mallqui in Leymebamba. 

Day 5 - Abra Negro & Upper Marañon Valley (All meals)

Today's birding expedition spans a huge altitudinal range, as we start by visiting Abra Barro Negro for high altitude specialities, and end in Chacanto, nearly 3,000m (10,000ft) lower, in the hot, dry Marañon valley.

Heading south from Leymebamba the road reaches 3,600 m (11,811 ft) at Barro Negro (Black Mud) Pass. The view from here is spectacular, and we make regular roadside stops.

The road then winds down first through elfin forest, then more substantial cloud forest, before changing to drier cactus-covered hills, as we eventually reach the heat of the Marañon River at Balsas (800 m / 2,600 ft).

Aplomado Falcon in Marañon River Valley.

Aplomado Falcon in Marañon River Valley.

We get back to Leymebamba at dusk, after a full and varied day's birding.

Dinner & overnight at Casa Mallqui in Leymebamba. 

Birds to look for (mountains): Andean Lapwing; Andean Flicker; Mountain Caracara; Scarlet-bellied & Hooded Mountain Tanagers; Moustached Flowerpiercer; White-chinned Thistletail; Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail; Tufted Tit-Tyrant; Rufous & Rusty-breasted Antpittas; Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant; Shining Sunbeam; Tyrian & Coppery Metaltails; Great Sapphirewing; Blue-backed Conebill; Plumbeous Sierra-Finch; Plain-coloured Seedeater; Paramo Pipit; Bar-winged Cinclodes; Many-striped Canastero; Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant; Yellow-scarfed Tanager.

Birds to look for (valley): Vermilion Flycatcher; Black-necked Woodpecker; Buff-bridled Inca Finch; Scarlet-fronted Parakeet; Peruvian Pygmy Owl; Bare-faced Ground-Dove; Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle; Aplomado Falcon; Fasciated Wren; Yellow-faced Parrotlet; Red-capped Cardinal; Yellow-tailed Oriole.

Day 6 - Atuen River Valley & Leymebamba (Breakfast)

Golden-headed Quetzal in the Rio Atuen Valley.

Golden-headed Quetzal in the Rio Atuen Valley.

The road along the Rio Atuen Valley heads from near the Mummy Museum into lush cloud forest - full of orchids and bromeliads - where bird species such as the Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan and Golden-headed Quetzal can be spotted.

We spend the morning in this area, before having a relaxing lunch at a café near the museum, where hummingbirds are in abundance. 

Birds to look for: Andean Condor, Torrent Duck, Mountain Caracara, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Golden-headed Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Andean Flicker, Glossy Black Thrush, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Andean Flicker, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Purple-throated Sunangel, White-collared Jay, Koepcke's Screech Owl.

In the afternoon, we head back down the Utcubamba Valley to visit the city of Chachapoyas, where the tour ends. Or you may choose to return to Gocta Lodge, for further birding expeditions, such as our Andean Valleys & Pacific Coast itinerary.